Saturday, September 28, 2013

Writing Tips #1: Talking

When reading through an author's blog the other day I noticed that they had put up some flash fiction. This is a great idea not only to attract potential readers but for the author. It gave her the experience of beta readers and critiques without having to ask. Of course, I critiqued. Why? Well, I've been writing for the better part of twenty years and through all of it, even if I'm not professionally published: I've learned a lot.

I might not be the best grammatically and I probably would suck at spelling if not for spell check but when it comes down to dialogue, description, contractions, the actual writing itself: I know a few things. So, inspired by another indie author (one who just started on the writing journey I might add) I've decided to set up some basic tips for all writers who can use it.

These tips will be replacing my Novel Series as I won't be actively writing novels (at least I don't think I will) for some time. Plus it'll give me a weekly blog to upkeep so hey, it works all around.

And if you've missed one and don't feel like hunting through my whole blog looking for it: I've got links to important serial type blogs. Click on the link and you'll be brought to a page that links to everything having to do with that link: either my Novel Series, my NaNo Blogs or these writing tips.

Anyway, this writing tip is going to focus on dialogue. Since I started writing how I write my dialogue has gone through a lot of changes. I stared by always using a dialogue tag and always using said. Good but boring. I morphed into never using said. Not good but more interesting. Then it morphed into using a mix of said and other dialogue tags. Much better. Now, it's a mix of said, different dialogue tags and no dialogue tags. Meet the fully evolved dialogue.

As I've said in the past, dialogue tags should not be reduced to one word. Said is not the be all and end all of dialogue tags and you can and should mix it up with other words to give some variety to your tags. BUT, you have to watch the words you use. A person cannot laugh, growl, purr, chuckle, hiss, hum or any other action word an entire sentence. Try laughing out an entire stream of words. I dare you.

Good? Now, try to mutter, whisper, utter, tell, question, ask, enquire, mention, announce, yell, scream, or affirm those words. You can do that, right? Good.

It comes down to this: if you can physically do the dialogue tag you want to use (without looking silly) then it can be used. BUT do not, I repeat DO NOT over-inflate your dialogue with anything BUT said. Most reader's don't focus on it (though I hate that, why shouldn't they and why should we be okay with it?) but if you use enough to keep things interesting it will bring some life to your dialogue.

Another method is to just skip the dialogue tag all together. I do this when it's perfectly clear who is talking to who and when only two people are talking at once. It can probably be done with three or more people so long as the sentence right before or right after that piece of dialogue reminds the reader who is talking. For example:

"Did your hamburger grow eyes?" Shawn asked in amusement.
"With the chemicals they put in food today I wouldn't be surprised. But no, it looks like the patty is made out of meal worms." Derrick returned.
"You know, you're right. I think they roasted a whole bunch of meal worms together with some batter and made it roundish." Shawn said.
Derrick smirked and Shawn bit into his pizza. Bracelets jangled as Derrick dropped the bun back onto the patty and picked it up one handed.
"You know, I think I saw someone sneeze over the pizza display. It looked like they were sick too." Derrick told him.
Shawn blinked and looked down at his pizza. Derrick chuckled but Shawn grinned.
"I might get a cold but you'll be infected with worms."
"Dead worms so no harm done. Plus they'll give me more protein."
"Well true, they are 60% protein with valuable amino acids."
Shawn was trying not to laugh....

It's good to sneak in an action sentence or two when you've got long streams of back and forth talking. Don't be afraid to mix up said, non-action dialogue tags and lack of dialogue tags in your novel. It helps the dialogue to flow and gives the reader a better understanding of how your characters are talking. No one goes around saying everything. They shout, scream, whisper, mutter, stutter (this ones give or take), announce, point out and mention.

As for what a long stream of conversation is: usually anything that starts to confuse you. If you can't figure out who's talking and who isn't then your reader won't know either. As to when to use said and when to use something else: it depends what that character is saying, to who, why and what they want to achieve with their words.

The best thing is to ask yourself  something like: Are they in a situation where if they speak too loud, they'll get caught? They're not going to say then, they're going to whisper, mutter or say lightly/softly/gently. Are they trying to get the attention of someone across a crowded room or are they mad? Then they'll yell, scream, shout, or they'll say angrily/in rage/in annoyance/loudly.

Remember, if you start getting annoyed with the amount of said (or lack of said), the amount of different dialogue tags, lack of emotion in your dialogue, then change it up. If you're annoyed at it: your reader will be too.

Next week (if I remember ;) ) I'll be talking about contractions: when to use them, when not to use them and how to use them effectively.

Until then: thoughts, comments, rages, rants, questions, and out-right insults can be directed to the comment section.

Friday, September 13, 2013

One Million Words 2013

So for those of you that don't know: I wrote a million words this year staring on January 1st and ending August 31st at 5:00PM EST. Why? Well mainly because I can. I've been writing long enough that I can produce decent first drafts quickly so I figured I'd par down my story list.

Sadly, it's not as pared down as I wanted it to be despite me writing nine novels this year. Four (or six) of them were new so I added to the list then took something away. Counter-productive: yes. Fun: HELL YES.

Anyway. This is the second year I've done a MilWordy successfully and the second year I finished before the year was up. This year's novel list:
The Bonehemmer Princess
The Harmonizer
Dragon Knights
Troubles of True Love
Glory Hole
Testing Grounds

You can find more info on all nine by clicking the "Novel Series 2013" above (or there, whatever floats your boat). Adding to the nine above there were a baker's dozen of short stories, a novella and a few 500 word stories.

I was recently asked "where do you get the inspiration/ideas to keep going?"

My long answer is a blog post: Writing is Breathing.

My short (and nice) answer was: "I have a story list of about 60 ideas. I pick one, flesh it out and keep going. I get ideas from everything. This months' WIP came from a song lyric."

My REALLY short (and not so nice) answer is: "Fucked if I know."

No seriously: fucked if I know. I just keep going. And going. Kind of like a deformed energizer bunny on anti-depressant meds who cackles madly at torturing the voices in her head. That's a Hell of a mental image...

Regardless. I haven't written much since finishing MilWordy. I did plot out and make some character descriptions for novel number 10 and started it. I'm halfway through chapter two or so. For those who don't follow my twitter (shame on you): this novel is going to be exploring racial issues, society issues, and gender issues. It'll be one of those ones where you're like: "Okay, I KNOW something is creeping me out here but I can't figure out why...OMFG! WHAT?!" It'll be fun.

I figure I'll finish NaNo with 13 novels. So, 13 in 2013. Because I'm a bit of a freak for numbers like that.

Novels 11, 12 and 13 will be the beginning of my crime fiction series which I talked about like, two years ago or something crazy. I started fleshing it out when I was in Los Angels and trying to get Tale of the Twins made into a movie. Now it's got 13 books. Creepy, huh?

The characters are set. The plots are set. All I've got to do is read it all over and start writing. It'll be a crazy trip because there will be no magic. There will be no weird creatures. There won't even be a future aspect. It's all the world as it is now, nothing odd about it except the monsters who pretend to be human otherwise known as serial killers and psychopaths. Consequently I'm going to be totally mind-fucked when I'm reading up on why killers kill. It'll be fun, really.

Until next time: direct your comments, questions, rants, hate, love and other oddities to the comments. I'll get there eventually.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Novel Series #9: Seer

This was something I had started about five or more years ago. The original was about Shawn and his younger brother Alex who ran away from home and hitched a ride with Ice, Dawn and Eva who were part of a different book.

The second try still included Shawn, ditched his kid brother, and brought in the best friend, Derrick. The disappearances began but Derrick had a girlfriend in that version and Ice and Dawn kidnapped Shawn and Derrick instead of Shawn and Derrick going willingly. There was also a bunch of fluff between chapters that was really redundant.

This is draft three. I usually don't go through so many drafts but I rarely plotted five (and more) years ago so I never finished anything. Plus my writing style changed so much in a short time that anything I wrote even three years ago is drastically different from what I'm producing now. It's the sheer volume that did it but it means I have to go back and tweak about a dozen novels. Anyway, here we go:

Genre: Low Fantasy OR Supernatural

Word count: 92,102

Prompt: A fifteen year old boy can see auras and wants to find the cure for mortality.

Main Characters: Shawn Dixon, Derrick McKillin, Ice, Dawn, Eva, and Ray.

Minor Characters of Note: Zillah, Charter, Synclet, and the immortal Hunters, and Lucas.

Summation: Shawn has always been able to see the electro-magnetic pulses of color around people, otherwise known as auras. When two popular girls go missing from his school and he finds twins who have no auras, he is unintentionally brought into a world full of vampires, werewolves and other creatures that people believe do not exist. His new mission is to find the reason why these "mythical" people are immortal. The problem? He's not the only one looking for a cure to mortality and the group that is are not taking willing subjects.

High Points: Zillah, Charter and Synclet. They were fun to write. Ice was also a surprisingly fun character as well but Dawn, eh not so much. He was kind of there for some back story help and yeah.

Low Points: The auras become too bright for Shawn. That is all.

The World: Ours but with immortals.

Major Plot Twist: The Hunters and Shawn.

Memorable Lines:

"Oh they're really pretty though. Yellow, blue, purple, shining all around you like, like, a cloud. There's a red and black bit here." (Shawn describing auras as a child.)

"No one will understand it. That's okay though: everyone has a special talent that other people don't understand." (His grandmother after explaining auras and telling him not to be so liberal about telling people.)

"Did your hamburger grow eyes?" "With the chemicals they put in food today I wouldn't be surprised. But no, it kind of looks like the patty is made out of meal worms." (One of the few lines that made it into the rewrite...ha)

"We're different. That's what we did."

"Why should we be forced to suppress our differences when we're taught our whole lives to think outside the box, to pursue our greatest desires and to be different? Why should we conform to a bunch of mindless drabble that isn't important? All that matters is that we're happy with who we are." (I love Shawn's delivery of this line.)

"See them? As in you see colors around people?" "Yes."

"Think of your body as a transparent mannequin that can transmit any color from within itself depending on what that mannequin is feeling at that time. The color glows from within, out to surround every living being with a kind of, well, mist. Like everyone one's walking around with a fog of color around them."

"It's always the popular pretty ones who get abducted. There is a certain benefit to being an outcast, huh?"

"Every living thing has an aura. They didn't. And it's not me because I can see yours and everyone else's. There's something different about those two and not in a good way."

"Is that why you want immortality? You want to prove that you can stop your own river and cheat death?"

"Boy, how do you feel about learning about immortality?" (Ice to Shawn)

"Um? Eyes on the road? I'd rather not be an asphalt pancake today."

Dawn and Ice in a nutshell:
"Supplies." Ice said.
"My change?" Dawn asked.
"I ate it."
"Your cream soda is in that bag."
"Okay, you're forgiven."

"Oh darling, how beautifully naïve you are."

"Now, now, that is not nice darling. Please keep your food inside your body. Mother does not like to clean up those kinds of messes." "I could keep my food in if you didn't mention Shawn using my privates as a model."

"We provide everything and you research a subject you would have anyway." "And there's no catch." "Correct. There is no catch."

"Natural born immortals like succubus, werewolves, orgs and whatever all have an aura. Vampires: the ones that were turned; don't."

"You mean will I help you torture immortals to death looking for what makes them immortal then watch as you inject a human with some kind of weird drug that might or might not work?"

"Humans cannot possibly understand what it means to live forever and they cannot hope to make up any kind of law or test that can determine who deserves it and who does not."

"You do not necessarily have to tell us. We can take it from you easily."

"Oh darling, how sweet of you but you're being utterly stupid."

"NO. The place is done. Finished. Destroyed. Whoever was in there when it went up will be dead."

"You're dead!" "Hm? No, well, technically yes. But we're not, you know, dead-dead. At least not yet."

"Oh good. Would you like to be Tweedledee or Tweedledum?

This is one of the few novels that I haven't been able to put in the "Finished" folder on my computer. It means there is a sequel brewing in the back of my head. I'm not sure exactly how that is going to work considering the ending of this novel.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Gender Difference

I've learned a lot from writing Lies, my April novel. One of the main characters is genderless. At first this genderless-ness means that no one can tell what gender the main is. The character is always in a mask and there are no identifying bulges where there should be if the character was male or female. Later it's found out that said character is biologically genderless.

Let that sink in for a moment. Yeah, no gender identifying ANYTHING. No ability to reproduce because despite having two holes there is no uterus or ovaries. There are no testicles, no penis, no breasts, and nothing else to biologically identify this character as male or female.

This brings up a few issues. The first is what personal pronoun to CALL said character. "He or she" obviously doesn't work for being too repetitive and just annoying. Great for word count mind you, but really annoying for an entire novel. "Ze" (the term used for transitioning transsexuals as far as my research told me) doesn't work because there is no transition. "One "wouldn't work because the main bad is "The One." "They" is grammatically incorrect. This issue was solved when the character decided on being called "she."

Why "she?" Well because the character leaned more towards dresses, skirts and feminine clothing. It just made life easier for everyone involved, including me. The NaNoWriMo April Cabin I had during that time knew about my sleepless nights figuring out what the HECK to call this character. And there were many sleepless nights until she decided to be she.

But this identification opened a whole other issue about gender roles and gender identity. See, there are people out there who are biologically male and dress as females. My character even brings up the question of "am I a female or am I a male who likes to dress like a female?" It leaves the poor thing confused about what to identify as. The character continues with being a she, again because it's easier. The second reason she remains as a she is because during her stint as a prisoner of sorts she was not allowed much to eat. When she's able to eat like a normal person, she begins to grow breasts (which she's quite proud of). Despite that she still has a somewhat masculine physical structure: strong jaw, abs, large biceps, and physically more powerful. She still isn't completely 100% in being called she but it stays because it seems to suit her more.

What does all this mean exactly? Well, it can mean different things to different people. Recently I heard about a school teaching children to call people "yo" as in "Yo hit me" rather than "she (or he) hit me." Exploring the issues a non-gendered character went through deciding what they were I don't think calling people "yo" is such a good idea.

In order to identify yourself as male or female (or the third gender) you have to have a jumping off point. You have to know the biological differences between male and female and know that despite everything males and females ARE different. Yes, a female can in theory do any job a man can BUT when physical labour is involved, men DO have more muscle mass and can do heavier loads. Yes, a female can lift heavy objects but men (in that instance) can do it better. It can't be helped.

Females are not genetically meant to be physically powerful. We're meant to be more flexible and faster. An instance of this is in the simple task of mail carrying. The maximum load a mailman (or woman) can carry out was lowered when women came into the job simply because the female mail carriers COULD NOT lift the same weight as male carriers. This meant more gray boxes, more trips to their bins, longer routes, and longer work for some. This extra physical power men have is due to higher testosterone levels in men which is also said to lead to "aggression" making men the more "violent" of the genders. Why do you think steroid pumped weight lifters are so angry? Extra testosterone. Yep.

Anyway, this whole issue about gender roles/identity in general will confuse the Hell out of kids if we simply decide to do away with gender. We have genders because we're born that way. We have to learn to embrace our genders rather than ignore them or group everyone into one. Yes, we have to learn gender roles. Yes, we have to teach kids the difference between a male and a female. That doesn't mean we have to tell the kid that because they're biologically male they have to do male things.

In fact, if a male child decides to pick the pink blanket we should allow him to. We should NOT tell him that because he likes pink he should be raised as a girl. A couple in the states did this and their six year old physically male son is trying to live as a female. Granted the kid might know the difference but he's six. I changed my mind every day on what I wanted to be growing up. I can't imagine changing my gender permanently that young. Let him decide on his own when he's older and knows the so-called expectations of both genders, don't tell him he's a girl just because he did some things like a girl. 

Heck the only reason certain "genderless" models know whether they are male or female (or both) is because they were told about gender roles and decided they liked either both or liked identifying as opposite to what does or doesn't hang. Perfect example: Andrej Pejic. He identifies as neither: the perfect blend of male and female. If he was raised without a gender he likely would not be doing so well as a male model being female solely because male and female would not exist. Then there's the whole point of him not even knowing what male or female was or that he was unique because he's a he who works as a she.

**NOTE: An update on the Andrej Pejic gender-issue: 1) an ex says that in personal life Andrej prefers the female personal pronoun BUT Andrej has said that "it's whatever" AND Andrej's passport now holds the infamous "X" where a gender would be described. THEREFORE, I assume Andrej is continuing to live as a transgender: that is someone who lives between genders and therefore really doesn't mind what personal pronoun is used. Until Andrej changes his passport to reflect the female or outright says he wishes to use the female in ALL aspects of his life: I'm sticking with the he as I don't know him personally and he's made it clear that it's "whatever" or "X". Proof of the passport change (skip to about 2:30 if you don't want to watch the whole thing):

In a recent interview with La Monda Magzine:
How should we refer to you? He or she?
A lot of my close friends say ‘she’. But a lot of people say ‘he’ too and I am not offended by that; when you are in this position, living this life in between genders, you can’t be too offended by anything. Either way is fine, but I prefer “she”.

So from now on I'll try to stick with the "she" pronoun when referring to Andrej. It's only fair.
UPDATE 2014: Andrej has gone through SRS surgery to become Andreja. Go look it up, I'll wait.
Again, no I'm not changing the above because quite frankly I'd rather keep things as "original" and unedited on this blog as possible besides updates and notes. Moving on.

Anyway it's probably not healthy to force a kid one way or another based on what they like to do. Liking or disliking certain colors or activities DOES NOT make one male or female. Being male or female is not also just a physical thing. What we feel on the inside is what defines us as male or female: not the clothes, not the toys (ha), and certainly not the looks. This defining takes place because of what we learn or are told.

See this is what it comes down to: gender roles, physical roles, emotional roles, parental roles, and sociological roles for males and females are TAUGHT. They are not innate things we automatically know upon coming out of the womb. Teachers, parents, and other adults TEACH children that a girl plays with Barbies and a boy plays with GI Joe. Society teaches children that girls like frilly things and dresses while boys like sports and cars. Girls like make-up and pink, boys like mud and blue. I could go on but I think you get it.

If our children are taught that what you like doesn't make what you are or identify as, we won't need a "yo" pronoun to describe every person. Besides, can you imagine describing someone without using he or she? Trust me, I've tried and it's HARD. Now there's a bill that's attempting to make it through in Boston that will stop police from describing ANYTHING about a subject on the "politically correct thought" that gender and racial descriptions are "bad." So the cops in Boston will receive a description of a subject as such: "Be on the look out for a running person." Yeah, that'll help the crime rate.

We need gender description and physical description in order to know what we may or may not be looking for not only in criminals but in general life. Can you imagine walking up to someone and trying to tell them you're looking for your friend but you can't say if your friend is male, female, Caucasian, Asian, Africa-American or whatever else? Identifying characteristics can't be taken away.

We have genders (and physical differences) for a variety of reasons and instead of ignoring them to "protect our children from gender (or racial) stereotypes" we should be embracing them and teaching our children that what is or isn't between their legs (or what color their skin is) doesn't dictate what they can do or can't do or what they might identify as.

That's how I was raised. I was able to play with whatever toy I liked. I played with Barbies AND toy cars. I made model air planes, I played sports, I wanted to learn play piano and dance. I played with worms and went fishing. I played dress-up with my cat. I am a straight female and embrace my femininity instead of feeling repressed or threatened by it. I don't feel inferior because of plastic dolls, I don't feel like a man is better than me and I don't feel like I need a man in my life to make it better. I know I don't HAVE to be a housewife, that I can have a job and I can support myself. I am a well-adjusted, independent woman who loves her womanhood. Adding to this I was taught that skin color also doesn't matter. We're all the same pink, squishy-ness on the inside.

Regardless, people worry too much about gender roles and what it means when their little boy might want to play dress up or their little girl likes cars "too much." Who cares? Let your kid discover who they are for them self but for gosh sakes, don't tell them they have no gender or that they're one or the other because of what they do when they're curious about everything. Most people forget this: KIDS ARE CURIOUS AND WILL TRY EVERYTHING so let them figure it out on their own. Telling them they have no gender or are one or the other (opposite to what's between their legs) will only make things worse from an identity stand-point because let's face it, no matter what you identify as later in life, you knew growing up whether you were male or female and if it was right or wrong for you.

Yeah, you may have known it was a bit weird (I did) but you get over it and eventually you grow that lovely backbone that makes you say "So what? I like what I like, I'm not normal and I love me for me because of it." If we repress the differences we can't learn to stand-up for what makes us unique. We can't learn to tell people: "Yeah, I'm a girl who knows about cars, bugs and guns. What's your point?" or "Yeah, I'm a guy who wears make-up and sews. Big deal."

We'll learn instead that we're all the same and nothing is different or strange about everyone. If I was raised genderless I wouldn't feel so unique because I'm oddly fascinated by swords, video games, and skulls. I won't feel like I know myself because I'm not an individual if everyone is "normal" for being able to like everything. We need differences in life to make us appreciate and learn to accept those differences. We need weird. We need odd. We need unusual. Besides, what the heck do you call "mom" and "dad" when they're not supposed to have a gender? What about all those languages that aren't gender neutral  like the a and o's commonly in French and Italian?

Furthering it, what happens to the kids who are biologically one gender but feel the other? Does this mean the transsexual will no longer exist? I mean, if they don't know or feel like one to start with how can they transition to the other? Are we really prepared for our entire society to become Gender X? Are we really prepared to raise children who can't create a solid identity for themselves because they have no jumping off point? Are we prepared to take away something that makes us different and instead be a single one-gendered "yo?" Are we prepared to deal with all those gender-confused individuals who have no idea what they are because someone told them they were the opposite when they were younger?

Are we prepared to stop describing people all together and never know what a person looks like in stories we read? Can we deal without knowing what or who the main character is? Can we cope with having gender neutral names abound? Are we prepared to sacrifice our individuality on the overly-politically correct assumption that describing a person belittles them? Are we ready to give up what makes us different, unique, and special because some people are going crazy about gender identity and physical descriptions? Can we deal with everyone being thought of as the same? Do you want to be the same as everyone else?

Novel Series #8: Testing Grounds

Testing Grounds is the novel I wrote during CampNaNoWriMo July edition so any other blog post with "Camping - Author Style" is in reference to this novel. Overall it was a depressing novel and is probably why I wasn't able to start the AugNoWriMo right away. That and I lacked a important thing known as the PLOT. Anyway:

Genre: Science Fiction

Word Count: 84,197

Prompt: I wanted to write something with the same theme as Hunger Games, Battle Royal, The Long Walk and all those other "fight to the death" type books. To make mine different I added aliens. You'd be surprised how much issues I had with this thing.

Main Characters: Evan, Alex, Baxter, Drew, Yiezhen, Kazhen.

Minor Characters of Note: Yu-Song, The President of the USA, Raizhen.

Summation: The Zhen (aliens) want to take over Earth for the resources but in order to keep most of the resources usable, they convince the higher ups to essentially force the population into the Games. The Zhen say that the Games are to find the leader-types who will be on a special council once the Games are complete. Anyone who doesn't win the Games (find the crystal) will be placed in new positions in the promised utopia based on their position in the Games and another test. New York is hit first and everyone there is given a kind of hola-hoop that glows a different color (red, blue, white or yellow) based on their personality. The Zhen want all the reds (natural born leaders) dead because they want to take over Earth. The Zhen figure the best way to do it is to make the people trust you before killing them all off.

Things don't go according to the Zhen's plan as Evan, Alex, Baxter and Drew (all reds) are the ones to win the Games. They're brought back to Zhenkin (the home planet) because of Evan who doesn't want to hand over the crystal and none of them are killed. Yiezhen figures he can use Kazhen's mind-control abilities to convince the four to destroy Earth's population with them.

High Points: Um, some of the conversations between the characters. There isn't really one scene that sticks out to me as happy. I think one of the better scenes that got written was in the end of the book.

Low Points: Every body dies. Take that as meaning either all the mains or every single flipping person on earth. ;)

The World: Earth as we know it today. Zhenkin is a few thousand years ahead.

Major Plot Twist: Drew. That is all.

Memorable lines:

"Yeah if you call riding a bike around the city delivering mail a job. It's a matter of time before we're replaced by you know, actual mailmen."

"I told you today was going to suck." (Such a simple line really...)

"Okay, let me get this right in my head: our government has decided to let aliens throw us into a kind of like Hunger Games thing with the reward for the winners being put on a special council while the losers do some kind of like slave labour. We got to find a crystal to win and we have no clue in the city where it would be. Am I dreaming, dude?"

"What if there is no crystal and the aliens are just fucking with us?"

"What the Hell was that?" "A warning like you gave the other group." "You busted them up and cut off a man's hand." (Why yes, yes she did. She is awesome like that.)

"Well duh. They did say no one could leave or enter. We're living Stephen King's novel now, that's all."

"You got that right. Recoil is a pain in the ass."

"Haven't you watched any horror movies? It normally means that someone's inside and we should move the Hell on."..."I've watched horror movies. I'm not that stupid. Besides, we don't have the token black person in the group so if anyone dies, it'll be one of us."

"I have a weapon. It's hidden."

"I don't want a gun." "Why not?" "It's too loud. Besides, a Kanata never runs out of ammo."

"He needs his glasses cleaned." (This marks the first character death)

"This ends the Games."

"And I don't want to be fighting for my life and didn't want to be in these Games in the first place. You can't always get what you want. Talk or leave."

"I'm a human: we like lots of things."

"You don't just go around turning places into utopia's unless you're getting something in return."

"You became leader by beating the old leader in a series of Games, right?"

"Yiezhen is mine. All mine."

Just for giggles I did a wordle of this novel. Basically it put my most used words into picture format. I thought it was cool so here it is:

Next up will be Seer. This one is about a 15 year old kid who has certain powers and wants to figure out the cure to mortality.