Ashana Lian's Fantasy Lab



Fantasy and Fantasy Writing from every angle: fantasy and sci-fi novels, films, artwork, superhero cartoons, children's and YA books, manga, anime, video games and comics. Put the microscope on 'Geek Culture'.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Dressing My Fantasy Characters

Image: Spellcaster by dashinvaine

How a character looks is one of the first things I know about them. From the moment I have their name, I automatically know their hairstyle (very important for me.) their facial features, and a basic and not-very-well-thought-out idea of what they'd be wearing. Of course, until the story gets going, I probably won't know how well that will turn out. Karalan is first and foremost a Fighting Artist, so I knew from the start she wouldn't wear a cloak, probably ever. A shame. Despite their impracticality, cloaks are swishy and very cool. Like capes! =D

Image: Evolution of Princess Zelda in the Hyrule Historia, at gameluster.com

A character's wardrobe reveals a lot about them. It may reveal other things too, if it's a magician's robe with lots of hidden pockets for scrolls, potions, talismans, and lots of other fantasy goodies. For example, Ellen Page - an actress I adore - plays a lot of characters that seem to be at home in hoodies and converses, and thus has a sort of down-to-earth, teenage appeal. But as I'm trying to stay fantasy focussed, let's talk about...

Fantasy Staples

Image is Atevora Und Viablau by Axarch.

Cloak, or a lovely drape-y Robe. Oracles, wise men, or any characters who need to make an entrance, step right up! Warning: Cloak may be caught under the wheel of your character's carriage, the foot of their horse, or chewed up by their pet dragon. Terms and conditions apply.

Satchel. Where else will your character keep their letters or documentation of their voyage? Assuming they can write? (My protagonist just about knows how.)
Image is Steampunk Angels by Anne Stokes.

Boots. Are you kiddin' me? EVERY fantasy character's gotta have a good pair of boots! (Actually, most of the people in the village where my protag. Karalan grows up wear sandals. Fake leather is even rarer than real leather in this fantasy world; and real leather is expensive.)

Belt. Not just to hold things in but to strap things to. In it's a steampunk fantasy, your character will probably need to wear about a thousand of these. I really don't why. Still, I love it.
Image is King Arthur Pen Dragon by anitaburnevik.

Armour. Yep, this is probably smart for your protagonist. Keeping in mind that armour is h e a v y y y. If they're not physically fit (well then, they probably wouldn't be in armour anyway) think about how much armour they could realistically wear.

Crown. For a King. A heavy band of gold on their head. Probably encrusted with diamonds. Must hurt their neck.

Image is Hyrule Warriors Zelda by Tiffany-tees.

Circlet. This is hugely popular for fantasy women, whether they're a queen, princess, oracle, courtesan - a huge number of fantasy artwork included women wearing dainty silver circlets on their foreheads. Adds an elegant touch.

Mysterious (Probably Cursed) Amulet. Fit for a queen. Or maybe not, because many fantasy queens seem to prefer going necklace-less and instead wearing corsets to push up their bosoms.

Ring - THE ULTIMATE POWER ACCESSORY!! 
...great article.


One site I love is the Game Of Clothes tumblr. It posts articles every single day of items (usually dresses) that real-life models have worn, then states which character in Game of Thrones would've worn it and for what occasion. It's just fantastic.

I have been heavily influenced by commercial fantasy glamour. Cloaks... they'll get a character killed for sure. You can't really run in a cloak, can you? But majestic, yes they are.


Previous NaNo Help Posts
For Inspiration - It Begins - (Fake) Nanowrimo
For Plot - Writerly Image: The Story Circle
For Narration and Dialogue - The Narrator's Voice Is Your Voice
For Description - Descriptions: Skin Colours


How important to do think description of clothes are for enhancing the image in the reader's mind? Dooooo share in the comments and as always, peace.


Ashana Lian .

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Describing Skin Colours and Ethnicities (For Characters Of Colour, I Guess)

Mini Update
So, how's NaNoWriMo going?! Only four days left! Those on schedule have written 43,342 words already. =D (I forgot to mention, but I fell off the NaNo bandwagon AAAGES ago. I don't even remember when I stopped writing daily; it's just the epicest of all fails.)

I don't really write on this topic, dunno why. I guess it feels like purposefully putting my foot into a bowl of high-risk shit. But for the sake of fantasy writing, here goes. Duty calls.


Why Describing Skin Tones Is Challenging in Fantasy

Describing skin colours is tricky. Not in ACTUALLY DESCRIBING IT, but in having to remember the politics of cultural sensitivity. Plus, things you might be able to get away with in literary fiction, for example describing a character as Black British or African American, won't be possible in fantasy where Britain, Africa and America don't exist.

In a world where the fastest way to travel to another country is by ship (no Eurostar, no aeroplane), this means that exposure to other places is limited. This is often the excuse for only portraying only one culture in a fantasy. However, this shouldn't be a problem if the reader can see many sides of this fantasy world (A Song Of Ice And Fire) or if that fantasy location imports goods from other places and trades with foreigners. So we should just get right on to describing skin tones. Yes?

But wait, let's backtrack.


My Bg

I am black british, which already indicates what I would call a 'complicated cultural background' ie. not really knowing what the correct term to apply to myself is, as that seems to keep changing. My heritage is Jamaican, but I was born and raised in London. My perception of the world has always included a vast range of ethnicities and cultural experiences (like Hyper Japan or the London Mela!).

My experience reading books, though, is that the main character is almost always white. If it isn't specified, it's assumed they are white. Now that I've decided I want to portray my own culture in a culturally diverse fantasy world I have created, I realise that I don't actually know how to go about that. And there seem to be a lot of little unspoken rules to remember.



How Should Skin Colours and Ethnicities be described?

Even in literary fiction, I rarely see a character described as 'British Asian' or whatever the correct term for a character's cultural status may be, because usually it doesn't matter. What is described is how they physically look, which counts a lot more. The colour or shape of their eyes; the structure of their nose; and the set of their mouth provides better imagery and gives away more about the character than simply saying they are Middle Eastern or Native American.

Also describing what they are doing, or what they believe, or how they act, coupled with where the story or scene is set often makes it obvious what that character's background is. Observant readers will just pick it up. I really like the following quote about J.K. Rowling's technique;
Personally, I prefer Rowling’s method of dealing with it. She didn’t label the white characters white, or the black characters black, or the Asian characters Asian, etc. She drops broad hints about all of them, from culturally-distinct surnames like Patil and Chang and Granger, to culturally-associated styles and foods (braids, sari, Harry’s love of the quintessentially-British treacle tarts), to more subtle cues like Dean’s football preferences. But she does this equally for the white characters and the characters of color. No group is treated as “normal,” or by exclusion/emphasis “abnormal”. 
from Describing Characters Of Color, pt. 2 by The Magic District blog.
Many times, I've come across posts about whether J.K. Rowling tackled this issue well or not. Apparently (from what I picked up) the US publisher of Harry Potter explicitly stated that Dean Thomas was black, where the UK version only hinted at it with cultural references that British readers would pick up. But I agree with the quote above - it's better to describe how a person physically looks. That way you're making no assumptions and the reader gets a better grasp on the character.


Method: Descriptions and Synonyms

PLAIN: describe what you see. 'Pale skin.' 'Brown skin.' No illusions.
HINT: if a character has blonde hair and blue eyes, they're unlikely to be black. -_-
METAPHOR: be careful of stumbling into a danger zone. I would probably say describing a character as having a 'chocolate face' is doing just that.
SYNONYM: 'Her skin was like a sheet of ivory satin.' Okay, that one was pretty crap, but you get the gist.
HYPERBOLE: ... I really would not recommend this for skin colour descriptions.

Here is an example of PLAIN:
eg. 'My arms were so painfully white I could see the veins criss-crossing down them; next to me, her tanned arms were positively brown. Her hair was a thick, lustrous ebony. It kinda wasn't fair that she was born to be a supermodel.'
My only problem with what I just wrote is what's being insinuating with pale skin (appearance of illness) and tanned skin (desirable, even artificially). I know many beautiful girls with naturally pale skin who appear in great health (even without rosy cheeks, their eyes have a sort of perkiness.)


Image: from ladyfabuloux.blogspot.co.ukThere are so many things wrong with this I don't even know where to begin - the fact that every sim has a pupil that covers their entire eye...? Or the fact that there is a tone actually labelled 'normal' (ridiculous in itself) which is exactly the tone you'd expect it to be; that 'exotic' fuels misguided stereotypes (the concept of Latino/as being 'sexy' is one I've heard before - why? Every nation has sexy peoples. O_O); that 'native', which should invoke homeliness and belonging, feels like a synonym for 'alien' here. It also appears to be lighter than 'dark', which kinda defeats the point of the chart.

Mistakes not to make...?

Do not use foundation make-up labels as a guide for skin colours, EVER.

Second, adding a black person to a group of white people isn't exactly 'diverse'. That is called a 'token'. There's such a wide range of cultures in the world - obviously, I'm not saying you have to 'sample them all' in one novel, but come on. We live in the world. We know what diversity looks like.

The article about 7 Offensive Mistakes Well-Intentioned Writers Make on springhole.net condemns "food-coloured skin". That was profound for me as I realised, for black characters, it was the only type of description I'd seen in books. What springhole points out is that food-coloured skin is only used for dark-skinned characters ('chocolate', 'coffee') to hold them apart from what is considered normal. Interesting point. Lighter colours are often described as 'fair', pale', or not described at all, (even though there's a range of edibles for lighter skinned characters like 'peach', 'milky', 'honey', 'creamy'...) er, but I think it's a good rule to stay away from the yummies. So, you see the image to the left? Those are all barred.

My Problem

My particular problem is that because my protagonist's father was an orphan, Karalan isn't really sure where she is from. She knows where her mother is from and where she was born; for her that's enough. But when she starts climbing through the ranks and is scrutinised by the Divine Court and the Lords Of Spirihil, she begins to care about her heritage. In addition to this, each member of the Kaia Gang have a different background. They look different to each other, and to the people they meet on their journey, so for this novel I feel that it's important to tackle describing them correctly. The reader needs to already have that mental image solidified before they meet the auran races in the story, like Druids, Disirs and Valkyries.

Karalan and Aura Earth
Before I even do that I have to describe her. To the left is the closest image I could find to what Karalan looks like, though her hair is shorter and her face sterner. I'm having trouble describing her skin. She, technically speaking, has brown skin. But so do I, and I'm a lot darker than her. So what then? LIGHT brown skin?

This first fantasy novel OOTD, I adore because the way the world is set up means cultures can mix very easily. Most people in the world speak at least two languages and are rarely surprised or fearful of foreigners. There are cultures that are tucked away, but this tale doesn't deal with them. However, writing about this world... what a pain in the ass! (I did mean to say 'ass'.) And what a shame. I'm a little at a loss as to how to describe my own culture in fiction, and I need to describe a dozen other real and fictional cultures decides. I must say though, writing this post has really got me thinking. I'm gonna go back to sleep, and wake up and tackle another chapter of my novel.


Advice From Around The Web
I found most of the above from Write World.

Image: I think Google...?

Upcoming NaNo Help Posts
THURSDAY 27 NOVEMBER - The Practicalities: Dressing Your Characters << posted

Previous NaNo Help Posts
For Inspiration - It Begins - (Fake) Nanowrimo
For Plot - Writerly Image: The Story Circle
For Narration and Dialogue - The Narrator's Voice Is Your Voice

Click for more about my first novel.


I hope you found this useful! How do you deal with writing a diverse cast? Is it an issue that's been swept under the rug? Tell me what you think in the comments beeeeloooooow =]


Ashana Lian .

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Narrator's Voice Is Your Voice

Image: Crystal Queen by Selenada

A book can contain a lot of characters, all very different and with different voices. Yet they are all written by the same person - and the writer has a voice too. How does that writer stop all their characters sounding the same?

I'm a bit surprised. When I think of all the characters in all my stories, I can't think of any two that sound like each other even though I created them all. But then the "me" is up for debate; I've suspected for some time now that I have borderline personality disorder, in which case perhaps a character will be written by whichever "me" is present. Still, it's odd. I don't think I have more than 15 egos, but I must have almost fifty heroines (and heros).

My focus lately was making sure my protagonist has a distinctive voice. Because she drives the story, readers have to least empathise with her, even if getting them to like her is a feat. So, how does one create a distinctive voice?


Image Credit: I have no idea but I think I found it on facebook.

1. HUMOUR IS THE WAY (99.9% of the time, and I have no idea what the last point-one percent is.)

If a protagonist (and narrator, in first-person narration stories) is funny, I'm sold. This was how I got so hooked on Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series. I found Moon Over Soho so heart-achingly hilarious that I bought it straight away, and River Of London too.

The type of humour a character uses will also shape their voice. For example in my novel, Karalan's humour is deadpan and sometimes sarcastic which goes hand in hand with her slightly aggressive tone; whereas Rogs' humour (you'll hear more about HIM later) is very, um, 'bawdy' and often inappropriate XD which I think matches his direct and straightforward way of speaking.


Image: Google

2. Need. A. Point. Of. REFERENCE.

If I was writing about a ten year old boy, I would have to try and get out of my twenty-one year old girl's mind and inside the head of a ten-year old. I could do that by reading books for that age group, or talking to a cousin/nephew/brother of a friend. I could also just make it up and hope nobody finds out, buuuuut eeerrrr probablynotagoodidea.

It really helps to draw from inspiration like someone you hear on the bus/train or a movie character (I personally never use friends or family). Everyone has a way of talking that is unique to them, and highlighting a character's quirks makes them stand out. I find that dynamic personalities, the ones that are slightly more exaggerated, make a bigger impact on me; like Suze from Meg Cabot's The Mediator series, or Rose from Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy.

It's also better when that character's personality is fully realised first. For example, what they do for a living, what their hobbies are, the sort of things they like, what they believe in, what music they listen to, and so on. Once I know that, it's much easier to figure out what sort of voice they'll have. Defiant? Sardonic? Chirpy? (I heart chirpy.)


Image: Bridging The Seas With A Boat by Rob Gonsalves

3. Illusion

But ultimately, it's a magic act. Like you're hiding behind the pages of the book, acting out thirty different characters at once and making the reader believe that it's the characters' voices, not yours.

There's this one exercise I came across when I was at school. If the dialogue in your book had no indicators (eg. Karalan said or Jory said), would the reader be able to tell which lines belong to the protagonist?

I don't actually like this exercise because I think it's really hard >.< but on the other hand, I can't deny that it's really helped me make careful choices about the way Karalan speaks. For example, I had to ask myself - does she speak in short or long sentences? Does she use slang (colloquial language) or formal language (even archaic)? Does she swear, or exaggerate? Does she use religious exclamations like 'Oh my God'? Does she say 'please' and 'thank you', and how easy is it for her to say 'sorry'?

Making these choices really helped to refine who she is. Also when we "meet" a character in a book, it's not like meeting someone in real life where you might notice how they look and act first. In books, a lot of first impressions come from what a character says.

Another article you might find useful is To Boldly Write in the Voice of a Child by Claire King.


Upcoming NaNo Help Posts
TUESDAY 25TH NOVEMBER - Descriptions: Skin Colours << posted

Previous NaNo Help Posts
For Inspiration - It Begins - (Fake) Nanowrimo


How do you make you main character's voice stand out? Do you have any (probably better) tips for creating a strong main character?


Ashana Lian .

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Finding The Right Word

Image: NaNoWriMo

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I just have to laugh at myself. I said I would be posting a wealth of NaNo help tips... I think I've done like 2 posts? Surprise surprise, now it's Day 18. e_e

I promise you precisely THREE MORE before the end of this month, and that is a GUARANTEED PROMISE because I am going to pre-schej them RIGHT NOW, and I won't even post this post until that's done (LOL at the verb-noun pun). So if you're even reading this - you're gonna get NaNo help posts every Tuesday and Thursday 'til December, YAY!!!


Lil' Bit Of Motivation...

Some days are poopy days. It is a fact of life. Some days you'll write, and you'll write the most awful drivelly poop in the history of mankind. However...
'Bad writing is better than no writing.'
That from one of my favorite writer blogs, So You Want To Be A Writer (check out the post, it's a really good one). I had more written, but as it turns out I'm not very good at motivation after all so... yeah.


Main Topic: ... what's that word again...

Everybody knows what it's like when you're trying to find the right word for something. On the one hand, it's kinda dumb that the English language has so many ways to say the same thing. On the other hand - and purely from a writing perspective - the beauty of that is that each separate word has a particular feel, edge, emotion; it conjures up a certain set of (er... mental) stimuli that its synonyms wouldn't. Let's put this to the test.

Here is the first line of Chapter Six of my novel, (working titles OOTD or Karalan's Legacy.)
'There was one girl of all the villages of Bless’d Bay who was desired, hated and envied by every other girl and boy, and it wasn't Karalan.'
OTHER CHOICES
Desired: coveted, yearned for, revered, idolised
Hated: loathed, detested, abhorred, despised
Envied: begrudged, resented, rivalled

I picked those particular words for a reason. 'Desired' because it is not necessarily an attraction for her or a yearning for what she has; it refers to many aspects of her and her life that are desirable. The other choices are too strong. 'Hated' because the extent of the hate is not great, it isn't intense. Like when you might say "Oh, I hate people who put their feet up on the bus." You don't actually HATE them, you just hate the fact that they do that. 'Envied' because the focus is on the fact that she has what others don't, not on what behaviour that might provoke from them. That's why I don't use 'rivalled'.

Also, these particular words draw attention to the fact that everybody around Milite has some sort of distinctive (but not necessarily strong) feeling for her. I don't, however, say that she was 'liked'.

Image: Pinterest

A particular problem I'm having right now is that I'm writing a lot of 'revelation' scenes, ie. scenes where characters discover things about the world, their mission, or each other. I keep using the phrase 's/he exclaimed' or 'So-and-so said, astonished' WAY too much. That's why I always have my Dictionary & Thesaurus to hand, although of course you can just use Thesaurus.com.

The picture above is for the sound of someone's voice, and the image below is for that character's emotions. Yesterday I wrote 'astonished' so many times that I know I'm gonna have to take 75% of them out, because the times that didn't need it will make the TRULY astonishing moments seem melodramatic by contrast.

Image: Twitter

Another personal bit of advice is - remember how your teachers always told you to stop using 'said' all the time? Well, like almost everything else in life that tip requires balance. Let me demonstrate.
She jumped when she saw him waiting. "Guess who's pissed." he spat.
"What'd I do?" Girl yelped.
"It's about what you didn't do," Dude growled.
"I swear I locked the door before I left! I swear!" Girl insisted.
Dude's finger made an angry jab at the light patch on the carpet and barked, "Then please explain my missing TV!"
(I wrote that just now. I quite like it. XD) See? There are TOOOO MAAAANY different types of verbs and it sounds dramatic. Half of those lines didn't even need indication at all, because the emotion is already present in the action alongside it - like the 'angry jab'. However, 'said' isn't much better either. Watch;
She jumped when she saw him waiting. "Guess who's pissed." he said.
"What'd I do?" Girl said.
"It's about what you didn't do," Dude said.
"I swear I locked the door before I left! I swear!" Girl said.
Dude's finger made an angry jab at the light patch on the carpet and said, "Then please explain my missing TV!"
... not much better, is it? This is how I'd personally prefer to write it.
She jumped when she saw him waiting. The look on his face was murderous. "Guess who's pissed."
"What'd I do?" Girl yelped.
"It's about what you didn't do."
"I swear I locked the door before I left! I swear!" she insisted.
Dude's finger made an angry jab at the light patch on the carpet. "Then please explain my missing TV!"
Words For Said

Also, You Might Like To Know...

Writers and Artists are running a competition that closes on 15th February 2015, for writers to write a 2000-word short story on the theme of 'Joy'. The prizes will be £500, a writing course, and having your short story published. I think I might enter. Why not?


Upcoming NaNo Help Posts
THURSDAY 20TH NOVEMBER - The Narrator's Voice Is Your Voice << posted
TUESDAY 25TH NOVEMBER - Descriptions: Skin Colours << posted
THURSDAY 27 NOVEMBER - The Practicalities: Dressing Your Characters

Previous NaNo Help Posts
For Inspiration - It Begins - (Fake) Nanowrimo


Sooo... Day 18! Are you writing a novel and how is it coming along?


Ashana Lian .

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Event: Hyper Japan CHRISTMAS MARKET 2014

As always, images were taken with permission, but if you are mistakenly featured I can remove them on request.

Background

Howdy! I haven't done an event post in a while, due to the whole trying to save money thing. I did go to the Japan Matsuri in Trafalgar Square a while back, but that was cool because I didn't spend anything. I decided to check out this Christmas Market version of Hyper Japan, in case it had something new to offer.

By the way, BE WARNED. Ticketweb is one MAD rip-off; there's a 75p "delivery fee" for getting the ticket SENT TO YOUR EMAIL (wtf?!) and also a 95p admin fee, which is understandable as Ticketweb themselves do need to get paid. Fine. Whatever. But that meant even though tickets were £12 apiece, the total was actually £26.45, which was a bit annoying. I gritted my teeth and got over it. After all, there was no other option.

Venue

HJ is usually in Earls Court Exhibition centre but this time it was in Hammersmith Olympia. That surprised me - Olympia is smaller. It turned out to be perfect though, it was busy but at no point overcrowded.

Queuing

This is now the third time I've been to a HJ, and the third time I've turned up an hour early to get inside in ten minutes. Queuing for Hyper Japan is by far the MOST painless and stress free experience I've had compared to comic cons, so TRUST ME, you don't need to get there an hour early, or even on time. Everybody always gets in so quick, you might as well turn up whenever you want.

This was useful to realise, because I got up at like seven (and still late) to try and get there for like eight, but it wouldn't have made the slightest difference if I'd got up at a sane time like 9 and rolled up in there at like eleven. Like. :3


Experience Once Inside

Ahh, this one was great. As I said, busy but not overcrowded, which kept my stress levels low. For the first time, the event had two floors, which was cool because my friend Jellybean could take pictures of the stall from above. =D

For anyone who things it'll be different to a normal HJ, it's not. There is NO DIFFERENCE between Hyper Japan and Hyper Japan Christmas Market, in fact if you wanted you could buy your gifts in July and put them away so you won't forget. Which is pretty smart, I guess, unless you forget you bought it.

We actually finished looking at all the stalls after two hours, so at about eleven we sat down, then visited some stalls twice, then watched SIRO-A at 12 noon (they are AMAZING, I've already seen them in theatre twice. The projections weren't as good at this event though, it was too bright), and then Jellybean wanted to walk around again in case we'd missed any stalls, which we had. That's when I bought my J-Style magazine from the Hyper Japan stall, so I'm glad I listened to her. XD

Capcom stall!

Great view of Aoi Clothing.

Stalls

Now I've been several times, I can list my favourite stalls, which I visit every time.

ARTBOX. Cute, geeky and novelty stationary. I always have to resist picking up a 'vitamin' pen or a 'syringe' pen or a cute notebook. c:
SOMETHING KAWAII. Where I got my cat pen from. Must stop spending there. Must. Can't!
JAPAN CENTRE. I always get my pocky and plum wine from here. This time their stall was much smaller than usual.
WAGASHI JAPANESE BAKERY. Where I buy dorayakis from. Beware though! Make sure you read the packet (or ask if you can't read hiragana LOL) because last time I picked up red bean paste instead of chocolate by mistake D= Not. Nice.
NIPPON HAM Foods. I always intend to try different dishes - that was the point of not bringing my own lunch - but always end up eating the same meal from the same stall. Chiken Katsu Donburi, £5. Delicious.

Moon Bunny Stall

Other stalls:
  • japanese food
  • japanese travel, airlines and package holidays
  • tableware and china (LOL, is that a pun?! I know it's not ABOUT China but...)
  • sake tasting
  • japanese candy and chocolate
  • authentic katanas
  • Lolita dresses and accessories
  • jewellery
  • AWESOME KAWAII CUSHIONS AND PLUSHIES!
  • kimonos
  • Capcom center to play demo games
  • retro style arcade
  • manga and anime collections
and much much more.


THESE NEED TO BE MENTIONED!

1. The CAT. Image: pinterest.
I have been search online for the last twnety minutes and I have FINALLY found the huge flat grey furry  cat kitten plush toy cushion haiiro neko and it is called Nemuneko. It is twice as adorable in real life as it look here and I wanted it so. MUCH.

Here's a whole bunch of them! The fat grey one I fell in love with is top left. :3
Chalk blue is pretty cute too.

2. The ADORABLE GIRL.
Kelsey Ellison, who we saw just before we left. She was amazing. She did her cutsey kawaii dance so well and she had great rhythm for it. (An earlier act wasn't so good.) It was so annoying though because halfway through her piece the CD skipped back to the beginning so she had to improvise. I was impressed at how she dealt with it. Then she took a break and I kinda wanted to sneak up and go "It didn't matter, you were great." But then somebody else started speaking to her and for some reason (??? I am stupid.) I lost my edge and was like 'Meh, I'll hunt around for ehr online and send her a message or something.'


3. The STEAMPUNK DRESS
I saw these stunning steam cosplayers. One in particular wore a beautiful black and gold dress (far right), and when I saw it I kind of followed her like a puppy hissing to my friend, "SHOULD I ASK FOR A PICTURE?! LET'S ASK FOR A PICTURE!!"


4. The LACE SHOES
There was a girl (I think worked at Tofucute?) who wore the nicest white lace platform heels. I don't usually like platform heels and rarely wear heels at all. But I love gorgeous outfits and they matches hers perfectly. Then again, most shoes are adorable on small feet.


5. The SUPERCUTE MACARONS Stall
Macarons, cupcakes and slices of cake. They looked incredible and I wanted one, but I really didn't like that that everything was just open on the table, it wasn't very hygienic. They really should have had a clear plastic cake cover or a screen in front. I guess people didn't care though because they were selling fast!


GOODIES!! (The best part! )

I couldn't even be bothered tagging this picture this time e_e
  • Freebie leaflets - who doesn't love free advertising?
  • Freebie pack of tissues from Japan Airlines o_O Okaaaay then.
  • Japan Centre pocky and some Panda thing I've never tried, £4 altogether
  • Kyoko Tea that Jellybean said smells and tastes like cleaning chemical (I haven't tried mine yet), £1
  • Dorayaki (2, I ate one. =] ), £2.40 for the two
  • Artbox Syringe Pen, 90p
  • another Syringe Pen, green, for my brother, 90p
  • J-Style Book, the only actual useful and non-edible thing. (LOL.) £5.

Aftermath + What's next?

I came in at about 2 and went straight to bed. It kinda depressed me to sleep through the last daylight hours, but never mind. When I woke up it was dark, and I was really drowsy like, 'W o a h, it must be like ten o'clock!' actually, it was six o'clock. Epic fail. e_e

I don't think I'll go to any more fantasy events this year, unless it's like a book signing or super awesome Christmas party. I have got my eye on Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, though. Surprisingly, I have never been.


Read about other geeky or fantasy events in Londonlike MCM Comic Con,
London Film and Comic Con (LFCC) and London Super Comic Con (LSCC)!
Click to read other posts about Geek Culture.


Have you been to a Japanese or geek culture event before? Doooo shaaaare! Until next time. x


Ashana Lian .

P.S. Jellybean was a lifesaver - she took more pictures than I'd ever usually think of taking/be bothered to take! So below are the rest of the HJCM'14 pictures. Please enjoy!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

10 Things You Should Know About This Blog

It's post day again!!!

These Thursdays come around so fast! What the hell =/ I didn't get to post the NaNo tips I had planned. I was too busy:
  • writing
  • moping
  • (fake) crying
  • watching The Good Wife
  • watching The Boondocks
  • being depressed about my reading slump
  • eating freshly made 14" pizzas from Sainsbury's (cheaper (£4!) and just as tasty as Pizza Hut)
  • shopping for food
  • working 8-hour overtime shifts every other day
  • looking for a job
  • looking for a place to live
  • looking for my clothes (they go missing. my brother takes them by mistake)
  • formatting this blog
  • formatting my life
  • sleeping.

1ne.
I don't care about ARCS.

I'm aware how BEHIND I am on fantasy books. But for exactly that reason, I want to pick my own books and a range of books at that, to get up to speed on geeky knowledge. My Amazon wish list is laughable. So I buy a lottt of books, at least until I run out of money and have to borrow. Those are the books I review on this blog. I don't have time to be entering a hundred giveaways or competitions or requesting arcs in the hopes of winning one. If i like a book enough, I'll (eventually, some decades into the future) buy it.

So, I don't care about ARCS.

2wo.
I'm not as lazy as I seem. This is my seventh blog, you know.

Yep, I'm a very busy person. I'm neglecting my other six in favour of this one, because this blog makes me focus on my future career in FANTASY. =D It must be said though, This blog ALONE drains SO much of my energy. Sometimes I don't even get round to posting what I said I would. *sigh*

There this thing, it's called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I have it. It means I feel tired most of the time, regardless of how much or little I sleep. It makes it difficult to put the proper amount of attention into this blog sometimes, even though I try. So I can reread a post I've written, and EVERY SINGLE TIME find a bvrand newe trypo. My posts are RIDDLED with typos. It's aggravating and unprofessional, and I'm sorry dudes. I think I'll start using that software that reads stuff out to you.

3hree.
Blogging is the only type of social networking I like.

In general, I despise social networking. I've got a Twitter, Goodreads, Deviantart and also a Facebook (see, I don't even know what the link for that is), but I rarely use them. I only made them because I assume, to have any sort of career as a writer, I'll have to. But I don't care about the silly little trivialities of peopleses lives, about how you're making a cup of tea right now or whatever insignificant thing you're currently YOLO-ing. I didn't bother with an Instagram. e_e

Then again, little BOOK RELATED trivialities... now we're talking about something completely different. =] I suppose one can argue that insignificant bullshit is what gives our lives meaning, in a way. O_o Plus, Goodreads and Deviantart ain't so bad. I really like blogs because you can really pour your passion into a blog post. You can't pour your passion into 140 characters.

To each their own, I guess.

Image: google. (zastavski??)

4our.
Typos.

TYPOS EVERYWHERE. Again, I can only apologize.

5five.
I will say what I think but I will never intentionally be mean.

When I have to give a book a bad review, I'll feel terrible but I'll be honest, because there's no point in only posting good reviews. ALL reviews on my blog are supposed to be some sort of help or reference to fantasy writers.

There's an article on Parajunkee about how to make your blog very popular, including writing about controversial subjects and taking a book and reviewing it very harshly. If you're trying to get famous, I agree that controversy is the way. Obviously. But this goes against my personal philosophy. First, popular media topics are superficial and time-wasting, and I'd rather be filling my day-to-day experience with meaningful and enriching things.

Second, those who focus on hateful subjects and slamming people and books (especially without cause) are pretty awful human beings as far as I'm concerned, so even though I wish them luck if they go this route to make their blog popular, I'd want nothing to do with such a blog and would personally prefer to blog about what I love in a respectful way, and have a small, loving and loyal group of readers like you guys who actually care (THANK YOU).

6ix.
I am pretty anal about the layout.

Hate that word, but it's true. My design goal for this blog is as follows: mystical (to be clear its a fantasy blog), but simple (to not make readers confused) and neat (because I abhor messy). Once I've gotten the layout right, I am EXTREMELY reluctant to change anything about it because I am a p e r f e c t i o n i s t.

Image: Google (Wallpaperhi?)

7even.
IT'S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE! Okay, it is - but this blog is actually called A Fantasy Writer's Blog, not Ashana Lian.
Though Ashana Lian will do nicely. I wanted to call it something mystical and amazing like;


FANTASY CAT! O_O

Or... THE FANTASTICAL FANATIC!
But because of a little thing that internet people go crazy about... it's called S E O, (something to do with how easily people can find your website)... it was better to call it AFWB because it would be more likely to come up if somebody typed in 'fantasy blog'.

8ight.
I don't like having too many labels.

... I jut don't. I don't like "mess".

Image: Google (Wallpaperhdnew?)

9ine.
This blog won't(/will try its best) not to put a virus on your computer.

I find the most amazing fantasy images in the most bizarre places but often unsure if that site can be trusted. Even the pictures in this post - I've never HEARD of Zastavski or WallpaperHDNew! Because of that, I may credit it as a Google Search and link back to the search result, unless I can find the name of the artist which I'd always prefer. As for when I do put the link... well, it means I've already been on the site and my laptop is fine. Still... at your own risk. e_e

10en!
Post days are on THURSDAY.

Interestingly, a lot of things happen in the blogosphere on Thursday; one is Films For Thoughts On A Thursday hosted by Charnell @ Reviews From A Bookworm, Thoughtful Thursday by Pamela @ Reading Is Fun Again, and Thursday Thoughts by Ashley at OK, Let's Read. All of those are blog link-ups that any blogger is welcome to join.

My blog posts are, if I can help it, every Thursday. When I have lots of upcoming posts, I'll post every other day including Thursday. Other important days:

  • secondary post day - TUESDAY
  • weekly Fiction Friday - WEDNESDAY (joke, it's on Friday.)
  • Author's Notes for the just-gone Fiction Friday - following SUNDAY
  • Book Review day - end of the week, aka SATURDAY.

Image: Google (wall.alphacoders?)

Click to find out about the Novel I'm Writing
Click to read the Fiction Friday short stories

For more random posts about my poopy life: A Fantasy Writer's Mundane Life.


Do you have any nitpicky things that you MUST do or REFUSE to do on your blog? Dooooo shaaaaaaaaare! Until next time, peaceee.


Ashana Lian .

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Beautiful Books #2: How's The Writing Going?


This awesome meme for novel writers has come back with Round 2, to update their potential readers about their progress since NaNoWriMo started! To join in, follow either link below, answer the questions, add your link, and support those who added theirs. I got a bit bogged down because I got through about 15, I think... then when I came back there was FORTY-FIVE e_e sorry I didn't get round to everyone!

Beautiful Books is hosted by Cait at The Notebook Sisters and Sky at Further Up and Further In.


The Questions
I'm answering these questions for my novel OOTD/Karalan's Legacy (working title)

1. Be honest: how is your writing going?
I want to cry.
1. ?
Due to unforeseen personal problems, I (metaphorically) fell down about two days ago and haven't yet got back up (story of my life). Before that I was doing fine.

2. What’s your first sentence/paragraph?
A bloodcurdling, agonised scream tore through every atom within the four walls where it sounded: from writhing on a mattress covered with a sheet of dust, the corpse sat up.

Aw, the first thing I wrote. c: I don't like it anymore though, I'm gonna change it.

3. Do you have a book cover, and/or pictures that reflect your book?
No, because fantasy portraits depicting women of colour are already far and few between, so finding one that meets my specific needs is even harder. The plan is to become a Master Illustrator and draw it myself. =D

4. Do you have pictures of each of your characters? If not, describe them for us! (Be as descriptive as you can.)
Karalan: Constant scowl and black eyes makes her face aggressive. Tall and wiry, she almost reaches the height of her towering brothers. Training in the fighting arts has made her athletic and she prefers to wear close fitting trousers (demis) and a vest (usually in black) for fighting efficiency. Coarse black hair reaches her shoulders. Er... light brown skin? The skin colour part throws me, I never know how I should describe it. Looks Kinda Like This

Jory: Again a tall one. Older Jory has a reserved and calm expression, similar to Karalan's father. Short brown hair, wears reliable and long lasting clothes and boots, always in a dark colour.

Cassie: Vibrant and often with a mischievous or slightly flirtatious smile. Long term partner of Jory and is unwaveringly faithful to him. Short red hair that almost reaches her shoulders, heavy freckles on her cheeks, and fair skin. Often wears leather boots, vest and trousers. Medium height. Adores children. Looks Kinda Like This

Dim: Skin so pale, it has a purple tinge. Pale blond hair and always the expression of delight or glee. Shorter than Cassie but not necessary "short". Long thin fingers that are always fiddling with things. Wide, inquisitive eyes to go with his annoying questions or unneeded remarks about people.

Prince Of Pearls: ..I'm sorry, we have to stop now. I don't even know where to BEGIN describing this guy.


5. What scene are you most excited to write?
(Didn't this question appear in the last BB meme??! *checks* Okay no my bad.) The scene I've been most excited to write, I wrote them ages ago. They include:
  • Karalan and Hannaway's trip to the metropolis, and fighting in the Tournament
  • the attack of the Veethe in Littleling, the Fairi haven, and Karalan defending both the Fairi Princess and Saffron the Maia
  • the scenes with the Duke of Spirihil (paranoid bastard)
  • pretty much all the scenes of Prince and Karalan's friendship
  • the scene with Karalan before the Divine Court in Angel Harbour
  • most of the Veethe attack scenes, because they are so awesomely terrifying. I've rarely write horror  O_O
6. Share a snippet or a scene that you really enjoyed writing.
Chapter Six of this novel → , which I posted in February this year.

7. Now that you're writing, have any of the plot details, or the process itself, turned out different from what you planned or imagined?
I started writing this novel is May 2013 and yes, it's gone OFF the rails. Originally, Karalan was meant to follow in her father footsteps, travel the whole world, and discover his secrets. But then the schmeing Disir came in, plus the motives of other characters, plus Karalan's failing health, and I realised there was no way that could happen.

This story was meant to be about all the amazing things Karalan could do despite her challenges. Instead, it became about all the things she didn't and couldn't do, and the urgency to try so that she wouldn't die without regret.

8. Is there a character or aspect of your plot that's difficult to write?
... yes.
Aura Earth 101 
Welcome to Aura Earth 101, the number one fact guide to AE! On Aura Earth, humans have SIX senses. That's right, SIX, not five. The last sense is the most important because it intensifies love and respect for other human beings. This sixth sense is called STREAMING. 
STREAMING allows you to pass on your thoughts, feelings, emotions and memories non-verbally, and in a split second. Because of this, people who are highly trained (like sages) or naturally gifted (like Karalan) can unintentionally pick up non-important or private information from people nearby. Also, it allows intimate relationships to form between people without them being romantic. However, it can also allow the trauma of other people to be subconsciously passed on, and this is what begins Karalan's mental-emotional rollercoaster.

This point is IMPERATIVE for understanding this novel. Literally, if you don't get this point, understanding why people act the way they do might be a challenge. you can still enjoy the awesome fantasy though. =D

9. What’s your favorite aspect of this novel so far? Favorite character?
Too many to choose! Originally, Milete Beyene was my favourite female character, and Hannaway (Karalan's brooding father) was my favourite male character. But now I adore Cassie for her ability to pull people together and add the happy spark to a group of people, and the Prince of Pearls for his constant drive to enjoy life to the fullest and make everyone around him happy, despite all the obstacles he's faced in his life.

My favourite aspect of the novel... is just that it's fantasy. That's it.

10. Have you drawn off of any life experiences or people you know to create your novel and your characters?
I never use people that I know in my stories, ever. But I get inspired by fictional characters or strangers. I was inspired yesterday by this girl that served me in Costa. She has a slight french accent, classic "nerd" glasses, and the coolest cropped hair. XD

Cassie's character was inspired by Alison Pill's portrayal of Kim from the movie Scott Pilgrim versus The World, and Hayley Williams from Paramore. But now I've been writing Cassie for such a while, her character has really blossomed into something much less aggressive and bitchy, and more defensive, argumentative, but ultimately loving.

The great Inspirations I've had over my life continually feed into the novel. But the only other personal aspect I drew on was my struggle with depression. It's really thrown a shade of misery over my life and the thought that one in four people go through this is really heartbreaking.



11. Do you have a playlist or certain song for your novel and/or characters?
YES!!! OMG!! SO GLAD YOU ASKED!!!

You can find it at the bottom of the Inspiration page (OR, I can just tell you =] ) First, whenever I write high fantasy, I never listen to songs with words. For the lighter aspects of the novel, I listen to:
- The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword soundtrack (especially this track)
- music from Avatar: The Legend Of Aang (esp this track)
- sometimes, the Jade Empire soundtrack (this one)
- Japanese traditional music. (this one <3 )
For the darker aspects of the novel, I listen to the Beyond: Two Souls soundtrack. (and this one!)

12. Let’s have some fun for a moment: imagine you are somehow transported into your book’s world. Which character are you most likely to be found hanging out with?
If I was transported to Paradis in Aura Earth, there would really be no time for hanging out XD
I'd be playing with sentinels and flying up to the Towers of Spirihil to see where they meet the sky; I'd go to the temples of Orona Root and meet the sages; and I would WITHOUT A DOUBT pay a visit to the only immortal on earth, guardian of life, the Maia. I lub her.

13. How do you keep yourself motivated to finish your daily wordcount? (Pinterest? Internet breaks? Chocolate?)
... I consider the feeling of shame I'll be consumed with if I don't.
(which is not the ideal way, but it's the way depressed people do things.)

14. What inspiring quote keeps you writing?
I come across amazing writerly quotes all the time but never remember them. So I guess none. Except for the repeating tape in my head that the least I can do before I die is create something that will mean something to someone.

15. How does this book make you feel so far? Are you laughing? Crying? Frustrated?
Everything. Everything!


Want a well-rounded plot? The Story Circle

Click for more posts about my novel Karalan's Legacy (OOTD)

*
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Tag: Bookshelf
To read what I write, check out Fiction Fridays!


Beautiful Books is a 3-part link-up series. Click for;

Beautiful Books #1: Let's Talk Books,
Beautiful Books #3: Let's Talk Editing

Thank you for reading, I hope you liked this post! I've been writing posts to help NaNoWriters (links above) and there'll be more to come, so do come back! Happy Thursday. <3

Ashana Lian .

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