Tag Archives: Harry Potter

My weekend

I really only had two goals for this weekend. It’s a short weekend for me, between the holidays. We don’t get flex days on holiday weeks. I pretty much failed anyway.

I wanted to get some back of the book material out for Lanternfish, and I accomplished that much.

Getting a haircut was part of the plan too, and I failed. My hair lady has moved on to another shop in the same franchise. I went to her because she is good, but really didn’t like the franchise. Now that she’s 20 miles out of my way, my happiness with her skills doesn’t outway the other burdens.

This franchise has one of those computer systems you must use just to get a haircut. It reminds me of the thing at Red Robin where I have to place my own order, and pay at the table. It’s freaky. I don’t feel like I owe a server a tip if I’m doing all the work. Are they going to ask me to wash the dishes next?

I want to hand someone money for a haircut. I don’t want to contribute to their database, become part of their farm, or do their bookkeeping for them. I just want a haircut. They don’t need my email, Social Security number, phone number or anything else to do that.

There are two places closer to home, so I stopped in to them. One was booked solid, which is a good sign. The other didn’t have anyone on site who could cut hair. They only work Tuesday through Friday. Scratch them off the list.

I’m going to call the busy place, and maybe I can find a new person to do business with. Kind of rough on Thanksgiving week, so I’ll be a bit forgiving. (I may have to buy a ponytailer soon. Or do something like Einstein did with his hair.)

Then I started a different kind of Lisa Burton Radio post. It might take a week or two to sort out, but it’s going to be interesting. Having fun with it, and I won’t post it on Thanksgiving day.

Since we got paid Friday, we managed date night on Saturday. Nothing too fancy, just dinner at Kahoots, which is one of our favorite places. They had pumpkin beer on tap too. It’s the second place I found all season that had some. (Elysian Pumpkinchino.)

We had matinee tickets to watch the Grindelwald movie today. We had a great time, and I would like to see it again to look for all the little things. I like the way Rowling portrayed the rift in a society. Someone has to drink the KoolAid before a movement gets underway. I didn’t like the division of KoolAid drinkers, but I wasn’t supposed to. It was very well done. Go see it.

Okay, so for a two day weekend, it was still kind of productive. A lot of it was family stuff, but it was fun. I need to get back to work on that Lisa Burton post, but I may have to peck away at it during the week… unless I get a haircut one night.

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A bunch of stuff, including The Force

Some of this might be a bit spoilerish for the new Star Wars movie. I'll try to be good, but you've been warned.

We've been slugs after all our Christmas merriment. My wife insisted upon the Harry Potter movie marathon yesterday. This completely shuts down any progress I might make.

She can watch television and read a book at the same time. I cannot. When I read or write, I need to isolate myself from other distractions.

I managed a simple transition in my new book, and did a tiny bit of editing. Sometimes, I'll dabble with a short story even with distractions. This usually requires a complete rewrite later, but with short fiction it's not unrealistic.

The short piece isn't quite going the way I want it to. It involves a main character forgetting a bunch of stuff, then trying again. He gathers a sliver more of data every time. It's harder to write than it sounds. It's also a good exercise for me. I'll dabble with it here and there until I am satisfied, or disgusted.

We went to the new Star Wars movie today, and both of us enjoyed it. There is a bit of repetitiveness from the earlier movies, but it's not nearly as bad as Jurassic World in that respect.

Star Wars is trapped by it's own culture, so viewers expect certain things, and deserve to get a taste of those things. Where to divide the new from the old is challenging.

I learned somewhere that a writer should discard the first few ideas. These can be a story concept, but are more likely events and solutions within the story. The reason is to avoid the low hanging fruit.

Star Wars needs The Force, droids, roguish heroes, aliens, and spaceships. I don't know that it needs to destroy a death star for the third time.

Aside from all that, it was a good movie.

I'm looking forward to doing a bit of writing this next weekend. I may work up a look back at 2015, then a business plan for 2016 on the blog.

That's about it. Not productive at all, and I need to be. I feel like I'm wasting time here, and I'm primed to write something.

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You get a magic sword! You get a magic sword! Everyone gets a magic sword!

Charles Yallowitz and I are doing a blog swap today. I asked him to give us a brush up on writing magical items into our stories. I hold this advice is good across the spectrum of speculative fiction. Upscale science fiction items will run into the same issues. Here is Charles' primer on magic items:


Thank you to Craig who has asked me to write about magical items and give some tips on how to use them. As you can guess, I primarily write fantasy stories and enchantments are classic fare of the genre. So this topic is up my alley and now I realize how often I use these things. Is that a good or bad thing? Well, it really depends.


You see, there are many schools of magic item usage and I’m going to mention two of the big ones. There are Lord of the Rings type worlds that have maybe a handful of very powerful objects and a few more mundane things. For example, The One Ring is a highly enchanted bauble that can rule the world. It’s a rare level of magic for an item since most other ‘magic’ items are swords that are more durable and sharper than normal weapons. Also they glow when orcs and goblins are around as long as the special effects people remember. The second world type is a Harry Potter style where nearly everything is magical. Brooms fly, letters yell at you, time travel is possible, and you get the point. Wonder why they even bothered learning spells at some points.


So you can see two levels of enchanted items here and that can have a heavy impact on an author’s world building. If these objects are everywhere then you need to have characters act accordingly. Not as much surprise or fear like you would see in a world where a person can go their entire life without running into magic. In my series, Legends of Windemere, there is a type of enchanted object called ‘Durable Gear’, which is nothing more than hardier items. They are easy to get, so nobody is wowed by them like they would be with a magic sword that summons a Titan. Even that second object isn’t extremely awe-inspiring to the older locals because I’ve established that Windemere has a lot of magic. That’s an important factor here. You really need to set the rules on how common these things are and if anyone can use them. There are authors who feel that only magic-users should be allowed to use enchanted objects, but I’m not one of them. Why have a wand of fireballs when you know the spell? Just my personal preference though and I’ll touch more on that later.


Keeping an enchanted object balanced is another issue that comes up. A warrior with a sword that does everything and there are no side-effects is a bad idea. If the item is simple and mundane, like a self-cleaning toothpick, then you can get away with no limits. Still, you should do something in regards to activation. The common choices are rather simple and self-explanatory:

1. Activation word that doesn’t always come up in conversation.

2. Limited charges and/or cool down time.

3. Requiring a trance or great focus.

4. Certain times of day or night.

5. Specific movements of the body.


That doesn’t include side-effects like insanity, memory loss, shortened life span, and whatever the author wishes to inflict on the user. For example, Nyx in my series is a caster who gets an enchanted bracelet that attracts an enemy’s blade and releases a stun blast on contact. She says ‘pineapple’ to turn it on and off, but it seals her magic for about a minute. So a knight with heavy armor will still be a problem for her since a groin kick, headbutt, and right cross are pretty weak against platemail. Again, I will harp on the rule that it’s the author’s choice on how to work with these items, which really only have to fit into the world.

Unfortunately, you’re going to find readers who hate whatever choice you make. Some people want high magic like in Hogwarts and others want limited magic like in Middle Earth. You also have many who claim magic items are tropes, clichés, overused plot devices, childish tricks, and what have you. Well . . . they’re right. Just like dragons, elves, swords, medieval settings, horses, heroes, villains, and everything else are clichés of the fantasy genre. I’m stepping into another topic here, but my personal opinion is that you’re always going to have something calling your work cliché. Magical items are a big target here because they’ve been a staple since the days of mythology. So there really isn’t a way to guarantee that you’ll use them in a way that isn’t called a trope because their mere existence can trigger this opinion. How do you combat this? Just have fun with your stories and do what feels right.


So we don’t end on a downer, I’m going to mention the first enchanted item I made for any of my fantasy series. Still on the fence of using it because I made it in high school. To be fair, it’s more than one thing. I designed a warrior who used five enchanted blades that were always strapped to his back. Each one was unbreakable, could reflect magic, and pass through armor like it was air. So, why did he have five? They were talking swords that were twice as smart as the warrior. They would argue about who he would use and the ‘losers’ would guilt trip him after the fight. He had them because he’d feel bad if he didn’t and I think I made them siblings. As you can see, you simply have to have fun with these things.


Author Links

Legends of Windemere Blog

Website

Twitter

Amazon Author Page


Note: I've read a couple of Charles' books and enjoyed them immensely. I recommend his short tale, Ichabod Brooks and the City of Beasts, as a great way to test drive his writing style.

 

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