Showing posts from June, 2017

Implicit vs. Explicit Magic, Or Why I Respectfully Disagree with Sanderson's First Law

For those of you who don't know (or need a refresher), Brandon Sanderson's First Law of Magic is: An author's ability to solve conflict satisfactorily with magic is  directly proportional  to how well the reader understands said magic.  I'll admit that when I started writing this blog post, I had forgotten the rest of the essay in which Sanderson lays out his argument for this principle (linked above). He actually makes allowances for authors writing different styles of magic than he prefers. But his scale runs from "soft" magic (i.e. little or no explanation in the story) to hard magic (i.e. the rules are given and followed within the story). I'd come to this topic inspired by a conversation in the Books thread over at NarniaWeb about logical vs. intuitive stories. I've recently read a couple of books that seemed to work in stark contrast to Sanderson's First Law, and I thought perhaps the logical vs. intuitive distinction might be relevant

Saturday Snippets: June Edition

Another month gone already? Must be time for snippets. This time we just have Albion Apparent ; I've been trying to push through to the end of the draft so I can get it to the beta readers and while I've made some good progress this month, we're still about 5 chapters from the end. Here's to July being as productive as June, if not more so! I thought back to that class with Mr. Cornelius. Aella and Stavros had used a rhyme to delineate the differences in the four colors. “Gold seeks change,” I recited. I couldn’t remember the rest of the line. “Precisely, young Merlin. Alchemy, transformation, transmutation—that Philosopher’s Stone on your hand. All of these are gold magic. Though it can be seen as a sister color to red magic, gold is wild, free. It holds no allegiances and admits to no oaths. It is untame, if you will.” Gold sparks danced in his eyes as he spoke. The tone of his voice had changed from that of an instructor to someone speaking about an old friend. I

Monday Musings: My Multiverse/Conglomeration-ish Thing

I mentioned on Wednesday that I had a couple of worlds populated with characters who might or might not have made it into the sketchbook. Since I've mentioned a couple of these projects before, and since most of them have Pinterest boards, I thought I'd lay out what the larger universe (or multiverse) looks like, beyond Albion Academy . Note that most of what's on this list exists either in rough draft or (more commonly) as ideas and outlines. So far only Albion Academy  and some of the John Valley stories are published. Our World Or at least, a fictional version of it. Home to wizards, cyborgs, vampires, and a great deal of things that fall into the cracks in between. There are 4 main sub-series set here. The Albion Quartet - 4 books dealing with Merlin Pendragon, magic, Albion Academy, and the Faerie Court; there are also some short stories set in this timeline, along with a novella about Robin Goodfellow; Book 1 ( Albion Academy ) is published; Book 2 ( Albion Ap

ThrowBook Thursday: Osten Ard Reread: Stone of Farewell

I'm not 2/3 of the way through Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and I've just accepted the fact I won't finish until after The Witchwood Crown  releases. That said, I'm still loving coming back to this world after so many years away. On to the review! Michael Whelan's cover art astounds as always. Check him out here . Stone of Farewell  is the shortest book in the trilogy, which may account for why I remembered so precious little of it. The fact that I originally read the third book, To Green Angel Tower , in its two-volume paperback edition likely did not help, as I kept expecting to see things which happened in that book happen here. We begin shortly after the previous book ends, with Simon and his company held captive or hosted as warriors (depending on the individual) in the ice-bound land of the trolls. Simon continues to be baffled by the Sithi, especially his friend Jiriki, and by the world at large. He mercifully grows more mature in this book, but many of

Watercolor Wednesday: Hal and Dammerung Fanart + Sketch Dump

This has been a busier month for me as regards visual art. I haven't painted much, but I've been working on my sketching skills because one goal I've had for ages is to be able to sketch my own characters with some degree of finesse. I'm not going to be designing characters for film any time soon, but I'm pleased with my progress so far. Halcyon and Dammerung: Sassmaster Shapeshifters My watercolor this month is a fan art painting of Halcyon from Mirriam Neal's Paper Crowns  and Dammerung from Jennifer Freitag's Plenilune . These are two of my favorite books from last year, and two of my favorite characters from those books. I'm moderately pleased with the way the tails and bodies turned out, but the paws and faces were a bit wonky. I'm still not sure how to make the backgrounds seem more integrated. Step 4 is more of a guideline. I like to think of it as steps 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, and 4. This hand-lettered piece was actually someth

Monday Musings: Uprooted Book Review

I recently read Naomi Novik's first standalone novel, Uprooted , after having a mild interest and receiving many recommendations from fellow bookworms. I really liked doing bulleted lists of likes and dislikes before, so we'll continue that trend today. Some minor and major spoiler follow, so if you prefer to avoid those, proceed with caution. But first, just look at this gorgeous cover! Appreciations: The MAGIC! This book's take on magic (that there are different "schools" of thought, some more academic, some more intuitive) and the main character's descriptions of her own spells blew me out of the water. It's wonderful and immersive and I hope Novik does more in this world in the future. The Polish fairy tale setting was a refreshing break from a generic fairy tale setting that's either England or France. It was just familiar enough to not be disengaging and just new enough to keep me in wonder throughout. The resolution of the conflict

Top 10 Tuesday: Dragons

This month for Top 10 Tuesday, I thought we'd visit a topic that shows up in a surprising way in Albion Academy : dragons. They can be good; they can be evil; they can be humorous or quite solemn. Whatever they are, they make stories interesting and dangerous. As it has been said ( but NOT by Tolkien ), "Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons." Onward to the dragons! (Be sure to keep a wizard and a fire cloak handy.) Maleficent (Disney's  Sleeping Beauty ) She's the self-proclaimed Mistress of All Evil™and a cunning villain bent on the destruction of other people's happiness. Maybe she's a fairy, maybe she's a dragon, maybe she just needed someone to show her true love, but whatever the case, she's one of the most iconic dragons in cinema. Mushu (Disney's  Mulan ) On a lighter note, we have Mushu, the Fa family guardian demoted to gong-ringer for failing to protect one of his c

Plot Twists: Did the Author See That Coming?

Someone recently asked me about a plot twist in Albion Academy  regarding Mrs. Pendragon. "Was that always the plan?" he asked. "At what point in the process did you know that was going to happen?" That particular twist (if you've read the book, you know which one) actually came into the story very early on. Once I'd established that my Merlin was not THE Merlin, but instead his descendant, I quickly had the idea of his origins. Vivienne's nature, motivations, and role in the plot came with Merlin's. Sometimes plot twists are like that. They weave themselves into the plot so early on that they are like fixed points in time. The author knows they're coming the whole way through. Endings like that of The Thief  can't really be written if they aren't supported in the whole of the book, and the process for those sorts of books goes much more smoothly if the author knows the ending in advance. Other times, though, the twists can surprise t