A Few Thoughts on Typewriters

A Few Thoughts on Typewriters

Most authors adore typewriters.

Even if it’s just a cool aesthetic, typewriters are the trademark of our work. They’re hipster, they’re trendy, they scream “I’m cool, I swear!”

They’re also a pain in my cuticles.

I was blessed with a typewriter of my very own a year ago. It’s a 1960 portable mint-green Swiss Hermes Rocket. It’s small and doesn’t weigh a ton, and is banged up enough that not all of it closes up properly, which I didn’t mind in the least. Which is good, since closing it all up would just mean yanking it all apart again in order to untangle my ribbon.

Which isn’t the last of my woes.

Sometimes, when I start a new line, it will ride up and continue typing while caught halfway through the old line and the new. It has a tendency to crumple one sheet of paper after the other, and even the ones that come out unspoilt are usually crooked. My margins rarely work, and my fingers usually slip between the keys and are torn to shreds when I instinctively yank the precious tools-of-my-trade back up to safety.

Oh how I unconditionally love my little mint-green monster.

For all the drawbacks as compared to a keyboard or pencil and paper, I’ve completely become a typewriter snob. I can’t think properly on other machines now. Queen has been entirely written on my Hermes Rocket, and the majority of Beast before it. And both Curse and The Highwayman will follow suit.

Writing’s a fickle thing. Inspiration is hard to come by, so most successful authors live by the rule “Butt in chair.” But there’s no denying that it’s easier when one is inspired. So on with the treacherous ribbons, traiterous mechanics, and carnivorous keys. There’s a reason most authors adore typewriters.

Christmas Books

I write, therefore I read. 

I think this should be posted somewhere. Granted, it isn’t always true, but I struggle to think of a situation in which a writer is excused from all forms of reading ever.

Regardless, I adore reading. So it comes as no surprise that books made up the majority of my “Christmas Haul” this year.

 

How To Train Your Dragon (Book 12)

I read the first one just after watching the movie for the first time, but I often forget that I saw the movie first. I adore the book world even more, and the scope of the story is so much more endearing and epic.

And plus, tiny dragons.

And really, really huge dragons.

 

100 Deadly Skills

Of a SEAL Operative, no less.

 

Krav Maga

I happen to like the idea of being able to defend myself.

 

Igraine the Brave (In German)

I’m by no means fluent, but I thought perhaps a kid’s book would help. I have a German picture book, and a German version of Lord of the Rings. One I’d mastered and one… well, reading it in English can be a challenge.

 

Space Case

I loved Spy School and the subsequent novels, and space is so darn cool. I had to give this a try.

 

Ink and Bone

I have no idea what this book is about, but that title is irresistible.

 

Wheel of Time (Book 1)

I feel like such a bad book person for taking so long to read Wheel of Time. I had it on my Amazon wish list for forever, but no one seemed interested in buying it for me, and I could never find book one anywhere. I finally stumbled across it at a thrift store. So it technically wasn’t a Christmas gift, but I’ll throw it in just to celebrate finally getting it.

 

Now to make sure I’m not a bad book person for neglecting my own! I’ve been picking up steam with writing again, although I have yet to touch Queen. For some reason, it now feels daunting. (Probably because I left off right before the very important bit of the final building stages of the climax.) But it will be tackled tonight! Wish me luck, and let’s put on the kettle.

-J.A.

 

The Art of a Roleplay

In my freshman year of high school, all I ever talked about were my new online friends and our “RP”s. My parents were just a little bit horrified; their only experience with roleplay was a bunch of weirdoes at college who only spoke in Klingon, then dressed up in foam armor to whack each other over the head with swords.

“Ten year olds can recreate the battle for Minas Tirith,” my dad once said. “But once you’re in college, you should probably… not.”

Luckily, my parents have by now accepted that I will be one of the sword-whacking, Gallifreyan-speaking, weird-t-shirt-wearing weirdoes. Even more luckily, they now understand what I really mean by roleplay.

My friends and I are all online friends, so actual sword-whacking wasn’t an option. Instead, we do online roleplay. What started out with each of us assuming a role from the tale of Robin Hood spun into dozens of richly designed plots with vivid, lifelike characters. During the “Golden Age” of our time together, we had one RP that stood out more than others.

Originally, it was referred to as “KISA,” since the link ending was KnightsInShiningArmor. It was a generic fantasy land, filled with princesses and queens and warriors and Rorrik, the beloved, epic-ly Over-Powered mage who essentially can be blamed for all of reality existing and continuing to exist. Let it never be said that my friends and I didn’t have lofty goals.

In fact, we loved this RP so much that we rebooted it into YORP, or YeOldeRP. It was during this that a legitimate plot arose, as well as a few fantastic world maps and enough plot twists to throw off the most seasoned RPer.

But that was hardly enough. It then spawned LegendsofGaldre (based on Merlin at the beginning) that, over time, turned into a KISA/YORP second generation, with a dazzling new cast of characters. (Being herded by the immortal Rorrik, of course.)

What started out as one fun day where we got to be queens and knights turned into three years of world-building and character development, all of which I have very safely stowed away for use in future books. And I owe all the credit to the modest RP.

When I first began, I assumed it would merely be good for getting into the mind of a character. But it proved to be far more instructive than that. RPs can give you a better sense of pacing, teach you the valuable skill of conciseness and communication. Not everything goes as planned either; adaptability is a must when you were working towards one goal, but another persons character simply isn’t going with the program and you have to course-correct. And you learn what really tugs at a person’s heartstrings. Killing off any old character halfway through isn’t truly heart-breaking. But taking one of a pair, building things up, then ripping it to shreds in the most painful way possible… there’s a reason certain authors are infamous for #feels.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to spin RPs into The Best Writing Tool Ever. At the end of the day, it’s just fun. But it more than has it’s uses, and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without it, as cliche as it sounds.

 

If this got you up and rearing for a good RP, join me and a couple friends over at The Characters Within Us! Sign-up is free, and we’d love to have you. The current plot is pretty epic, gotta say.

The Best of KISA

The Best of KISA

So I’ve been writing Knights in Shining Armor as responses to weekly writing prompts from Irene on The Inklings. This chapter has gotten the best response by far, and doesn’t require much knowledge of the world to understand, so I’m posting it here. Enjoy!

 

Aalina guided her horse through the woods, leaving the dark castle behind her. It was a terrible night to try and leave secretly; her horse’s white fur and her white cloak reflected the full moon brilliantly, making them far too visible. But it was tonight or no night, Aalina knew.

The horse–Veritas–gave a snort, tossing his head slightly.

“Hush,” Aalina scolded him. She felt like a weathered old grandmother. She looked like one too, even though her face showed her to be no more than five and twenty. But her body had a weary stance beneath it’s armor, and her eyes held a coldness that came with seeing far too much of life. Where her hair lacked greyness, her worldview more than made up for it.

And it was little wonder why. Though her body had a tired stance, there was a grace to her movements. It was the movement of a warrior, trained and seasoned.

The grim woman steered her stallion between trees, making her way to the main trade route between Bannantyne and King Reinhold’s kingdom. She was finally headed home, after this mess of a diplomatic trip.

Home.

Home was where a warm drink and bed awaited her. Home was where she wasn’t guarding the backside of an entire kingdom from the scathing Bannantyne’s. Home was where Reinhold was.

Yet, ironically, she never felt more out of place than when she was near him.

Aalina came upon the trade route. It was empty, the chill of winter not quite receded. She was the only person visible, a pale knight dressed in the ethereal light of the moon. A sword hung by her side, and a long cloak flowed over her horse’s flanks. Her dark hair spilled out of the helmet, her dark eyes staring straight ahead. Each clop of a horse’s hoof brought her closer to home.

Yes, this trip had been a disaster. Reinhold had sent Aalina in a final, desperate attempt to make peace between the two kingdoms. But Reinhold’s stance on magic was too relaxed for Bannantyne. Aalina had been as humble as possible, playing down their army’s strength and their importance in the world, but it had been of no avail. Reinhold was an immanent threat in their mind. A single knight could not change that view.

The journey home stretched out for several days. Aalina felt she was getting too old for it all. Perhaps her body hadn’t aged since the deal, but Aalina thought that perhaps the cold hurt old bones not for the aged structure, but for the aged soul.

And Aalina’s soul was ancient.

The trade route narrowed as she neared Reinhold’s castle, the usual paths taken by merchants splitting off towards large cities and not solitary fortresses. Soon, Veritas was walking through untended woods, muzzle straying from time to time towards a tempting clump of greenery.

But at one point, Aalina pulled Veritas to a stop. She turned her head ever so slightly, ear catching a noise on the wind.

Talking. Not too unusual, perhaps; this part of the forest was close to the castle. But one voice was very familiar. And the other not at all.

Aalina dismounted swiftly and unsheathed her sword, stalking towards the noise.

It was Princess Forestyne, speaking with a hooded man. Between the princess’ fingers danced a purple light, streaming like ribbons from hand to hand.

A thousand thoughts ran through Aalina’s head at one. The Bannantyne Kingdom would attack us for having a magical royal. Why is Forestyne not on the castle grounds? Who is the hooded man? 

They all coalesced into a single thought.

Stop this. 

Aalina stepped into the clearing, sword pointed at the hooded man. He was magical, no doubt of that. Stopping him would be tricky, if he chose to put up a fight.

“Step away from the princess,” Aalina said, voice gruff.

Forestyne reacted behind her, gasping or screaming or somesuch thing. The girl could never react to a thing usefully.

The hooded man stepped back, holding his hands out.

“I mean the princess no harm,” he said.

“Leave.”

“I only wished to-”

Leave, and I will discuss this with the king,” Aalina growled.

The man looked past the knight towards the princess, then vanished.

Aalina turned and wrapped an arm around the princess’ too-tiny waist and slung her up onto Veritas, her sword still in one hand. Aalina mounted in front of the girl, then urged the horse into a canter.

“Why did you do that?” Forestyne demanded when she got her voice back.

“I should be asking that question of you,” Aalina responded. “But I will leave it to your brother to pose.” She ducked a branch.

“Don’t tell Rei-” Forestyne began before the tree branch caught her mid-sentence.

Aalina galloped across the castle grounds before bursting through the main doors. Her horse’s hooves clattered with a ferocious noise on the flagstones before coming to a stop in front of the throne, where Reinhold sat.

Reinhold raised a single eyebrow up past the rim of his crown.

“Knight Aalina? Forestyne?”

Forestyne dismounted and left the room, purple skirts swishing. Aalina looked down at the king.

“I’m afraid I bring a lot of bad news,” she said.

The Post NaNo Crash (aka Writing Excuses)

The Post NaNo Crash (aka Writing Excuses)

I used to hate writing excuses.

You’re a bloody self-described author! What would you be doing besides writing? You fake-authors. How dare you smear the name.

All well and good to pass judgement. But be warned, younger me: you will also be judged.

Sigh.

I blazed through NaNoWriMo with glorious success. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s where authors take the month of November to be uber-authors and spit out 50,000 words. A mighty feat, for those who haven’t attempted it. I was successful, but the crash afterwards has lasted much longer than the one week I allotted myself.

I’ve touched my NaNo novel exactly once since finishing it, deciding to instead waste precious words on wee fanficlets for DC’s The Flash and The Magnificent Seven. I did perk up a bit when I started KISA and Pi, but what I really need to do is work on Queen.

She’s sitting at a pathetic little 52k, nearing the climax of the story that needs to be at least 80k words, by my estimate. So, I resolve–Christmas hot on my heels or not–to begin writing on December the 20th, tomorrow.

It’s really the perfect time, since I’ve finished up my latest college course semester. To get myself in the mood, I’ll be posting what I do have of Queen (in all it’s unedited glory. #nofilters, I guess.) to Figment. Beast has garnered some recognition there, so hopefully it’s sequel fares well.

Update over. J.A. out!

A Cover For Pi

Pi is a special work in progress for me. (Well, any author will tell you that all their works are special, but you know what I mean.)

Pi was originally an Artificial Intelligence accompanying my character Setta in a roleplay with friends a few years back. I got ridiculously attached to the characters and their relationship, and I’ve been dying to turn it into a story ever since. But the RP was based on the internet show Red vs Blue, and it took some work to separate it enough from the franchise that it wasn’t just fanfiction.

(For example, Setta’s name was originally “Agent Massachusetts” to follow the Freelancer trend of state names.)

I’d written a long dialogue story, then shaved it down in order to work for a Wattpad contest. Neither did particularly well (dialogue stories are an acquired taste,) so Pi was mostly left untouched.

In any case, Pi is now officially a WIP! Grumpy-wump Setta and cray-cray AI are now ready for brand new antics, along with their poor fellow agents that get dragged into alien deals and para-military conspiracies.

And to celebrate, I have this fantastic cover from Wordspark!

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I’m absolutely floored. Setta looks freaking amazing (and the reddish-brown hair color is just right!), and I really love the computer-chip design flowing in the background. I cannot thank Wordspark enough. Heaven knows the poor thing struggled making a scifi cover when she’s only worked with fantasy before.

*happy author noises*

 

Keep writing, y’all!

-J.A.