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


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


Bad fanfiction.

It can be annoying. There's a lot of it. 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 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 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, find ONE good story and then work from that author's favorites list--good writers tend to flock together.
  • MediaMiner
    An alternative to, though if I had to make a comparison, I'd say it's like the MySpace to's Facebook. The site is active, but it feels pretty dead. The setup is similar to, 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

    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
    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 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*


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,

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.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Confessions of a plantser/pantter

I live somewhere between the realms of pantsers and plotters. For the curious and uninformed, some quick definitions:

  • Pantsers: Writers who draft without planning anything out. Or rather, "by the seats of their pants." Hence the name.
  • Plotters: Writers who meticulously outline their story before drafting. This may involve creating a super intensive story bible.

As you can see, pantsers and plotters make up two ends of the writing spectrum, so it's easy to see how one might fall in the middle. However, most writers seem to identify with one over the other. And for a long time, I thought I was a plotter.

See, I love making outlines and hoarding information about my stories. It pleases my neurotic side to make timelines and such. You guys should see my research folder in Scrivener . . . it's insane.

However, I'm not very good about creating an outline with much depth. My plot points are just that. Points. Meager, pitiful points. Sure, they make an arc, but there's absolutely NO substance. Also, I have yet to outline an ending. Ever.

And this is where my pantsing side comes in. Oh, my characters need to get from A to B? Well, hmm. Not sure how that's going to happen. And they need to start hating each other by C because the first character needs to betray the second one? Yeah. Don't know about that either. And the ending? Oh, well, "dramatic climax" doesn't help at all, so I'll just completely pants the last 17,000 words.

It's a bit ridiculous. How did I ever call myself a plotter when I spend most of my drafting time trying to figure out how to make the pieces of my outline fit together? Yet, I can't call myself a panster either, because I always know where the story is headed.

So, does think make me a planster? A pantter? Eugh. Maybe I should just go wallow in the corner.

However, before that, I'm curious where you guys fall on the scale. Pantser, plotter, or somewhere in between? Tell me in the comments!

Monday, October 3, 2011

September Book Roundup (UPDATED!)

ETA (10/013/11): Oops, I forgot to list a book because I read it in the bookstore. Review and cover picture added for posterity.

September was a bit of a slow reading month for me, but I don't really care, since I got to read Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone . . . which is a book that I've been waiting for since it was announced. It's always wonderful to finally get your hands on those highly-anticipated books, you know?

Moving on. If you happen to be new, 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 ().

Simple, yeah? So here are the lucky books of the month:

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
YA Horror--Dr. Warthrop studies monsters and Will Henry is his apprentice. The first half drags and everything is SUPER dark, but an interesting read.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
YA Fiction--Samantha relives her last day seven times. READ THIS BOOK. It's so much more than I imaged. Heartbreaking and complex and cruel--but relatable! 

Making Waves by Tawna Fenske
Contemporary Romance--Corporate castoff pirates + steamy romance + quirky humor = this book. A bit over-the-top at times, but relentlessly entertaining and funny.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
YA Paranormal Romance--The southern town of Gatlin has secrets, including witches and curses. Gorgeous historical depth, but I really didn't care about the MC. At all.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
YA Fantasy Extravaganza--Karou's different and she's about to get caught up in an otherworldly war. Masterful and exquisite and wonderfully creative. READ THIS BOOK TOO. 

If You Give A Cat A Cupcake by Laura Joffe Numeroff (illustrations by Felicia Bond)
Picture Book--If you give a cat a cupcake ... it will get rather demanding. Cute, but after all the other books in this series, feels a little TOO derivative.

And that's a wrap. Not much this month, but my to-read pile is looking mighty good, so I'm betting that October will rock. What about you guys? Any exciting books that you're looking forward to . . . or have you already gotten your hands on them? Tell me the details in the comments!