Day 21 of 100: What I Miss about Social Media

The other day I ran into a friend at a coffee shop and, in an effort to schedule lunch, she had mentioned to catch her on Facebook. I mentioned to her my experiment, and we worked around it, but the interesting thing was that this led to a discussion about what social media meant to her.

Paper Chain in the Dark by hoefi at sxc.huBoth of us are authors and both of us are tired of people who use social media to heavily promote themselves. She uses Facebook primarily for the community-related aspects. Facebook has allowed her to connect with similar-minded authors. Since she’s of the same mind I am (e.g. meet people rather than opportunities) she gets a lot out of Facebook because the people there motivate and support her.

When I got offline initially, I talked about how I was inundated with noise and updates. What I’ve missed, though, is the community-related aspects. It’s strange, though, because I don’t really feel I have been using the tools to interact with a community. I used to. Back in the day I was on message boards, forums, LiveJournal, etc. But now? I’ve been using them to interact with individuals I already know, within the gaming and publishing communities, and meet new people. Is that the same thing? Not sure. Add a new element–readers or personal friends–on top of that, and the community gets a bit stranger, doesn’t it? Now there’s multiple communities as opposed to just one.

I don’t miss the noise, but I miss the people. Not sure if that makes any sense to you or not. To me, it’s telling me that some people get online to foster a community around themselves or their own work. I’m not that kind of an author and right now, that doesn’t make any sense. I’d rather take my cue from my readers as opposed to acting like author deity. (Although, I would make a rather smashing literary goddess. Wouldn’t you say? Hah, hah!) When I do get back online, I’m wondering if I should take a look at new opportunities to connect with a community as opposed to looking for new ways to share my thoughts or simply promote.

A Character I Most Identify With (Or Wish I Was)

Yuna from Final Fantasy XToday I’m talking about a character again. This time, I’m naming a character I most identify with (or wish I was).

This task is a huge challenge for me, because one of the characters I really admire doesn’t come from a book. She comes from a video game. When I was a lot younger, I used to identify with characters more often — especially in high school when I read many coming-of-age novels. Now, though, it takes a lot for me to immerse myself in a character. I find there’s no better way for me to do that than through an RPG-style game or by watching a television series like Buffy: the Vampire Slayer or Doctor Who.

For the character I most identify with, I would have to say that honor goes to Yuna. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Final Fantasy, nor that I enjoy watching anime or delving into Asian mythology. The illustration pictured here comes from Wikipedia to help you see what Yuna looked like during Final Fantasy X, before her character transformation in Final Fantasy X-2.

Yuna starts out by doing what is expected of her, no matter how much it hurts her or puts herself down. In the beginning, she is resigned to her fate. Through the course of the story, she finds her own voice through the support of her friends and the love of one of her guardians. The journey she takes transforms her from a passive female character to a strong one. Not only does she deal with tragedy, but she turns down the hand of a man she doesn’t love, watches her lover die, and fights back regardless of the odds. She is the character who never, ever gives up.

It is Yuna’s persistence and perseverance I greatly admire. Her travels aren’t easy, but with the help of her lover and her friends, she sees her task all the way through to the end.

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What I Read for Not-So-Guilty Pleasure

Today’s post about genre books is what I read for my guilty pleasure. Since I never feel embarrassed about reading any book, I’m going to call this my “not-so-guilty” pleasure instead. After all, I don’t have a particular book, mind you, but more like a type of read.

It’s hard for me to read books without noting their structure and the techniques an author uses to tell a story. So, to give my mind a break, I turn to a type of book I don’t typically write. Young Adult fiction is tops on that list; I also read romance and mysteries on occasion. Some of these books, like the Faery Tale series by Holly Black, are darker and have more mature or experimental themes than I’ve read in similar stories. Others, like the Harry Potter series, are dark to a point, but a hero (or heroine) always prevails.

When I’m reading for not-so-guilty pleasure, I don’t care if the author followed all the appropriate techniques and did all the right things an author is supposed to do, because I’m reading to have a good time. It’s my “light read” or my “sitting-by-the-beach-drinking-margaritas read.” I’m often more forgiving of a book when I’m not critiquing it, unless there are glaring errors like typos or problems with the voice. First person, for me, can be really hard to read and get into if I’m not grounded in the story. Does this mean those books are bad? Hardly. Typos and grammatical errors aside, my challenge with first and second person narrative isn’t necessarily what other people’s complaints are, for some books were written by popular authors.

With as fast as I read, I can tell how much I’m enjoying a book if I polish it off in one or two nights. The longer it takes for me to read something, the more committed I am to the story, and the more intense the experience. My not-so-guilty pleasure books are those afternoon reads that are typically light-hearted, fun and…of course…full of heroes.

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An Underrated Genre Novel

Hellboy: The Bones of GiantsToday’s question required me to think about a genre novel I read that I feel is underrated. While there are many original stories that haven’t gotten as much acclaim as others, I feel that many tie-in novels get overlooked simply because they are tie-in novels.

So, my vote for an underrated genre novel is one penned by Christopher Golden. It’s called Hellboy: The Bones of Giants and it’s a tale after my own heart. This book stars Hellboy and the hammer lovingly known as “Mjolnir.” Norse mythology crossed with my favorite comic book character? Awesome stuff.

The thing is, this type of a story is extremely hard to pull off for a few reasons. First, there’s the issue of designing the story within the Hellboy universe. Second, Golden had to also blend in Norse mythology without breaking the setting and providing something new to the reader, something we haven’t seen. In Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, Golden accomplishes this by making Moljnir sentient. The legendary hammer has memories that affect Hellboy. Yes, we’ve seen this before in Hellboy: Sword of Storms, but that’s part of the reason why this makes the novel so good. There are a lot of technical aspects that needed to be accomplished in this novel, but the work is seamless. As a reader, I didn’t notice the stitches, I was completely immersed in the novel.

For these reasons, Hellboy: The Bones of Giants is an underrated genre novel and one that I feel readers shouldn’t overlook.

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My Favorite Genre Character

Okay, so I thought today’s part of the 30 Day Genre Meme hit a little too close to home. For those of you who are familiar with gaming, this is the part where I tell you about my character. My favorite character that is.

The only trouble is, I found it was really hard to pinpoint just one! Memorable characters are important to me for different reasons. In some cases, I remember a character because they were different, so unusual in the way that they were portrayed it stuck out in my mind. Kind of like the characters in the Otherland series by Tad Williams or The Stand Unabridged by Stephen King, where an array of characters from different ages, backgrounds and cultures, all come together to tell a story.

The Morgaine SagaFor female characters, my vote would be Morgaine from the time-traveling series written by C.J. Cherryh. She’s the reluctant hero, the keeper of the mysteries, the ultimate mistress — but is she? A mysterious character, everything we know, imagine and feel about her is filtered through the viewpoints of other characters. In this way, for this science fantasy setting, Morgaine is an outstanding character not in the way she’s described, but for all the things we don’t know. You can read about Morgaine in a collected tome called The Morgaine Saga.

Dragon Wing Book CoverFor male characters, my vote is Haplo from The Death Gate Cycle series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. The first book in the series is called Dragon Wing. Like Morgaine, Haplo is enigmatic but for a different reason. Part of why I like his character so much, is not because of his fierce independence, but because Haplo is what I call an “intentional” character. Everything that he is and does–independent, reluctant to trust, determined–is because of the setting. In my mind, The Death Gate Cycle represents an excellent example of how worldbuilding can (and should) have an impact on the main character’s appearance, personality and demeanor.

In both of these examples, what drew me to these characters was the technique the authors employed. Other memorable characters stand out in my mind due to their inventiveness and their quirks and whether or not they’re different from the others in the book.

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