Sunday, May 29, 2011


Mellow greetings fellow bloggers of the underworld.

Let me tell you that this weekend I've been totally off critting, blogging, writing and even studying. But I've done a couple of things I haven't done in a while.

First off, I went shopping - twice - once for clothes and once for BOOKS! I was very pleased to go to a book fair and find a lot of books I've wanted to read for a while - What did I get?
Well, I got The Hunger Games (FINALLY!) which I've been wanting to read for a loooong time (since a lot of my pals on CC listed it as a favorite book and a must-read). Something else - the first 2 books of The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (the third or fourth one aren't out yet in my country).
I also got Stephen King's Salem's Lot - Mysti made me curious - I wanna see if I pee my pants with fright after this one - haven't read a scary book in ages.
I also got Fallen by... I'm too lazy to check - but you all know it - the cover with the moping girl and is about angels and demons and stuff. So, yeah, I'm pretty happy with myself.

I've also already finished The City of Bones - it was a good read, finished it up in less than 2 days and I can't believe I'm reading something that isn't in some sick, weird way related to Law. Can't wait to read the rest (though I will have to squeeze that in between studying - I have to start doing that tomorrow - but, somehow, I'm not fussing too much).

Have my graduation ceremony and prom on Friday, so am pretty excited for that as well. Also, found a fat burning program on the treadmill that turned out to be a lot of fun.

But I'm mainly glad I'm reading again. And hopefully, I'll be writing again soon (as in, as soon as I finish blogging)

Time when I'll post something relevant about writing... not sure - depends on where the muse takes me.

Take care.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

And the winner is...

Cheryl Ann of CherylAnnHam. She left a comment and I drew her out of the box to win a awesome copy of Mysti Parker's first novel, A Ranger's Tale.

Congratulations, Cheryl! May you greatly enjoy this book. I know I did. Now, just leave me your email address so I can send it to the right people.

Right...what am I up to? Trying to study, crit, write, edit and go to the gym at the same time. How's that working out? Not so well. I'm in brainstorming hell due to the beginning of my book, and I just found out I need a plotting partner, else I'll go crazy - I need someone to bounce ideas off (and no one around me is interested enough in writing -Aaaah! I'm going crazy!)

Also, I've finished my exams for the year(s of college) Not too happy with the results - double 9er and a 10 which will be of course seasoned with a fine 5er. Eh... my smallest grades like... ever. And I don't think it's very fair, but... *shrug*. I might just finish this year of with a 8.8 average which is the smallest average I've head since starting school. Which means I might finish college with a 9,36 out of ten average - not too bad, but I wanted better. *sigh*

Right...this is why I'm pretty much MIA with the blogging - going though a rather harsh time psychically - so I don't want to inflict my craziness upon everyone.

Singing off

Monday, May 9, 2011


Hey folks,

Just wanted to let you know what's up with little ol' me. I am...exhausted. The last exam session is taking its toll on me. Hard. I think I'm going to take a small break from blogging and critting (I'll try to get everything in, but I don't promise anything).

I've been going through a harsh time, intellectually speaking. It's stressing to finish college. I know I'm not the first or the last who goes through this. And I'm not complaining. It's a very exciting time for me, when I get to put my efforts into getting the job I want and start building my adult future. (I'm still a kid deep inside)

So, here's what I'll be doing for the following days days:

Today - lay around, sleep, watch some House MD, maybe crit a story or two. (I had an extra tough exam today. I thought it went pretty well. Not perfect, but well enough)
Tomorrow - First semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest(ESC). People from the UK/Europe might know what I'm talking about (I'm actually rooting for UK - I love Blue, and I want them to win :D). For those who don't - it's this mega live show where a band from each country performs and one country wins. Romania is in it too, of course, and the song is pretty decent. Also, I'll try to finish my crits for the week.
May 12th - Second ESC semifinal (Romania and UK are both in there - bummer)
May 14th - ESC final -Woot!
May 15th - Give away the copy of Myti's book. Exam in Social Security (funny, I always have an exam right after the ESC final :p)- Officially my last college exam ever!
May 28th - UEFA Champions League final (FC Barcelona vs Manchester United) Yes, I'm a soccer nut. And sorry friends from the UK, but I'm with Barça on this one ;)
June 3rd - My graduation ceremony (I'll probably blog about that and give you pictures :p) Also, the prom.
June 29th - My graduation exam.

In between, I'll be studying and heavily editing both Hunters (so I can get my proof copy of the second draft) and Ruby (so I'll have something to stick in the queues on CC).

But I'll be seeing you before then! Just wanted you guys to know what I get up to when no one is watching ;)

I do this too, but shhhh - Don't worry, it's not loaded
So, what are you guys up to?
Signing off...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Interview with Mysti Parker

Okay fans of border talk (pun on my language skills and crude jokes), it's time for my third and first interview. Why third? Because it's the third. Why first? Because it's the first one that's actually organized through a Blog Tour thingie. (Yes, I'm language impaired).

So, everyone... welcome Mysti Parker! *big show of hands, come on!*

Stef: Hi Mysti! Glad to have you here (I had to wrestle a bear to get this interview). Grab a seat, a cup of coffee and let’s get on it!

Mysti: Yum! Great coffee! Thanks for having me, Stefanie!

Stef:  I’ve been following you around the blogosphere on your tour (yup, number one groupie here), and I’ve seen you giving a lot of juicy info on your book, yourself and your world. So I’m going to try and do something a bit different. (And of course, you know, I’m a character nut, so brace yourself). I'm a start shooting questions at you.     How did you come up with the names for your characters? (Always interesting to know in fantasy)

Mysti: Would you believe me if I told you they just sort of come to me? Ok, I can do better.
I do try to pick names that sound like the character’s specific race, if that makes any sense. The high elves, like Caliphany Aranea, and her parents Sirius and Ellawen, will have more complex, formal-sounding names. Half-elves like Galadin Trudeaux will have half-human, half-elf-sounding names. Wood elves like Jayden Ravenwing will have names that contain something involving nature. As in the story I’m writing now—Zephyrus and Shade Windsong are a wood elf couple.
Hopefully that gives you some insight into the process.

Stef: Lol, you did do better. Yes, it makes perfect sense - it's the main reason I asked, because the names seemed to fit the status. Most of your characters are elves, so age isn’t really an issue for them, but if you were to put then in human years, how old would they be (asking because Serenya seems older than Cali , even if she is actually younger)

Mysti: What an interesting question, and I agree with you on that latter point! Cali would probably be your average 18-20 year old in human years, finally wanting to break free from home and getting the nerve to do it. She may be nearly a century old, but she’s a young soul, for certain. Galadin the half-elf, at 45, acts about his age in human years I think. Jayden is close to Cali’s age too, but he’s so serious, it’s hard to say what age he might be in human years—35 perhaps?

Stef: Wow...never thought Galadin that old. He was more likely 27 to me :p     I know you must love all your characters, but which is your favorite? (to write and as a person – since it’s not always the same one)

Mysti: Oh wow, that’s a hard one. I really enjoyed writing Caliphany’s adventures. She’s so impulsive; I never knew what she might do. I think, though, in this particular story, I really like Galadin as a person. He’s fought the odds and lived to tell about it. He has a really good heart and loves Caliphany like crazy. I think we’d all like a guy like him!

Stef: Which character is most like you?

Mysti: *ahem* Caliphany. I’m a bit stubborn, not quite as impulsive, but I’m pretty fiery—not in the literal sense that she is though!

Stef: Lol - I know what you mean. That's the same thing I say about the character who's most like me. Uh, I'm most like Angie, but I'm not THAT impulsive :p I guess we push our own personalities further with these characters. You do an exceptional job with your support cast. What is your secret to making them so real?

Mysti: I love these questions—they’re really stretching my thinking muscles. Let’s see. With all my characters, I strive to make them realistically flawed in the midst of a fantasy setting. But they usually have a motivation for their flaws, which makes them more relatable, I think.
Cali’s father, Sirius, for instance, is a control freak that hasn’t let her travel out of the city or do anything other than train to be his replacement at the Mage Academy. But he wasn’t always like that. His first child and only son, Caelen, died fighting as a paladin in the king’s army. Sirius allowed Caelen to follow his dreams and lost him. He’s afraid he might lose Cali if he lets her out of his grasp. So, his obsessive behavior is not without reason.

Stef: There's a lesson we could all learn. So, where did you come up with the names for plants/animals/places/months in A Ranger’s Tale?

Mysti: Just like the character names, they came to me. Ok, so not entirely true. I do have a trick to those as well. I like to combine real names for things to make fantasy animal/plant names. Like willowvine for instance. Or I’ll take part of a word or fantasy word and add it to a basic word to make things like ebonwood or evynfruit, for instance. My favorites are probably the little elephant-like creatures called eleteens.
Months were a little trickier, but I’ve got a twelve-month calendar like our world, and several of the months, like Septune and Kersh, are based off dragon names that you will see in Book Three.

Stef: You have a winner there - it does make everything sound natural and cute. :D Do you plan on bringing Galadin and Cali back in a following novels? Give them some spot light?

Mysti: I think you’ve seen already that Cali is mentioned in my current WIP Serenya’s Song (for which you’re being a fantastic critique partner, by the way). I’d be willing to bet that she and Galadin will make an appearance there. Jayden’s going to need some help with all the crazy things happening in Summerwind.

Stef: Aaawww... Thanks, Mysti! Now let me torture you with some personal questions. Lightning round style. What helps you get those writer juices flowing?

Mysti: Reading and critiquing. I’ve been privileged to meet some very fine writers since I started this process. They are so inspiring!

Stef: What can’t you stand in a novel? Which results in a throw against the wall.

Mysti: Pointless babble is one thing. I actually started a romance novel last year from a bestselling author and skipped to the end because I was so bored. The hero and heroine just argued with each other through the first three-quarters of the book. Boring! Give me some action and romance, people! Doesn’t have to be erotica, but give me a story that keeps me rooting for the characters the whole way through.
Another thing that bugs me—pointless details. I don’t need to know the exact room dimensions and nap of the carpet. Let the characters pick out curtains off-screen. Unless it’s important to the meat of the plot, stick to the guns and tell the story!

Stef: What makes you love a novel? Can’t put it down, love.

Mysti: That one is harder. I’ve read a lot of books of many genres that are hard to put down. The characters have to carry it for me though. I’m a character-driven writer and reader. I don’t care how twisted the plot is, if I don’t feel like the characters are real, I’m not going to care about them. 
The people need to be complex and emotionally-rich. Not 100% evil or perfect. And second to that is the plot and writing style. I don’t care if you know all the words in the English vocabulary. Please don’t use them all to tell the story. If a passage is so florid I have to read over it twice to understand it, that’s a turn-off. Simple language used in interesting ways keeps me turning those pages.

Stef: Give us something you’re scared of.

Mysti: Freaky-looking dolls. Even ones that aren’t that freaky-looking, like porcelain dolls. I don’t like being in the room with them. Seriously.

Stef: Lol, I get you. I watched Chucky when I was a kid and got so freakin' scared :p I always played with toy cars and LEGO when I was little, anyway. Something that makes you happy.

Mysti: Lots of things. Hearing my kids playing happily together. Or my son’s “monster hugs”. Or a warm cup of coffee. Good chocolate. Good books. Date nights. Sleeping late on weekends.

Stef: And now – give me an excerpt – I want your favorite scene from A Ranger’s Tale, right here, right now ;)

Mysti: As you wish, Miss Stefanie! I have a lot of favorite scenes, but this one is from chapter 8 (in Galadin’s POV), where Galadin is teaching Caliphany the art of concealment. I love this chapter because it shows how much fun these two have together as their romance blossoms.

It didn’t take me long to find her. She hadn’t mastered it quite yet, but she was having fun and truth be told, so was I. By the end of the week, I had a hard time finding her. I followed her tracks that particular day to the mouth of a cave at the top of a rise. The tracks ended before she reached the cave entrance. Crouching down, my back towards the cave, I studied the ground and smiled. She’d learned to cover her tracks, erasing them with a frond of fern leaves.
         Before I could stand and catch her in the cave, she jumped on my back. I lost my balance, and we both rolled down the hill, tumbling head over heels until we reached the bottom. We sat up, leaves in our hair, dirt on our faces. When our eyes met, we melted into laughter.
         I reached over and picked some leaves out of Cali’s hair. I brushed some dirt off her cheek, and my fingers lingered there a moment. Longing flickered in her beautiful eyes. The sounds of the forest faded, and for a moment, the world slipped away from my view. All I saw was the perfect creature in front of me, and my heart raced.
         But I couldn’t let it go too far. With me, she’d only find trouble. It’s not like I hadn’t had a few trysts in my time, but this one was dangerous. If I wasn’t careful, she’d have my heart, and I couldn’t let that happen.
         She nestled her cheek in my hand, but I pulled away and took my sword from its scabbard on my back.
         It took me a second to find my voice. “N-Next week, we begin our sword lessons.”
         Cali leaned in to look at the sword. “That’s beautiful. May I see it?”
         I handed it to her. She held it on her lap and studied its design. Intricate engravings wound their way all along the double-edged blade and ivory hilt. It had been my father’s sword, the only thing I had left of him, and I’d fought tooth and nail to make sure it never departed from me. She traced her finger along the engravings; then she looked at me. Quick as lightning, she leaned in, and her lips brushed mine.
         I jumped up. “Well, um, we better get going. I’m sure you have lots to do, and so do I.” I brushed off my clothes and smacked the leaves from my hair. “Next week, bright and early.” 

Stef: Awesome! Thanks for being here and for putting up with all my questions. I hope we’ll do this for Serenya’s Song as well ;;)

Mysti: It’s been fun and I definitely hope we can do this again! ~Mysti  

Alrighty peeps, here's how it's gonna go down. Mysti is giving away a copy of her awesome book to some lucky groupie who will comment on her interview.'s the rules - if you're not already a follower, you know what to do ;) Then leave a comment with your email address, so I know who wants the nifty prize. Also, every commenter gets the chance to win a print copy of the book.
Winners of the e-book will be chosen on May 15th (so you have 10 days to comment) and the winner of the print copy, at the end of the tour.

So join the fun, and show Mysti the love. You can buy her book here and here.

Hope you all enjoyed yourselves. I know I did ;)

Signing off.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happily Ever After

Hi folks! Just got a spare minute to do some blogging. I know I haven't done it in a while, but life has been hectic (with lots of law books aching to be read).
Today, I want to bring up the subject of story endings. As hard as it is to write a good hook for your beginning - the ending is a bit trickier. Why is that, you ask? Because and ending can ruin all your perfect building. Like one of those playing card towers when you put the last piece in and everything falls down.
This is perfect timing for this post for two reasons: first, my novel Hunters just finished its first round in the queues and second, because I've just finished reading another book - so - two endings.

Happily Ever After

Well, depends on how cynical you are, but this might just be everyone's favorite ending. How does it work?
All your important characters (the ones your readers invested in) live. Every loose thread is tied up in a nice, shiny, red bow. And everyone lives happily ever after - your couple gets together, the world is freed from its tyrant, a new child will be born into the world - and every character is happy with how things turned out (well, except the baddie, but he's probably dead, exiled or locked away by now, so he doesn't count)

A few quirks about a HEA: - since you tie it up so well, you can't really do a sequel on it - since everything is solved, thus adding to the happiness.
- it's easily in danger of becoming cheesy (just sayin', since the majority of HEA endings = proposal)
- readers these days don't really want them anymore - because they will rightfully point out that life doesn't go that way - which is true, but it's a book - enjoy yourself.
- some might even go as far as to say it lacked in imagination (depends on the quantity of cynic in that person or how miserable that person is)

The good thing about HEA: It never fully disappoints. Because happiness never does - yes, you might think that the book would have been better if...., but you still aren't really disappointed that everything turned out well for the characters you've grown to love (well, unless you're a real sadistic person :D)

This is what I went for with Hunters - all threads closed up, proposal scene at the ending (fortunately, it was apparently screwed up enough not to be too cheesy) and everybody happy. And no one complained about it. Which is what makes this type of ending popular AND a success.

Happily Ever... Wait a Minute!

This is my type of ending. (and the one I usually do when I go for happy - ignore the above mention). It consists in, and I quote, "shit happening". It's much closer to life - sure, so the characters are all fine and did win their war in the end, but there were friends lost, sacrifices made to make that happen. Not everything will be tied up all nice and shiny - which kinda dismisses the "Life is not like that" argument from above.
This type of ending is closer to what real life can throw at you. The baddie might have gotten away/not received the proper punishment. Your characters might have come out a little scarred from the conflict. But it's still a good ending.

HEWM quirks: - you might accidentally kill some secondary character someone liked and piss them off
- readers might be disappointed about the threads which are left open
- it's hard to get the right amount of happiness in to satisfy the reader and also not make your characters seem like a bunch of insensitive jerks.
- it might seem that you were lazy and forgot to write the ending chapter (in case you leave too much open)

Good things about this ending: - it's still happy
- it's more like life
- leaves room for sequels (in case you want to tie those loose threads)
- you can do it in a million different ways.

This is the kind of ending I have for 3 out of my 7 books in my Jewels series - volumes 1, 3 and 6 end in a happy-ish manner - sure, threads are still left hanging, but the characters are happy.

And this is also the kind of ending that book I've recently read was going for. Only it didn't work - and it wasn't just because the best friend who used, cheated and got pregnant with her fiancé's best friend still came on top and had her way, but because that meant there was no character growth.
This poor, sad MC was a tool and a pawn the entire book, never rising up to her abusive friend, and even if she ended up with said abusive friend's fiancé for a boyfriend, she still never stood up to her, but let her spread rumors and blame them, even if she had cheated too. Very, very unsatisfying - I know you can't always win in real life, but I honestly don't want to read a book like THAT. And this ending ruined what started out to be a promising book.

Happily Never After

This is that type of ending which isn't necessarily happy (okay, it's not really happy at all - the characters are miserable), but leaves room for hope.
So, someone dear to your MC has disappeared, but there's a chance they might be alive (and other variations - getting hurt, getting dumped, being mortally disappointed). The MC is crushed, but doesn't give up hope (kinda like the ending of Gone with the Wind). It's mostly sad because the characters are mostly sad - but it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

HNA Quirks: - can send a massive wave of hate your way if you rob readers of their hope in the next volume
- be sure not to make it completely depressing, or some people might not come back for the resolve

HNA advantages: - let's face it, it's pretty easy to do and makes you feel like a mastermind
- leaves even more room for a sequel - people will actually demand one
- brings some real drama in your characters' lives and makes them grow/ seem more real
- another good example of life's not all about roses.
- you can dose the amount of evil to your liking

This is the kind of ending I have for volumes 2, 4 and 5 of my book - even if they all have elements of happiness in them (yeey, they're alive), there's still a bitter taste there at the end, and major things are left unsolved (kinda like in the fourth volume of Harry Potter)

The Sad One 

This is the part where something really, really, REALLY annoying happens and the book ends with disappointment or death galore. That doesn't make the book a bad one - it might just fit perfectly. (think of Orwell's 1984 - it had a horrible ending, but it WORKED). Either all your MCs died, or they never met their goals and became empty shells of their former selves (this can actually be more painful than dieing), either they found out something that cracked them and put them in a mental institution or... you can fill the blanks with whatever makes you shiver.

TSO quirks: - it can destroy you - people might hate you for it and think you a sadistic bastard.
- it's really hard to pull off - if you don't do it properly, see above point.
- however well you pull it off, people will still be sad at the end of your book
- it doesn't really leave room for sequels unless you're planning to do a prequel or a terrible spin off after your own work.

The good things about TSO: - if you pull it off really well - you'll be a writing genius.
- stops other authors from writing terrible follow ups using your popular characters (see starwars)
- helps you move on to a happier project
- you might stir up intense feelings in your readers.

I've never used this one, but might - book 7 of may series would be either a HEA or TSO - depends on how fed up I get with the characters by the time I bring them there :p

So, what kind of endings to you like to read/ write?

Oh, and one more thing. Drop by tomorrow, May 6th, for an awesome interview with awesome Mysti Parker! Courtesy of Bewitched Book Tours and yours truly.