Success is like a White Tiger

Success is like a white tiger: random, ferocious, and beautiful.
Once upon a time I was a member of DeviantArt. I still am, come to think of it (anyone still use that site?) Most of those drawings date back to high school, because I was the sort of kid who liked posting artwork. It helped encourage me to draw more, and that was always a good thing. Being in high school, I was very small fries, and I was excited if a drawing got two hundred views. Most didn't.

Then I drew this tiger(link to DA). I didn't do anything different than my usual routine of drawing a picture with an eye turned to some quality movie, like T2. I did nothing out of the ordinary, but the tiger turned into something special. Perhaps it was that people confused it with a photo when viewed as a thumbnail or perhaps because it made an attractively ferocious thumbnail, but it set itself off on a juggernaut run. It was an exception to the hundred-view rule. It was viewed over 67,000 times and had over 1000 favorites.

This is how art and writing work. It's random as hell. You do your thing, and sometimes you feel lucky to get fifty people read it. Sometimes it just turns into some weird juggernaut, and everyone sees it. You will never know when when it will happen or why it will happen. But it can and does. When it does happen, you'll never quite know why.

Success is like a white tiger: that snow-camouflage mutant of nature. You never know how it came to be or if it will maul you. But it is a beautiful, powerful, and ferocious thing. So keep drawing, keep writing. And sometimes the tiger comes.


Top Three Things I Miss About Video Games

Let's be real.
What I miss most is chocobos.
I used to play video games like an addict, and I think that may have shaped some of my literary tastes towards fast paced and full of action. Nonetheless I decided, a few years ago, to go cold turkey on games and get things done in life. Instead of gaining hours of free time, I gained an internet addiction. On the whole I am not sure it's an equal trade. The loading times are as bad or worse (especially with my internet tower dissolving). And there are some things that I really miss from video games that just don't translate well into written work: 
  • 1. Exaggerated physical abilities. 
Especially as demonstrated by double jumping. In Devil May Cry, an excellent game, you have to unlock the skill, but once you do, you can jump, and then jump again in midair. In videogame land I jump everywhere.

(Perhaps I was a rabbit in a past life?) I do get genuinely annoyed if I encounter a videogame that does not allow me to jump with abandon. When they let me jump only as a special and relevant action button, it's the worst. I feel so controlled.
  • 2. Even more exaggerated weapons. 
Disregard the crap-art.
Notice the impressive sword.
The size of swords in Final Fantasy games is one of the best things. Be the sword six feet long or one foot wide, IRL the characters' greatest threats would be their arms falling off.

(I assume this is what happens when you lift heavy things - I try to avoid testing the theory.) And yet these weapons are carried cheerily across the worldmap. Not to mention that the characters seem to have invisible packmules. Note: I think VII was the best soap opera, full of nonsense and betrayal and amnesia and tragedy.
  • 3. Voice acting.
The voice acting was always. So. Good. 

It really added another layer to the plot developments and character appreciation. And none could ever come close to the excellent voice acting in the Devil May Cry series. That game should have been, and was, the one to fill my dark soul with light.
    • But in writing...
    These are things I miss. And yet they are high on the ridiculous spectrum as it is, and would be worse in writing. I like badass characters, but you gotta reign them in a little. They need weaknesses and emotions. Don't tell me they can doublejump off the air, or I can't take their life problems seriously. They can't have invisible pack mules - you need to think about what your characters could actually carry on their adventures. (Problems are tripled if your character is a shapeshifter.) And if the character's sword is bigger than he is, you need to provide a reason. 

    Most importantly, any character monologuing should not bring tears of laughter to your readers' eyes. Because they probably won't be laughing with you.


    New and Improved Cover!

    Seriously? A second post on your cover, Kat?

    Well, I like the look and feel of the new background, so I would like to take the time to announce that the new and subtly improved cover is now a go!

    With a texture like that, it has to be good.

    Now, as you can see, I have added a very cute rock-texture in the background. You may wonder why I bothered poking at the drawing (note the previous post on full evolution). I was happy with the center, you see, but the dull boredom of the prior flat gray background always made me sad. I wanted a nifty texture, but I resisted using anything stock.

    Because I do not approve of using stock textures, my previous solution was to whine about it. But the other day something extraordinary happened; I walked outside. I tore myself away from my computer long enough to realize that there were some very big flat stones outside with some very nice moss/mold/lichen/growing things/texture. And thus this texture was easily added. 

    Also on the bright side, it should look decent on the grayscale of a Kindle. My first cover was pretty much black, so you could only see Shadowing and my name and kind of a face.  

    Anywho, this is a very cute fantasy story (who doesn't love antiheroes and violent elves?) Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Most people buy Amazon. You can find reviews there.


    The Importance of Spectacle

    Lady Gaga, queen of spectacle.

    Genius of our generation, Lady Gaga, is truly the Queen of Spectacle.

    Say what you will about her music, she is a master of Spectacle. Writers could learn a thing or two about the incorporation of fashion and ridiculosity in her rise to fame. She is a provides great cues for entertainment: be crazy, be awesome, be shiny, and you will grow fans.

    While I still consider Bad Romance, (which is the second most viewed video on YouTube), to be her video with the best aesthetic achievement, she hasn't released a boring one. And due to the transitive property of actors' historicity, she's essentially vampire hunter in Paparazzi, in which she kills Eric Northman.


    Disambiguation: Why True Blood is Better than Twilight

    Twilight is weirdly popular, but the sparkling offends a lot of vampire fans. True Blood is full of sex and violence, but the vampires scare off some potential viewers because they are getting the show confused with Twilight. 

    A disambiguation is necessary. 

    How they are alike: 
    • Vampires. Sorta.
    • Prominant love triangle between two supernatural beings and one mostly human main character.
    • There is a character who is in love partly because they cannot hear the thoughts of the object of affection. In the case of Bella, they may just be lacking.

      What makes Twilight (almost) fun to watch: 
      • It is unintentionally hilarious. Mostly due to Pattinson's faces. 
      • It really brings the text to life. I avidly devoured the Twilight books through the Reasoning with Vampires blog. 
      • Shirts are against werewolf law.
      • A beautifully awkward scene in which Edward rejects Bella, modestly buttons up his shirt, and insists on abstinence until marriage. 
      • The Cullens possess the vampire superpowers that allow them to pose for half the movie.
      • Watching these reminds you how much better True Blood is. 

        What makes True Blood fun to watch: 
        • Vampires retain a sense of ferocity, and they do horrifying and immoral things from time to time, as vampires ought to do. You can't be sure that they won't flip out and drain a character.
        • There is a discussion of the socio-cultural implications of vampires. 
        • In this love triangle, Eric and Bill have a whole lot more chemistry and interpersonal feelings than Edward/Jacob. 
        • Sookie has some sass and mopes less than Bella. Downside: her name is Sookie.
        • The series is focused on the town, which gives it a much richer cast and story tapestry, whereas Twilight is a claustrophobic teen romance with some random Foreign interlopers. 
        • True Blood is Intentionally Hilarious, and incorporates more witticism.

        What could be better for both: 
        • They both suffer from overpowered male characters in love with a less interesting girl. 
        • Vampires are one thing, but these both use the PR technique of throwing in everything paranormal but the kitchen sink, which multiplies the difficulty of suspension of disbelief. 
        • Overall paucity of badass female characters. 


        Cover evolution

        This is the process of change that the Shadowing cover went through.

        Brainstorming phase:
        Last time I went to a bookstore, sword hilts seemed popular.
        I mentally combined that concept with a wolf door-knocker we have at my house.
        I decided this was a bad idea.
        There was another brainstorming picture, but it appears to have been so lame that I deleted it.

        First idea for a cover with a halfway-transformed henchman standing there, like a bro.
        Note that the wings are kind of like Devil May Cry swords.

        In this stage his wings turned into spider webs, and his face, due to difficulties working out the jaw, began to bear a striking resemblance to Raziel from SoulReaver. Also, note the pen name idea and inherent flaw

        In this stage his wings turned into umbrellas.
        You already know about the name issue

        And now it's just about perfect! Proper name, editors and publishing cited, series name finally mentioned, and the background is lightened up because it was brought to my attention that the last version looked like a lump of black on the Kindle. Still, there's something missing...
        Aha! Now we have a fancy background texture! Thank you rock outside my house.  And now the process is done.

        So there we have it: the very professional process through which I worked out the cover.