Feb 3, 2012

Introducing the 30 Minute Friday Link up!

Hey, bloggers and writers! I have an exciting announcement!

Over on 30 Minute Fiction, I've started a new weekly link-up/blog hop!

You can post any piece of fiction (or piece of a piece of fiction) that you've written anytime, anywhere, in any genre, in less than 30 minutes!

So head on over to

for the first

Seriously, go there now and post your stuff!

Feb 1, 2012

30 Minute Fiction: 2/1 Update (Short Stories, Novels, Poems, & More!)

So, you guys remember my announcement about 30 Minute Fiction, right? My new WordPress blog where I churn out a 30-minute-or-less piece of fiction every day? Well, it's been pretty successful thus far, and I've decided to include a weekly update for it here so that you Blogger people can keep up with it!

In the first week of 30 Minute Fiction, here's what was written:

1.) Dorian- A speculative sci-fi short story about the future of robotics and artificial intelligence

2.) An except from The Solutionist- Yes, that's right! The first thing I've written for it!

3.) The Division- a poem inspired by the dVerse Poets prompt, Undercurrents

4.) Judgment- By far my most popular piece of week one, a fantasy short story about Judgment itself

5.) 8 Minutes- a short, space opera sci-fi story about a ship in danger and the last hope for a civilization

6.) Rebound- a poem written for dVerse Poets latest open link light

7.) The beginning of Stolen- an excerpt from a novel you don't know much about, which also happens to be my only historical fantasy attempt

If you missed any (or missed the announcement of 30 Minute Fiction), please head on over and read them now!

Jan 27, 2012

Poetry: A Writer on the Internet

I wake, I rise, get up, and go
Sit down, turn on my Macbook Pro

Wait for the load screen and that sound
And watch my data come around

Meanwhile, I dress, put on my socks
Then click Mozilla Firefox

It starts at Yahoo; God knows why
Then it's to Gmail after two tries

My first mail loads, and so I wait
Good Lord, 158

Three from college, eighty spam
Delete them all like the God I am

Don't save a one, because you see
They're Amazon ads for crap TV

Log out, back in with a different name,
To see if I've hit tumblr fame

But no, alas, I'm in the sticks
Reblogging quotes and Sherlock pics

I try a poem, they're kinda stiff
So I get more notes on a silly gif

Two hours later, I realize
That tumblr's taken over my life

So I click away, I must escape!
If only to reach a similar fate

Cause I hit Cheezburger, their spell!
They've got me going LOL

God damn it all, I try again
And end up in my Blogger den

Thank goodness! Writing! Finally!
And yet, it is not meant to me

Cause I've got comments everywhere
On a post I did for a stupid dare

Wade through them all and reach the top
Realization: I have writer's block

Sigh, time to browse some more
Wonder what G+ has in store?

Ten million posts, ten thousand chats
And half of them are about cats

Check my circles, you might say!
You really think that can save the day?

This circle thing, I've heard of you
But I suck at it, so I've only got two

Sci-fi writers, like my awesome self!
And a generic category for everyone else

So Google+ goes down the drain
On to WordPress, you might claim

But I'm brand new on WordPress, see
So no one's ever heard of me

How about twitter? It never fails!
Until you get that frigging whale

Critique Circle, will you save the day?
No, you just want me to pay...

Or Facebook? Land of social ends!
The one on which I have no friends?

Fmylife? To have a fit?
Well, that's kinda accurate

Listverse! Wondrous lists of win!
A list of 80's songs again?

Head over to Not Always Right?
But I read them all the other night

Weather.com for a moment's gain?
Wonderful, it's going to rain

Screenrant? What is all that clout?
Apparently movies I don't care about

Fifty minutes later...I should sue...
I end up back on old Yahoo

"Articles" with 50 typos still
What I wouldn't give to kill...

And when I look up, I check the time
I put this line here just to rhyme

Close Firefox and go to class,
The internet can kiss my ass

But it knows that I'll be back later
My mind is such an effing traitor

I'll sit back down and stare again
Whilst writing nothing made of win

So here it is, my ode of fret
Of a writer on the internet

Jan 26, 2012

Started a New Blog! Presenting "30 Minute Fiction"

So, I have some exciting news! With my lack of writing initiative, I've decided to force myself to get into the habit of writing a lot of different stuff frequently.

So I started a Word Press blog! That's right, I know have a blog on Word Press.

Basically, I write something in 30 minutes or less and post it. Standard title is standard.

Anyway, I'm really excited about this! I'd love it if you'd guys would subscribe to 30 Minute Fiction! I promise I won't spam you with ten crap tons of crappy writing. I promise.

Although you're probably wondering what kind of stuff will end up there. Well, everything. Poetry. Short stories. Snippets from novels I'm working on. Random monologues that don't seem to have a place anywhere. Anything I think up and write in 30 minutes or less.

Personally, I think this is a fun exercise. What do you guys think?

I actually something up there already, a short story entitled "Dorian." If you time, I'd love it if you'd check it out and leave some comments. =)

In case you're still unsure, here's what the "About" page of 30 Minute Fiction has to say about it:


30 Minute Fiction is a blog dedicated to raw, unedited, uncensored, spur-of-the-moment fiction. Prose and poetry. Fantasy and Sci-Fi. G-rated and R. The genres don’t matter. The ratings don’t matter. What matters is that the fiction here is thought-incarnate. No worries about “which words to choose” and “showing not telling.” No getting hung up over a missing comma or a misused word.

This is not the publishing industry. This is the industry of imagination.

These are thoughts that are free flowing. These are words that are once-written, with all their mistakes and awkwardness and rampant uncomfortable disassociation to their ideas. These are characters with a hundred flaws or none at all. These are places with a million colors or no more than black and white. These are plots with a thousand points or a single point. These are things that makes perfect sense or complete nonsense.

30 Minute Fiction is not the place to come for perfection.

It’s the place to come for truth.

In mind.

In thought.

In writing.

-Nick Rolynd

Jan 22, 2012

Poetry: A Battle Hymn of Hearts

A line
A flash
A brief, quick clash
Zips through my mind 
As it burns to ash

A step
A trick
Pain for what I've done
To your detriment 

I walk
I fight
I won the right
To climb those steps
To the highest heights

I see
I hear
I have no fear
My chest is hollow
And my mind is clear

Once upon a time,
In a land we all know
There was a fiery battle 
With a stake in tow
Some won, some lost
But all were burned
Most by the ideals
Of which they'd learned

There was a time before
We were invincible
We were young and strong
Had basic principles
Our heads were in the clouds
Lost in pathetic ideals
Like the perfect little romance
No Achilles's heel

But after the fact
The past was black
We were all wounded
In the last attack
Scared and scarred
Missed and marred
Our hearts were a desert
With an endless far

Hope was a mirror
That was shattered in rage
Happiness, a cloud
Behind a mountain range
Safety had two faces
One black, one white
One the true redeemer
One a killer in the night

We tried, we failed
We couldn't prevail
We all fell prey 
To what life entails
And life is a puzzle
With a single missing piece
That binds us all to search
A infinite caprice 
A thought 
A dream
Not what it seems
Life is an endless war
Within an endless scheme

A search
A find
You'll lose your mind
Chasing your delusions
In never ending time 

I loved
I lost
I know the cost
This is my penance 
And not yours to accost

I stop
I start
This is my art
Screaming to the sky
A Battle hymn of hearts

Jan 6, 2012

Review: "Legend" by Marie Lu

Warning: This review may does contain spoilers.

Dystopian sci-fi has really been on fire for the last few years, and Legend by Marie Lu is one of the newest installments to the genre. I actually stumbled onto this novel on Amazon, while searching for new dystopian novels. The premise sounded pretty good, so I decided to ask for it as a part of my Christmas book bundle.

Available on Amazon for $12.23
And I was not disappointed.

Legend is set in a far future America, ravaged by natural disasters (go figure), that has split into the Republic of America and the Colonies. The Republic is ruled by an "elected" Elector Primo, and the entire society is severely weighed toward militaristic. There is little to no equality among the people, with the small upper class being extremely wealthy and practically everyone else living in the slums.

However, all children from both classes are forced to undergo the "Trial," which is a supposedly fair test of intelligence, physical strength, and mental stability. The children who score very highly get their choice of university and occupation. Those in the middle ranges get to go to college, but don't end up in the most lucrative positions. Those in the lower ranges end up in the slums.

Those who fail get carted off to "labor camps."

Oh, and did I mention they take this "Trial" at age ten?

So, like usual, you have the dystopian totalitarian-style government that wrongs the majority of its people, torments them with poverty and militaristic police, and kills off any dissidents without a second thought.

Standard setup, yes, but Lu executes it well.

It's her characters, however, that really shine. The novel centers around the pampered military prodigy, June, and the young master criminal, Day, who get caught up in each others' lives when Day is accused of murdering June's brother, Metias, during an attempted theft of a cure for the plague that has sickened his younger brother.

From here, everything quickly spins out of control for both of them. Day's slum-dwelling family is forced to watch as the youngest brother gets sicker and sicker, and Day struggles to find a way to get the cure for him. His plight is compounded by the fact that he can't visit them in plain sight. His mother thinks he's dead, and there's a massive price on his head as the Republic's most wanted.

Meanwhile, June, shell-shocked by her brother's sudden death (and thus, the death of her only guardian), ends up recruited by her brother's former commander. She is graduated early from her university and immediately sent on a mission to track down Day. She also finds herself having to fend off advances from her and her brother's closest friend, Thomas, who continually attempts to get closer to her despite her rejections.

If there's anything I can say about Lu's story, it's that it never stops going. There are no pauses in the plot, no point at which the action wanes. As soon as her characters and story are set in motion, they just keep speeding up right until the end.

As expected, June and Day end up meeting in the slums while June is undercover, neither knowing who the other is. They gradually strike up a friendship (and, this being YA, a budding romance), and it's striking even to the reader (well, at least to me) how alike they are. Both highly intelligent. Both cunning. Both physically skilled. They see details in the same way. They dissect situations expertly. They're basically exact counterparts of one another, which I was quite happy to discover because it really makes Lu's points about their society come across loud and clear.

After their meeting, a rapid set of events unfolds, wherein June realizes who Day is, gets him captured, and then suddenly stumbles upon the truth about their society: those who fail the Trial don't get sent to labor camps. They get experimented on and killed. And not only that, but Day, who supposedly failed his Trial, actually got a perfect score (where June was supposed to be the first one ever to do so). They only claimed he failed. Why?

Well, June never discovers the reason herself, but it's heavily implied that they sent Day to die because they found him too "rebellious." Because the only thing more dangerous than a "dumb" rebellious boy from the slums is an ingenious one.

On top of all that, June realizes that her brother--who uncovered the truth--was actually killed by the military (read: his own "friend," Thomas) for doing so, and that Day was just set up to take the blame. And if that wasn't bad enough, the government also killed her parents after her father, a medical doctor, uncovered the truth about the ever-lasting and evolving  "plague": that it is purposefully given to the slum-dwellers in order to test it as a viable weapon for the war against the Colonies.

 Horrified by the government and what she's done, she sets up a plan to break Day out a prison before his execution. And, of course, she succeeds (or else this novel would be very sad and probably be a stand alone).

At the end, you're left with the quite the setup: Day's sick brother, Eden, who's been infected with a mutated plague, has been carted off to the front lines for military "uses." June and Day, now both fugitives, are on the run, and their only hope for survival may be the Colonies that the Republic has fought so hard to destroy.

So, my overall impressions of this story are quite good. It is predictable at times, but then again, it is YA, so you can't expect it to be overly complicated. The characters are a shining point for Lu, and I can't wait to read some more of their adventures. Her setting, while "standard" for a dystopian story, is well-designed and believable. And really, you can't ask for much else.

Although, I should mention something that really got me: the book design. If you buy this book, buy it in print. The design of this book extends beyond the cover. The fonts for June and Day's POVs are different, and Day's chapters are actually printed in a shade of gold. It's quite pretty and very different from your average book.

So, to read or not to read? I say read it. You certainly don't stand to lose much, and it's a fairly entertaining story. I can't wait to read the sequels.

Rating: A-

Jan 5, 2012

Review: "The Hunger Games" trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Warning: This review may contain spoilers.

The Hunger Games trilogy has generated a lot of buzz recently, mostly due to the upcoming (and fantastic looking) movie adaptation of the first book. So I decided to bump it up on my to-read list. And I wasn't disappointed.

Available on Amazon for $5.39
For those unfamiliar with the trilogy, it's set in a dystopian future America, called Panem, where various unnamed wars and environmental catastrophes have devastated the human race and left much of the Earth's landmass underwater. Panem is ruled by a totalitarian regime called the Capitol, that showers itself in wealth while enslaving the people within its twelve districts. Each district has a specific trade that nearly everyone is expected (and forced) to contribute to.

The defining mark of the Capitol regime is "the Hunger Games," an annual event where both a male and female tribute from each district are forced to fight to the death in a massive booby-trap ridden arena as perpetual punishment for an uprising in a time called "the Dark Days."

The trilogy follows the life of a teenager named Katniss, who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister as a tribute from District 12. In the first book, The Hunger Games itself, Katniss fights for her life both in the arena using her honed survival skills and within the cut-throat (literally) politics of the Capitol. Her mentor, former Hunger Games victor Haymitch, who knows how to play the Capitol's political games, sets Katniss and fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta, up as a pair of "star-crossed" lovers, a theme that follows them throughout the entire trilogy.

The Hunger Games themselves are quite brutal to read through (and I imagine will be even more brutal to watch), as the scenes of the "Games" involve children killing each other in the most horrible ways imaginable. However, they mark the center of a well-written and poignant story about the nature of humanity and its relationship with power.

The end of the The Hunger Games is predictable (I saw it coming for a while), but that doesn't make it any less effective. In fact, it makes it even more so, especially as you learn more and more about the other tributes and become attached to them as well.

Available on Amazon for $8.99
The beginning of the trilogy, in my opinion, is a perfect execution of the kind of world that Collins was going for. It has the perfect amount of drama, violence, and romance, all wrapped up in a powerful moral message that's lessons are defined by the abundant corruption seen on just about every page of the book.

So, the first book is an amazing read. But what about the other two?

The second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire, begins to shift the story away from the corruption itself and more onto its effects on Katniss. The major plot still chugs along just fine, but the focus on Katniss' emotional state as the story progresses is much sharper and incredibly shocking. And Collins pulls this off perfectly as well.

I often see a lot of authors gloss over ambivalence in their characters, as if keeping them "steady" is realistic. But Collins doesn't fall for this. She shows every little mistake, every moment of confusion, that Katniss experiences throughout, and if this doesn't make Katniss a realistic heroine, then I don't know what does.

One of the things I enjoyed most from Catching Fire is the abundance of new characters. Since most of the characters you come to love in The Hunger Games actually end up dead by the end, they need some good replacements. And Collins delivers, in my opinion, even better ones. This is because Catching Fire revolves around the "Quarter Quell," which is a Hunger Games round where the normal rules are thrown out the window and a special set of tributes is chosen.

And, of course, this Quarter Quell's tributes...are chosen from the previous winners. Seeing as Katniss is the only female winner from District 12, she automatically has to compete. You see, in the first book, Katniss uses a trick to save both her and Peeta's life (since there is usually only one winner).

The "president" of Panem, Snow, and makers of the Hunger Games, therefore, are humiliated and shamed. And beyond that, Katniss' defiance of the Capitol's rules sets off a rebellious streak in all twelve districts.

And so a target is painted on Katniss. One that is not erased until the very end of the trilogy.

Available on Amazon for $8.98
Catching Fire then proceeds to introduce some of the most memorable characters ever. Since the contestants are past tributes, they each bring heavy histories and emotional baggage to the Quarter Quell. They also bring a plan to break out of the arena, unbeknownst to Katniss. To me, following the stories and plans of these new characters was far more compelling than the ones from The Hunger Games.

And so, at the end of Catching Fire, we are left with a setup that promises a grand finale.

Then we get to Mockingjay.

I'd seen a lot of people around before I started the series who didn't like Mockingjay, and after starting the series, I kept wondering why. Then I actually got to it, and I understood perfectly.

Mockingjay is not like the first two books. Whereas the focus in the first two is split about evenly between the main plot line and Katniss' emotions and thoughts, the final book suddenly tips the scales toward the latter. By a lot. While the plot still marches onward toward an exciting, horrifying, and bittersweet finale, its often overshadowed by Katniss' collapsing mental state.

There were times in the book when the only thing I could focus on was Katniss' obvious and severe post-traumatic stress disorder. She ends up in the hospital so many times, drugged up on the equivalent of morphine and suffering endless nightmares, that I often forgot what else was actually happening.

I still like Mockingjay, quite a lot, but it is hard to have the same feelings for it as I do for the first two. The story descends into a pit of severe depression and mental trauma that it never really climbs out of, and it tended to jar me a bit out of the story as a whole every now and then.

Now, don't get me wrong. The events of Mockingjay and Katniss' declining mental state were obviously planned by Collins to have this effect on the reader. Collins doesn't spare any expense to make you feel the pain her characters are in and to understand why they're suffering. It's plainly obvious that one of Collins' major points was to make the world of The Hunger Games universe as real as it could possibly be.

And she succeeded, in my opinion, because there really is no getting around the fact that the mental and emotional trauma, the horrors of war, and the stress that her characters face are eerily and horrifically realistic. But at the same time, that level of realism has the potential to turn some readers off, especially since the series is YA.

So, while I find that the series as a whole is a dystopian masterpiece, I will warn you now that it descends into some very dark and disturbing places. You will watch as teenagers have their lives completely destroyed, their families killed and tortured, their minds left in tatters, and their emotions horrifically distorted. Permanently.

And even at end of all things, you won't find any real happiness. You'll find realism. And that realism entails the depiction of horrors of totalitarianism and war and its lasting effects on the people who experience it.

So, The Hunger Games trilogy. Dark. Thrilling. Poignant. Realistic. Should you read it? Definitely. 

The Hunger Games Rating: A+
Catching Fire Rating: A+
Mockingjay Rating: A

Overall Series Rating: A+