My Favorite Books: Mentor

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Nathaniel Moore is a hedonistic, free-love-practicing, smoking, charming son of a bitch. He’s also a witch who’s been keeping himself young and beautiful for the last 250 through black magic and more than a few murders. Elton is a straight-laced Chaser from the Magistrate who has been obsessing with the cold case, urban legend, that Nathan has become. When he finally track’s Moore down, he’s shocked to find not a monster, but a witty pain in his ass. Then, when Elton accidentally releases a long-imprisoned lich, he’s forced to team up with the man he assumed was a monster to try and defeat the real evil.

Lets talk about awesome books.

Now, before I talk about why I love this book, I’ll have to talk about some other media phenomena that make this book so good. I’m assuming everyone here has heard of Supernatural, the TV show. If you don’t love it, then you know someone who does. I guarantee it. It’s popular because it has all the cool elements of fantasy, but it puts it in a world that’s believable and relatable. It puts it in a world where the kid inside you who still throws a tantrum sometimes might think, “Oh man, maybe something like that will happen to me some day.”

That’s what’s so awesome about this book.

The characters are funny and likable, even when they’re breaking the law and possibly murdering people. The relationship between Nathan and his apprentice Cora is loving in a platonic, familial way that I feel like I don’t see much these days. Everyone is so quick to force romance into stories, so it’s nice to find one that intentionally avoids it.

On a more personal level, I find the main characters very shippable. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you aren’t in the practice of imagining random characters making out (and maybe doin’ a bit of other stuff -winkwink-) then you probably won’t even notice it.

This book is definitely for people who like gritty, icky magic, and a tone of normalicy laid over truly fantastic events.

Check this out before the next book is released!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0692499091/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

 

 

 

Top Five Friday: Character Types

There are some character types who have been showing up in stories since we started telling stories. And that hasn’t changed now that we have movies and video games and tv shows packed full of fictional characters to fall in love with.

Here are some of my favorite character types I’m happy to revisit over and over again.

#5 – Working in Vain Toward Good

This might be a bit of a particular character type, but I always feel for them. This would be a subcategory of the sympathetic/misunderstood villain. Particularly, it is a villain who is not actually bad, but everyone thinks they are. And despite everyone thinking they’re horrible, they still toil toward good. Characters like Snape from Harry Potter and Elphaba from Wicked. But I’ll be bending the rules a bit so I have an excuse to talk about Sirius Black.

I know where my heart lies, and I feel no shame.

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Obviously, Sirius doesn’t play this role as well as Snape does throughout the whole series, but he definitely plays it in The Prisoner of Azkaban. He spent so many years locked up, and when he gets out, he doesn’t go to his friends to prove his innocence. He goes straight after Wormtail. He tries to do what’s right, even after he’d given up any hope he had to be seen as “good” any more. There’s something in the futility and sadness of that struggle that speaks to me.

 

#4 – Posh Snarker

Everyone knows this character. You can find them as good guys or bad guys. They’re the ones who always have something scathing to say, but hot damn are they dashing and clean while they do it.

A nice, posh British accent always helps these characters too.

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So, sure. Sherlock is an obvious choice for this, but look at his cutie little sociopath face. How can  you not love him when he’s telling you that you’re literally the dumbest person on the planet?

These sorts make great James Bond villains, but area also wonderful as flawed heroes.

 

#3 – Hero w/ Dubious Morals

Nothing like a good chaotic good character to spice up a story.

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Mal, from Firefly, is such a great example of this character type.

He’s no villain, but he’s no hero either. He’s out to take care of himself and his own, and if he can avoid doing anything heroic, he will.

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But once he’s motivated… you better watch out, because not only is he out to do good, he’s got all the bad tools in his pocket to use.

And boy does he like to use them.

 

#2 – Gotta Hide My Soft Innards!

I am so weak for characters with a hard shell they use to hide and protect their soft, squishy hearts. This character type show up in a bunch of different forms. Super strong to hide his gentleness. Super arrogant to hide his low self esteem.

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Axel, from Kingdom Hearts is a great example of this character type.

He’s noisy, cocky, flahsy… He’s the sort of character that you think you know at first glance, but then you have these scenes where he’s alone with Roxas.

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And he turns into such an adorable little cinnamon bun! He’s so sweet when he’s talking with Roxas, and so uncertain, and it melts my heart every time. He’s such a cutie!

Characters like this just make me ache at the thought of them NOT being happy in the end.

THEY NEED A SWEET HAPPY ENDING!

 

#1 – Classic Hero

So as you’ve probably noticed at this point, all of my examples are dudes. And there’s a really good reason for that: I have crushes on all of them. :D. But now we’re getting down to the real love affair. All the others are cuties and passing interests, but my real husbando is the classic hero type.

Let me tell you a story. I was playing Fire Emblem: Awakening. This is an awesome game because it’s a perfect combination of battle tactics and dating sim. You get to romance and marry any of the dozens of characters in the game. And do you know who I picked? Out of all of my options? The main freakin’ character.

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Chrom is my true love. I’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that that I’m the type who falls for the main character of games or books or movies…

My favorite type, the type that I write into my own book and then realize I’m actually creating my dream boyfriend, is the strong, yet gentle and patient hero. Sure, these characters aren’t always the most interesting since they lack the internal struggle other hero types have.  But they make my knees weak.fe436e1093723c8514c4ad8401ada36b

I love male characters who are strong, powerful, and ready to fight for the forces of good, but when they handle girls they suddenly stumble over themselves to treat them like tiny birds. They’re suave, but sometimes awkward. They’re so sweet and I can’t handle the overpowering levels of cinnamon bun.

In the end, these character types are popular as story leads for a reason. I guess I’m just their target audience.

And I don’t want them to ever stop.

Top Five Friday: Don Bluth Films

Not sure I really need to include much of an introduction here. Most people over the age of 10 have some memory of Don Bluth films, whether you realized they were written by him or not. They were usually dark, or pretty, or really weird, but usually some odd mix of all of these things. Here’s my countdown to my favorite Don Bluth movie. Be prepared for disappointment :V

As always, check out the rest of the crew who is doing these Top Five topics with me!
Tess Barnett
 J.S. Hughes
 and Lindsay Boitnott.

#5 – Titan A.E.

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So this is one of those movies I don’t think comes to mind when reminiscing about Don Bluth films. And that’s one of the reasons that it’s landed at the end of my list. But I definitely love it. It came out when I was in high school and I liked that it was an animated movie that was aimed at my age group.

The_Drej_QueenI’ve always been a softy for animated sci-fi. There’s something about the freedom of animation that lends itself to the genre, and it was definitely showcased here. I mean sure, the shiny new CGI toy they used sometimes made these weird Reboot knockoffs,but hey, that was still a good show, gosh darn it!!

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And other times, the CGI  made awesome landscapes like this. I mean, come on, if that doesn’t scream Don Bluth, I don’t know what does. So it was a bit of a mixed bag, and the good definitely outweighed the bad.

Sure, if you were to watch it today, ALL of the CG would probably look like a freshman computer project, but even then, I still love this movie. I liked the story and the characters and the music. It was just an all-round good trip.

#4 – Land Before Time

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Let me just say, if you didn’t cry at the beginning of this movie, you’re a monster.

This show was a staple for a lot of kids my age, I think, and it was really a great example of Don Bluth’s ability to mix brightly colored, cartoony characters with dark, frankly, terrifying backgrounds and locations.

But this was definitely the classic “friendship will pull us through,” “we’ve got to stick together” sort of story. It evoked emotions of all sorts, which I think helped grow a generation of children into adults that are empathetic and caring. I mean, I’m sure a few people slipped through their little dinosaur fingers and became sociopaths and stuff. But I know it helped shape me for the better. And really, I’m the one who counts here, because this is my blog.

#3 – An American Tale

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Another classic. American Tale was on loop in my house for a while when I was very young, and the fact that I performed my first ballet recital to “There are No Cats in America” did NOT help. This struck all the right cords, with the sweet songs, the poor singing of the infant-child voicing Fievel, this horrifying nightmare machine: an-american-tail

Seriously, are you shitting me, Mr. Bluth? This is what Five Nights at Freddie’s drew its inspiration from. This is what lived in my closet. This is what I saw when I contemplated death as a 6-year-old child. It scared the crap out of me every single time.

But I kept watching.

It didn’t matter how creepy it was, or how scared I got, I loved this movie. I still love this movie. I love every little voice crack in “Somewhere Out There,” I love the weird ice skating in the sewers, and the abuse of the mob-cats (I do not condone the abuse of cats!) This movie could have had a side story that was Saw for mice, and I probably still would have loved it.

Okay, that’s a lie.

But really. This is a great movie.

#2 – Thumbalina

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Alright, so this is where my trashy nature comes out. This movie is terrible. But terrible in every single way it’s supposed to be. This is one of those movies where the songs were probably written first, and then they just shoehorned the story in.Thumbalina is the most easily influenced person on the face of the planet. The only thing she never agrees to is marrying the frog guy in the clown pajamas.

Hook up with a cockroach? Gross. But hey, he’s got strings to pull in show-biz.

Marry the mole? Ew! Buuuuut… he IS really rich. Hmm…

But forget that sad clown frog. All he has is a houseboat and a busty mom.

It’s also one of those movies that is super repetitive. If I had a quarter every time Thumbalina said “It’s impossible ;_;” or when Jacquimo said “Follow your heart,” I’d be as rich as the damn mole!

It’s corny and has huge plot holes, and isn’t nearly as dark or engaging as Don Bluth’s other films, and you know what?

I love every cliche, stupid second of it.

Cornelius was my boyfriend, and even now I feel all swoony when I listen to “Let Me Be Your Wings.” Like for real. I just put it on to boost my memory, and I feel giddy. Put me out of my misery. Please Cornelius! I’m still waiting for you!

I hate myself.

#1 – All Dogs Go to Heaven

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Okay, so I probably watched this movie well over 100 times growing up. I mean, I love dogs, so maybe that’s a big part of it, but there was so much more. It’s at number one because my obsession with this film was out of control. And I think aside from the dogs (which was the sure way to kidnap me as a child) it was really weird, but in a good way.

I know I’ve heard some people say that this is one of Don Bluth’s darker stories because of the plot, but honestly, I would say it’s more… surreal than anything. And it changed so fast that it appealed to my ADHD child-brain.

I mean, look at this cluster-f**k!! How can you go from pink-pooch-diamond-road, to show-tunes-voodoo-gator, to HOLY-FRICK-THAT’S-A-STRAIGHT-UP-DEMON-MR-BLUTH!!!! This movie had my kid-bum on the edge of my seat every time.

And as an adult I still love it. I like that it has real character development. It deals with heavy stuff like sacrificing your actual life, and letting go of someone you care about so they can have more than you could give them. That’s heavy stuff for a kid.

I don’t know. Maybe my love for it goes back to that urge I had as a kid to be treated like an adult. Don Bluth definitely had that demographic in his pocket.

 

So yeah. Maybe my order was disappointing to some of you, but I can’t help what my child-mind loved. Let me know how much you hate my choices, or if you’re trash like me and loved Thumbolina. Haha.

 

Honorable Mention

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P.S.
I feel like I can’t end a Don Bluth list without mentioning The Secret of NIHM. Don’t get me wrong. I liked this movie. A lot. I know a lot of people think its his best, and they might be right. But I didn’t see this movie until I was an adult. And I’ve only seen it maybe twice at the most. I really loved it. But unfortunately we were star-crossed BFFs never meant to meet at the right time.

It’s lovely, but just never got into my DNA.

Top Five Friday: Books That Got Me Reading

So this is my first Top Five Friday! A group of my blog friends and I have decided to share topics for our friday posts. So if you think my choices are the best EVER, then go over to their pages and tell them they’re wrong. And if you think mine are lame, go to them and see if you can find something you like better! You can find them all here: Tess BarnettJ.S. Hughes, and Lindsay Boitnott.

This week we’re looking at books that really sparked our love of reading. I’m guessing there will be a pretty wide range of selections depending on how old people were when they started reading. My love of reading really look off between the ages of eight and ten, so most of my selections come from that time in my life.

And so, here are my top picks in reverse order of my obsession levels:

 

 

#5 – Afternoon of the Elves, by Janet Janet Taylor Lisle

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I may or may not have made tiny villages out of twigs after reading this.

To be perfectly honest, I think the deeper meaning of this book was lost on me when I was a kid. It’s funny how some ideas really strike you, even when you’re young, but others don’t. Who knows, maybe I was just too taken by the fantasy of the tiny village that the “elves” made. All I know is, I may or may not have made a few fairy villages of my own. And I may or may not have gone looking in the woods for portals that would whisk me away to fairy land. With or without the deep, Newberry meaning, though, this book got in my system and made me love reading.

 

#4 – The Hobbit, By J. R. Tolkien

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I am adorable fire! I am adorable death!

Maybe this is a bit of a cheat option, because I didn’t read this book on my own until I was in late high school. But my mom read this book to me and my brother when I was 9. My mom was always very insistent that if my brother and I could read a book on our own, then we would BE on our own. But she always read us books that were too hard for us. Reading time is to this day one of my favorite childhood memories. We were too old for nap time, but in the afternoons, when we were too wound up or too worn out she would have us lay down in the living room with us and she would read. I get the mommy warm fuzzies just thinking about it.

 

 

#3 – Favorite Greek Myths, by Mary Pope Osborne and Troy Howell

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I only just noticed while I was putting this post together that this book was written by the same author who writes The magic Tree House. Learn something new every day.

This one doesn’t need a lot of explaining, because just look at these:

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Seriously, this book is breathtaking. The stories are quick to read and written in a lovely tone, but the art. The art got me every time. The stories were great, but paired with the gorgeous illustrations, they set my imagination on fire. Seriously. LOOK!

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I don’t feel like I need to explain anything else.

 

 

#2 – Dragon’s Blood, by Jane Yolen

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I read and loved the whole series, but I’m only going to talk about the first book here, Dragon’s Blood, because that was the book that really hit me hard. I was a snotty kid who wanted to be treated like a tiny grown up, and this book delivered on that. It follows a boy slave boy who steals a dragon’s egg and raises it in the desert in secret, planning to take it to the fighting ring and win the money to buy his way out of bondage. I felt grown up because it talked about serious stuff: how intelligent a creature has to be to be treated ethically, slavery, politics in later books… child prostitution…

Yeah. I read back over this book recently thinking “surely this will be a subtle thing…” Nope. It had phrases like “…where she waited to be filled like an empty bag.” Soooo… this is what I was into as a kid?

Child prostitution aside, its an awesome adventure about independence, compassion, and the endeavoring spirit. It also convinced me that my stuffed animals would freeze to death if I left them outside my blankets as a child. So there’s that.

 

 

#1 – The Giver, by Lois Lowery

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*Unintelligible whale noises* 

Holy cow, where do I even begin with this one?

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Anyone who has had the misfortune of asking me “what is your favorite book?” has suffered the fangirling that follows when I mention The Giver. I read this book when I was 8 and it blew my little child brain right out of my skull. For the most part, I skipped the intermediate series like Goosebumps and Boxcar Children because I was a younger sibling and had a complex. I wanted to be an adult and this was the first book I encountered that really made me feel grown up.

For those who didn’t read The Giver as a child, the enormity of the story will probably be lost on you because it goes over concepts that you’ve probably encountered before or pondered on yourself. And that’s a shame. But as a kid, man this book was so deep. I thought I was the coolest, most intelligent kid EVER for reading this book. It genuinely shaped the way I thought about community, ethics, and relationships. It made me think in a way that Id never thought to as a kid and for that reason, this book will always be my top pick.

 

So yeah. There’s my run down. They probably aren’t all that surprising, but if you’ve not heard of some of these on the list I’d love to hear back from any of you who take a few hours out of your adult life to read them.

Podcast Update!

The Red Ink TankWe’re getting closer to our release of The Red Ink Tank! podcast!

Our goal is to have it up and running by the end of February. The podcast will include commentary and reflection on our own critiques of the day, coverage of any interesting topics that may have come up, and a section at the end for questions from our listeners. We’ve also played with the idea of having a monthly listener-critique where we go over the first five pages sent in by one of you!

What this means now, is that we need your help! We need to know what you want to hear us blog about. We want to know what your questions are and whether you would be interested a listener-critique.

So please, please, PLEASE leave your questions in the comments here or on my critique partner’s blog here: http://annabanksbooks.com/red-ink-tank-podcast-coming-soon/

If you have a question you would like to ask privately, you can email us at theredinktank@gmail.com

This is your call to arms!!!

FOLLOW THE RED INK TANK CREW AT:

@ByAnnaBanks
@hrebel
@KaylynWitt

Internet stalking in 2014… and Podcasting!

So 2014 has been a very mixed bag. The end of the year decided to be lovely by giving me a finished draft, and then decided to kick me in the soft bits at the last minute. How? Waiting. I knew there would be a lot of waiting in the writing industry—waiting for feedback from readers, waiting for responses from agents, waiting for feedback from publishers… WAITING! I knew it was going to happen, but as chance would have it, it’s much more intolerable than I expected.

What I’ve done with my tremendous amounts of time:

  • INTERNET STALKING! 😀

Fun for boys and girls! Social media has made it so much easier to stalk people these days. Who am I stalking, though? Agents of course.

Building a list of agents to query has been much more time consuming than I thought. In the grand scheme of things, that’s probably the best, too. It’s filled that quiet space created by the waiting. Having something to focus my time on has kept me from worry about my readers hating every word I’ve written. Call me paranoid, I guess.

When I first started looking for agents I was so lost. http://www.querytracker.net has been a great starting place for me. It has wonderful searching and listing options. It has graphs that show the agents acceptance ratings, word-count data, response time, and other useful stats. What it DOESN’T include, though, is a list of deals made by those agents. That’s where http://publishersmarketplace.com/ has come in handy. They keep listings of all the deals made by agents. Scooting between the two sites has helped me a lot. The only downside I’ve found is that “Young Adult” is still listed as an all-inclusive genre, so I’ve had to go back to each agent’s personal page to see what type of YA they represent. Time consuming, but definitely worth it.

  • PODCASTING PLANS FOR 2015!

    The Red Ink Tank

    The Red Ink Tank – A Podcast featuring Anna Banks, Heather Rebel and Kaylyn Witt

My critique group has started making plans for a podcast. We figure that if we meet regularly anyway, we might as well record some of our conversations.

When I was getting started, writing the biggest hunger I had was for the company of other writers. Especially if you have no friends nearby who are writers, the need for people who understand your passion is intense. I remember scouring the internet for blogs, vlogs, podcasts—anything that I could get my hands on—that made me feel like I was part of the writing community. I love the idea that I’m now on the other side of this and can give someone else at least one small haven where they feel like they’re engaged with the industry.

On a side note, I have no idea how to make a podcast. Guess what I’m filling more of my time with! Learning how to do podcasting is a little intimidating, but knowing that I’ve done it all myself is going to feel great once we have a finished product.

Self-sufficiency aside, though, PLEASE HELP ME!! Really, I’m pretty clueless right now. If you or anyone you know does podcasting and has some golden advice, please post it in the comments below.

Also, let me know what you might like to hear on a podcast about writing, critiquing, querying and publication!

FOLLOW THE RED INK TANK CREW AT:

@ByAnnaBanks
@hrebel
@KaylynWitt

Rough Draft? …Check!

Orginal checklistThis is what my checklist looked like two years ago when I decided to write a book for publication. Seems pretty simple, right? Not easy, but simple for sure. It has a wonderful “step one”, “step two” kind of feeling, like finishing one will lead right into the next.

Step one, in particular, seemed like an easy task. I wrote like a maniac in high school and when I decided to pick the craft back up after college I jumped head first into fan fiction writing (as many other writers I know have done…in my defense). I wrote two novel length stories. They would have been short novels (60k and 55k), but they were technically novel length! And they were good as far as I could tell from my readers. I ate up the compliments, bathed in the internet affection, and thought that writing a “real” novel would be a cake walk.

My ego was way too inflated.

Once I started meeting with my critique group I learned really fast that writing a novel is much harder than writing a fan fiction. I couldn’t just hammer something out and toss it on the internet any more. I had to write a chapter, pick it apart, put it back together, burn that copy, write a new one, pick THAT one apart and then set it aside to be adjusted again later. I had to remember every detail so later on I wouldn’t mess something up. I had to make sure my tenses were right and my POV was right. I learned that I have a huge problem with passive voice and -ly words. I wasn’t just doing this for fun any more and I realized that doing it for real mean doing work. REAL work.

Once I got all that under control I had to figure out how to find the time I needed to work seriously on my book. I had to adjust my priorities. I had to decide if I should keep my full time job that was slowing my writing to a crawl. In the end I chose to prioritize my book. I quit my job and fell back into the abyss of college-kid-poverty.New Checklist

This is what my checklist looks like now. Once you get past the tears and all that, you see the important part. I’ve finished my draft.

I finished my draft!!

150,607 words worth of horrible first draft. It has so much more work to be done on it, but I can’t express how good it feels to know that I’ve completed the story for the first book–for MY first book. I had worked so long on this that I had a hard time imagining it being over. Of course, it’s not over, but it’s great to know that I can finally say that step on is done.

Now I’ll spend my editing time hoarding my tears so I will have plenty to cry during my querying experience!!