Posts Tagged With: hunger games

Give the gift of reading this Christmas …

… by buying a copy of my debut novel, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It!

That’s right, folks, it’s shameless self-promotion time! For all my lovely readers who haven’t yet read my book, why not give it a shot this Christmas? Or if you have read it and loved it, how about grabbing up a copy for your friends, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, alpacas, rutabagas … whomever in your life you think might enjoy a little science fiction fun!

Click the gigantic book cover in the sidebar to get links to all the various online retailers that carry the book. Or just click here to go straight to Amazon.com.

Now, sadly I can’t actually offer any discounts, because iUniverse controls the pricing, not me. I know, I know, I’m working on it! In the meantime, while I can’t offer a price drop on book, I can offer a signed copy (sort of) if you buy a softcover or hardcover. Basically, I’m using this newfangled contraption called a “bookplate” (also known as a “sticker”). The idea here is that you buy the book, you send me an email letting me know you want a signed bookplate (along with your mailing address), and then I send you a bookplate free of charge, along with some Imminent Danger swag (bookmarks, stickers, personal thank you note for supporting me, etc.) Here’s a picture of a hastily done up bookplate that I totally didn’t just make five seconds ago:

bookplate

I promise I’ll get a better gold marker so it isn’t all fuzzy looking. And if you want me to address the bookplate to a certain individual, or write a custom message or whatever, just let me know.

Anyway, that’s my shameless self-promotion for the Christmas season! If you’ve got a spare minute, please consider spreading the word about this whole “bookplate” thing … or just about my book and how awesome it is in general. And if you already bought a copy and want a bookplate, shoot a message/email my way and I’ll hook you up!

Unrelated media of the day:

As always, I can’t remember if I’ve already shared this or not, but either way, enjoy!

Advertisements
Categories: My Works, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why everyone should read Battle Royale

Warning: This post isn’t quite as chipper as some of my previous posts. You’ve been warned!

If you’ve never heard of Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale, think Hunger Games set in a futuristic, dystopian Japan, on steroids (this is obviously a huge oversimplification, but just go with it). There’s been a lot of controversy recently about whether or not Suzanne Collins ripped off Battle Royale, but that’s not the point of this post. In this post, I’m going to explain why I think everyone should read Battle Royale at least once, because despite it not being the best-written book in the world, it has some really important ideas that I think more people should be exposed to.

Reason #1: It makes you take a hard look at yourself

When we read books, we usually end up putting ourselves in the shoes of one of the characters. It’s hard to connect to a story if you don’t do that. But in Battle Royale, the characters are average junior high students trapped on an island, given random weapons, and informed that they have to kill each other or else the collars locked around their necks will explode. Not quite as fun slipping into those shoes, is it?

Battle Royale forces you to put yourself in the position of these teenagers and ask yourself: What would I do in this situation? And it’s such a hard question to answer, because there is no easy answer. My initial response when I started reading the book was that I would hide, try to avoid confrontation, and only shoot to kill in self-defense. Okay, great. Now skip ahead 24 hours, and it’s only you and your best friend alive. One of you has to kill the other, or you both die. What do you do now? Do you trust your best friend not to turn on you? Are you willing to die to let them live? Are you willing to live with the knowledge that you killed them?

It’s a really morbid story, and very depressing to think about. But self-reflection is never a bad thing — how else do we learn about ourselves and try to improve?

Reason #2: It drives home how senseless and tragic violence is

Battle Royale is a heart-wrenching book, and not just because 40 teenagers die for no good reason. The worst part isn’t that they die, but how they die. Two young lovers throw themselves off a cliff because they’re unwilling to even consider harming their classmates. One boy spends the entire game trying to find his best friend and the girl he likes, only to have one die in his arms, and the other panic and shoot him. Another boy comes up with a brilliant plan to tear apart the game and get them all free, but is killed right before he can set his plan in motion.

When you read Battle Royale, there’s a certain part of you that cheers for the two crazy killers who go around riddling their fellow students with machine gun rounds — survival of the fittest and all that. But the rest of you comes away feeling profoundly sad and disillusioned with the glory that the media places on violence and killing, and I think that’s something that everyone needs to feel.

I have many more reasons, but those are the main two. The one I didn’t mention is that Battle Royale is just a really, really good story in general. Again, not terribly well written, but it’s pretty much impossible to put down. So, go forth, read, weep, and enjoy!

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

August Writing Update

Greetings blogosphere! As it’s been a ludicrously long time since I last talked about what I’m currently working on, writing-wise, it’s about time I fessed up. The truth is …

I’m not working on a whole lot at the moment.

I know, I know — the most important part of being a writer is writing! Now, in my defense, I may not be doing a lot of writing, but I have been doing a lot of planning. I go on a 90 minute walk every day, usually with my brother, and we spend that time thinking and conjecturing and planning my assorted writing projects. So although I’m not technically putting pen to paper, I like to think I’m getting stuff done nonetheless.

Since you’re probably not reading this post unless you care somewhat about my current writing projects, I shall now give you a brief update on the various things I’m working on. Prepare to be bored/amazed!

“Chasing Nonconformity” (sequel to Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It)

So I sent the second draft of this sci-fi action/romance story out to my beta readers back in … May, I think? A while ago, anyway. I’ve barely heard anything from them since then, so I sent them a message a few days ago asking that they send me whatever notes/thoughts they have by September 1st, so that I can get going on the next draft. I don’t expect most of them to actually finish reading it by then, but hey, whatcha gonna do?

I actually have some really exciting things planned for this story — and my brother came up with a super cool idea just the other day that I’m going to add into the existing manuscript. So I wouldn’t say this project is anywhere near completion, but it’s certainly working its way towards getting there.

“The Elemental Guard” (YA fantasy)

This story has been annoying me for a while, because I wrote the first draft, and there’s just something … wrong with it. I’m not quite sure what. So I’ve completely revamped the concept, and am going to rewrite the entire thing. Siiiiiigh. I think it’s going to be worth it, though. Fingers crossed!

D.Y.S.C. (Disciplinary Youth Survival Competition — YA dystopian)

I’m actually really excited about this one. I’ve been a fan of Battle Royale for years, and loved Hunger Games when it came out, and I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a dystopian story for a while now. And now I’m going to do it! I started writing this story a few years ago for NaNoWriMo, but it was kind of bad, so I’m salvaging the good parts, changing a lot of stuff up, and basically starting over. I’m not going to say much about it right now, but I can reveal that it will involve an asteroid colony, teenagers fighting in a gladiatorial death match (pretty much a staple of dystopian YA fiction, lol), and lots of awesome. Stay tuned!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

 

Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Amateur Writing Tip — When World-building, Consider Population

Today’s amateur writing tip is courtesy of my little brother Jesse, who enjoys dissecting my story ideas and informing me why they make no logical sense. Think Spock, but taller and wearing glasses.

On one of our recent walks, we were chatting about a new fantasy story I’ve been working on. The basic premise (not to give too much away) is that monsters have over-run the ground, so humans have taken to the sky in a handful of floating cities to survive. There are still a bunch of humans on the ground, but they live in small, scattered tribes and rely on nature magic to repel the beasties. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong.

As Jesse explained to me, the driving force behind a large percentage of historical events is population. After all, when your population keeps growing and you’re running out of land, what can you do but expand? Conversely, if your population is shrinking, you’re going to be weaker, losing ground and resources, and slowly but surely heading for decline and failure.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that populations don’t remain stagnant. They either grow or shrink — unless there’s some sort of population-control in effect (see China’s one child policy). So what does this mean for world-building?

Population and world-building

Even if your fantasy world is full of wizards and dragons and whatnot who totally defy the laws of logic, your unwashed peasant masses still need to make sense, population-wise. Therefore, read on and be amazed!

A) Be wary of isolated villages

You can dot your fantasy landscape with small villages until the sun comes down, but the important thing to remember is that they cannot be isolated villages. Although isolated villages make great settings, they don’t actually make sense. If you’ve got a little village of 100 people who never interact with other villages and just live in their own little world, what happens? They inbreed, because there’s no outside blood. Inbreeding, for the record, is bad. So if you’re going to have a bunch of little villages, make sure there’s some system in place for inter-marriage between the villages. Unless you want your village to be full of inbred people, in which case, isolate those villages to your heart’s content, my friend.

Update: In response to Matthew Cook’s comment, I did a little research, and it turns out that while inbreeding is generally a bad thing, in some cases it actually can produce healthy populations with few negative consequences — so long as the village is big enough (i.e., a few hundred people or more). So, isolated villages aren’t necessarily going to turn all your characters into gibbering morons … but you should only have isolated villages if you’re ready for the consequences inherent therein! (Click here to read an essay about inbreeding in human populations.)

B) Large populations require resources

By resources, I’m talking vast tracts of farmland. Now, your city doesn’t necessarily have to be right next to farmland, or even own farmland — it just needs to have access, somehow, to food. In my case, I’ve got floating cities where all the real estate is taken up by dwellings and assorted buildings. No room for farmland there. So instead I’ve created mountain-top farming communities that provide food for the skycities in exchange for the assorted goods manufactured in the cities. Go food or go home!

C) Population affects politics

Imagine your world is overrun by monsters, gobbling up everyone in their path. You flee with the few survivors to a city in the clouds. Now, as you sit up there, struggling to rebuild your society and recover from this devastating loss of life, are you going to attempt a government coup? Of course not. You’ve got more important things to worry about – such as, for example, not dying. But jump a few hundred years down the road, and now your city is thriving. Suddenly your population is booming — what do you do with all these people? You need to get rid of them, because they’re crowding up the slums and causing problems, but there’s nowhere to send them. You turn to the government for help, but they have no idea what to do with the excess populace either. And so … BAM! Civil unrest.

D) Attempts at controlling population growth rarely end well

Ever read Ender’s Game? The world is over-populated, so the government passes a law that you can only have two children — if you have a third child, they won’t get access to health care, education, etc. But guess what? Even with all the horrible consequences of having too many children, people do it anyway. So if you’re going to explain your stagnant population as a result of population control, assume that there’s going to be a lot of unrest amongst your society about it. Unless, of course, your population control is magical in nature — then you can do whatever the heck you want. I suggest creating a spell where excess children are transformed into parakeets. You can never have too many parakeets.

Basically, what I’m trying and failing to convey here is that population matters. I know most writers would rather focus on the fun stuff, like “What should I name Jeremiah’s magical talking sword?”, or “Can I get away with making Sara both the Empress of Cavortas and the high priestess of Zinzar?”. But if you’re creating a fantasy world, you absolutely have to consider the population. You don’t have to consider for long — goodness knows you have more important things to do with your life — but please, for the love of logic, just make sure you aren’t creating a world that makes absolutely no sense. Otherwise you’ll end up with a Hunger Games scenario, where the tiny population of a single city has control over the entirety of North America, and the rest of the world has either died off or, for some bizarre reason, has chosen to have no contact with North America despite the obvious and necessary benefits of international trade.

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 34 Comments

A Reflection on the Pointless Murder of Beloved Fictional Characters

This post was inspired by Zen Scribbles’s recent post Jack Did Not Have To Die!

Today we will be discussing something near and dear to my heart: when authors kill off beloved characters for no good reason.

Now, obviously authors can do whatever they want. If they want to kill off half their characters, that’s their choice. But what I implore authors to do before they start knocking off characters left and right is to consider the audience they’re writing for, and consider what impact these deaths will have on their readers.

Example #1: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Deaths include, amongst others, Hedwig the Owl, Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks.

Why was it a bad idea to kill these characters? Because the entire series thus far had been about good overcoming evil — the idea that, if you’re true to your principles and willingly help others and try to do the right thing, you will succeed. This was a wonderful message to send to children … at least, until they read book 7 and found half their favourite characters dead.

Sirius Black’s death served a purpose — it was to teach Harry caution, to make him think things through before blindly jumping in. Dumbledore’s death forced Harry to man up and get s**t done. But Fred Weasley’s death served no purpose. Lupin and Tonks didn’t even get a death scene. And what purpose could there possibly be in killing off a fluffy owl?

I know that JKR was trying to impress upon us the horrors of war, but I feel that could have been done in a different way. Perhaps maim them, like she did to George and Bill Weasley. George RR Martin (Game of Thrones) can kill off all the characters he wants because that’s the world his story is set in, that’s the genre he’s writing for. But Harry Potter isn’t a gritty political intrigue — it’s about a boy hero facing down true evil and winning. And I believe that senseless deaths have no place in a series like that.

Example #2: Mockingjay (Book 3 of the Hunger Games)

Deaths include, amongst others (SPOILER ALERT), Finnick Odair and Primrose Everdeen.

Now, Finnick’s death I sort of understand, much as I’d rather not — he was deep within a warzone, after all, so death was a very real possibility. But Primrose’s death? Ridiculous. There was no good reason for her to be in Capitol when those bombs went off. She’s a child, for God’s sake. She should have been safely back in District 13 — by all logic, she would have been. And yet, there she was when President Coin’s ridiculous plan to explode everyone happened.

The point of her death, I assume, was to … um … screw up Katniss even more than she was already? I think Peeta’s alarming mental instability and constant attempts to kill Katniss had already screwed her up sufficiently — killing off her sister was just unnecessary.

Now, Suzanne Collins has more of a leg to stand on than JKR, because she had already established that her series involved killing mass amounts of people. But prior to Mockingjay, people had been killed in a context that actually made sense. Primrose being in Capitol during the final wave of attack made no sense. Not to mention that the assorted people back in District 13 who were Katniss’s friends and confidantes would have been looking out for her sister while she was away doing totally pointless things in the Capitol.

Pro Character-Killing Tip: 

You can judge whether or not a character’s death is appropriate by viewing your readers’ reactions.

If they read the death scene in utter shock and scream, “Noooooooooo! [Insert Name of Character Here]! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!!!!!”, then you did well. Congratulations. The death scene you wrote was touching and believable within the context of the story.

If they read the scene with an expression of increasing disbelief, followed by them snapping the book shut and saying, “That was just stupid. Why the hell would the author do that? That made no sense!”, then you might want to consider a rewrite.

Thus endeth the rant. Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments.

Unrelated images of the day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 66 Comments

The Ultimate Fanfiction Challenge

Okay people, in honour of my first day of 9-5 work, I have created the:

Here are the rules:

1. Write a short fanfiction about ANYTHING you want — the goal here is to get as ridiculous as humanly possible. Oh, and you should probably keep it fairly clean — or at least make sure to put a rating on it before inquisitive young minds read your Snape/Dobby/Katniss orgy fic and are scarred for life.

2. Post it in the comments below, or on your blog, or wherever the heck you like. Just make sure you let me know so I can read it!

3. If you like the idea, share the ULTIMATE FANFICTION CHALLENGE on your own blog. Hopefully it will catch on, and WordPress will be swamped by thousands of terrible, mind-bogglingly twisted fanfictions in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For my entry into the ULTIMATE FANFICTION CHALLENGE, I give you:

The Boy and his Cake

Fandom: Hunger Games

Pairing: Peeta / Cake

Rating: R (sort of …?)

It had been months since the Hunger Games, but Peeta knew that even though his body had escaped the arena, his mind never would. His nights were tormented by images of Katniss dying. Peeta always tried to save her, but he never could. He woke up screaming every morning, long before the sun rose, and nothing could get him to fall back asleep.

After awakening from a particularly horrific nightmare in which Katniss had been ripped apart by mutts, Peeta stumbled out of his room and down to the kitchen for a glass of water. But when he turned on the kitchen light, he was astonished by what he found sitting on the counter. It was a huge cake, five layers tall, and two feet in diameter.

“What do we have here?” Peeta murmured, approaching the cake. It was made of chocolate batter, but there was something missing. “You poor thing,” he murmured, reaching out to gently caress the spongy cake. “Your maker forgot to ice you. Don’t worry, I can fix you. I’ll make you feel better than you’ve ever felt before.”

Driven by his newfound purpose, Peeta rummaged through the drawers and pulled out the ingredients to make delicious chocolate icing. He mixed it all together in a huge wooden bowl, accidentally covering himself in icing sugar in the process.

Dipping a wide spatula into the bowl of icing, Peeta carefully began to ice the near-side of the cake. “Your curves are so soft, so round,” Peeta whispered, tracing the spatula lovingly along the cake. “I could just eat you up. But you wouldn’t like that, would you? You want the person who eats you to take it slow, really savour the experience. I can do that for you, cake. I can be that man.”

He ran the icing-coated spatula round and round the cake, moving faster and faster as he moved up the layers. By the time he reached the topmost layer, he was panting from his efforts. “Just a little longer,” he gasped. “Almost there …”

Finally he reached the tip of the cake, finishing off the icing with a sultry swirl. Then Peeta collapsed back against the sink, breathing raggedly and clutching the spatula in an iron grip.

There was only one thing left to do. Drawing forth a knife, Peeta carefully sliced off a piece of the chocolate confection. After the first taste, his eyes rolled back in his head and he moaned in ecstasy. “Oh my god,” Peeta groaned. “I’ve never felt this fulfilled before, you insatiable chocolate temptress.”

“Eat some more,” the cake replied, “and you’ll see how insatiable I can be.”

It suddenly occurred to Peeta that maybe he should have attended those Capitol-appointed psychiatric appointments after all.

Random Video of the Day:

The song itself is kind of bad. The video, however, is hysterical.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So I bought a website … help!

What up, blogosphere. Today I reach out to you in my hour of need. Ready for my plea?

I bought a website.

I signed up with justhost.com, and bought the domain name michelleproulx.com. Feel free to click that link and check it out — it’s laughably simple, because I have no idea how to build/maintain a website.

My site is created using Weebly.

Weebly is a widget-based website creator, which Just Host told me to use, and it baffles me. I figured out how to make basic pages with photos and text, but more complicated things elude me. How, for example, do I view my site statistics? Is there a way for me to add a Facebook “Like” button on a page? Or what about a “Tweet it” button? Does it have something to do with HTML? My author friend Tania L Ramos has a website with a Twitter button right on the homepage. How do I get that?

I can’t find any useful how-to videos.

The only videos I’ve found are ones that explain the very basics of using Weebly, which I figured out for myself. A five-year-old could figure it out. I need to know more complicated stuff. Like, how come when I Google my website name, it doesn’t show up until like page 8 of the Google Search results? How can I get it higher up the list? Is there some feature I need to turn on? Do I need to sell my soul? If so, to whom? Is there a refund policy?

In conclusion, technology confuses me.

On the plus side, I did figure out how to get the comments widget to email comments directly to me, so I can read those now. Huzzah!

Help!

Any insights into justhost.com, Weebly, or pretty much anything about making a website would be extremely helpful. Now, to repeat, I know how to make pages, text objects, photos, and link things. It’s the rest of the website building thing that I need help with. Assist me!!!

Image cred: http://www.fanpop.com/spots/the-hunger-games/images/28601336/title/lol-true-fanart

Categories: Blog-related | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

What music do you listen to when you write?

Sometimes when I’m trying to write a particularly emotional scene (sad, happy, romantic, exciting, etc.), I have trouble putting myself in that particular emotional mindset. One of the best ways I’ve found to counter this type of writer’s block is by listening to a song (usually put on endless repeat) that embodies the particular emotion I’m trying to convey.

I’m going to share some of my current favourite emotion-inducing songs with you here, so grab some headphones and enjoy!

Happy

“I Am (Record Version” is from the anime Inuyasha. It’s light, cheery, has lots of xylophone and flute, and just makes me smile every time I hear it.

Angry

“Let’s Start a Riot” is loud, raucous, and makes me want to riot every time I hear it. Warning: don’t talk to anyone for at least a few minutes after listening to this song. You will feel very pumped up and confrontational, so cool down a bit first.

Romantic

“First Love” is a Japanese song reminiscing about a girl’s first love. I actually prefer listening to songs in different languages when I’m writing, because lyrics often distract me from what I’m writing. If the lyrics are in a different language, however, it’s much harder to get distracted by them!

Melancholy

“Safe and Sound” is from the Hunger Games soundtrack. Every time I listen to this, I picture a girl sitting alone in an empty room, nostalgically remembering a simpler, happier time.

What about you?

What songs do you listen to when you write? I’m always looking for new music, so please share!!!

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.