Showing posts with label magic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label magic. Show all posts

Monday, April 29, 2019

GUEST POST: How to Always be on the Lookout for New Inspiration by Kelvyn Fernandes

Hi, my name is Kelvyn Fernandes, author of The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi. As a writer of a fantastical journey, filled with peculiar characters and wondrous creatures, I’m often asked where do I get the ideas for my tales. Where do I pull my inspiration from? And the long and short answer is: everywhere at once.

The book I sought to write was based on snippets and extracts from memorable moments throughout my life. It is a compilation of every book I wanted to tell my way. Every movie I felt was missing something more. And every song whose lyrics stoked my imagination. A spark of an idea would start, based on a chance encounter or new set of information. And in my mind it would snowball through my backlog of interactions with the world; picking up bits and pieces to form a full character, a full setting, a full scene.

I take detailed notes on the thoughts that gain the most steam. From there I flesh out the narrative and over-arching plot. As such, I’ve formed a few tenets I try to live life by. These tenets help push me towards new, creative revelations. Therefore–in doing so–I keep my ideas fresh and interesting for the reader. More so, for myself.

It's important to embrace new experiences, even if you’re not interested or think they might suck. It’s almost never a bad idea to try something once. And if your bias is confirmed, a bad experience will likely make a great story.

Break away from your genre. Strong stories are found in strong characters. And strong characters can be found anywhere. If you’re writing a fantasy novel, don’t just look for ideas in other fantasy novels. It’s definitely good to familiarize yourself with fellow fantasy authors–and build on their stories. But sometimes if you’re stuck (anywhere within your writing), it’s refreshing to look somewhere outside your chosen genre.

For example, I read Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams as part of my friends’ book club. It follows a documented and real-life wildlife adventure the author took to see endangered species throughout the world. I wasn’t expecting to get so engrossed in a journal of his trip, but it really opened my eyes to the amazing places that exist in the world.

Most importantly, it gave me ideas for amazing places I could incorporate into my own writer's world.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hex On The A Story

It’s been a couple of years since I picked up the second book in Madelyn Alt‘s “A Bewitching Mystery“ cozy series, A Charmed Death; and even longer since I was introduced to Alt's protagonist Maggie O’Neill in the first book, The Trouble With Magic. I… moderately… enjoyed each book; not quite won over, but not quite unfulfilled.  Nevertheless, I found myself interested not only in the cozy mystery sub-genre the series is written for, but also by the premise of a young witch (though I find that debatable) as the main protagonist doing the sleuthing. While that is nothing new, it was a first for me. (At least outside of Diana Teagarden.) So I enjoyed the first two books just fine, certain that I would proceed forward and stick with the series. 

Unfortunately, it’s been a hot minute since I've picked up book three. Having bought Hex Marks the Spot last June, I've just now decided to give it a go. Why not? It’s been hanging around long enough. And thankfully, I actually enjoyed myself pushing and swallowing down the sweetness of its borderline chick-lit flavor.

Hex Marks the Spot was fun! I even laughed a little.  There were moment of suspenseful reading, and sometimes I found myself touched by the romance elements.  (I have to stress touched and not body slammed by it.)  However… a couple of things did bother me. One was the entanglement of Alt’s A Story, B Story and C Story. The other was a lot more technical, as it relates to the construction of her mystery.

But first, what is Hex Marks the Spot about?  Small town pseudo-witch and magic shop employee, Maggie O’Neill, arranges to tag alongside her boss and local witch, Felicity “Liss” Dow, on a trip to a crafts bazaar. Here they meet residents of the nearby Amish community–one being their close friend and fellow paranormal investigator, Eli Yoder. Bent over a sawhorse in an open horse barn, Eli greets his friends as he goes about crafting bookshelves and end tables for bazaar shoppers. Liss, of course, buys a couple for her shop before spotting an armoire ablaze with a Celtic hex symbol. Interested, Eli has to pass on Liss’s offer as the armoire is wheeled aside to take part in an auction.

Disappointed and unable to pull her eyes away from the hex symbol, both Liss and Maggie curiously wonder when did Eli gather the talent to do such a detailed carving–particularly that of a hex. Apparently, while Eli did his job to build the actual armoire, the hex feature was constructed by another Amish carpenter named Luc Metzger. Besides his talents, Luc Metzger is somewhat of a heartthrob in the Amish community; and my how this nettles Luc's wife. Nonetheless, making a long story short, he’s found dead on the roadside with a busted head and an interesting hex symbol hanging near his body.

Was Luc’s murder religiously motivated? Or maybe Luc’s murder was a result of a fatal attraction? Or, learning that he had a history of romantic side affairs, perhaps his wife finally took him out?
Whatever the answer, his murder pops up on Maggie’s witch radar.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Manga Realness: "Ultra Maniac" by Wataru Yoshizumi

The last series in my favorite completed manga set is Ultra Maniac, by Wataru Yoshizumi.  This is quite possibly my favorite between the four I've recently written about, and for serveral reason.  Besides the franatic storyline underneath a schoolhouse backdrop, the artwork (or line work) is clean beyond belief.  Taken with an artistic eye (not that I'm a professional of any sort), the drawings are very clear.  Even clearer and cleaner than Naoko Takeuchi's work.  Maybe it has a lot to do with the different time periods the two series were released, but I noticed Ultra Maniac was very much on par with Absolute Boyfriend's line work.  Perhaps, a smidget cleaner and more meticulous.  Never mind, they both are nicely done.  I just notice it much more in Ultra Maniac.

Yet another manga series I followed through each English adaptation's release, Ultra Maniac also brought me comfort during some frustratingly lonely times.  Also as a note, this one of the few manga series where I own the anime version also--which is just as clean and wonderfully put together.

Ayu Tateishi.  Rei Hino, anyone?
Rei with her secret crush, Tetsushi
So those who are unfamiliar with the short series, Ultra Maniac, let me first summarize what it’s about before why I like it.  For starters, the series combines comedy, romance, and fantasy.  It’s magical, with extended emphasis on celebrating our uniqueness and the friends we gather from doing so.  The story revolves around Ayu Tateishi (who I’ve attributed has an attitude and likeness similar to Rei Hino in Sailor Moon).  As a middle-school girl, Ayu is somewhat of an inspiration to her classmates.  She has a maturity about her that many of her peers admire.  She isn’t one to let loose her emotions or super-express her feelings in concerns to school crushes and chasing idols.  Also, she firmly states that she isn’t one to believe in magic and fantasies.  Ayu has a smooth and practical personality, which I identified with from the jump on some levels.  Nevertheless, Ayu hides a lot of her feelings behind this demeanor--through a personification built mostly because of her interest in a certain student named, Tetsushi Kaji.  Much of her development comes from accepting and projecting her inner desires, trusting that she can believe in the impossible becoming possible.  And this is where Nina Sakura--the teen witch--comes in.  

Nina Sakura and her little spell-tool box
Tetsushi Kaji, the popular boy
From the beginning, Nina comes across as somewhat of a scatterbrain.  Yet, that's a part of her cute, spunky, and likeable charm.  She is like the antithetic to Ayu, or the Pippi Longstockings to Ayu's calm personality.  Nina has just about the same level of energy and gusto as Pippi Longstockings, as well as the unwavering passion for believing in the unbelievable.  However, just like Ayu, Nina hides many of her insecurities behind her jubilant personality.  Somehow attracted to Ayu’s resonablities, Nina is in distress after losing a personal item related to her witching.  It’s a big issue because Nina is in this “world” to prove she is capable of becoming an outstanding witch, considering the people from her world don’t seem to trust that aspect of her.  Once Ayu finds and returns Nina’s magic tool, Nina sees Ayu as the perfect individual to divulge her secrets to.  This includes confessing her desires to be an outstanding witch.  I suppose Nina felt she could share this with Ayu because of Ayu's smooth personality, but now thoroughly attached, Nina does anything she can to make Ayu happy.  To her, they are friends now.  However, Nina's magical antics doesn’t always turn out in Ayu’s favor.  And this is where the adventures begin.

Opposites attract, leading the girls down exciting paths encouraged by one another’s differences and inner similarities as they develop a close friendship filled with trust and adventure.  Between the two secondary male roles expanding onto the friendship, and friends from Nina’s witch world entering many chapters, Ultra Maniac makes for a comedic five-volume series. 

Tetsushi's best friend, Hiroki
As I outline Ayu and Nina’s characteristics and differences, I want to make it known that those elements are what made me love the series.  Particular because I spent my middle school years in somewhat of the same circumstances where I had to cover up myself just to survive the experience.  The funny thing is that in middle school I was more like Ayu, calm and collected.  It wasn't until the second year of high school that I became out going like Nina.  It balanced out eventually.   And necessarily so. 

Nevertheless, that's only half of my identification with the manga series.  While I wasn’t the most popular in middle school I had enough “credence” to associate myself with a few of the more popular students.  I suppose in many respects I was that in-between kid.  Nevertheless, my best friend was one of the students who was forever looked over and bullied by others.  He was the kid I would have to defend from ignorant tormentors.  It had a lot to do with him coming from a family in economic straits (like who wasn't?).  Straits that showed in his tattered shoes and daily repeating outfits.  On top of this, his family weren't that nice to him.  I remember a time when I had extra money and got us both Snicker bars out of the school vending machine.  He took his home.  The next day I asked did he enjoy it.  Sadly, his dad took it away from him and told him that he didn't deserve it.  What kid doesn't deserve candy?  I was angered of course.  Months later I bought two copies of a collection of ghost stories.  Nobody took that from him.  

Nina flagging down Ayu
Maybe because I've always tried to remain receptive to people, but I see no other way to find acceptance in yourself but through the accepting of others.  Nothing is more bonding than being genuinely emphatic and sympathetic to another.  What he and I shared was a love of Stephen King (which may say a lot) and the imagination.  Not Air Jordans or Mustangs.  Just books and some creative thinking.  We could be ourselves while everyone else was shooting to be relevant to others.  Therefore, I enjoyed his company and considered him a friend.  I needed one just as he did.  

Now, while there is much, much else to speak about in Ultra Maniacthe story of two girls who seem to support and compliment each other inspires me to remain open to people.  Have you been open to people lately?

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