Friday, December 30, 2011

2011

I don't really make New Year Resolutions. Partly because I can never come up with specific things I think would make for good resolutions, and partly because I don't see the point of waiting until a new year to make yourself goals. Not that there's a problem with resolutions--they kinda rock--I'm just too wishy-washy.

Despite this, I made a resolution for this year. Do you remember it?

The idea was to blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this year. Technically I've succeeded, despite some lame posts. I've also subjected you the depths of my geekiness, everything I've crocheted, and, of course, my trials with writing. But the best part? I made some rocking new friends! *double thumbs up*

Now, on the matter of 2012 . . . well, I guess I just want 2012 to be better than 2011. And maybe to survive the apocalypse and crochet a cute squid-lett and finish my freaking book. You know, the important things.

But what about you guys? What kind of things are you looking forward to next year? Have you made any concrete New Year Resolutions? If so, what kind of things do you resolve to do or, uhh, not do? And, of course, how do you think I did on completing my resolution? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Week 1

Last Friday I made an announcement. In a meek and tiny font. It might have had something to do with a writing deadline. *shifty eyes* Either way, I figured I'd keep you guys updated on my progress. Or, you know, terrify myself into a comatose state. Or something.

Anyway. Let's get this over with.

Hours Worked On: Umm, none
Days Left to Deadline: 69

Chapters Edited: 0 (5/27 total)
Words Cut: 0 (3,240 total)
Total Word Count: 100,319

Morale: Hiding in a corner
Thoughts: Uhh, yeah. The most progress I made on anything in this last week would be, uhh, closing my Scrivener document? *ducks rotten fruit* I'd start listing excuses in my defense, but I already know what you guys are thinking: You have to make time to write, Sarah. Yeah, yeah. Shaddup. I'm working on it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Some holiday recipes

One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is mail munchies to people. Not only do I get to eat the leftovers (that is, after all, the chef's prerogative), but you can't really go wrong with giving people food. There's blood and sweat and toil in those goodies!

Right. Now, since I can't possibly gift munchies to all of you guys, I thought I'd at least share the recipes I used. Sound good?

The only picture I took. And it was to update my cookbook.
  • Melt in the Mouth Caramels
    This is a recipe I'm pretty familiar with, as I've made these caramels about five times. I prefer softer caramels though, so we only cooked the mixture to 235ºF on the candy thermometer. It might just be an elevation thing though, so make sure to use the cold water test.

  • Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies
    One of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. The molasses and sea salt really bring out the chocolate flavor, and the recipe makes a lot of cookies. We used semi-sweet chocolate chips because, uhh, we just did.

  • Peppermint Bark
    Definitely my favorite peppermint bark recipe--I think the puffed rice cereal adds a necessary crunch. We we drizzled melted almond bark over the top of our finished bark, which was pretty and tasty. Just check that picture!

  • Peanut Butter Balls
    Which are delightful and easy to make. But it's Boyfriend's recipe . . . and I'm not sure if I can share it. Sorry? O_O They look like this though:
This picture is actually from last year. Also for the cookbook.
ANYWAY. What treats do you guys make around the holidays? My family also whipped up sugar cookies, lemon bars, horns, and Russian teacakes. ^_^ Tell me what you munch on in the comments.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Another writing goal?

Writing goals are probably one of the most useful writerly things ever. Just look at what NaNoWriMo has done for those thousands of people who'd never written 1,000 words of fiction, let alone 50,000. If nothing else, writing goals help kick your butt into gear.

And I don't know about you, but right now I need that mentality.

Unlike last time, I'm not going to flaunt my goal in bolded, menacing typeface. Why? Frankly, I'm afraid of my goal, and right now I'm not confident that I can make it and retain my sanity at the same time. Also, despite my claims of knowing what I'm doing, most of my editing process has been discovering what methods don't work for me. Which is rather time consuming.

So here, in a meek, but hopeful voice:

I'm going to finish the revised draft of my manuscript by March 6th at 11:59 PM.

Eeep. Well. There we go. I'm gonna go cry in a corner now . . . but cheer me on, won't you?

Anyway, what about you? Do you have any writing or editing goals right now? Do you try to set goals that you know are achievable, or do you push yourself to the limit? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What is a bagginses?

I have a migraine, so I'm disinclined to stare at a computer screen long enough to give you guys something good to read. However, I do love JRR Tolkien, and if you've been living in a hole for the last 24 hours, this will be pretty damn exciting:

Friday, December 16, 2011

5 fabulous favorite foods

Knowing what kind of food a person likes says a lot about them. Are they a traditionalist rooted in meat and potatoes, or do they prefer things made out of foam? Keeping this in mind, what are the favorite (and maybe even least favorite) foods of the characters you write about? Easier question: can you list five of your favorite foods? I sure can! And now I'm going to:

Chips and Salsa
This might be the result of growing up in a community with a fairly large mexican population, but I don't care. Not only are chips and salsa delicious, but they're relatively healthy. I mean tortilla chips are a step above other chips *cough*potato chips*cough* and salsa is made from delicious, delicious vegetables.
Tortilla Chips & Salsa
Image credit to mooshee85

Eggs in every shape and form
It's called the incredible, edible egg for a reason. They're a protein goldmine and considering that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day . . . well, it all just compounds to awesomeness. Eggs can be fried, boiled, saladed, baked in a quiche, thrown on top of a hamburger, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Soft boiled eggs crudely cut
Image credit to myheartbehaves

Bagels with cream cheese
Okay, yeah, I know, this one is kind of weird. But I really like bagels and I really like cream cheese. And I'm not even talking flavored cream cheese or interesting bagels. Both of those things rock, but I seriously start salivating for just a plain, toasted bagel with boring, ordinary cream cheese. Just. So. Good!
Bagel thin with cream cheese
Image credit to Birdny123
Sushi
I don't how or why, but sushi rice, assorted veggies, and sea critter bits wrapped in seaweed is tasty, tasty stuff. Also, there's nothing else like it. I enjoy the classic rolls, but I really get excited about recipes that take traditional ingredients and twist them into something new. Blue Hashi's Sleepwalker Roll is delightful.
Sushi Addict
Image credit to Wes_AW
Ice cream!!!
Hahaha, you know those people who can finish off one of those huge cups at Coldstone Creamery? Umm, yeah. That's me. It's creamy and made from milk and sugar . . . what's there to dislike unless you're lactose intolerant? Nothing. Because ice cream is always good. Especially cookies and cream. Yum!
Cookies and cream ice-cream
Image credit to ivan.leung
Keep in mind that this is only five of my favorite foods . . . the, uhh, things I would want on that deserted island with me, you know? But there are still a bunch of other things I love. Like corn chowder and mashed potatoes and peach pie. *drools*

Oh crap, talking about all of this is making me hungry. >_> But before I run off to the kitchen, tell me, do my favorite foods tell you anything about me? If so, what? And, even better, what are your five favorite foods and why do you love them so? Are they things you have regular access too, or are your favorites something special? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Font formatting and YOU

Let's talk about italics and bolds and CAPITALS.

Now, I've seen many a writer try to create volume and emotion in argument-based scenes by using bolded and CAPITALIZED letters in their dialogue. I think the idea behind this is something along the lines of the bigger the letters, the bigger the feelings behind them. There's even a semi- hierarchy:

    I hate you! (relatively normal level of hate)
    I hate you! (angry, burning hate)
    I HATE YOU! (angry, passionate explosion of hate)
    I HATE YOU! (this is the hate of a million combusting suns)

Charming, yeah? Only not. Because depending on font formatting makes for lazy writing. Instead of showing how angry your character is, you're letting the ink do it for you, and that comes off as pretty weak. Especially when you start getting multiple characters flinging bolded and CAPITALIZED barbs back and forth.

You should never be using bolded or CAPITALIZED words in your writing. Words in themselves have power, and you shouldn't forsake that with silly font formatting. There is always a more effective alternative.

Now, you might argue, what about italics? You just italicized a word in the last sentence, Sarah, and italicized words are in books all the time! What makes italics so special?

Well, for one thing, italics do something different then bolds and CAPITALS. As discussed, people use bolds and CAPITALS to emphasize volume, which can be done in other ways. But italics emphasize, well, emphasis. Just look at the differences in meaning here:

    I hate you. (as in me specifically, but maybe no one else hates you)
    I hate you. (hate, as opposed to any other feeling)
    I hate you. (as in you specifically; maybe I don't hate anyone else)

There's not many easy ways to evoke those same feelings without italics. However, you should always use them sparingly. In fact, you probably should be using italics the same way as I suggest you use adverbs: when it adds something the reader would miss otherwise.

So how do you guys feel about italics and bolds and CAPITALS? Have you ever used bolds and CAPITALS in your writing? If so, it's okay, because I totally have too, and I even threw in some underlining in for super dramatic effect. Even better, do you have a counter-argument for the bolds and the CAPITALS? Either way, tell me what you think in the comments!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Writerly Tools: Book Country's Genre Map

http://bookcountry.com/books/Map/Default.aspx
Sometimes categorizing your book can be a bit a difficult. For example, my WIP is a fantasy . . . I can tell you that much straight off because there's magic and such. But there's also a pretty defined steampunk element, which is definitely a science fiction thing.

Never mind the fact that fantasy and science fiction have subgenres. And despite my steampunk elements, I'm pretty sure this WIP isn't a full-on, hardcore steampunk. So it's still some kind of fantasy. But what kind?

Urban? Paranormal? Epic? Historical?

I know the answer to my own question (hint: it's somewhere between high and traditional fantasy). But the question is, if you're writing genre fiction, do you know what subgenre your WIP falls under? If not, well, that's where Book Country comes in.

Now, Book Country is actually a writing/reading social network community run by Penguin. I haven't messed around on it too much, but it looks pretty spiffy. Also, it has a rockin' feature called the Genre Map. And that is what this whole writerly tools post is about.

Book Country's Genre Map looks something like this:
This is not mine. This is not mine a hundred times.
Sweet, right? Only the real thing is better because my version is just a screen cap with the genres and subgenres. With just a simple click, the actual Genre Map explains what each subgenre is and gives some great examples. It also lets your explore those subgenres.

Believe it or not, but it's actually pretty helpful to know genre fiction's subgenres. And since Book Country is part of Penguin, you be assured that these are actually somewhat legitimate. So definitely give the Genre Map a look-see, and maybe bookmark it too, since I'm sure it'll come in handy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Arrrrrr! Pirates! Arrrrrr!

I wasn't sure what to blog about today, but then I remember that I like pirates.* I was a pirate for Halloween, FYI. Here's my skull-handed proof:
THE HEADS OF MY DEFEATED ENEMIES.
Anyway, as I was saying, pirates are pretty cool. And what's even better? Why, pirate jokes! So here, friends, let me tell you all of the best (and only) pirate jokes that I know:

What happened when the red pirate ship and the blue pirate ship collided?
Both crews were marooned!

What did the pirate with the pegleg say when he sailed down to Antartica?
Shiver me timbers!

Why do pirates do so poorly in school?
Because they prefer the high seas!

Why is being a pirate so addictive?
You lose one hand and then you're hooked!

How much do pirates pay for their piercings?
A buccaneer!

Speaking of which, how much did the pirate pay for his hook and peg leg?
An arm and a leg!

And what do you call a pirate with no eye?
A prate!

Have you heard about the pirate that took up boxing?

He had a mean left hook!

Why are pirates pirates?
They just arrrrrr!

What is a pirate's favorite school subject?**
Debate, because then he gets to arrrrrrgue.

Did you hear about that new pirate movie?
It's rated arrrrrr!

What is a pirate's favorite fast food restaurant?
You'd think that it'd be Arrrrrrby's, but it's actually Long John Silver's.

A pirate walks into a bar with a roll of paper towels on his head.
The bartender asks, "What's up with the paper towels?"
The pirate says, "Arrrrrr, I've got a bounty*** on me head!"

See, weren't those hilarious? Yes. Yes they were. Unfortunately, those are only the pirate jokes on hand, and I'm certain that there are dozens--nay, scores!--of other pirate jokes that I don't know. So, I'm curious, do any of you know of some fabulous pirate jokes? If so, tell me in the comments!

*Also, I might have written this post at three in the morning.
**Yes, this is my joke. I made it up just for you. Because I love you. <3
***Bounty is a, uhh, brand of paper towels. FYI.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

5 MORE webcomics writers should read

Hey, remember the last time I talked about webcomics? The basic gist was as follows: Writers love stories. Webcomics are home to all sorts of awesome stories. Unfortunately, I don't know of so many writers that profess the joys of webcomics. So, here, five awesome webcomics for you guys to check out.

And today? Well, today is a sequel to that post! Because, frankly, there are a ton of webcomics out there, and I enjoy far more than just five of them. So here, friends, five more favorites that you should definitely check out!*

The Meek
This is probably one of the biggest webcomics online right now, so if you haven't read The Meek yet, get to it! This one is all about a complex, fantasy, interweaving storyline, so if you're looking to observe those elements, this is the comic to check out. Not to mention the fabulous world building and, of course, the artwork.

Gastrophobia
This is the story of an exiled Amazon warrior and her son, who live in ancient Greece. Plus some crack (we're talking a My Little Pony vs Care Bears story arc). Gastrophobia is different from many webcomics in that it's essentially a collection of short stories. Which is awesome. Especially if you're looking for something quick and entertaining.

Thistil Mistil Kistil
As the comic's website puts it, "Thistil Mistil Kistil is a comic about vikings, Norse gods, and their adventures together (or against each other)." Simply enough, the research and thought behind this comic is astounding. The level of depth goes from locations, to characters, to the artwork itself, and that's something that anyone can learn from.

Monster Pulse
Monster Pulse is a relatively new comic, but I like where it's going thus far. Basically, there's some dubious science and body parts that transform into battling monsters. The concept is super interesting, which is really half the battle, and the execution has been spot on too. Doesn't help that all of the characters (and monsters) are super charming!

Great
Great, is the kind of comic that started as something small, that, well, turned into something great. It's definitely a good show as to how one can take a bunch of different and random elements and create a cohesive story. But there's some depth too, as Great explores the highs and lows of life, and what it really means to be "great."

And there we go! So, if you guys read webcomics, what ones have you read? Any of these? Or do you have some favorites that I've never heard of? Either way, tell me your thoughts in the comments!

*BTW: As you may have guessed, none of these images belong to me. Shocking, huh?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oops! Or, on procrastination

Pahahahahaha . . . this post is so late. I guess that's what happens when I go ahead and watch cartoons instead of blogging.

Speaking of doing things instead of other things, cartoons are probably one of my greatest procrastinatory methods. You know, when I actually am procrastinating. Last night was all about absentmindedness. Anyway, there's just something about animation--it's fluid and smooth and captures things that just aren't possible in live-action filming. I heart it dearly.

And this all brings me to the question at hand: what do you do when you're shamelessly procrastinating? Do you read books? Play video games? Indulge in sports? Go window shopping? Knit, crochet, spin, or weave? Watch cartoons like me? Do something else that I didn't get around to mentioning? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, December 2, 2011

November Book Roundup

Well, I didn't read much in this past month thanks to NaNoWriMo. Actually . . . I didn't read anything at all until I got my 50,000 words out of the way. But what I did read was relatively exciting.

Oh, and if you're curious, this is my monthly book roundup post. In other words: At the beginning of each month I do Twitter-length reviews of the books I read during the month prior. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my absolute favorites are marked with a star ().

Ashes by Ilsa J Bick
YA Post-apocalyptic--EMPs and zombies and super powers and cults! This book is weirdly bi-polar. Loved the first half, but then it went downhill. Also, WTF cliffhanger?

Manga--Usagi is the guardian of justice--Sailor Moon! Story gets a bit darker in this volume, but the romance is lovely and we get some background info.

The Immorality Engine by George Mann
Steampunk Mystery--Newbury & Hobbes #3. Steampunk Victorian England takes a dark and relatively unexpected twist in this volume. Also, Veronica is STILL awesome. 

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
YA Contemporary Fantasy--The Scorpio Races are brutal, thrilling, and both Sean and Puck must win. Holy crap I love Stiefvater's water horses and her beautiful prose. 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
YA Contemporary Fantasy--Tragedy strikes and as a result, Jacob's gonna unearth his grandfather's past. Haunting photos ... with a story that doesn't really match up.

See, not too shabby. I also find it kind of entertaining how most of the covers fall under a muted color palette. Anyway, what did you guys read? Or did you get any reading done at all? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last minute NaNo inspiration!

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo! So if you're not quite to 50,000 words and need some NaNo music videos to spurn your creativity . . . well, watch these:







Okay, so you might have noticed that all of these videos are by the same guy. Well, uhh, I think he's made some of the best NaNoWriMo music videos . . . I mean, Mulan parody . . . so, yeah. Unless any of you have some favorite NaNo videos that I've missed? If so, tell me in the comments!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Writerly Tools: Tumblr

Tumblr is one of those websites that is both inspirational and a superb time suck. It also took me a long time to appreciate.

Like many other writers, I think it's easy to find inspiration in all sorts of things: pictures, videos, comics, music, etc. What I didn't understand, was that Tumblr is home to all of these things if you know how to look. Actually, Tumblr is home to a lot of exciting and inspirational stuff. You just have to give it an opportunity.

Like all social networks, Tumblr is riddled with garbage, but it's surprisingly easy to avoid. We're not talking status updates like Twitter and Facebook. We're talking microblogging. This is like Blogger and Wordpress, but quicker and easier. Tumblr can be whatever you want to make it, depending on who you follow and what you post/reblog.

So now that I've maybe perked your interest, let me tell you a little bit more about it. Here, five reasons why Tumblr might be another social network that's worth your time:
  1. Tumblr is the blogging alternative
    A lot of people have been burnt out on blogging, but Tumblr takes that familiar formula and twists it. Yup, Tumblr is all about stream-of-consciousness, quick and easy, micro-blogging. It lets you take images, words, anything, and lets your ideas speak for themselves.
  2. Tumblr is simple
    Seriously. Tumblr is up there with Twitter when it comes to ease of use. This is definitely a good thing, especially when you consider how broad it's applications of use can be.
  3. Tumblr can be your scrapbook
    You can post nearly anything on Tumblr, and thus, it's really easy to create a scrapbook of images relating yo your writing, or even a collection of writing exercises or flash fiction. Tags are specific to tumblelogs, so it's easy to keep everything organized.
  4. Tumblr is a creativity goldmine
    Continuing on the scrapbook vein, you can find pretty much anything on Tumblr. Pictures, patterns, recipes . . . it's all there. And you can reblog and share all of it. So if you need to jumpstart your creativity, go peruse Tumblr for a while.
  5. Tumblr is light hearted
    Tumblr loves kittens and memes and all sorts of silly internet-related things. Better yet, Tumblr lets you spread the joy with a simple click of the Reblog button. And frankly, this is a great way to escape the writerly angst.

Friday, November 25, 2011

On this blackest of Fridays

You know, I was going to write about Thanksgiving. Then I was going to write about Black Friday. Then I remembered how everyone always writes about holiday on their blogs, and after you've seen one post, you've pretty much seen them all. Besides, not all of you are American.

This is pretty much why I don't say anything about holidays on Squidink. It often gets to the point where the blog-o-sphere becomes saturated with a lot of the same sentiments, and I'd rather not bore you (and myself) with them.

There are a lot of other topics I like to avoid on this blog too. Politics. Religion. Complaining too much. Too many details on my personal life (not that they're super interesting anyway). I want to be positive here--not to look perfect or avoid debate or anything like that--but because I don't feel there's a point to lingering on the negative.

People like to cling to hatred too easily. We like to complain and gripe and get furious over the stupidest stuff. Just look at all of the people who hate Twilight. Why waste the effort to actively hate something when you can spend that time enjoying things you like? I don't know about you guys, but I prefer being happy instead of angry.

Especially on this blog, which is on the internet, which is gonna be around until time immemorial. *shrug*

So, speaking of blog topics to avoid, what kind of things don't you like to talk about on your blog? Is there anything you avoid like the plague? Or do you think I'm just being ridiculous . . . or even, dare I say, inappropriate? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NaNoWriMo as an extended free-write

In the last two years I have completed my NaNoWriMo word goal really quickly (13 and 15 days respectively). Yeah, I've become one of those insane people that finishes early. *shrug* What can I say? I draft quick.

However, I must admit, I don't like to think of my NaNo novels as drafts. They're not drafts. They can't be called drafts. They're more like extremely long free-writes.

Let me explain.

When I NaNo, I don't expect anything to be truly publishable. Seriously. It's all drivel. I knowingly re-use metaphors until they're so frequent, it's cliche. I write scenes that clearly have nothing to do with the end goal of the story. I don't worry about anything like plot, and thus, my villains have been known to switch sides.

What I'm trying to say is that it's bad. Super bad.

And this is the point where everyone likes to step in and ask why I don't just spend more time on it then? After all, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and if I'm writing crap in 15 days, why not write something classier in 30 days?

Because that's not what I get out of NaNo.

You might think that it's a waste of words and waste of time, but this "extended free-write" of mine is part of the process I've come to embrace. To have that freedom to explore the world of my story, before it's important to nail down plot and character motivations and all of that hard stuff . . . well, that's important to me. The quality doesn't matter, but the act of writing these ideas out does.

Now, maybe I don't end up with anything publishable during NaNo, but when it comes time for the re-write, I understand the story and characters a whole lot more than I would've without my requisite NaNo crap draft. And hey, if my extended free-write can be written super badly in 15 days versus moderately badly in 30, well, I'm cool with that. :)

So how do you guys draft? Is your first draft something that you're proud to call a draft, or do you collect a mess of words and ideas like I do? Have you ever taken a NaNo draft and perfected it? Or, if you're working on a NaNo novel right now, are you spending the time to make sure everything meshes? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just a placeholder

Taking a break today. See you guys on Wednesday. But if you need something to do, take a gander at the pretty pictures I've amassed on Tumblr. They're, uhh, pretty. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

What I wrote for NaNo

Despite getting my 50,000 for NaNoWriMo and supposedly getting rid of all the stress that goes with that, I'm somehow still ridiculously un-organized. So I figured I'd tell you a little about the "story" I wrote in 15 days:

My NaNo was a YA fantasy about swords and magical bloodlines and wil-o-wisp ghosts. It's a story about finding out that it's okay to suck at life because everyone's good at something, even if they haven't found it yet. There's a ruling family that's been made cruel with power, and a lot of people (including members of this family) have suffered for it. Also, a wyrm makes an appearance.

The main character is Gareth and despite being an orphan trained for the military, he wasn't very good with swords or fighting or anything until he found a "God Sword" with his childhood friend Laramie. Unfortunately, he's the only one who can even touch the God Sword without getting burned, so it goes to his head a little. Also doesn't help that the sword makes him awesome.

Laramie is the badass girl who (to my shame) hasn't gotten as much character development as she deserves. She likes fighting with swords, is a bit quick to pity people, and is a little freaked out by Rey.

Rey is a prince and a secondary character, though I'm pretty sure that he would prefer to be the main character, if not share the role with Gareth. *rolls eyes* Luckily they have a mysterious bond which will likely make this possible in the real First Draft. He's got baggage and prefers to fight with distance weapons like spears and throwing knives.

The last of our group is Hiram, who is Rey's older brother by two years. Hiram is a golden retriever. He's the kind of person who's cheerful and nice to be around, but manages to subtly insult people without realizing it. However, Hiram is also rather protective, so if someone else is going about insulting his friends/bros, he becomes all-out defensive.

And that's about it since there's, uhh, not much of a plot yet. *shrug* But now that you know more about my NaNo than the WIP I've been working on for the last year (uhh, oops?) . . . tell me, what are you currently writing? Is it something that you can describe better than my mess of a story? Or are you still discovering it as you draft? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

50,000 words

Last night I crossed 50,000 words and became a 2011 NaNoWriMo winner. Then I got Winning Pie:
Victory pie from a fellow wrimo? Why yes!
*throws confetti into the air* It was all rather exciting. And delicious.

Anyway, now for some fun stuff, as I can't help but create a Wordle and throw some stats at you (like I did last time I felt prolific):

Pfft, from this Wordle you might think Rey's the main character. FYI: He's not.
Working Title: EPIC
Genre: YA Fantasy
Total Word Count: 50,225
Completed Manuscript: Hahahahaha . . . no. This was definitely more of an extended free-write than anything resembling a fleshed out story. Should be fun to re-write though. :)
Different Point-of-Views: 4
Days Worked On: 15
Awesome Songs That Helped: Heartlines by Florence + the Machine and Save Me by Royal Bliss. Yes, I listened to single tracks on repeat a lot.

And there we go. I wrote a lot and it was mostly a mess. Of course, that's part of my process . . . maybe I'll talk about it sometime. :) Until then, how are my fellow wrimos doing? Do you have a special victory event planned once you hit 50,000 words? Any pie in your future? Tell me in the comments!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Some of my favorite things

You all know I like NaNoWriMo. It's not like I've been subtle. So today I'll be a little more specific.
For me, NaNoWriMo is all about challenging myself. And collecting little plastic soldiers and knights. Meeting new people. Weekly write-ins at Shari's and The Villa and the library. Encouragement en masse. Competing with other people's word counts. Lemon sour cream pie. Commemorative t-shirts. Word sprints. 50,000+ words. Silly webcam settings. The inspirational stickers. Chatting on Twitter. Complaining on Twitter. Super productive weekends. Discovering a new story. Writing, writing, and writing some more. Wonderful MLs. Google+ hangouts. Talking about stories. And, ultimately, the purple winner bars!

So are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, what are some of your favorite things about it? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A few quick ramblings

Today's 11/11/11! Yay exciting number combinations!

Anyway, my internet service has is rotting in a corner somewhere and I've lost the ability to do anything productive past NaNo. Fantastic. On a more positive note, I've written 35,000 words in the last ten days. *thumbs up* Now, here, go watch another NaNo video while I pass out for a few hours:



I particularly enjoy the back-and-forth between the girl and the three guys. Also the montage with all of the people glaring petulantly at their computers. Moving on. How are you guys doing? Up to anything exciting? Writing a lot? Missing sleep a lot? Tell me in the comments

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Social writing is bizarre

One of the strangest things about NaNoWriMo* is the fact that it takes writing, an activity that is widely considered to be very solitary, and makes it social.

Super social.

What do I mean by this? Well, NaNo is many things. One of those things involves a lot of sitting in the same room with a bunch of people and NOT talking until the latest word sprint is over. There is intensive writing going on . . . en masse. To an outsider, it probably comes off as very creepy. Hilariously enough, I didn't consider this when I told you all to do it via video chat on Monday.

Anyway, some of you might argue that writing isn't completely solitary. And you're sort of correct. There are word sprint challenges on Twitter . . . well, there are a lot of awesome writerly things on Twitter. But these kinds of things still involve you yourself being alone in a room. Or alone at a table in a coffee house. Or even alone in your head as you children through legos at each other in the next room. Whatever.

Okay, well what about writing groups? Hmm, Sarah, what about those? Well, uhh, in my (admittedly limited) experience most writing groups are about sharing work instead of composing it on the spot. But I could be wrong here.

Either way! What I'm really getting at is this: Social writing is kind of weird and I want to know what you guys think about it.

So, distracting or encouraging? Do you like how it openly involves casual writers, or do you prefer to strictly converse with hardcore writers? Is social writing good for new writers, or does it create unrealistic expectations? Tell me what you think in the comments!

*An Aside: Apparently I'm never going to shut up about NaNo. Sorry. Only not.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hanging out on Google+

Write-ins.

They are awesome. They are a combination of magic and sparkles and productivity. Or, well, maybe they're more like extreme ridiculousness combined with focused productivity. Either way, they rock because not only do you get to bond with other writers, but you also get some work done.

Unfortunately not all of us can host or attend a write-in. But that is what the internet is for!

Several months ago, Google+ entered the world and we all went crazy about it. Then everyone stopped caring because G+ is just another form of Facebook . . . and at this point it's just easier to hit up Facebook for those social networking needs. However, G+ has a feature that Facebook doesn't have: Hangouts.

What are Hangouts? Think video conferencing without having to actually pay for a program. *cough*Skype*cough* It's a little buggy right now, but it's a fantastic way to get a bunch of people together and write.

Maybe a video conference write-in sounds odd, but my local NaNoWriMo group has been doing this every night we don't have an officially scheduled write-in. Yes, we like each other's company far too much . . . but it has been pretty awesome. Trust me on this. And then think about hanging out with some people the next time you need a writing buddy.

So had any of you even heard of this Google+ feature before now? If so, have you had the pleasure of going to a hangout? What were you doing there? Just chatting, or something more productive? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, November 4, 2011

When should you give up on a story?

I started NaNoWriMo this year with a story about selkies. It was going to be a paranormal something or other with family drama and, of course, lots of the ocean. I had two pretty sweet opening lines . . . and then I didn't know what I wanted to do. I didn't have any passion for the idea as a whole. I wrote 428 words and decided that I hated my story.

So I decided to write something different.

A lot of people will tell you to push through those kinds of blocks. They'll tell you to ignore the shiny new idea, and 99% of the time, that is the advice you should follow. Today I'm going to tell you about that elusive 1%.

When you're writing, you should always be writing something you love. I'm not talking about the quality of the writing or turning off your inner editor, I'm talking about the idea itself. Because if you love your idea and the potential behind it, you can write some horrible stuff and still be happy. If not, well, you'll struggle for every word and you'll bleed for every new plot point.

If your writing is a nightmare, try evaluating your story. Is it the kind of story that you have passion for? If so, is it an idea that maybe needs to marinate for a while? And are you forcing yourself to write something that you don't love? These questions are important, especially when it comes to your writerly morale.

Have any of you ever dropped a novel idea that just wasn't working? I, uhh, kind of has a history of it. Anyway, if you're participating in NaNo, what are you writing and why do you love that idea? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October Book Roundup

Book Roundup time!

If you're new to the process, here's the book roundup lowdown: At the beginning of each month I do Twitter-length reviews of the books I read during the month prior. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my absolute favorites are marked with a star ().

Pretty easy, right? So let's get to the meaty bits already:

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Vol. 1 by Naoko Takeuchi
Manga--Usagi is the guardian of justice--Sailor Moon! Typical magical girl storyline, but this "renewal edition" rocks despite some awkward translations.

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
YA Paranormal Romance--Conclusion of The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. Still full of fantastic character voices and a romance that doesn't make you want to gag.

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
YA Steampunk--Final Leviathan installment. Barking spiders, this book rocks. Clankers, beasties, history, romance, perspicacious lorises! Such a fitting end. 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
YA Historical Fiction--Munich, Nazis, and a girl who steals books--all deliciously narrated by Death. This story made me bawl, which never happens. Just go read this. 

Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio (illustrations by Scott Campbell)
Picture Book--Mortimer the zombie is looking for love. This is pretty much the cutest thing EVER, and the illustrations are fantastic. Worms = adorable! 

Wildefire by Karsten Knight
YA Urban Fantasy--Ashline is reincarnated goddess and her sister is a psychopath. THIS is how you write a pantheon story! Also, second person narration FTW.

Flash Burnout by LK Madigan
YA Fiction--Blake is caught between the girl who loves him and the girl who needs him. STRONG. MALE. TEENAGE. VOICE. The kind of voice that keeps you reading.

October was a fun month for me. :) Was it fun for you guys? Read anything fun or wonderful? Or have you had the joy of reading any of the books that I read? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm full of crazy excitement!

Look, my lovely crocheted sugar skulls, finally completed!
Today and tomorrow are going to be awesome. I have been anticipating them for a while, so, please indulge my spazzing:
  1. Today is Halloween . . . which always equates to fun and frivolity and candy and dressing up in costumes. Yeah, not gonna lie, totally my favorite holiday. I'm gonna be at a game night too, which rocks, and I definitely hope you guys have fun doing whatever you'll be up to!
  2. Tomorrow is Dia de los Muertos! Not only is it a cool holiday, but I love love love the entire aesthetic to it. There's just something about associating death with bright colors and flowers that makes me happy inside. Also, I like skulls . . . especially calaveras skulls.
  3. NaNoWriMo starts at midnight and I shall be eating pie at a write-in. And writing too. I suppose. If I must. The pie is obviously the most important factor in play.
  4. Uncharted 3--which is basically like a modern Indiana Jones in video game form--comes out on the 1st. Being that Uncharted 2 came out two years ago, it's safe to say that I can't wait to get my grubby hands on it.
  5. Florence + the Machine's new album, Ceremonials, also comes out. Considering that both my inner literary critic and inner depraved fangirl irrationally worship Florence Welch, I'm a bit enthused. Okay, a lot enthused. Also, I secretly plan to listen to this album throughout NaNoWriMo.
Yes, these are all good things. But what about you guys? Any of you up to anything exciting in these next two days? Any good plans for Halloween? Planning on NaNo-ing at midnight? Any other great music/video games/books/etc coming out this week? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fanfics and FULL LIFE CONSEQUENCES

Fanfiction Week Mark 2? Apparently. Let's just roll with it.

Anyway.

Bad fanfiction.

It can be annoying. There's a lot of it. FanFiction.net is a glorified slush pile. However, bad fanfiction can also be a little like watching a bad sci-fi movie. Horrible and hilarious at the same time. *nods*

Today is a day of Full Life Consequences.

For those who don't know, Full Life Consequences is Half-Life fanfic that became an internet meme after it was immortalized on YouTube. Now, don't be scared if you've never heard of Half-Life, because honestly, you don't really need to know anything about it in order to appreciate this.

It's just the simple story of how original character John Freeman saves his brother, Gordon Freeman (the main character of Half-Life), from his "enemys." Enjoy:


See, wasn't that beautiful? Isn't your life complete now? And the moral of the story is this: next time you're hunting the net for some good fanfiction, remember that the not-so-good fanfiction can bring joy as well.

How do you feel about the hoards of bad fanfiction plaguing the internet? Amused or annoyed? Did Full Life Consequences change your opinion at all? And has anyone ever heard of My Immortal? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fanspeak?! A brief fanfic glossary

On Monday I talked about fanfiction archives and how well-labeled archives rock. But, if any of you went running off to read fanfiction, confident in your skills, you might have noticed all of the crazy acronyms and terminology. And then you might have run back in confusion and fear.

I don't really blame you.

Because Fanfiction has its own lexicon.

However, my friends, I am here to save you! Today I'm gonna quickly cover what I consider to be the basics of fanspeak--the terms that newfledged fanfic readers should find particularly useful when scouring the archives. So check it:

Fandom
Fandom refers to the fan-based community dedicated to a certain book, movie, tv show, video game, comic, etc, etc. It includes everything and anything that is fan created--so fanfiction is a huge part of fandom.

Gen • Het • Slash • Femslash
All of these terms have something to do with romantic parings in fanfiction. Gen refers to general fanfiction where there is no romance. Het is short for a heterosexual pairing. Slash refers to male homosexual pairings, and thus, femslash refers specifically to lesbian pairings. Many fandoms also have character specific terms, which you'll have to figure out on your own, since they can be pretty much anything, including: names, acronyms, initials, and spliced words.

Canon, fanon, and head-canon
Canon refers to elements that are officially established by the source material. For example, it's canon that Harry Potter goes to Hogwarts. Fanon, on the other hand is a combination of "fan" and "canon," so it's usually something that the fandom has accepted as canon. In the case of Harry Potter, before the last book came out, a lot of people had decided that Hermione was going to be Head Girl. Head-canon is what you personally think to be true about something in a fandom, even though it's not officially canon of widely accepted by the fandom.

Shippers and their OTPs
A shipper is a person who ships a certain ship. Yes. It's two different nouns and a verb. Just understand that "ship" is short for "romantic relationship" and shippers are all about supporting their favorite one. Hopefully you get the gist. Anyway, OTP stands for One True Pairing. It's usually used as an expression of one's support for their favorite ship.

OCs and Mary Sues
OC stands for Original Character, which is pretty self explanatory. Mary Sues are technically OCs, however Mary Sues are usually a self-insertion of the author. They are characterized by being perfect, exotic, and tragic, yet horribly obnoxious. People like OCs and they hate Mary Sues.

Citrus: Lemons and limes
Citrus is a, uhh, term that refers to the steamy romance times in a fanfic. Lime is usually anything up to heavy petting and lemon is sex, be it chaste or graphic.

Fanfic labels
There are about a billion different acronyms and terms to quickly describe the content in a fanfic, and I'm not going to cover all of them, because, like I said, a billion. Instead, I'll give you some of the most common labels:
  • AU: Alternate Universe. Wherein the fanfic takes place in a different world from canon.
  • PWP: "Plot? What Plot?" Unabashed adult fanfiction.
  • RPF: Real Person Fanfic. Fanfiction about real people--usually actors or musicians.
  • OOC: Out-of-Character. In which the characters do not act like themselves. WHICH IS LAME.
  • X-Over: Fanfiction that combines characters/situations from two different fandoms.

And that's all for now! Like I said, this is only a smidgen of fanspeak, so if you ever run into something you don't understand, there's always Moonbeam's Fanfiction Terminology. It's a little dated, but definitely a good resource.

Now tell me, what do you guys think about fanspeak? Have any crazy stories about not knowing what something means? Think it's ridiculous that there's a learning curve to this nonsense? Or did I miss a term that desperately needs to be added posthaste? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where to go fanfic hunting

So, I'm kind of on a fanfiction kick right now and I realized that back during Fanfiction Week, I never told you guys how to find fanfiction online. I just ranted about it for while and assumed that you all knew what you were doing.

Which is a stupid assumption. Because fanfiction archives are kind of messy. There's a lot of mediocre writing out there and there's also a lot of writing directed towards an audience that's 18 years and older. Finding good fanfiction can be difficult and ultimately discouraging. Especially if you don't know where to start.

So I'm going to give you some sites to work with. You can explore them, you can ignore them, but if you ever want to read fanfiction, then these are the places to go:
  • FanFiction.Net
    http://www.fanfiction.net/
    FF.net is . . . well, it's the easiest place to find fanfiction, but it's also the easiest place to post fanfiction. So while there's variety, it's basically a giant slush pile. You have to be careful too, because while they supposedly family friendly and don't allow 18+ fanfiction, a lot of people ignore that rule and things aren't labeled well. If you're gonna tackle FF.net, find ONE good story and then work from that author's favorites list--good writers tend to flock together.
     
  • MediaMiner
    http://mediaminer.org/
    An alternative to FF.net, though if I had to make a comparison, I'd say it's like the MySpace to FF.net's Facebook. The site is active, but it feels pretty dead. The setup is similar to FF.net, but MediaMiner has a heavy focus on anime and is totally fine with 18+ fanfiction. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan and I only mention it because it's a notable contender.
     
  • LiveJournal
    http://www.livejournal.com/

    LJ is the place to go if you're looking for high quality in small doses for specific topics. The way it works is that communities/groups are formed in LJ that revolve around a certain fandom or pairing, and then people contribute fanfiction to these groups. However, LJ is for the older crowd, as this is where the 18+ fics thrive. It's easy to avoid that kind of material, since everything's well-organized and well-labeled, but be aware.
     
  • Archive of Our Own
    http://archiveofourown.org/
    Yet another setup similar to FF.Net and MediaMiner, but AO3's big perk is the fact that it's fan-created and fan-run. Right now it's still in beta, but there are a ton of fantastic fanfic writers flocking here, which has created a higher standard than what's seen at FF.net and MediaMiner. However, the archive is open to any and all fanfiction, so many LJ people are present and there's a ton of 18+ material, which is, however labeled.
These four websites are only the ones that I have the most personal experience with. Hopefully they'll help the curious on their journey into fanfiction land. However, just remember that there's more out there. For example, if you're a Harry Potter fan, FictionAlley and all of its offshoots might be the place for you. Just make sure to have fun with it!

And before I leave, a quick disclaimer: Fanfiction can involve a lot of crazy stuff. Adult themes run rampant and you need to be careful when perusing material. Make sure to read story summaries and warning labels so you aren't surprised later on. Only you can decide what you're comfortable with, but just remember that fanfiction is supposed to be fun, not traumatizing. :)

Now, if you're the type to read fanfiction, where do you go to get your fix? One of the places I mentioned above, or somewhere else? Or do you prefer to avoid fanfiction? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The long-belated crochet post

Well, this week has been serious. Time for something lighter!

Crafty-times! Now, unfortunately, the last time I did a crafty-times post was back in June. Which is a bit unacceptable. And is also an explanation for why this post is a bit . . . long. *shifty eyes*

Right.

So, back in July I started working on one of these awesome tartan potholders from the September/October issues of Crochet Today! Unfortunately I wasn't considering yarn thickness, so my potholder turned out huge. It's more of a trivet than anything else. But here, observe anyway:
See . . . it's a potholder bigger than my head!
The backing is supposed to be felt, but it's been a bit impossible to find any felt that's an appropriate color . . . which means I might have to dye it. Or just crochet an entire back . . . which sounds kind of nightmarish, considering how much I despise working with cotton.

And, uhh, as long as we're talking about things that need backings, I'm sort of making myself African flower coasters. Why? Well, I have a lot of random yarn leftover from my awesome blanket, and decided to make an african flower. It happened to be the size of a coaster. See:
African flowers are kinda like granny squares . . . only different.
A lot of people make blankets and stuff from African flowers, but I'm not sure I could handle that. It's a lot of stitches for a rather small space. Which is why I'm going for coasters. :) However, on the blanket front, I'm seriously considering this sexy, plaid blanket. I love the red/white/blue yarn combo, but I might go with Green Bay Packers colors too . . . because I need a football blanket. This is important.

Anyway. At about the same time I was working on the "potholder," I made myself a quick case for my portable harddrive. It was super cute until I decided to correct a small mistake and accidentally ripped out the chain stitches and destroyed EVERYTHING.
It's more of a "sleeve" right now.
Yeah. Haven't quite figured out how to fix this without it looking crappy. But I'm sure I'll figure it out. Eventually. Just trust me when I say that it looked better when it was in one piece. Speaking of pieces . . . Totoro is close to being finished! I just have to sew all of his pieces together!
Limbs, limbs EVERYWHERE!
Of course, sewing pieces together is my least favorite part of the entire process. Which is why you aren't getting a new, exciting picture of the mouse crobot . . . since, uhh, I still haven't sewn him together. *fail* And I, uhh, guess I should admit that I haven't worked on the dragon scarf either. *even more fail*

But let's talk success now, shall we?

First, remember that yellow birdie from so long ago? Well, I spruced him up a bit!
He's totally ready for a night on the town!
Yeah, okay, so the sprucing wasn't 100% intentional. I'd made a top hat for a project mentioned below and it was waaaaay too small . . . so the bird got a classy upgrade. I think it gives him the character that he was seriously lacking.

And now you want something better than the bird? Well, let me tell you about the Cathulhu I modified from this pattern. The story goes like this: I crocheted a Cathulhu for my friend Kirstin's birthday. What's a Cathulhu? Well, it's a pun on cat and H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu. The most important part is that it's adorable. Observe in the (relatively old) pictures:
Note the red cat collar hidden beneath the tentacles.
And a back shot so you can see the awesome wings and tail.
Kirstin, btw, adored it (and you can see her indulgent post on the matter here). :3 And now I've been teaching her to crochet . . . which has been entertaining. We're both making the dragon from this Chinese Zociac amigurumi set. Kirstin's still working on hers, but since I have speed and experience on my side, my dragon is currently in pieces:
Me and pieces? We're like this: *crosses fingers*
How did I start talking about a project with pieces that need to be sewn together again?! Jeeze, moving on . . . again . . . and for good this time.

Now, it you've ever perused my Tumblr, you might have noticed that I have a bit of a love affair with calaveras skulls. Well, it's really all kinds of skulls, but calaveras skulls are my favorite. There's just something cool about that aesthetic . . . the Mexico/Dia de los Muertos levels on LittleBigPlanet were some of my favorite in the game. Anyway, several weeks ago I decided to modify this skull pattern and create my own Dia de los Muertos bride and groom!
They're . . . nowhere near done.
The groom is the skull with all of the designs. I also have a top hat with a purple hatband that I haven't attached yet, and after that he'll be finished!

The bride is the difficult part. She'll be getting eyes along with similar designs on her, uhh, face, along with a veil. The veil will be made from crocheted roses and white tulle. If you're curious, my experiments with the crocheted roses have been kind of nightmarish, but have thus far produced these two specimens:
Still deciding whether the small rose is STILL too big. >_>
The big issue here is getting things the right size . . . which is actually how the yellow birdie ended up with his top hat. Hopefully I'll manage to get these done by Halloween.* Wish me luck?

And that's all for now. What do you guys think? I'm partial to the skulls . . . but that's me. :) Also, have any of you worked on any exciting, non-writing related projects in the last few months? Tell me about them in the comments!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dear Writing Blog-o-Sphere

Dear Writing Blog-o-Sphere,

I think we have a problem.

It's not the kind of problem that's immediately apparent. I mean, 99% of your posts are positive and inspiring and interesting. It's the kind of problem that lurks beneath the words of those fantastic posts. See, the thing is, you have unrealistic expectations.

But it's not your fault. Not really.

The problem lies in speed and time. Naturally, if someone's writing days are going well, they're going to celebrate that success on the internet. They'll tell us all about how they drafted the book in a month and then edited it in two weeks. They'll talk about their deadlines and how they wrote two books last year and how driven they are.

On the other hand, drafting and editing nightmares are never discussed. For good reason, of course. On the off chance an agent visits their blog, well, no one wants to make a bad impression with all that whining.

But where does that put the writer who has been struggling with drafting or editing? Maybe they've been working on their book for years now . . . and with the state of the blog-o-sphere, there's a good chance that they feel alone in that.

It's not true of course. There really are people who work 40+ hours and can only write 2000 words a week. There are people who have needed to completely re-write their books, so the newest draft is only a shadow of the last one. There are people who've spent countless hours writing "useless" content and they're book are still not done.

Finishing is important. I can't deny that. And I'm definitely not dissing on the struggles that have been mentioned on the internet. But do we have to stress on success so much? Can't we somehow embrace the idea that it's okay to work on a book for more than a year? That writing is hard? That's okay to write 5+ books and still be struggling to get an agent or a book deal? That speed isn't everything?

I feel like I might be blowing this out of proportion . . . but I've seen people discouraged because they think they're wasting time and because they can't write something beautiful in six months. And that shouldn't be acceptable.

Thanks for hearing me out,
Sarah

Monday, October 17, 2011

Regarding the National Book Award fiasco

After a long night of critique partnering, today's post was going to be a quick rant on the unrealistic expectations of the internet writing world and why it is a problem. Instead, the National Book Award debacle has ballooned to the point where I'm finding it difficult to summon the proper amount of ire to write about anything else. We'll save it for Wednesday.

Now, I usually don't tackle the ebbing and rising dramas of the YA lit world. They tend to involve people ranting about how YA has no merit or how it's too dark, etc etc, and there are already enough brilliant reactions to that ridiculousness. However, this fiasco is embarrassing for everyone in the book community.

And thus, everyone in the book community needs to know about it. So if you haven't heard anything about the National Book Award disaster, check out Libba Bray's fantastic post on the matter. She gives you the necessary details and says pretty much everything I feel, so I'm not going to repeat her. Just go read her post. :)

But what do you guys think? Had you heard about this? And what do you think about how the National Book Foundation handled their mistake? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Let's talk commercials

Whether they're on your television, prefacing your Hulu video, or interrupting your Livestream feed--there's no way to escape commercials. They're annoying. No one likes them . . . unless it's the Superbowl . . . but we Americans are crazy and you'll have to forgive us for that.

Ahem. Anyway. Like all things in life, some commercials are better than others. How about Volkswagon's "The Force" commercial for the 2012 Passat or the Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" commercial for starters? These are the kinds of commercials that are memorable. That started internet memes.

Well, today I'm sharing with you another pretty awesome commercial. It's for the PlayStation 3, but I think everyone can appreciate the idea that's being presented. Even if you don't play video games.


So, what do you think? I love how the commercial is selling gaming itself. Now, I'm curious . . . do you guys have any commercials that you're particularly fond of? Anything that stood out for its narrative or humor? Tell me about it in the comments!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NaNoWriMo public service announcement

Well, it's getting to be that time of year again. Yes, NaNoWriMo time. And yes, I am one of those people.

If you've never heard of it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that you write a 50,000 word "novel" during the month of November. If you're curious, that's 1,667 words a day. Does it sound hellish? Well, that's because it kind of is. But only a little bit, and most of that hellishness is buried beneath a load of awesome.

Me? Well, I've participated and won NaNoWriMo five times now . . . so I'm a veteran. I guess. Anyway, I really like NaNo. It's a fantastic way to pound a draft out in a relatively short time period, and the community is gold. If you've been considering participating, well, you should do so this year. Because it's fun and crazy and worth it, even if you don't finish.

So have any of you guys done NaNo before? And what about this year--anyone else planning on participating? If so, do you know what your novel is going to be about? I'm thinking something steampunky with airships and a monster that crawls on the sky. Tell me what you're planning in the comments!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Writerly Tools: Serendipity

Up until now, the only writerly tools that I've talked about have been computer programs or social media outlets. Which is cool. However, there are also a lot of useful websites out there for writers too, and I figured that it was about time to start talking about them. Only it'd be a bit difficult to approach a website with the typical writerly tools post format, so this week things are going to be a bit different.
Everyone has those murky writing days where your creativity seems stifled. Maybe you're not sure what to name a character, or you can't figure out how to make your scene more exciting. There could be a mystical item . . . but you can't decide what it should be. Well, this is where Serendipity comes into play.

Serendipity is a website that's home to over 40 random generators.

What's a random generator? Think of it as a small program that provides you a random combination based on certain variables. For example, if you wanted to come up with a colorful slur, you could check out Serendipity's "Cuss-O-Matic," which gave me the following gem: Sacred bastard child of a reptilian, lobster-abusing maggot!

Of course, there's enough variety that you can probably find something more useful than the "Cuss-O-Matic." There are 13 different name generators, several character-building generators, and even different clothing generators. Better yet, if none of Serendipity's random generators meet your fancy, there's also a link section that will lead you to a bunch of other random generator collections.

So the next time you're stumped when writing, try giving Serendipity a chance.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Some snow, a fire, new book—oh my!

Yesterday I said this on Twitter:
Let's just say that it was an exciting day. Shall I explain?

Despite the fact that it's only the beginning of October and that it was 80ºF earlier this week, I woke up to something that looked like this:
This is my backyard . . . look at that poor hammock!
Actually, my entire day looked a little like that, but increasing amounts of snow. It was certifiable blizzard weather with whiteouts and slush and fender benders everywhere. Also, because none of our trees have changed color yet, a lot of broken branches. Driving downtown was a little like going through a warzone, with branches and leaves and destruction everywhere.

The part where this starts getting really memorable is up next though. Our power went out. This, in itself is not a big deal. Happens every winter. However, twenty minutes later our chimney got clogged somehow and smoke began billowing into our house.

How do you fix this? Well, you dump your fire (aka: flaming logs) into an ash bucket and throw them outside into snow. Then, when the fire is fully out, you open all of your windows in an attempt to air out the smoke. Then you freeze to death since, you know, there's no heater because the power's out.

Haha, kind of a ridiculous combination of events, yeah?

Well, things are better now. There is light and heat and internet (the important things). The upstairs is a bit of a smokey . . . but I supposed we'll get a better chance to air it out in two days when it's supposed to hit the 60ºFs. *rolls eyes* Oh, and the book I bought? Ilsa J. Bick's Ashes. :)

So, you guys have any particularly interesting weather stories? I've got another good one about a tornado on Valentine's Day, but we'll save that for another time. Anyway. Has it snowed yet where you live? Or have you ever bought a good book that somehow transformed your crazy day? Tell me in the comments.