Friday, September 30, 2011

10 reasons to see The Lion King 3D

The Lion King is, hands down, one of my favorite Disney movies.

I love the Broadway soundtrack to death, and the movie soundtrack was one of my first CDs. I also have rather vivid memories of a birthday party that involved roleplaying as lions. Actually, much of my childhood involved roleplaying as big cats of some sort.

Anyway. I've been anticipating the blu-ray release for almost a year now. When I heard that the movie was going to be back in theaters for a few weeks to herald in that blu-ray release? Well, let's just say there was much rejoicing.
Yup, I saw it yesterday, and here's my hard proof!
And since the other two posts from this week involved lists of some sort, I figured I might as well round it out. *shrug* So, here are 10 reasons why you should check out The Lion King 3D theatrical release:
  1. It's Hamlet. You can't get more literary than that. Seriously. Think on it for a while.
  2. Yeah, yeah, 3D is a gimmick. I know. But it's not often you get a 3D movie that isn't live action or CG . . . so this 3D experience is a little unique.
  3. It's a movie about big cats. BIG CATS.
  4. There may be little kids in the theater who've never seen the movie. Most people dislike children in the audience, but sometimes little kids can be adorable.
  5. The animation has been cleaned up since the DVD release and it's gorgeous.
  6. The characters sing and dance. Also, if you haven't watched The Lion King in a long time, it might surprise you as to how complex some of the songs are. *cough*Be Prepared*cough*
  7. That horrible DVD addition of The Morning Report is not included in the 3D release. Note: I have nothing against this song in the musical, just in the movie.
  8. Timon and Pumba still make bad puns.
  9. Nala is a pretty awesome female character. Not only can she physically hold her own against Simba, but she's bold and adventurous too.
  10. The voice acting. Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas . . . must I continue?
So what do you guys think about The Lion King? Do you have the same sort of love affair as I do . . . or were you never all that interested in talking lions? And do you plan on seeing the movie? Or have you done so already? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

10 things I did instead of blogging

Sometimes, we have the best intentions for our blogs. Like a post about YA literature and frustration. And sometimes things come up that prevent us from fulfilling those best intentions. So today I'm gonna talk about some stuff I've done over the last few days instead of blogging:
  1. Ate lemon jello. This was not as exciting as it sounds.
  2. Finished Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone. It is beautiful and brilliant and beyond words, so you should definitely go pick up a copy.
  3. Got a $5 off coupon for the new Lion King blu-ray that's coming out next Tuesday. I've never really expressed my love for that movie on this blog, but let's just say that this is a BIG DEAL.
  4. Finally got my hands on a copy of Scott Westerfeld's Goliath. Ridiculously excited for steampunk goodness.
  5. Got my last Pottermore email! I'm FlameAsh111 and in Ravenclaw--you should friend me!
  6. Vomited. This was actually a bit more exciting than it sounds.
  7. Snazzed up the yellow, crochet birdy mentioned in this post with a bow tie and top hat. He is now the cutest bird that has ever lived. Err, not lived.
  8. Painted my fingernails.
  9. Fine-tuned what could be a marvelous drinking game for Food Network's Chopped. It's a cooking competition show and seriously, there are so many fantastic opportunities for dunken madness. Which, of course, you should only indulge in if you're legally allowed to drink.
  10. Downloaded the anniversary edition of Legend of Zelda: Four Swords for free. Which I think is pretty snazzy. And full of swords and adventure.
So, what are some things that you've done recently that you wouldn't normally mention on your blog? Eat any jello? Or something that tastes better? Tell me in the comments!

Monday, September 26, 2011

DIY newspaper nails!

This weekend I did something fantastically girly that I've been meaning to do for quite a while. And now I'm going to tell you guys how to do it too. Because I'm all about sharing the wealth. But first, a picture:
My awesome newsprint fingernails. Excuse my horrible photo.
If you can't tell, I have lovely, wordy fingernails. And no, I'm not a professional nail stylist, so they're a bit messy. BUT THAT'S IRRELEVANT.

What You Need:
  • Light-colored nail polish
  • Clear nail polish
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Strips of newspaper (big enough to cover nail)
What To Do:
  1. Paint nails with light-colored polish. When dry, paint nails with clear polish.
  2. Pour rubbing alcohol into shallow glass. When your nails are dry, soak nails in alcohol for ten seconds.
  3. Press newspaper strips into fingernails.
  4. After a few seconds, slowly remove newspaper strips.
  5. When dry, paint nails with clear polish again
Project originally found at More Design Please.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A particularly versatile and lovely post

ETA (12/04/11): Woo! Krista at I Take the Pen gave me another "One Lovely Blog Award." Thank you~! *hugs her to death*

So, last Friday Brenna over at Blissfully Brenna tagged about a billion different people with some blogging awards and I was one of the bunch. Woo! Thanks so much! Anyway, check it:
As per being nominated, now I have to do stuff. Sigh.
  1. Thank and link to the peep that nominated me.
  2. Share seven random facts about myself.
  3. Award some other nifty bloggers.
So. Seven things about me:
  1. I was a Girl Scout for a long time. Yeah, I rocked that from elementary school through high school, baby.
  2. I do not like tomatoes. In any form. Yeah, no ketchup, no BLTs, no spaghetti sauce. Nothing. Actually, that's only 99% true. I love salsa. But it's gotta be spicy and chunky salsa makes me shudder.
  3. Speaking of this whole tomato thing, I'm a picky eater. Or rather, I do not like some very specific things that seem to show up in EVERYTHING. Like tomatoes. And mayonaise. And coffee.
  4. I am obsessed with Lady Gaga's Bad Romance. It's a fantastic song. I mean, even the covers rock (go check the On the Rocks and Halestorm versions).
  5. There are few things I despise more than going to the dentist.
  6. I am rather particular about, well, a lot of things. Organization is rather important to me . . . be it the files on my computer, the food in my refrigerator, or the books on my shelves.
  7. I don't get excited about upcoming events unless they're right about to happen. Seriously. Oh, were're going to Oregon in a year/month/week? Eh, whatever. Oh, we're going tomorrow? I'M SO PSYCHED.
Did all of these thrilling tidbits sate anyone's curiosity? If not, well, too bad. Anyway, my nominees:
  1. Jessie at Little Bonobo's Book Cafe - she doesn't update all that often, but her posts are always honest and interesting
  2. Kirstin over at SqueezeBoxPharm - because she's been trying to build up the motivation to blog more often, and maybe shiny awards will help.
  3. Kat over at That Flighty Temptress - because she always makes sure to keep things lively and fun.
  4. Jackie from Books & Tea - she reviews books and types of tea, which is a rather fantastic combination.
  5. Kate, or rather, The Queen of Creativity - she's my mother, and families should shamelessly lavish attention upon each other.
Yeah, I know, the original rules asked for 15 people, but that's kind of ridiculous. And it's not like these blog awards haven't been circling the blogosphere for the last forever. *shrug* Anyway, because today's post is kind of boring, I bring you what could be one of the best movie moments EVER. Oh, and just a heads up, there's a swear near the end.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book turnoffs

Well, today's post is a wee bit late as last night I succumbed to something called The Migraine. Wooo. So I'm really quickly going to talk about something that's been on my mind lately.

A while ago I talked about reading "meh" books and how I usually finish them. What I didn't talk about where those niggling story elements that alienate me right off the bat. The, shall we say, book turnoffs? We all have them--specific topics that we don't care to read about because we can't relate or we think they're boring or, well, any number of reasons.

My list is pretty short, but here, check it:
  • Paranormal hunting. Hunting demons, hunting werewolves, etc, etc, etc.
  • FAERIES IN NIGHTCLUBS. Or really, nightclubs in general.
  • Mean Girls style high school drama. More specifically, super cliché Mean Girls high school drama.
  • Vampires. I didn't even care about vampires before they were cool.
  • Too much satire. I just can't handle it.
  • Books that start with someone waking up and their morning routine . . . who cares?!
That's not to say that there aren't good books about these topics. Because there are! There are always exceptions, and I've read some of them. The DUFF has wonderful nightclub scenes, Before I Fall is a fantastic book full of mean girls, and Sisters Red is my favorite book about hunting things to date. And, of course, I'm sure there are some fantastic vampire books out there . . . I just don't go looking for them.

So what about you guys? Are there any specific elements that throw you out of a story? Do you try to give those elements a chance, or do you drop the book as quick as possible? Also, do you have any recommendations for me in regards to my turnoffs? Tell me in the comments!

Monday, September 19, 2011

OST Lowdown: PotC - At World's End

Okay, so yeah. This soundtrack is kind of old. *cough*it came out in 2007*cough* But it's also one of my favorites to write to, so in the spirit of sharing the goodness, it's the subject of this week's OST Lowdown. Let the review begin!

Ooo, look how  misty it is!
Album details--composer, number of songs, etc, etc?
Music was composed by the infamous Hans Zimmer, and there are 13 tracks that range anywhere from a minute and half to 10 and a half minutes long. Get the full details on Amazon.

What are your favorite tracks and why?
At Wit's End--Lovely, long montage goodness
Up is Down--Bright and playful and full of movement
I See Dead People in Boats--Quiet, but with power
I Don't Think Now is the Best Time--ACTION SEQUENCE
One Day--A bit depressing, but nice
Drink Up Me Hearties--It's the main theme medley people

So, from a writing standpoint?
Most of the music has a lot of punch, so I think it'd be good to listen to while writing scenes with power. By that, I mean scenes where something important is happening--scenes with action and scenes where your characters are definitely feeling something. It might be too heavy-handed for some writers though, because the orchestra and chorus are well-utilized, so this definitely isn't a calm soundtrack.

And your overall impression?
I already told you guys that I like this soundtrack. There's a lot of power in the music, and that's something I particularly like to find in instrumental pieces. The tracks are incredibly complex and varied, so unlike the soundtracks for the first two Pirates movies, it doesn't stick to the sea shanty motif 100% of the time. There are recurring motifs, but they always feel fresh, and there's plenty of unique moments (see Singapore or Multiple Jacks) to keep the mood alive. Two thumbs up from me!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out

So earlier this week I stumbled onto the Speak Out With Your Geek Out, uhh, movement. Which is basically a bunch of people coming together and proclaiming that it's okay to be a geek. Because, you know, it totally is.
As longtime followers have probably realized, I'm a pretty big geek. I freak out about office supplies and crochet stuffed animals and have admitted my love affair with fanfiction. Not only that, but I have a soft spot for children's television programs (Adventure Time, MAD, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), I've gone to conventions in costume (no, you can't see the pictures), and research anything I have a question about (yes, I am full of useless knowledge). Really, I could keep going. There's not much about me that isn't geeky.

Of course, I can't say that I was always proud of my geekiness. In elementary school, I was the weird kid (I loved Sailor Moon, heaven forbid). I never would have openly admitted anything in that last paragraph and I definitely didn't have any friends that shared those interests. Which was a rather depressing existence.

Because it's okay to be passionate about something. That's what geekiness really is. Passion. And how can you find friends with similar interests if you're too afraid to admit your geekiness to yourself? Because frankly, one geek is pretty cool, but a group of geeks is really where it's at. I could continue on this vein, but I think John Green has said it more eloquently than I ever could:
So yeah, if you're a geek or a nerd or a dork, be proud of it. Because liking things isn't something to be ashamed of. Now, feel free to tell me the things you obsessively love and geek out about in the comments. I'd love to know what gets your blood pumping!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to (not) kill babies

"Kill off your darlings."

Common piece of writing advice there. So what does it really mean?

Well, sometimes when we write, we craft beautiful sentences. And not just sentences either, but beautiful paragraphs or scenes or ideas when everything seems perfect. I spent my entire college education referring to them as "babies," but internet seems to like the term "darlings" better.

However, the idea is the same. There a sentence/paragraph/scene/etc that you love unconditionally. It's the kind of sentence that makes it impossible to imagine a world where it isn't in your novel.

I'm starting to sound a bit melodramatic, I know, but that's how writers feel about their babies. We don't want to part with them.

And you might be wondering, why would you want to do that anyway? If the sentence/paragraph/scene/etc is so wonderful, why in the world would you delete it?

For several reasons. Maybe you have to rewrite a scene, and suddenly that one sentence doesn't mesh with the mood or the plot. Maybe your dramatic paragraph is just a giant blob of purple prose and needs to be parsed down. Or maybe the entire scene is one giant darling, but your characters are out-of-character. Either way, sometimes it needs to happen, and it's an incredibly difficult edit to accept.

So let me share a secret that'll making killing all of your babies 100% sweeter:

Don't delete them.

That's right. Don't completely kill them. Instead, copy your untouched paragraph into a separate document. Then go ahead and chop up the original draft to your heart's content. That way, there will always be a preserved copy of your darling. Maybe you'll want to go back to your original scene, or maybe you'll be able to use it in a different scene.

Either way, the stress and heartache of deleting your baby, will go away. It'll make writing easier when you don't have to agonize about how much you don't want to give that sentence/paragraph/scene/etc up.

So how do you feel about killing your babies, or rather, your darlings? Do you reluctantly accept that it needs to be done, or do you fight tooth and nail against The Man? Also, regarding the whole darlings vs. babies thing . . . have you ever encountered this terminology discrepancy, or am I just crazy? Tell me what you think in the comments!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Writerly Tools: Spotify

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get one of the first Spotify accounts in the United States, and I've gotta say, I'm super psyched about it.

If there is one thing that most writers can agree on, it's a love for music. We like making playlists that represent our writing. We like composing our super dramatic book climaxes to appropriate movie scores. We been known to spend hours getting our musical preferences just perfect.

Spotify is a magical program that allows you to stream almost any music you want to your computer. For free. Needless to say, it can quickly become a writer's best friend. In fact, the only downside to Spotify is the fact that it's not available in every country. Hopefully this with be rectified soon, yeah?

Anyway, now that I've got Spotify, I'm not sure that I could give it up again. And if you haven't checked it out yet, here are five reasons why you definitely should:
  1. Spotify has a lot of music
    If you want to listen to something specific, you're probably in luck, since Spotify users have access to MILLIONS of songs. Soundtracks, popular music, and local bands--the only arena in which Spotify seems to lack is the foreign music scene.
  2. Spotify can play local files too
    That's right. It can access and play anything in your Downloads, Music, or iTunes folders. That means you don't need to have multiple music programs open in order to listen to everything your heart desires.
  3. Spotify's paid options don't suck
    Not only are the Unlimited and Premium packages super cheap, but they offer things that are actually worth the price. Unlimited gets rid of the ads (which are annoying as hell), and Premium allows you to listen to your music offline.
  4. Spotify helps you find new music
    Not only is there a radio station feature similar to Pandora or, but Spotify lets you share tracks with your friends and has a Related Artists feature. Better yet, instead of scouring YouTube for music samples or buying an album you've never heard, you can check it out on Spotify.
  5. Spotify is portable
    You can access your account/playlists/favorites/etc on any computer with the Spotify client. There's an iPod app, so you can easily play music through a speaker system. And with the Premium package, you can access Spotify anywhere on your phone.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Search term madness!

We have all googled something at some point. And really, most of the search terms that people use to get to this blog are boring. Things like "mac vs pc," "do writers play video games," and "sailor moon." However, there is also a plethora of entertaining search terms, and that is what we are going to look at today.

brown blob slug bottom squid ink
. . . what does that even mean?

cliphunt sexy videos
You were disappointed, weren't you?

cool things to do with binder clips
You know, I could totally do a post on this topic. Anyone interested? My obsession with binder clips has provided me with an unnatural well of knowledge on the subject. Hmm, maybe in a few weeks.

freakishly creepy trees
Bahahahahahaha! My life is complete now.

got bit by something at yellowstone
That's a bit concerning. However, I think it might help to be more specific. Were you bitten by a bug or a bear? 'Cause, uhh, I think there will be different symptoms involved . . . you know, itching vs. bleeding out? Yeah.

i also want you
Umm, well, err, okay. That's nice. Especially, since I apparently wanted you first?

i live in scrivener
This is a good thing. A very good thing. Scrivener is pretty much the best program ever.

is friday an adverb?
No. It's not. It's a noun.

is loving an adverb?
Also no. "Loving" would be a verb. Or a gerund in special cases . . . which is a noun.

narrative point of view squidd
I'm pretty sure that would be a boring book:
    Today I battled with a with a sperm whale, but alas, our eternal feud must continue on for another day. However, I did get a nice, meaty chunk out of its side . . . though since consumption three of my tentacles have been twitching sporadically. I cannot imagine why.

picture of invading army
I'm so glad that you stumbled onto this blog in your search for suitably epic imagery. More people need to know about the impending threat on our soils.

stylish squid blog
Yessssssss. That's right. :D

what can i do with my dead llama
What can you do? WHAT CAN YOU DO?! What a silly question. Why, you can pay attention. :D

where do the keep squidzilla
Squidzilla? Why would you think that they keep Squidzilla somewhere? *shifty eyes* You don't think that they're training Squidzilla to attack, do you? That Squidzilla is, as we speak, cultivating a taste for human flesh and buildings in Tokyo? That would be silly! *high-pitched laugh*

See, wasn't that fun? So have you guys gotten any particularly exciting search term hits on your blogs/websites? Google Analytics is the easiest way to keep track of that kind of information, if you were wondering. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On the length of stories

Today I thought I'd talk about the length of stories in book form. Because not all stories are created equal when it comes to size. Some are perfect as standalone novels and others beg to be expanded into epic, multi-part sagas.

So yes. Today is all about what I consider to be the pros and cons of series, companion novels, and standalones. Here we go!

Trilogies and beyond
  • What are they?
    Trilogies are generally when one story is told in three books. Sometimes one story is told in slightly more than three books (ie: the Inheritance Cycle). Series tend to be episodic stories about the same character told through many, many books and an overarching plot isn't 100% necessary. See Nancy Drew.
  • Why are they awesome?
    Trilogies and longer works give an author so much space to stretch and breathe and discover who the characters really are. They allow for complicated plots and intricacies that just aren't possible with shorter works. Think of it this way: what would Harry Potter be if it was only one book? If it was only three books? Cramped.
  • And when aren't they awesome?
    Because the nature of a trilogy is relatively strict and the arc of the story can suffer. Because if you're writing a 30-novel series, you might be forcing your characters into situations that just don't have any life anymore. A good example of this would be the late Animorph novels. Also, trilogies are big, and maybe a bit overdone.
Companions novels
  • What are they?
    Companion novels are when a "sequel" to a novel features different characters, though the two stories are definitely linked. It's kind of a messy classification, especially since a lot of sequels technically are companion novels. For example, the Abhorsen Chronicles: Lirael is more of a companion novel to Sabriel than a direct sequel.
  • Why are they awesome?
    All of that world-building and fabulousness put in your first book, can be re-used for the second one. It's possible to explore faucets that you weren't allowed to cover the first time around, and you don't have to stick with the same characters while you do it. Also, sometimes a companion novel is worthy of a sequel, and then you get the beloved trilogy!
  • And when aren't they awesome?
    Sometimes the world isn't worth it. Companion novels have to be about the world, because the definition of a companion novel requires that you have different main characters. That's why it's a companion instead of a sequel. If you're curious, an awesome companion novel is The Dead-Tossed Waves and it's direct sequel, The Dark and Hollow Places.
  • What are they?
    Stories that are told in one book. There are no sequels or companions. Everything is singular.
  • Why are they awesome?
    Because a story can be just as potent and powerful without all of the space afforded in a trilogy. See Chime and Liar and Water for Elephants (amongst a billion others). It's wonderful to sit and read something, and have everything come together in one book. Standalone-length stories are classic for a reason.
  • And when aren't they awesome?
    When one book isn't enough. When the reader wants more from the world and the characters, and isn't going get any more. If you're lucky, this is where a companion novel or the second two books in a trilogy are brought into the light.

So what do you guys think? Do you prefer reading standalones, companion novels, or multi-book sagas? And what do you like to write? I'm fond of trilogies since I, uh, tend to plot long, but standalones make me happy too. Tell me your preferences in the comments.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pretty pictures! And my WIP!

I've always wanted to do a WIP picture spam post.

The idea is that you've collected a bunch of relevant images to inspire your writing. Or, in my case, you've collected a bunch of images after the fact that remind you of why you love your WIP when editing. All in all, there are pretty pictures involved, so I'm sharing them with you guys, okay?

Red Rock Canyon
Image credit to J-a-x
a moment in a fountain
Image credit to ducktourer
an intricate glow
Image credit to abhishakey
Desert Sunset
Image credit to Shrimaitreya
Elderly Chinese Lantern
Image credit to Super Cool Japanese
Day of the Dead Skull Bracelet Carved Bone Charms
Image credit to sparkler923
burrowing sand toad
Image credit to buflyer200
Jaisalmer, the sandstone city
Image credit to fabian-f
Orange Asiatic Lily
Image credit to twg1942
Sagebrush Bonsai
Image credit to Joe Stylos
oil lamps
Image credit to clementinejam
Gears 3
Image credit to adametrnal
skull with metal rods
Image credit to Serenae
Just inside me.
Image credit to Sea-of-Ice
Woo! So what do you think? Did this post tell you everything that you ever wanted to know about my WIP? Also, have you ever done a WIP picture spam post? If so, leave me a link in the comments--I'd love to see what you've collected! And, uh, if not, you should go do one, because it's pretty fun. :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

August Book Roundup

Before we get to the meat of the book roundup, some crazy news. I've read 76 books this year. Which is a bit ridiculous. Especially considering that my original goal was 50 books (it's now 100). So I'm feeling pretty good about myself. Yay books!

Anyway. Moving on to the actual book roundup bit. If you don't know, here's the lowdown: At the beginning of each month I do Twitter-length reviews of the new books I read during the month prior. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my very favorites are marked with a star ().

If you've got it, let's get things started.

The Osiris Ritual by George Mann
Steampunk Mystery--Sequel to The Affinity Bridge. Once again, Sherlock Holmes in a steampunk world with elements of the occult. Truly difficult to put down!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
YA Fiction--Anna's father is sending her to boarding school in France and she's NOT happy. Want a swoon-worthy, yet realistic teen romance? This is your book. 

Spell Hunter (née Knife) by RJ Anderson
YA Fantasy--The faeries in the great Oak have lost their magic and are dying. But no one remembers why. A perfect blend of mystery, magic, and adventure. 

Stolen by Lucy Christopher
YA Fiction--Gemma writes a letter to the man that kidnapped her. Stockholm Syndrome is always a little creepy and this book does a good job of it. Loved.

Wayfarer (née Rebel) by RJ Anderson
YA Fantasy--Sequel to Knife. Linden is on a mission to find other faeries and save her people. Lots of exciting faery lore, but Timothy was obnoxious.

Emily the Strange: The Lost Days by Bob Reger and Jessica Gruner
Middle Grade Mystery--Emily, err, "Earwig" has amnesia and a mystery to solve. Incredibly entertaining with a great voice and a crazy plot. Also, cat doodles.

Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender's Guide edited by Leo Cotton
Cookbook--The 1963 edition, but it has a ridiculous number of recipes. Don't drink if you're underage, but if you're not, definitely look into this book.

Red Glove by Holly Black
YA Urban Fantasy--Sequel to White Cat. Cassel's brother is murdered and his own uncertain future is looming. Everyone in this book is a slimewad. AND I LOVE IT. 

Chime by Franny Billingsley
YA Fantasy--Briony's secret has caused terrible, terrible things. The prose is haunting and dark and gorgeous. Love the voice, love the world, love everything. 

And that's all for this month! So, now I'm curious. How many books have you guys read this year? Are you meeting your goals? Are you feeling particularly prolific? Tell me about it in the comments.