Sy

100 word wonder: Relentless

Hey. Syawn here.

We've decided a picture of me should be posted at the top of the post whenever I'm the one writing it, apparently to make sure everyone understands who's talking. Fair enough, as some newcomers might  otherwise assume that the so-called Inkcaster was capable of writing her own bloody blog posts.

We’ve decided a picture of me should be posted at the top of the post whenever I’m the one writing it, apparently to make sure everyone understands who’s talking. Fair enough, as some newcomers might otherwise assume that the so-called Inkcaster was capable of writing her own bloody blog posts.

I’ve started a weekly challenge for my author. It’s a good way to keep her on track. This challenge will be to write exactly 100 words on whatever subject I’m wondering about at the time, every Tuesday.

Why Tuesday? she asks. Because today is Tuesday, and I’ll not let her put it off for one more day. Why whatever subject you’re wondering about? What about subjects I’m wondering about? the author asks, affronted. Because if I let her pick, she would be all day dithering between one musing and another. Why 100 words precisely? she asks. Because I said so. Why “Relentless”? Because I am. Now brace yourself for three relentless wonderings, no more nor less than 100 words each.

*****

There’s something you should know about me.

 I’m… kind of an anti-hero. A bit of an antagonist. If you hadn’t picked up on that already.

 As my author reveals in Ever the Actor, I have a number of traits most people would not consider ideal, might even think, hmmn, terrible. Like a total lack of empathy, the resultant self-centeredness and capacity to wantonly kill, harm, and manipulate.

 Debatable mores aside, I had (and have) some traits she unabashedly admires. Among these is my relentlessness.

 Once I have my mind set upon a goal, I won’t relent until I gain it.

 *****

 It seems to me that there are more fellow-sociopaths in the world (yours as well as mine) than people who are truly relentless.

 People begin to do a thing, and then as soon as something is difficult, they stop. Or the task is longer than they expected, so they stop. Or they’re not exactly certain how to proceed, so they stop. My author included.

 I just… I just don’t understand. How can the relenting do anything? How is any path traveled if every barrier (or perhaps not every—just the third or fourteenth) submitted to?

 They can’t, and none are.

  *****

 Clearly, shouting the Nike motto has proven inadequate to change things.

In the hope of helping the strugglers out there, especially the writers among you, (*cough*Tirzah *cough*) I have a handful of possibly more helpful things to think when you find yourself relenting.

What would I do if I were an epic badass?

If I knew I could totally handle this, what would I do?

If I were a character who was just like me, except relentless, what would I do?

Basically, ask yourself, “What would Syawn do?”

Unless you’re against murder. To each their own conscience and all that.

*****

Advertisements

100-word wonders: Agency

Hey. Syawn here.

We've decided a picture of me should be posted at the top of the post whenever I'm the one writing it, apparently to make sure everyone understands who's talking. Fair enough, as some newcomers might  otherwise assume that the so-called Inkcaster was capable of writing her own bloody blog posts.

We’ve decided a picture of me should be posted at the top of the post whenever I’m the one writing it, apparently to make sure everyone understands who’s talking. Fair enough, as some newcomers might otherwise assume that the so-called Inkcaster was capable of writing her own bloody blog posts.

I’ve started a weekly challenge for my author. It’s a good way to keep her on track. This challenge will be to write exactly 100 words on whatever subject I’m wondering about at the time, every Tuesday.

Why Tuesday? she asks. Because today is Tuesday, and I’ll not let her put it off for one more day.

Why whatever subject you’re wondering about? What about subjects I’m wondering about? the author asks, affronted. Because if I let her pick, she would be all day dithering between one musing and another.

Why 100 words precisely? she asks. Because I said so.

Why agency? Because Tirzah has been thinking about it, and sometimes I’m kind enough to defer the choosing to her.

Why, I’ll even let her go first in the lineup. Have at ye, author, for no more nor fewer than a hundred words of wondering, then I air my thoughts, then she’ll wrap it up.

*****

I was actually wondering how much characters need to have to be good characters.

By agency, I mean a person’s capacity to direct themselves and effect their world, rather than all the direction and effect coming from the outside in.

Can a character be forever pushed about and tossed by the winds of circumstance, and the story still be a good story?

Hmmn, not in my book. The circumstantial winds may blow, but the character needs to effect the story, or else they seem pointless as a character—a simple viewing window into a plot, when I’m wanting a person.

*****

In Ever the Actor, I actually sacrificed a considerable amount of agency, allowing myself to be pushed about by “the winds of circumstance” in the form of a nine year old mage. (Now there was a little girl with a ridiculous amount of agency.)

 However, the agency I sacrificed was for the cause of gaining greater agency, and I still left my mark on the world along the way. I wasn’t so much wind-tossed as… self-directed into being directed by someone else.

By the end of the tale, though… any agency I’d felt I had was thrown to the winds.

*****

Yes, you do start out drifting rather aimlessly in your sequel  (as the title “Scriptless” suggests) but you get the hang of improv fairly quickly, and boom, you’re advising revolutionaries.

 You just can’t help taking ahold of yourself and the world again, even if you don’t know what to do with either. You have more inborn agency than nearly anyone else on your planet.

I don’t think that degree of world-shaking agency is required in a story, but it must be there. The MC, antagonist, bit-parters… A story needs to be moved by its people—or else it’s not theirs.

*****

100-word wonders: Lies

Hey. Syawn here.

We've decided a picture of me should be posted at the top of the post whenever I'm the one writing it, apparently to make sure everyone understands who's talking. Fair enough, as some newcomers might  otherwise assume that the so-called Inkcaster was capable of writing her own bloody blog posts.

We’ve decided a picture of me should be posted at the top of the post whenever I’m the one writing it, apparently to make sure everyone understands who’s talking. Fair enough, as some newcomers might otherwise assume that the so-called Inkcaster was capable of writing her own bloody blog posts.

I’ve started a weekly challenge for my author. It’s a good way to keep her on track. This challenge will be to write exactly 100 words on whatever subject I’m wondering about at the time, every Tuesday.

Why Tuesday? she asks. Because today is Tuesday, and I’ll not let her put it off for one more day.

Why whatever subject you’re wondering about? What about subjects I’m wondering about? the author asks, affronted. Because if I let her pick, she would be all day dithering between one musing and another.

Why 100 words precisely? she asks. Because I said so.

Why “Lies?” Because it seemed an appropriate way to involve myself in your tradition of a “fool’s day” without stooping to the level of people posting idiotic untruths.

I wonder, the author wonders, don’t we all wonder about falsehoods and a world despicably riddled with them, for no more nor fewer than 100 words at a time.

*****

I have never taken to lies or liars. You may find this an odd quality in someone who is a criminal in most other ways, but I believe in truth between comrades. Certainly, I may lie to the von—our country’s answer to your world’s police—but not to my thieves, nor will they to me.

I punish lying more strenuously than I punish any other misdemeanor in my court, and my people know they can take me at my word. We may be thieves, but we’re honest about it; unlike the von, who’ll take from any purse and stand with the law behind them. There’s a reason the people love us better.

 *****

I don’t even… your first book title is freaking Ever the Actor. Your entire personality is a lie, your very emotions are commonly deliberately constructed. You practically invented yourself, and that invention is as changeable as your circumstances.

You’re a living omnitool—and everyone else is a tool to you. You are, as I say so dramatically elsewhere, a lie in the flesh. Do you think you can negate everything our readers have ever read about you simply by telling them now that it isn’t so?

And on top of it all, your section was a hundred and thirteen words.

*****

“Way to spoil an honest attempt to participate in your culture, kid.” Sy shakes his head. “Aren’t you meant to leave the fools to be fooled?”

Cry of the Nightbird: release and review

Hey. Syawn here.

So my author finally published something. One novella, and you can only get it on your computers and phones and Kindles, and it doesn’t even feature me, but hey. It’s a step in the right direction, so I need to be all encouraging and supportive.

In interest of doing just that, I’ll tell you why you should read it even if I’m not in it.

First of all, it’s in my world. Next, it does feature Joreth, the leader of an assassins guild, who has my knowledge of how to play one’s underlings, and my love of knives. (I would like to think my skill level is superior, having begun training at a younger age. In both.)

Unlike me, however, he is a man replete with unwise passions. Tsk. The teenaged lordling in the same novella does a better job of keeping his head; for shame. Ah well, we can’t all be me.

But enough chit-chat. Time for an honest review.

“Wait, a review?” Tirzah asks, startled. “But you’re… isn’t that… you’re in my head!”

Which doesn’t mean I have no objectivity. Brace yourself, author. First, fine readers mine, have the blurb and cover.

*****

“Look—it’s a shadow, creeping on the wall.
Look—it’s a nightbird, feathered, black, and tall.
Look—o’er your shoulder; think ye twice,
Look—out, ye wicked rats, pray he finds ye nice.”

Risen suddenly to lordship of the fiefdom of Cavernad, young Ferlund struggles to fill the shoes —and carry on the marriage engagement— of his late father. Doubly sorrowed by the old lord’s death and his duty to part ways with his common lover, Ferlund also seeks to pursue his suspicion that his father’s death was no accident…

Elsewhere in this fantasy-tinged novella, another man is recently risen to power. Joreth, formerly an assassin by trade, is newly the master of the assassin’s guild responsible for the elder Lord Cavernad’s demise. Wren, a servant girl deeply enamored of her new boss, seeks to gain his favor, and happens upon his strangest secret.

A lone vigilante stalks this landscape of cloak and dagger, sense and madness, and grudge and ardor old and new; the preying Nightbird stands in judgement of injustice masked by night or noble station.

In this tangle of stale bitterness and fresh affection, who will stand justified, and who will fall condemned? And will the cry of the Nightbird sound loud enough to go down as more than a washerwoman’s four-line ditty?

*****

A bit long-winded as blurbs go, if I do say so myself… my full-length novel doesn’t get that much back-o-the-book yattering.

Fortunately, I cannot give the same complaint to the tale in question. The pacing was excellent, with the viewpoint switching very regularly, but no more (nor less) than was needed for the twenty-five thousand word tale of intrigue and adventure to be told well.

The writing style was smooth and largely unobtrusive, but not to the point of blandness, lending a pleasant but mild aroma to the tale itself.

The characters were were well-defined, distinctly themselves–and largely loveable, sometimes in spite of being themselves. Humanly flawed and often confused, but rarely to that point where you want to smack them upside the head for it, these were people any budding thief lords would want to ally with: the high-minded nobleman, the bitter assassin, the “overlook at your own risk” servant girl, and the sweet but desperate pretty one.

(The Nightbird, on the other hand, is a bit more of a wild card. Might be safer just to knock him off if you ask me. Anyhow, jumping back from The Young Thief Lord’s Handbook to the review…)

The action sequences were engaging, walking that fine line between bogged-down-in-detail and what-is-even-going-on-here, and provided the much needed interludes between all the feelings everyone kept carrying on with.

However, I’m not quite certain about Duncan’s portrayal of the ending scene. While certain others who have read the scene make report of crying, I’m not sure what the tears are all about. It was an almost abruptly definite ending to a character arc that could have been stronger.

“It was as strong as it could be reasonably made,” Tirzah protests. “I didn’t want to overplay it!”

Ah-ah-ah, Duncan. Authors aren’t allowed to defend their decisions in the middle of a review. My position is my own, and I think Wren’s character arc ought to have been stronger. There’s a comment section open to take your arguments after.

My objections taken into consideration, I give it four stars out of five. Very nicely done, Miss Duncan. I might even invite you onto The Ink Caster blog for an author interview. Yes, it is gracious of me, isn’t it?

Go, buy it, enjoy it, have your appetite whetted for the superior novel waiting in the wings! And get a sneak preview of my own hitherto-unrevealed prologue at the end of it!

http://www.amazon.com/Cry-Nightbird-Tirzah-Duncan-ebook/dp/B00J3Y6ZOE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395871447&sr=8-1&keywords=Cry+of+the+Nightbird

100-word wonders: Carbuncle

Hey. Syawn Here.

We've decided a picture of me should be posted at the top of the post whenever I'm the one writing it, apparently to make sure everyone understands who's talking. Fair enough, as some newcomers might  otherwise assume that the so-called Inkcaster was capable of writing her own bloody blog posts.

We’ve decided a picture of me should be posted at the top of the post whenever I’m the one writing it, apparently to make sure everyone understands who’s talking. Fair enough, as some newcomers might otherwise assume that the so-called Inkcaster was capable of writing her own bloody blog posts.

I’ve started a weekly challenge for my author. It’s a good way to keep her on track. This challenge will be to write exactly 100 words on whatever subject I’m wondering about at the time, every Tuesday.

Why Tuesday? she asks. Because today is Tuesday, and I’ll not let her put it off for one more day.

Why whatever subject you’re wondering about? What about subjects I’m wondering about? the author asks, affronted. Because if I let her pick, she would be all day dithering between one musing and another.

Why 100 words precisely? she asks. Because I said so.

Why “Carbuncle?” Because I wanted Tirzah to have to work for this one.

Stand by for our hundred-word wonderings on the topic of carbuncle.

“Punk,” Tirzah says. “I’ll make you go first.”

*****

She thinks to turn the tables on me, see? I’ll show just what a wonder I can be. There isn’t a word I cannot muse upon, be it a gem from ancient history, spoken lately, or anon.

Not because my knowledge is so great, but because even if I know not the word’s meaning, I can yet find something to say of it.

She thinks the word lacks proper shape and polish. I say she’s narrow-minded. In Yaa we’d think it a fine enough word for a jewel. It sounds a fit stone with which to bedeck a beauty.

*****

All fine and a good way to say nothing; we know not even what manner of gem it is. I’ll prove the power of research.

Hah! A simple single googling reveals that “carbuncle” is now more commonly used to speak of a contagious abscess exceeding a boil in size. Bedeck your poor beauty in that!

Secondarily, ‘tis an archaism for (usually red) cabochon cut jewels, particularly garnets.  I suppose you were not far off to make mention of shape and polish, for to cabochon is to do so without faceting.

What did folk learn from all your hundred words? Little.

 *****

And what if we combine the powers of one who is unhesitating before the blank page, and one who would first learn, author dearest? Join me.

The roses wilted as the she-beast neared them; she had eyes like rubies and a still-redder whim; and a mouth like garnet—though there’s no sure knowing if ‘twas their natural hue, or a more sinister glowing.

She was stunning and shapely and smiling and fetid, with a carbuncle’s beauty and a carbuncle’s stench. She was more than a woman, she was less than a beast, with her blood-red eyes and her mouth red-drenched.

*****

…And thus did it turn out far more metaphorical of the whole writing process than we had anticipated. Let that be a lesson to you all:  a dash of research plus a dash of charging ahead equals creepy monsters and sorta-poetry.

100 Word Wonders: Chance

Hey. Syawn here.

I’ve started a weekly challenge for my author. It’s a good way to keep her on track. This challenge will be to write exactly 100 words on whatever subject I’m wondering about at the time, every Tuesday.

Why Tuesday? she asks. Because today is Tuesday, and I’ll not let her put it off for one more day.

Why whatever subject you’re wondering about? What about subjects I’m wondering about? the author asks, affronted. Because if I let her pick, she would be all day dithering between one musing and another.

Why 100 words precisely? she asks. Because I said so.

Why “chance”? Because that’s where my mind’s dice landed.

So without further ado, I, my author, and I once more, wonder about chance.

*****

Chance? In my country, Yaa, he’s the chief deity. Chance and his two daughters, one fair, one ill—you can guess which one people want Lord Chance to send forth to stir their lives. Snap your fingers to draw the Old Man’s attention to a plea; not too often or you’ll irritate him.

We toss coins and other tokens into shrines that are essentially wishing wells, but he has no temples or ministers. Unless you count gambling dens and con men.

If you do count us, weavers of our own fate and yours, consider me a high priest of Chance.

*****

It took me the longest time to figure out Yaa’s religious system, if you can call it that. I certainly wasn’t getting a sense of any monasteries or, like he said, temples.

The presiding thought was that “the Maker made and went his way,” the Creatorship and abandonment theory. But I knew they had to hold to something more than fickle fate, I just couldn’t tell what…

Until I realized that fickle fate is exactly what they bow to, seek to appease, blame when all goes ill or beg for favor. Fortune, crowned and sceptered, worshiped with a dice roll.

*****

I’ve never actually believed in Chance as an entity. There are some number that do, some number that never stop to consider, and some number that think as I do, but snap their fingers anyway.

I do snap my fingers; harmless cultural habit. Thinking your fate is in the hands of a fickle boonmaster? That’s a very harmful cultural habit, and I can’t remember a time I fell for it. Chance is in the hands of those who grasp it with both hands.

When you play at life, I say, play with loaded dice. Take it from Chance’s unfaithful priest.

100 Word Wonder: Failure

Hey. Syawn here.

I’ve started a weekly challenge for my author. It’s a good way to keep her on track. This challenge will be to write exactly 100 words on whatever subject I’m wondering about at the time, every Tuesday.

Why Tuesday? she asks. Because today is Tuesday, and I’ll not let her put it off for one more day.

Why whatever subject you’re wondering about? What about subjects I’m wondering about? the author asks, affronted. Because if I let her pick, she would be all day dithering between one musing and another.

Why 100 words precisely? she asks. Because I said so.

Why “failure”? I don’t know, author, why did you wait until 11 pm to begin our agreed-upon weekly assignment?

Without further ado, the 100-word wonders of myself, her, and us together.

*****

So do you see what I have to put up with? An author who agrees to be coerced into writing 300 measly words every Tuesday, and what does she do, but put it off until it’s barely even legally Tuesday anymore? There are moments a person feels that they shall certainly never be written. This is what comes of nesting in a head prone to failure—saved by the bell? Reminded by the midnight tolling just how altogether lost is our cause, more like. I don’t know what to do with this girl. Would that I could scribe without her.

 *****

I was entirely planning on writing this post in the afternoon, you know that. Then out of the blue, it turns out that I have work in the afternoon, not the evening, and I’m already late, so I rush to do that, and once I return I have well forgotten—this excuse begins to sound less like an explanation and more like a further unfolding of exactly how much I have failed at this day, I wince to note. Remembering tasks to do and agreements made is not my strong point, and my grief therewith fails to mend the ill.

 *****

“S’truth. Tears turn not back the hands of the clock.” Sy nods.

 “Surely you can have some compassion?” Tirzah asks, exasperated with herself, but hopeful of mercy. “Have you not had some pet failure your efforts could not overcome?”

 Sy sits a moment, silent. “Never anything to do with discipline,” he says. “Which is why I so boggle at your incapacity to force your own hand. If I have struggled and failed, it is against external forces. That is, until…” he swallows. “Magic,” he confesses. “Never have I so failed as at magic. Inside me, and at once the enemy…”

*****

Tirzah is displeased at the lack of resolution, the lack of a decent arc. That’s what happens when you started minutes before the deadline, dearest–poor quality. Just suck it up, vow to do better, and post before midnight. You’ve got two minutes.