Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I heart Link or Animated Hero Worship

Disclaimer: If you are disturbed by a non-existent love affair with an animated character, then this post is not for you.

For anyone who has had the unique opportunity to experience my quirkiness, knows that I am irrevocably, obsessively, and otherwise fantastically in love with Link. Don’t ask me why, maybe it’s the ears or the fact that he's the strong silent type. My former college roommate was WAY more in love with him than I ever could be. It was a little frightening.
If guys can fantasize about Lara Croft, then Link can save my life any day. In fact, a certain character of mine is loosely based on my cyber boyfriend. Though to confess, Mega Man (the video game robot, not my hubby), my was first love.

The latest installment of the Legend of Zelda series was just announced some time ago. “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” is due to be released sometime in 2011. All I can say is, “I have to have it.” Ever since the debut of “Ocarina of Time,” I’ve had all the LOZ games in my possession during debut week. Crazy, right?

Link has come a long way since the first LOZ on Nintendo in 1986. I don’t count the games for the Gameboy platform, as it could never do Link any justice as far as his good looks are concerned. Link was cute then, in a flat, two dimensional kind of way. But his hotness factor was elevated with the time warping, flash forward of “Ocarina of Time.” Then the engineers slapped us all in the face with that insipid, ridiculous, cartoon version of our Hyrulian hero in “Wind Waker.” If you ever have the displeasure to see a pic, vomit on it. He looks horrible! I swear there must be more complaints written about his looks, than there were actual game/strategy walkthroughs.

Obviously, someone was listening because in “Twilight Princess” Link became a hunkalicious taste of animated eye-candy! Don’t call the psch ward, I swear I’m ok. It was all I could do to keep the drool off my chin while I played. Great game, BTW. The werewolf thing totally works for him.

While “Skyward Sword” looks great, the engineers must have stopped listening to the fans. While Link has retained most of his “Twilight Princess” looks, there is that slight “Wind Waker” cartoon sheen about him. Not happy. But they have plenty of time to fix the problem before the game is released. *hint, hint*

Anyway, it looks like an amazing game. And how can you beat the music! I think that the score/soundtrack of most of the Zelda games are are definitely worthy of an Oscar (in my non-professional, yet musically trained opinion). Beautifully composed. Beautifully played. Beautiful.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My First Video Game Tournament or How I Buckle Under Peer Pressure

Vaila Grayson is my seventeen-year-old protagonist in the Paladin of Mariposa trilogy. She is a video game rock-star, complete with her own celebrity status.

Back in March 2008, Nintendo released its Super Smash Brothers Brawl for the Wii.
Game Stop, a video game store, sponsored a Smash Bros. tournament.
I thought it would be fun to revisit the day I channeled my inner Vaila during my first video game competition. Let me tell you that peer pressure is such an ugly color to wear.

Mega Man (my hubby, not the video game robot) and I had signed up in the official bracket, with competition to begin around 10:30 pm. As we entered the cramped store, we found ourselves surrounded by youngins (majority age range 14-18). While we were some of the oldest contestants, somehow, we fit right in. Much can be said for maturity. Or lack there of.

Each round was a 60 second knock down, drag out. Each contestant's character was randomized by the computer. Mega Man's main goal was to beat at least one person. My unrealistic goal, was to make the top 5.
Here is how it all fell apart. We were using a Wii controller and nunchuck. It was like they gave me chopsticks to eat with. And the end results would have been the same.
Mega Man was called first. He was selected to battle as Princess Peach (aww, how pretty). He got lucky. The other guy got Warrio, who is very hard to control, which led to him self destructing (SD) three times. So Mega Man attained his goal and moved onto the next round.

I was called awhile later. I was given Pikachu, a character I'm familiar with from the Game Cube series of Smash Brothers. However, I was not given time to review the Wii button controls and had to fend for myself. I had some lofty ambitions and since I was the only girl, and I felt more confident then perhaps I should have been permitted. Just because I was writing about a female video game champion, didn't mean I was one.

The other guy was Dr. Mario. The level we played on was flat. Easy enough, or so I thought. Then the middle of the field fell out. The good Dr. jumped to the other side of the screen in a safe zone. I was exactly in the same position on the other side. Then the crowd started to chant, "Jump, jump, jump...." Well I'm not one for getting a win like a pacifist coward. So I tried to jump the divide and was rewarded with my first SD. Then my second SD happened shortly afterward. Can't even remember what I did for that to happen. Hard to believe, but the other guy won.

I realize that in 60 seconds, anything can happen. I should have walked away a gracious loser. If you really knew me, you would be rolling on the floor laughing. I was polite, but under the surface, I was seething.

In Mega Man's second round, he squared off against MetaKnight from the Kirby series. He actually lost in a fair fight. We watched the rest of the tournament, admiring the awesome graphics and enjoying the re-emergence of MIA Nintendo players, like Pit from Kid Icarus.

The top four characters of the tournament were 2 MetaKnights, Pit, and of course my handsome Link. Note, all these guys have swords. Actual swords, get your mind out of the gutter.

Suffice it to say that I am no Vaila Grayson. But my experience made Vaila a stronger character. Don't they say, "Write what you know?" Since I know where my skills don't lie, its off for more research. Anyone interested in a good brawl?

I love the Food Network or How Cooking Compares to Writing

I am going through withdrawls.
My husband and I are of the frugal sort and have recently decided to disconnect our cable. So that means no Food Network for me. And no ESPN for him. We're even.

I have ADD when it comes to food. I get bored with it quickly and so I spend a disgusting amount of time watching cooking shows and searching recipes on the Internet. The Food Network puts all the good stuff on one channel and so I park it on the couch, make like a sponge and absorb.
I especially love the competition cooking shows like Iron Chef, Cupcake Wars, and Food Network: Challenge. I'm mostly obsessed with the ability of these chefs to create beautiful works of art (and yes, food is art) within crazy time constraints or even crazier ingredients. While I'll never be the next great chef, I can apply the same principles to writing. Promise I won't eat the paper.

Chopped is a competitive cooking show on the Food Network. Four chefs are each given a basket with mystery ingredients. Then they must use said ingredients to make an appetizer. After judging, one chef is chopped and must leave the competition. The three remaining chefs receive another mystery basket and must make an entree. The final two battle over dessert and then the winner is takes home a cool $10,000.

Despite what anyone tells you, writing is a competitive activity. You have your basket of ingredients: compelling characters, gripping plot, goals, motivation, conflict. You have your skill set: voice, world building, scene setting, realistic dialogue. What differs in each author's basket is talent, experience, and ingenuity.

Writing, like cooking a mastery of skills using the ingredients in your basket. Take four writers of the same genre, have them write the first chapter of a novel given the prompt: David wants to surprise his girlfriend for their anniversary. He sneaks into her apartment and finds the place overturned. There is blood splattered on the carpet. His girlfriend is missing.
I guarantee there will be four completely different starts to the story and four different styles of storytelling. This is where talent, ingenuity, and experience will set the four apart. And that's even before their creations reach the judges (or agents).
While Judge #1 may not like the Asian cuisine you prepared, he thinks it was well made. Judge #2 may hate what you made, but admires your creative use of "thinking outside the box." Judge #3 wanted a little something more, but enjoys what you have presented.

It is the subjective nature of the beast. Even though you have created a masterpiece, you may still receive rejection letters. It may take time to find that agent who digs your cuisine.

But until then, stay in your happy place and write. Use your basket of the greatest ingredients on earth (or in your head). Master your skills to create a tasty, can't put down, pièce de résistance.
Tasty dish or delicious reading, there's a palate for that.
Bon appetit!

Monday, April 18, 2011


This is about my writing journey toward traditional publication and I hope you'll enjoy the adventure.
Let me premise this post by saying that I while I'm creative, I am, in no way, shape or form, a bonafide genius. But imagination can go a long way.
Now, I'm not admitting to being crazy either. Although, you have to have a mind that thinks slightly left of center if you're going to create worlds filled with cursed artifacts, magic spells, and teenagers.
Trail mix is for sharing. Off we go!