Sunday, June 26, 2011

A fairy good school visit

I did a lot of book events last year. I spoke at three conferences, a book festival, and the ALAN convention in Orlando. I had a blast at all of it, but there is just something extra fun about doing school visits and getting to meet the students who read my books. Here are some pictures of my last school visit of the year at the awesome Sonrise Christian School in California.

All of you guys out there who want to be writers--this is the payback for all of those long days when you don't have time to shower and the even worse days when you get the revision letters and wonder why on earth you keep doing this to yourself when you clearly would be happier as a truck driver. Not that I think that . . . very often . . .

Look, I'm on the sign:
This is a picture librarian Sandi Lehnhard sent me before the visit. It's always a good sign when kids are reading your books before you come to speak to them.

And here is a group of awesome kids who will go far in life. I know this because they already have impeccable taste in literature.

They made a special Fairy Godmother smoothie in my honor. And it was really yummy. It's probably a good thing I don't have access to more of these, or I wouldn't fit into my school-visit-black-pants come next fall.

I keep this fairy wand on my dresser next to my Beanie Baby stork. But then, my dresser is a subject for a whole nother blog. (And yes, I realize that the phrase 'whole nother' is bad grammar. But I refuse to pay attention to the rules of grammar until they make sense. This will include an apology for putting an 'H' in the word 'which' when the word 'sandwich' doesn't have one. Also someone will need to explain why recipe isn't pronounced re-cipe.)

Anyway, it was a good end to the school year.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

More Doll Wrecks

Since it's Fathers Day, I could do something on power tools, but no, I'm going to do a blog on children (They make fathers, after all) well, more specifically fake children. Also known as dolls. Those of you who know me, know that I have a doll thing. I'm especially impressed--and horrified by reborn dolls. They're supposed to look lifelike and at any given time there are hundreds on eBay going for hundreds of dollars. Here are some examples of some good ones so you know what they're supposed to look like:

Amazing, huh? Beautiful, right?

I want to hug and coo over these dolls. So you can see why they can go for a lot of money on auction sites. That said, there are a lot of dolls on eBay that just don't seem to capture what reborn dolls are supposed to be. In the constructive criticism of the Cake Wrecks blog, I want to offer a few words of advice to doll painters.

My words for this one are, "No. No. No." What were we going for? Demon child perhaps? Gollum's offspring?

Another word of advice: Blush is nice, but if you use too much of it, people will look at your doll and want to call child protective services.

Yeah, that would be too much of the red stuff.

There seems to be a new trend to have baby dolls open-mouthed and crying. This is another place where the words, "No. No. No." come to mind.

Here's another No:

And here's the baby that ate Detroit:

And here's one for every parent who wants their child to grow up to be a circus clown. Or an elf.

Oh, one last word of advice to doll makers: Lips are not optional. Your doll really should have them. I mean, blankets can only hide so much.

Well, I bet at this point you're all thinking how beautiful your children are, because they look nothing like these last dolls. So true. Really, reborn dolls offer society a valuable service.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Finding the perfect fantasy name

Dave Farland, fantasy author extraordinaire, says that authors should never just choose their fantasy names randomly. They need to have resonance. Therefore, to come up with a good fantasy name for your character/place/animal group/whatever-the-heck-you're-naming you need to have a process. Dave suggests listing words that convey the main idea, and then combining them to come up with a new name.

For example, George Lucas may have used the words: death, dearth, and invader to come up with the name: Darth Vader.

JK Rowling probably did something similar when she came up with name Draco Malfoy. Draco means dragon, the foy sorta of sounds like annoy, and Mal in Spanish means bad (and if I weren't so lazy, I'd check to see if the root is actually Latin--after all, we have words like malevolent, malpractice,and Maleficent. Okay, Maleficent is actually the wicked queen in Disney's Sleeping Beauty, but you can see they totally did the same thing to come up with her name. Mal plus magnificent equals Maleficent.)

I was glad to learn this naming trick since I randomly picked several names when I wrote my science fiction novel, Time Riders. Not long ago, I rewrote the book for the national market (I'll hopefully have news about that next week) and I figured I would do the whole naming thing right this time.

I needed a name for a group of thugs who live outside the city and who kill anyone who isn't well armed. Here's how it worked for me:

Outlaws + Gangsters = Outsters . . . Nope. But the name would work for a cool rock band.

Gangsters + Hoodlums = Ganglums . . . Sounds like a gum disease you get if you don't floss.

Gangsters + Robbers = Ganglers . . . Nah,this one sounds like things that dangle in spiderwebs.

Bandits + Robbers = Bandlers . . . This happens when the clarinet section goes bad.

Bandits + Hoodlums = Bandlums . . . Ditto.

Outlaws + horror = Orrers . . . Either people who row boats or a British person swearing.

Weeds + evil = weevils . . . I get these in my flour sometimes, and they are nasty.

Grief + evil + robbers = Greevers . . . Hmm. Didn't James Dashner use this term for his monsters in Maze Runner? I wonder how he came up with the term.

vikings + robbers = Vikers . . . Success. And I'm not just saying this because every other combination was ridiculous or already in a James Dashner novel. I like Vikers. In fact, I like it so much that I already used it in the original version of Time Riders. It was an insult. So basically, yeah, after this whole exercise, I just ended up stealing from myself.

Authors are totally like that.