Mirth Alia
13 June 2012 @ 01:49 pm
Note to self:  
Make and upload summer banners.

Also maybe ask for opinions on series ideas idk how does I do writing.
Current Music: world spins madly on . the weepies
Current Mood: '-'
Mirth Alia
04 June 2011 @ 11:24 pm
Flist fangasming! "Magical realism and colonization and Nietzsche/Foucault." My day is made.  
So anyone who happens to like any kind of fantasy writings and particularly awesome stuff pertaining to fantasy writings should go follow [livejournal.com profile] ipsius right now.

Right now right now.

Her most recent post is entitled "Magical realism and colonization and Nietzsche/Foucault" seriously there is no reason why you shouldn't be clicking right now.
Current Mood: excited
Mirth Alia
30 April 2011 @ 06:05 pm
More doodles. Belladonna from... Belladonna by Anne Bishop. (Late #fridayreads!)  

Just a quick thing. I kind of hate the way she looks on the cover of the book, and I've had this image of her in my head for the entirety of Sebastian that I wanted to get down on paper while I still could. She looks a tad too young for 31, I think; I'll have to practice drawing faces of different ages.

I actually don't like the Ephemera books all that much overall; I like Glorianna, and a few other characters, but I've read three series by Bishop now and they've all got the same subjects, same themes, same kinds of characters, same kinds of threat, same kind of structure... etc. There's only so much of that you can take from the same writer before it starts to get irritating, unfortunately.

I have enjoyed the extensions on the Black Jewels Trilogy so far, though, probably because they're expansions on a really strong world that I loved and which was my introduction to her work. I have Twilight's Dawn sitting on my table waiting for me to be done with Belladonna, so we'll see if that trend continues.
Current Music: Exile Vilify . The National
Current Mood: thoughtful
Mirth Alia
02 April 2011 @ 04:16 am
30 Days of Female Awesome: Day 28  

Day Twenty-Eight: Favourite female writer (television, books, movies, etc.)

Let's go with just two this time.

Anne Bishop the cover for Heir to the Shadows, with a blonde woman in a long black dress sitting in a stone throne. A massive black dragon is coiled around the throne from behind.

Anne Bishop

Have you heard this story before?

You have.

All right, then.

Oh, you want another story...

Okay, I admit it: at first glance, most of Anne Bishop's work looks like finely crafted indulgent fantasies built around (a) Mary Sue(s). And to a degree, I suppose this is true. Having initially read her books when I was a teenager with a wild imagination and only just becoming aware of the world of sex and what it could contain, my opinion is likely to be more than a little biased.

That said, more than a decade later, I still love her books. Love them with a fervent passion. They're one of the few series that I can read over and over again with barely a pause for breath in between. The characters are strong and compelling, the relationships are intriguing and unique, and the worlds she crafts somehow manage to be intricate yet easy to understand and be absorbed into at the same time. She has a wonderful style of prose that balances itself between elegance and simplicity, making it an easy read without sounding dry or condescending. She lets dialogue carry itself, and carry itself well, and the details of her finely-shaped plots range from dark and thrilling to amusing and heartwarming.

While reading her books I have swore, gasped, laughed out loud, smiled fondly, grit my teeth, snarled, stared blankly at words while trying to gather the willpower to turn the page, and been driven by tension into skipping ahead only to flip back and read everything in between. In my younger days, her stories presented me with a different concept of honour and justice than what I was used to, a different perspective on female empowerment and the relationships between men and women (always a strong theme in any of her series), and a new notion of responsibility and protectiveness. An ideal, true, and one with its own flaws, but back then reading her books made me feel strong, like I could do anything despite being a girl — because I was a girl — and I think that feeling served me very well for a number of years.

I'm so glad that she continues to write regularly, giving me new pieces to devour and help take me back to a younger self who was a little more sure of herself and her place in the world. And while her books don't all share the same level of quality, they are all good. She doesn't taper off in plot or character development or interesting things as she continues to write within a universe, as I've seen other authors do. On the contrary, you really get the feeling that those worlds are alive, somewhere, and there's so many stories and people living within them that all she has to do is eye them for a little while and then convey what she sees to us.

And isn't that the purest form of storytelling?

(Finally, I know very little about her as a person, but just her bio alone is an inspiration and an encouragement to me as a storyteller.)

Marion Zimmer Bradley the cover for Sword & Sorceress XV, with a blonde female warrior in chainmail drawing a glowing sword from a sheath on her back

Marion Zimmer Bradley

Time for another guilty admission: I haven't read all that much of Marion's own works. Her style of writing was always a little offputting to me, and though I've tried to get into her stories, I've only had partial success on a few occasions. I was actually rather tempted to put Diana Wynne Jones in this slot.

But I can't deny that Marion was probably the single most influential role model of my life in late grade school and most of high school, thanks to one single series: the Sword & Sorceress anthologies.

Starting in the mid 1980s. Marion was thoroughly fed up with the liberal slathering of gender discrimination and cliche male protagonists in the fantasy genre as a whole. As Wikipedia states, "As she explained in the foreword to the first volume, she created the anthology to redress the lack of strong female protagonists in the sub-genre of sword and sorcery. At the time, most female characters in sword and sorcery were little more than stock damsels in distress, or pawns who were distributed at the conclusion of the story as "bad-conduct prizes" (Bradley's term) for the male protagonists. Many of the early sword-and-sorcery works featured attitudes toward women that Bradley considered appalling."

So she began collecting stories from writers across the country, with only one major submission contingency: each fantasy short story had to center around a woman. Initial contribution was slow, but by the time Marion passed away, 18 volumes were published and the series was a huge financial success. She had so many amazing submissions coming in that she eventually had to limit them to invitation only because she couldn't get through them all and was having too much difficulty choosing between them.

But back in the early days of the anthologies, anyone who could pick up a pen, write a good story, and submit it according to the publishing guidelines got in. And on top of that, Marion wrote a little blurb at the beginning of each and every story in each and every anthology.

Those blurbs were just as important to me as the stories. In them, Marion introduced all the dozens of authors (men, women, some established authors, others newcomers on the scene, and some just brilliant, inspiring teenagers as young as 14 or 16) and shared a little of their lives with us. She shared little bits of her own life as well, of her family and her pets and what sort of processes went on in the making of the anthologies. She'd note themes in the regular avalanches of submissions, and would constantly dole out encouraging, practical advice to any aspiring authors.

Read your submission guidelines. Have compelling characters. Realize that short stories are often harder to write than novels. Bizarre collections of pets (and jobs) are par for the course for an author. It takes all types. Don't ever think you need to go to school for writing — most courses will actually make it worse. Sharpen your skills by reading the hell out of everything you love. Don't flaunt your age on a submission; let your writing do the talking for you. Have a gripping opening. Apply pants to seat of chair and write.

Marion was the reason I first began to get the tentative idea that I might be able to be a writer, that I could be the kind of person who created the stories I loved to read so much. She made me believe that it didn't matter how old I was, or what my experience was, or if I had any credentials, so long as I put my head down and wrote something good and was willing to learn and improve. By the time I was nearing the end of high school, I'd finally gathered up the courage to write a short story of my own, something that I was fully intent on polishing and submitting to one of the anthologies, because by then it was pretty much my dream. Even a rejection letter from here would have been an honour.

Then I read the volume where Marion stated submissions would only be by invitation from that point on.

And then I read the one where Diana L. Paxson announced her death.

It was a blow, definitely. My story quietly disappeared to the bottom of a drawer, not to see the light of day again. I've never been a magazine subscriber (my family couldn't afford it), and everywhere else in the publishing world seemed too intimidating to try for. Marion had been kinder, and easier to reach — she'd held out a hand for us, and then it was gone. I'd taken too long.

Maybe someday I'll find another anthology that drove me to create the way hers did. Maybe I'll even manage to find that story in the bottom of my filing boxes, dust it off, and finish making it into something presentable. If I do, it'll more likely find itself on the internet instead of in a book, but I'd like to think that I'd still be able to find a home for it — among other stories of strong women, and all of the extraordinary people and events that it's possible to weave around them.

In the meantime, I think I'll read through my collection again. It still holds the place of honour on my bookshelf, and I might as well read the hell out of something I love.
Current Music: I Used To Love Him . Lauryn Hill
Current Mood: sleepy
Mirth Alia
26 March 2011 @ 11:57 pm
We'll all be out catching stars tonight.  
I'm going to go ahead and believe that Diana Wynne Jones only died in this world. There are 11 more that she still might be alive in.
Current Music: Connect . ClariS (Magical Girl Madoka theme)
Current Mood: sad
Mirth Alia
10 March 2011 @ 01:50 am
On villainy!  
[livejournal.com profile] elspeth_vimes did an entry recently on her top 5 favourite villains, and it seems like an interesting exercise, so this is a placeholder until I've gotten sleep and can actually pull it off.

Kazundo Gouda's probably going to have to hit that list somewhere. Possibly also Alexandra Angelline, whom I know maybe two people tops will know.

Gonna be tough choosing between the epic ones and the downright creepy/effective ones, too. Like Megatron! How can you leave Megatron off a list like that. But then there's villains like Melisande Shahrizai, and all the beautifully threatening and conniving ones that have been showing up in webcomics lately, and-- yeah, okay, sleep, whatever.
Current Mood: exhausted
Current Music: Late . Kaya Fraser