Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Recommendations - The Queen's Thief

Book Recommendation day!

This is Hannah. And I know, I've only (personally) done two posts since the last one. But it's been over a month. And Book Recommendations are fun and easy. So all I need to do is pick a subject.

Now Trinity will NOT be pleased if I do something big and epic, like, say, Lord Of The Rings, or Percy Jackson, so how 'bout I do something that I geek out more about that she does. Like...

Man, I can't decide. Coin flip, The Queen's Thief or Enola Holmes. Heads, Queen's Thief; tails, Enola.
Or I'll drop the coin and make it say heads. I'll flip again. Waaagh, tails. Okay, I'll only flip ONE more time.

This has been Real-Time Indecision with Hannah.

The Queen's Thief
by Megan Whalen Turner

Okay, The Queen's Thief. The series wasn't named the Queen's Thief by the author, Megan Whalen Turner, but was fan-named. Yes, it has fans - that means it's awesome.

The series begins with Gen. A dirty, insolent thief, rotting in one of King Sounis' dungeon cells. He's been there for weeks, having stolen the King's seal. In a wine shop, he flaunted his victory and bragged that he could steal anything. Anything but himself out of jail, it seems.
But when the king needs something stolen, he sends his magus to release the thief, with the mutual understanding that Gen is only free to help the magus on his quest - to find an ancient artifact that legend says will give anyone undisputed authority of the land of Eddis, another land that the King covets, along with Eddis' queen. Gen and the magus are paired with Pol, a soldier, and two young apprentices, Sophos and Ambiades.
Throughout the journey, the questers get on each other's nerves and a couple times even break out in fist fights. Gen, due to his light-fingered habits, is forced to learn that he is little more than a tool in the eyes of his "companions", and only gradually earns their respect, not without considerable pain. Eventually the questers find that the Thief is not quite what they originally took him for.

The problem with talking about series instead of single books is that you can only talk about book one, none of the later books, otherwise something will be given away, probably something big.

But as for the review part of it. If you like political-intrigue books, this series is awesome. I didn't think I liked that type of book, but The Queen's Thief made it fascinating. The setting is a historical, slightly fantasy world, based on the ancient Greeks, but with some liberties taken to add guns and pocket watches and stained glass, etcetera.
The plot lines are really genius. Once you read it, you almost have to go back and read it again to see how everything fits in to the respective conspiracies. Personally, my favorite book is The King Of Attolia. They're all very interesting, but I think The King Of Attolia is the peak of awesomeness.

It has been said... in this family... that The Thief is boring. Depends on your perspective. But it's really worth it, if not only for the sequels.
Also, if you have read The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, this series is a lot alike.

Now, for the Christian readers: this series has a lot to do with fictional gods and goddesses. For instance, Gen is named after the god of thieves, and he meets the messenger of the gods, Moira, several times throughout the books. Also, Gen does a bit of minor cursing, like "damn" and "gods". Nothing big, but not exactly child-friendly. Just a warning.

I'm going to borrow an idea from a fellow pinner on Pinterest, and rate these books.

Five stars is for spectacular, epic, awesome, fast-paced. The best. Books. Ever.
 Four stars is for a good book or series. I'd read it twice, three times, and even geek out about it. Maybe a lot.
 Three stars. A pretty fun book, informative or interesting, with a good cast of characters. I probably wouldn't care to look it up again, though.
 Two stars is mediocre. Kind of bizarre. What was going on in the plot, I'm not quite sure. Not a book I'd be quick to recommend.
 One star... um, no, don't read it. It's not good. Not that it's bad - well, it is bad - but it's not good, even. It's not well done, it's not a good story, just don't.

Keep in mind that this is a personal opinion. You may be of a COMPLETELY different mindset. These are just recommendations. As a matter of fact, the one star entries will probably not even appear on Book Recommendations.

So anyway, The Queen's Thief. The whole series:

It was a great series. It'd put you on the edge of your seat, and the books go by so fast. Not only that, but the dialogue is natural and hilarious. Gen is sarcastic, Sophos is awkward, the magus is grumpy, they all have their own unique personalities, and actually have stories behind them. Some are mysterious, others are obvious. The books are intriguing, fascinating, and again, hilarious. 
I could rate each book separately, but frankly, I'm out of time.

Tell me what you think! If you've read the book, what's your opinion on it? If you haven't, maybe you should look it up and try it out. 

That's all, folks, so I'm going to just awkwardly stop talking and post this. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thoughts On Writing Advice

Okay, Imma go on a bit of a rant here. Maybe more of a soliloquy.
When it comes to writing advice, I'm all over it. What can I do to help build my plot? What are some good ways to organize your work? Charts for character attributes and flaws, etc, etc.
What I DO NOT like is a my-way-or-the-highway attitude. Which is odd, because I generally prefer when there's a correct answer, and things are black and white, either right or wrong. But not when it comes to writing. Well, I should clarify, fictional writing. Essays and letters and such are different.
Okay, here's some People Say vs. I Think for ya.


People Say:
You have to have a theme or message in your book, like, Power Corrupts, or Man's Nature Is Ultimately Good.

I Think:
Well, first of all, man's nature is not ultimately good. But disregarding that, Why?! Why do you have to have a message or a moral? Can't you just write a story for the sake of telling the story? Is the basic Good vs. Evil theme good enough? If I just write because I like to write, or I like to create characters, but I don't have some deep (or even shallow) message to send, does that mean my work is automatically worthless? Or if not worthless, then at least not marketable?
Or does all writing have a message, and in order to make sure it's the message you want, you have to consciously choose it? (If so, could someone tell me the theme or message behind The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss?)


People Say:
Your characters must be flawed, or the reader will hate them.

I Think:
That this is reasonable. I, for one, hate Snow White, but love Merida, I think for these reasons. (And others obviously: Better accent, better weapons, funnier, no prince, and so on and so forth.)
BUT how flawed does the character have to be? Enough to handicap her? Enough to mildly annoy her peers?
And if you hand-pick her (or his) faults, does that mean the rest of their character can be perfect?
Or, if a character IS flawless, but is dynamic enough and meets with enough opposition, can you get away hate-free? Is it impossible to make them dynamic enough without flaws?
This one is particularly frustrating to me because... Well, because of Rienna. I have the sinking feeling she isn't flawed enough, but I love her so much I'd hate to change her. And I haven't thought of any flaws that would fit her without changing her essence.


People Say:
I'd be devastated if my characters stopped talking to me!
They (characters) went in a direction I totally wasn't expecting!
He won't tell me why he hates her.

I Think:
I've touched on this briefly before. I call this the "Characters Going Rogue" phenomenon. It's when characters act opposite the author's wishes or without their consent to assert their real-ness.
When I hear or read something like, "I would be devastated if my characters stopped talking to me!" I think both of two things (because thinking one of two things is obviously not enough, and hey, take as many opinions as you can get):
A: The author/speaker/writer has a real-life, serious mental disorder,
And B: I may be missing out on something pretty cool.
Because my characters never talk to me. I don't know what their voices sound like. When they speak, it's me making them speak with each other. They never address me directly, with my permission or without. (And, to be honest, if I could meet my characters and converse with them, I'd be fangirling big-time.) They've never randomly started hating each other, or asserted their "real" personalities. I never "discover" anything new about them that I didn't know before.
So. Why haven't I experienced this?
Is it because I don't think of my characters as real people, but as... characters? Am I experiencing it, but I just don't recognize it?
I don't know. I read once, and I don't remember where, something along these lines:
"People who "let their characters take control of the story" are losing control of their story. YOU are the author. Write the book the way YOU want it to go."
That's always kind of stuck with me, and again, it's strange because I don't like that kind of advice, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it's true.
Three Questions about this-
1. Does the CGR phenomenon really exist, or is it merely a description of the thought process of writers?
2. If it is real, does it happen with all writers, or just some?
3. If it happens with all writers, why isn't happening with me and how can I get in on it?


People Say:
If you get bored or frustrated with one part of your book, skip ahead and write a different scene.

I Think:
Agh! This one frustrates me no end! I'm sure someone somewhere can do it, but I certainly can't. There are two reasons for this, I believe. One is that I'm not organized enough. I know the scenes I'm looking forward to writing, like a death scene, but I don't know who all's going to be there, or what their environment is like. They could be in a boat trying to escape in the night, or they might be hiding out in a warehouse, or even discussing it over a meal. Where they are makes a huge difference on what the scene will be like.
The second reason is that the scenes before will always affect the scenes after. Even if you summarized all your scenes and wrote them out, there's little inside jokes that the characters make while they're talking, or little habits that you might give them that you're not going to put in every little summary, so the joke or habit won't be woven through the story like it should. Instead it'll pop up like a weed every once in a while.
Maybe if I was really super-organized I could make it work, but it just seems to be an inefficient, confusing way of doing it.


People Say:
Beware of the "As You Know, Bob"

I Think:
Totally true. An "As You Know, Bob" is when a character summarizes the situation to another character in a little too much detail, or when the second character should already know what's going on.
E.g. A woman talking to her best friend in a cafe-
"And ever since my husband lost his job, we've been low on cash, I've had to get a job working for that guy I hated in high school because he scratched his name on the side of my car and you've had to watch my three boys four days a week! But you know that, Darla. You're my best friend, I tell you everything!"
It serves the purpose of catching the reader up on all the events, but it's SO obvious.
The "As You Know, Bob" is actually kind of fun because once you know it exists, you can see it all over the place. In books, movies, and plays. In the "Avengers" I believe it happens when Nick Fury summarizes their situation after Loki breaks out of the Helicarrier. So, it's not something to be avoided entirely, but it should be well camouflaged when used.


Now, keep in mind, these opinions are what I think. As in, me the amateur, unpublished, seventeen year old. So do not take my word as gospel! If you want The Gospel, though, I'd be more than happy to give it to you.
On another note, I'm nearly finished with my GED studying exception for the Writing and Essay section, which seems to be giving me the most trouble (Oh, the irony). I'll be finishing that part up in April. Which means I may be writing more essays, and possibly posting them here, because, Hey, who said it was a fiction only writing blog?
You may get a good laugh at them because I've written exactly, lemme see... Three essays. In my whole life. And they were all in the last month or so. The most recent one shows promise, but the other two are a little... not great. Fictional writing has a lot fewer rules than essays. Unless you believe everything People Say. In which case there are a TON, and some of them even contradict each other.
Anyway. That's all I've got for today, but you should be hearing more from me after Easter (In April).

Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass!

P.S. This is our fiftieth post! Woohoo!
There should be some sort of blogger alert system to tell you when you reach these milestones.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

This Is War (Updated!)

Guest Post by Trinity! No wait... I'm not a guest. But you wouldn't know that would you? Because I've been gone for three weeks straight.
There is blame to be placed and I choose this: 

Alright, onto the subject matter. Quite a while ago (meaning, maybe a month and a half ago) I discovered the song "This Is War" by 30 Seconds To Mars. I'm not a fan of hard-rock-screaming songs for the most part, (they give me a headache and hurt my ears) but I like this song, which has minimal screaming and a pretty cool melody. Also, because of this video, I link it strongly to Harry Potter.

AND! For those who maybe don't do Harry Potter, here's an Avengers version.

One of the reasons I liked it so much was how for each part, they matched up a character that fit that description. For example:

Each character fits their label in some way or another. Albus Dumbledore is headmaster of Hogwarts School. Sybill Tralawney is the Professor of Divination and makes a prediction that is important to the plot. Etcetera, etcetera.
So, after listening to this song multiple times, (like many many times) Hannah and I started thinking how we could match it up to our stories. It's a surprisingly difficult exercise, but fun!

This is what I listed for Aouthentica (Think Rienna, Jrew, and Liza), along with a little explanation as to why I chose them.
Note: Two I left out so I wouldn't ruin any surprises.

A warning to the People: █████████ ← A secret

The Good: Jrew Arion-
Jrew is obviously the good guy. He wants his throne back, and he wants revenge on his second-cousin, Talman Arion for murdering his parents and his uncle.

And the Evil: Talman Arion -
Again, obviously the bad guy.

To the Soldier: Eyrik Duell-
Eyrik is head of the Commandos in Gillam (secret renegade town in Aouthentica), which are kind of like their police force. Everything he does is carefully calculated, either for the good of his men or the good of Gillam. (That's why he thinks Rienna is such an idiot, because she's largely unattached on her missions and thus is a lot more spontaneous and reckless.) He's there to do what needs to be done to get the job done so he can move on to the next job that needs to be done. He's a soldier and he really doesn't have much of a life outside of that.

The Civilian: Cam and Cara Rogdriguez-
Poor Cam and Cara (they're twins). I'm not really sure how they got to be living in Milliayn, but they work for Jrew and they're just kinda along for the ride. They haven't been trained for this their whole lives, but they get sucked in and have to do the best they can.

The Martyr: Anai Arion-
This would be Jrew's father. He went back to help his brother (Avigdor, the king at the time), while sending his son on ahead (to get out of the country). Unfortunately, he never made it out. 

The Victim: █████████ ← Another secret
A warning to the Prophet: Cerra Samerest
Okay, so Cerra has no powers. Just want to clarify that once and for all. Nobody in Aouthentica gots an superpowers. BUT she is one of, if not the most sensible one of the group. So she can kind of predict what's going to happen if someone does something. She'd be the one going, "Someone's going to get hurt." And then someone would.

The Liar: Daven Cortez - 
Daven is a double agent for Falk Halcon (read: assistant bad guy). He "works" for Jrew, but ends up betraying him. I don't like him. He's a liar.

The Honest: Jesse Stoiker - 
Jesse's a Commando under Eyrik. He'll tell you the absolute truth, and if he can't, he won't say anything. He's  also Eyrik's best friend. 

To the Leader: Luc Walker - 
Luc is the Director of Gillam, and he's good at it. Now, why did I choose him instead of Jrew? Because Luc's a good leader and he's been doing it solo for many years, whereas Jrew is.... not as good of a leader and he needs a lot of help.

The Pariah: Liza Vulken-
Liza is not generally accepted anywhere other than Jrew's headquarters, and even then she mostly hangs around in the back, just keeping an eye on Rienna (her unofficially adopted daughter). She did something pretty bad, though I don't remember what it was, that turned everyone against her. So now she's an outcast, but because of Rienna, she sticks around.

The Victor: Rienna Lee-
Ah, Ri. She jumps in headfirst all. the. time. But she usually manages to get herself out of it, and really, Jrew probably wouldn't become king or defeat Talman. And Eyrik would still be brooding in Gillam. And Terra would still be queen of Bairek. And Erde would still be meekly following his sister (Terra) around. So I'm putting her in the Victor category. 

The Messiah: Erde-
(Okay, quick orientation: Bairek = Country next to Aouthentica, host country of the town Milliayn. Terra: Queen of Bairek. Erde: Her younger brother.)
Terra is the "rightful" ruler of Bairek, but she's really not a very good leader. She was spoiled rotten as a child, so now she's pretty much a bratty queen. However, everyone in Bairek loves Erde, who wasn't nearly as spoiled, because no one paid much attention to him. He refuses to take the throne from Terra, even if it would be better for the country, but eventually, erm.... she's not... well, queen anymore. Or anything, actually. But that comes later. In any case, he eventually becomes king of Bairek and pretty much rescues the country from utter ruin.

Alrighty. I think that pretty much wraps it up, and I'm sorry if it's confusing (or even boring), because I was distracted while writing it. And I'm sorry that it's been so long since I posted. I'll try to remedy that. But no promises. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Character Post - Aiken's Gang

So, another post. A little late, no? Wow. A lotta late, yes.

Anyway. It's me, Hannah. I seem to be clean out of witty greetings, so we can start this post of with a nice, reliable "Yo". Hm, I guess it's kind of weird for a Southern girl to use that sort of slang. We're more of the types to say, "Hiya, down there, why doncha set yerself down, and I'll send a chillin' to getcha a cuppa coffee. Or maybe tea, what's yer preference? We got Mountain Dew!"

Yeah... no.

New idea! NOBODY in my family (besides myself) has any idea how Aiken's Gang works. I can only assume that the same is true with everyone outside of my family. So let's see if I can't explain it in some clear fashion in which Trinity won't be romantically pairing random members of the crew behind my back.

Aiken's Gang

Presto! I am becoming weirdly attached to the Trebuchet font, aren't I. Ooh, presto, what a neat word. Presto-chango!

~The Elder Group~

Aiken Timhamér

Aiken Timhamér. You may have 'met' him before in this post. Now this is not exactly how he looks (I haven't come across THE picture yet) but my subconscious has pretty much decided that he has this hair, short on the sides and longer on the top. Except when I draw a picture of him, in which case he always has this little "swoosh swoosh" thing that can pretty much only be coherently described as a cowlick. In any case, he's usually more cheerful looking than this picture shows.

Aiken is the "alpha male". He's the team leader - the name Aiken's Gang might have implied that. In the story world, the team name came around just about the way that it did in real life. For lack of a better name, we (meaning me and all my split personalities) slapped on a temporary title that stuck. Beware those affectionate nicknames. That's about the same way our family got a rooster named Bleep.

In any case, Aiken is a medieval-era detective, and pretty good at it, too. Aiken's Gang is named after him basically because he makes such an impression on everyone that they only ever think of the gang as his. The gang doesn't mind though - they think of their own group the same way. Aiken's Gang had kind of a rocky, unplanned beginning. It's essentially a jumble of different acquaintances of Aiken's. They got attached to him (obviously because of his sparkling personality) and are ready to help him whenever he needs it. Since Aiken is a magnet for trouble, that is often. Eventually they unanimously decided to just stick by him as a team. Where else would they find the adventure that Aiken seemed to produce out of nowhere?

Blessing Laliso

A lovely elf. She's a field medic, but tougher than she seems. Blessing likes to serve as the mother-figure to most of the crew. She's a wonderful baker and can shoot a bow as well as any Elven soldier. Better, probably.

Blessing Laliso joined up with Aiken mostly because she was an old friend. And because she could tell that the rest of the gang would all die if she didn't step in to put things in order. Blessing actually met Aiken way back when they were in school, and though they weren't close, he was able to recognize her when she popped up later in life. Aiken and Blessing work surprisingly well together, even if Armen (Aiken's 'bro') and Blessing are always bouncing sparks off each other when they meet. That's mostly because Blessing mothers Armen when he does not want to be mothered.
Blessing could be called beta. Or maybe alpha female. She's Aiken's co-second-in-command. Falk Zachriel is the other.
And you can put down the rumors of Aiken being sweet on Blessing to pure gossip.

 Falk Zachriel

Speak of the devil...
Falk Zachriel is an interesting person. He's quite the military man, and is in charge of every weapon at base (except for Armen's and Lina's weapons - touch them and die). Falk is like a brother to Aiken. I haven't completely worked out Falk's background, but I wouldn't be surprised if Aiken and Falk met in a atmosphere surrounding a town jail cell. With one or both of them inside of it. Quite by mistake, of course.
What is surprising about their friendship is that Falk, ever the hardened soldier, doesn't seem particularly bothered when Aiken messes around with the law. Maybe it's the fact that he's no longer part of the army that makes him turn an almost-blind eye to Aiken's shenanigans. And he refrains on the friendly warnings concerning arrest for the most part, content to just let the escapade play itself out. Aiken is on good terms with the current monarch, so he shouldn't get banished for too long.
Falk is Aiken's co-second-in-command, as afore-mentioned. He helps Aiken keep things in order on both the tactical and personal plane.
Also, there's his apprentice, Xiomara Qadira. More on her shortly.

Sacrifice Laria

Sacrifice Laria is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. Her personality is so sympathetic and likable, you can't help but fall in love with her. Her white clothing - it's always white, she hates black - makes her look like a frosty-haired angel, which fits her personality to a T.
Her wonderful temperament wasn't the only reason she was added to the team. Her sword skills are spectacular, rivaling even those of Falk's.
Sacrifice practically begged to be included to the team (not that Aiken needed much persuasion). She is a scholar, who teams up with student Devaki whenever possible. Her real partner (her permanent buddy for when she's sent out on missions) is Fortitude Alastair, commonly known as Fort. He's a bit of a loose cannon, and can't always be relied upon to stick to his instructions, so Sacrifice is a good choice to counter his unpredictability. 
Sacrifice hasn't told the others much about her past, but they don't really care. She's able to calm down the most riled-up teammate, and has been said to be able to get even Eitan Haroun to talk. Which is quite a feat.

Eitan Haroun

Eitan, Eitan, Eitan. This guy actually kind of creeps me out, like I'm scared he'll come murder me if I say anything bad about him. I have no idea how he got to be such a stick in the mud. He was a very amiable, very minor character when I first came up with him. There's that Characters Going Rogue phenomenon again. 
So Mr. Grouchy here. He's often avoided by the younger half of the Gang. But for some reason, Aiken trusts him. He has (once in awhile) spoken up to offer helpful advice or information. Information that half of the people in Eyra wouldn't know, but that's mostly because of his background. Eitan spent a good third of his life in a prison dimension known as Mor, imprisoned for something he insisted (quite vigorously) he didn't do.
Aiken believed him and, after personally digging up evidence to exonerate Eitan, took him back to Eyra for fair trial, in which he was released as innocent with a personal apology.
Eitan is still bitter against Eyra's official justice system in general, but he feels like he owes Aiken a personal debt and is completely loyal to him. Eitan's partner is Devaki Layla, interestingly enough. Devaki is a playful soul, almost his complete opposite, but he seems to have become somewhat fond of her... at least compared to his other teammates.

Devaki Layla

Hmm, Devaki. Not one of the main characters, so I haven't put too much thought into her background. That's one thing about these Character Posts. If nothing else, you find out what you don't know about your own characters.
Devaki, appearance-wise, is Sacrifice's opposite... Eitan's too, for that matter. While both Eitan and Sacrifice are pale in complexion and have light hair (in Sacrifice's case it's a porcelain complexion and white hair), Devaki has dark, cherrywood skin and long black locks that often have a bit of springiness to them.
As for Devaki's background, all that's solid right now is that she has a large family, and has always loved children. 
Her favorite hobby is to read. Or study. Old scrolls, sacred texts, forgotten riddles... it's all a thrill to her. She has a certain knack for unravelling written mysteries, and finds language jokes and puns particularly witty.
There's a bit of Trinity in there for you. With the puns. She needs her own rimshot machine.

Fort(itude) Alastair

Fort. Just call him Fort. It'll go over better that way.
Yes, Fort does not like his name. It's a girl name, he says. A pox upon your house if you call him Fortitude. His friends have tried to tell him that Fortitude means strength, courage and guts, but he won't have any of it. A couple of them even told him that it's like Fort, but with attitude. But Fort has perfected a death glare for that sort of comment.
Anyway. Fort is a typical twenty-year-old elf. He hasn't really gotten mature yet, but he's halfway there. In the meantime, childish silliness may occur. And macho-ness. After all, there are at least six other girls in camp.
His partner, Sacrifice, does a pretty good job of smacking sense back into him, albeit tactfully. She's also his main sparring partner, and whips him every time. He is pretty good with a sword (better than a human will ever be) but he is lacking the concentration and years of experience that a true master has.
As for family, Fort is an only child. Go figure.

~The Younger Group~

Xiomara Qadira

I had to (literally) flip a coin to pick between this picture and another one. Twice. It landed on the other picture both times, but, you know, I'm a rebel (ha, ha).
Actually, I should have put a picture of an acquaintance up here, because I've almost called her Xiomara twice, even though her name sounds nothing like it. It was bizarre.

Okay. Xiomara here (her friends call her 'Mara) is Falk's apprentice. She comes from a well-off family of minor nobility. When she began to show an interest in sword-fighting, her parents found her a tutor, the very best in their sector. Which happened to be Falk. Falk joined the team, so she came along too, a package deal.
Xiomara throws herself into her studies whole-heartedly. She's been working with Falk for around four years and the two of them are pretty close in a father-daughter type relationship. And she doesn't look like it, but her favorite weapons are a broadsword and a battleaxe.

Ciaran Kagan

Yes, I had no good pictures of Ciaran. The best one I have is this hastily edited picture of Aqualad from the Young Justice TV series. Ignore the gills and the swanky little glowy-water sword, and you have Ciaran. I guess.
I like Ciaran. He's awesome. It sounds kind of self-absorbed to say that about my own characters, but he is the one I have the most fun with. Any talent I think is cool, if I don't attach it to a main character, Ciaran gets it. So far he can do ventriloquism, play music, and mimic birds, he's great at stealth, archery, knife-throwing, swordsmanship, art, lip-reading, and healing, has limited photographic reflexes, and he can dance. And sing.
Yeah, he's pretty cool.
Ciaran and Dyani are partners. They're a lot alike. They both spend most of their time skulking (for lack of a better word - creeping, maybe?) about in the woods. Slipping, darting, ghosting, slinking... anyhoo.
Ciaran is a fun guy to be around (like a mushroom! Fungi, fun guy... ba dum tsh!). He's cheerful, generous, and remarkably responsible and thoughtful for a teenage guy. 

Dyani Atohi

Dyani is a quiet person. She's shy and hangs back most of the time. But she is very bright and can be creepily stealthy. Her skin and hair coloring help her to blend in the the woods quite easily, but part of it is just her effortless ability to sense where to stand and where to step that keeps her hidden from all but the most skilled eyes and ears.
Dyani spends most of her time either in the woods, or with her friends, Ciaran, Ives, and Emlyn. She can ride a horse spectacularly well, and has a habit of memorizing Ciaran's bird calls, half by accident.
Dyani is very skilled at archery and knife work. She doesn't much like swords, they're too big and clumsy in her hands.
Dyani has a pet panther named Asahel. His name is based on 2 Samuel 2:18. 

There were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel: and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.

The story of Asahel concludes rather abruptly with unfortunate results. So far as I have planned, that isn't happening to Dyani or her panther, but we'll see.

Ives Destor

Yet again a lack of perfect picture. You might not be able to tell, but Ives is blonde. I kind of think of him as a boy-band type, but with a good haircut.
Ives and Ciaran were bros before the invention of the bro fist. Well, they still are bros, and the 'bro fist' still hasn't been invented in their time, but, you know.
Ives' partner is Emlyn Ciqala (another Q without a U after it - I'm driving someone in the world nutso). Together Ciaran, Ives, Dyani and Emlyn (and sometimes Xiomara) make a team of crazy pranksters.
Ives is very skilled with a bow. Very skilled, meaning, like Merida and Robin Hood and all the famous archers in the world, but with Elvish strength behind the bow.  Anyway, this ability turns out to be pretty helpful on occasion.
Ives has a good sense of humor, and can be pretty absurd and comical when he feels like it, which is often. It's common to see him cracking a smile (another reason that the above picture is not the best one), which is usually brought on by random and sudden competitions recommended by himself. 
Ives has two siblings, six-year-old twins, Nora and Noah.

Emlyn Ciqala

Emlyn is the youngest in the Gang, but by no means impotent, even if she is shorter than everyone on the team.
Emlyn met Aiken under not-so-great circumstances. In fact, their first encounter was when she was around three and Aiken found her older brother (about eight at the time) panicking on the shore of a lake because his little sister had fallen in and he couldn't find her. Aiken, naturally, dove straight in and found Emlyn, pulling her out and reviving her, thankfully without lasting damage. Aiken then found out that Emlyn and Laken (her brother) had no parents. They had both been killed a few months before, and Laken had been left to care for Emlyn on his own. Aiken brought the two of them to the nearest orphanage and put them in the charge of the  orphanage keeper at his own expense. Every few months Aiken would go back and check on them, making sure they were well-cared for.
About twelve years later, Emlyn is fifteen. Laken was allowed to live apart from the orphanage, and have Emlyn  legally under his custody, but Emlyn found Aiken and asked him to let her join the Gang. He reluctantly accepted, then found that Emlyn was a fast and eager learner, a good addition to the team, if a little young. Between Aiken and Laken, Emlyn has worked out a deal: Laken lets her travel with Aiken so long as she comes to stay with him every other year.
Emlyn is also an healer's apprentice to Blessing.

Armen and Lina, informal members

Armen and Lina are informal members, because, well, they aren't always there. They both like to do their own things, but are really close friends of Aiken. They may not stay long, but they're always welcome.

So that's the Gang, all twelve of them, plus a couple of bonus members. They're pretty awesome, in my humble opinion. Well, THIS was a really long post. Maybe it'll almost make up for the really long delay? It was excellent fun to write, and really helped to put some things into perspective for me.
Questions, comments, smart remarks, objections because I stole your perfect picture? Feedback is welcome, as always. 
And off I go to read, and do a bit of writing, and maybe brain-storm some new openings for my next post. Let's see if we can't get back on a schedule, shall we? 

Adios, compadres!

And yes indeed, adios and compadre are of the same language! I love it when I don't mix languages up! But compadre is noun masculine, which means that amigo would be more gender appropriate.

So Adios, amigos!

(Nothing like a nice alliteration to wash the post down. Hmm. Alliteration chaser. That's weird.)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Beautiful People - Rienna Lee

-By Trinity

Ah, Rienna. She is one of my first, original characters. And my personal favorite. She is largely based on myself, or possibly what I would like to be, so it's difficult to let her develop her own flaws. I have to consciously give them to her. (On that note, I'm going to add that I'm skeptical of the whole idea of characters developing on their own. If I'm the author, and I created them, and I control them, then they can't do anything without my approval. Right? Now, I have experienced making my characters react or act in a way that is inconsistent with how I think they should or would act, and then wondering why I thought it made sense at the time. But I don't think that's the same thing. If anyone can explain this "Characters Going Rogue" phenomena, please let me know.)
Anyway, back to Rienna. Her biological parents are lost to her for unexplained reasons, but she was raised by Liza Vulken, and kind of by Arron Vitez (Jrew's guardian). Because of this, she and Jrew were raised alongside each other and are absolutely the best of friends. As they get older, Jrew starts focusing more of his attention on running Milliayn, and getting ready to take back his throne, so Rienna starts working just as hard to become his right-hand... man. Person. She's kind of his captain of the guard. But she doesn't have captain-type duties.
Jrew has a lot of Milliayn-ites working for him, and most of them do about the same things: Assist him with paperwork and go on whatever missions he sends them on, but Rienna's his most trusted agent.
She's well-trained to do a lot of different things, but she has the most training in tactical type skills.
Um... let's see. What else about her?
She's got a kind of sarcastic personality, but she's largely cheerful. She and Jrew tease each other a lot. She teases other people quite a bit. She likes to wear black (like me). She looks pretty much like the picture above.

Well, okay then. Let's move on to the Beautiful People section -

1. If your character’s house burned down, and they were left with nothing but the clothes on their back, what would they do? Where would they go?
Well, first of all, of Rienna has the clothes on her back, she has her gun on her hip. Basically, unless she's in bed, she's always wearing her gun, and even then, it's within arm's reach. So, then, if her house (actually, she lives in an apartment, but for simplicity's sake, I'm gonna say just her apartment) burned down, she'd go across the breezeway to Jrew's apartment and crash there. His "guest" bedroom is pretty much designated as her room, since it's very common for her to spend the night at his apartment, especially when they're working late.

2. Are they happy with where they are in life, or would they like to move on?
For the most part, Rienna's content with where she is. As long as Jrew's around, she's in Milliayn, or wherever Jrew's sent her, she's happy. If she's off on a mission, she'd probably rather be back in Milliayn. And for sure, she'd rather Jrew have his throne back in Aouthentica, but otherwise, she's pretty much dedicated herself to doing whatever Jrew needs her to do, and that's all she really wants to be doing.
At least, for now. That could be different by the end of the book.

3. Are they well-paid?
Yes, and no. Rienna doesn't get "paid" per se. However, all of her needs (and most of her wants) are provided for by Jrew or paid out of the Milliayn budget. So she doesn't get a paycheck, but she doesn't really need one.

4. Can they read?
Yes... Most of her reading is done while filing reports, because she doesn't have a lot of time for recreational reading. She enjoys it when she can, though.

5. What languages do they speak?
Just English. At one point she could speak some ancient and secret tongue, but that was brief, ridiculous addition that didn't last long.

6. What is their biggest mistake?
Hmm. I don't know if she's made one biggest mistake. Her recurring biggest mistake is probably leaping before she looks. She just likes to go-go-go, and too often she doesn't stop to consider whether or not she can handle the situation she's throwing herself into. About 50% of the time, she ends up coming out unscathed, but just barely. 35% of the time, she gets herself into big trouble and needs help, and the last 15%  she really can just go in and take care of the problem.

7. What did they play with most as a child?
Jrew, I guess. They did a lot of sword-fighting with sticks, I would imagine.

8. What are their thoughts on politics?
Rienna's not personally all that interested politics, but her job and circumstances and friends, etc. etc, mean that she actually has to know a lot about them. So, she's kind of neutral on her feelings for politics. Necessary, but not necessarily her favorite.
Now, her political opinion is that Talman's a vicious traitor, Falk's a treacherous sleemo, and Jrew's blood-line claim to the throne is legit and he'll make an excellent king. That's probably almost word for word what she'd say.

9. What is their expected life time?
Expected life span? There is no telling with Rienna. She could live to a ripe old age (I already have plans for who she'll marry and what her children are named, if she gets that far.), or she could get shot down tomorrow. Probably the former, though. Since I've invested so much thought into it.

10. If they were falsely accused of murder, what would they do? How would they react?
Depends. If she were in Milliayn, she'd go to Jrew. And he'd laugh. And then they'd have lunch. Case closed.
If she were in Gillam (where she's kind of new), she's probably blow up. She'd deny it a million times. And hold a grudge against whoever accused her. If she let them live. She's not used to being viewed suspiciously, so it would probably really bother her. Even if Luc, and all the Commandos (director and police force of Gillam) said they believed her, it would probably still niggle at the back of her mind until she found definite evidence proving herself innocent.

Welp, that's all the questions, so that's the end of this post. I hope it kind of gave you a picture of what Rienna's like, because she one of the most important characters, Jrew being the second most important. Or maybe vice-versa.
You'll probably hear (or see?) her mentioned a lot on here, so that's her. She's awesome. :)

Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass!