Wednesday, August 1, 2012

2012 July Book Roundup

So it's been a while. *cough* I read some books last month though . . . and you know what that means: Book Roundup time!

If you are unaware: At the beginning of each month I do a quick review the books I read the month prior. But instead of letting myself get too wordy, each book gets a Twitter-length summary and a Twitter-length review. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my absolute favorites of the month are marked with a star ().

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King
YA Contemporary Fiction--When Vera's best friend Charlie Kahn dies in questionable circumstances, she's the only one that can clear his name. But does she even want to? § Cute, quirky, and a punch to the face. Vera is such a complex character: she loves and hates and accepts how she can feel both at the same time. 

Essential Avengers Vol. 2 by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Don Heck
Comic--One day "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" found themselves united against a common foe, and the Avengers were born. And then they fought more evil. § Still silly and still dated. Love it though. Also, Hawkeye learns some humility and won a place in my heart for his ridiculous one-liners.

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
YA Paranormal?!--Brokenhearted Viola accidentally summons a genie into her world, but can't commit to her wishes, lest she make a stupid mistake. Also, romance. § This is a cute/fluffy story, though Viola's angst was rough for me at first. But once things started rolling, it was a fun read to the finish.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 26+27+28

Pahaha . . . it's been a while since we've had one of these posts. Oops.

Days Worked On: I was doing good, then my mother visited and I didn't do anything for a week, and then I was doing good again. *shrug*
Morale: GOOD?!
Total Word Count: 96,213 (that's right, -4,614 from whenever ago) . . . and most of this was actually done in one week of breakthrough awesome

What I Worked On: Chapter 8. But you know what? It wasn't horrible.

Thoughts: I've talked about how I like to marinate on my writing. Or, at least, I think I have . . . I can't actually find a post on it . . . which I probably a sign that I should just write another one. Or a first one?

Anyway, thinking about writing. I like to know exactly what I'm doing before I'm doing it, which has gained me a bit of a reputation of being able to sit down and just spit out 5,000 words. Unfortunately, if I haven't thought out what I'm doing, I end up staring at my computer screen like everyone else and ripping my hair out.

There is also another major issue with this process: over thinking. Which, holy crap, is my kryptonite of editing. Seriously. I talk to one of my lovely CPs for 45 minutes and she fixes everything in 5 minutes.

So yeah. Chapter 8. Still a little like pulling teeth. But at least I'm not re-writing the opening scene again and again and again anymore (seriously, how did you think I got rid of 4,000+ words so quickly).

Random Quote of the Week:
"I'm fine," Eva said, plopping to the ground and folding her good leg beneath her. "All that sitting was getting boring anyway."
She'd washed the last of the grease from her hair, which shone a soft, butter yellow, and new freckles spotted across the bridge of her nose like pale flecks of amber.

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 June Book Roundup

*dun dun dun dun* Book Roundup time!

If you are unaware: At the beginning of each month I do a quick review the books I read the month prior. But instead of letting myself get too wordy, each book gets a Twitter-length summary and a Twitter-length review. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my absolute favorites of the month are marked with a star ().

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
YA Sci-fi--Lunar Chronicles #1. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic and second class citizen in New Beijing. Also, plagues, princes, people on the moon, and mind powers! § Not a huge fan of Cinderella, so this was MUCH BETTER than I expected. Loved the world building, but the twist at the end was a little obvious. 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
YA Historical Fiction--When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's given a choice: reveal her secrets or die miserably. She choses to confess in written form. § Ultimately, this is a story about friendship, which is kinda rare for YA. It's also written beautifully. And Verity and Maddie are both awesome. 

Essential Avengers Vol. 1 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Don Heck
Comic--One day "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" found themselves united against a common foe, and the Avengers were born. And then they fought more evil. § Pahaha, these comics are so silly and so dated. It took a little while for me to get into it, but I love how cranky and dramatic everyone acts.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
YA Fantasy--When Alina Starkov's regiment is attacked crossing the Fold, she reveals a rare power that might be the key to saving her country's future. § Such a quick and delightful read! The work of Ravka is dark and gruesome and just plain nifty, but I the love triangle just felt weird

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
Picture Book--Cloudette is small for a cloud, but she's okay with that because it has its advantages. But what about when she wants to do something big? § This book was super cute. The messages rocks, the illustrations are perfect, and there are a bunch of little asides that pile on the extra charm.

Pat the Zombie by Aaron Ximm
Picture Book--A macabre re-telling of the children's classic Pat the Bunny, but with zombies. Instead of patting the bunny, you're patting its innards. § Amusing, as the minor changes made quite a difference, but lacked substance. I doubt this would be funny to anyone who never read the original.

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
YA Apocalyptic Fiction--It's the zombie apocalypse and six students have taken cover in the local high school. To Sloane, this seems like the perfect time to give up. § There is SO much sadness and anger in this book and it is all handled SO well. I love the situation. I love the characters. I just love it all. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sarah's Fancy Stir-Fry Ramen

So, due to popular demand, I am going to cook for you guys today. Better yet, I am going to teach you guys how to turn this:
 Into this:
Making ramen exciting is a particularly handy skill when:
  1. You're a poor, starving writer
  2. Any money you do get is going towards buying a couch before the big sale ends
  3. You're eating instant ramen all the time anyway
  4. You have that faint hope that your ramen tasted different for once
I'm sure we've all been there at least once. Am I right? *crickets chip* Yeah . . . I'm totally right. So let me teach you guys how to spice up instant ramen!

Sarah's Fancy Stir-Fry Ramen
In order to make this delicious meal for two people, you will need:
  • 2 packets instant ramen
  • 2 hard boiled eggs (peeled)
  • Delicious veggies of your choice
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 green onion stalk (chopped)
  • Fresh ginger (minced)
  • Sesame seeds
Yes, you may notice the distinct lack of measurements in that ingredient list. This is because cooking this dish consists mostly of winging it. But don't worry, everything will turn out okay.

Right-o. To start with, we're going to make shoyu eggs, as seen on the excellent Japanese food blog, Just Bento. Why eggs in a noodle dish? They add protein and I love them.

To make these babies, you're going to need some soy sauce and your hard boiled eggs. In this case, I have 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Heat the soy sauce in a small pan. Once it starts foaming, add the eggs and roll them around with a spoon so they get evenly coated in the soy sauce. When they're done, they'll look something like this:
Yum! Remove from the pan and chill in fridge. This will let the soy sauce set a little bit and make the eggs easier to slice later.

Next, pull out your delicious veggies. In this case I'm using ½ cup frozen corn and ½ cup canned bean sprouts, but I'm also a huge fan of Asian stir fry frozen veggie medleys. Pretty much anything can work though--peas, carrots, brocoli, edamame, water chestnuts, cabbage, etc. Just sauté the veggies of choice in a little butter until they're all warm and delicious. Set aside.
Now it's time to get the actual noodles out of the way. If you're feeling particularly skilled, you can do this while you're sautéing the veggies. If not, well, it's not big deal. Just place the ramen noodle bricks in boiling water, cook until done, strain, and set aside.
For a quick recap: at this point we've made shoyu eggs, sautéed our delicious veggies, and cooked our noodles. Next comes the sauce, which will tie the entire dish together. You will need all of this stuff:
Top row: sesame seeds, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
Bottom row: ramen seasoning packets (chicken flavor), minced garlic, chopped green onions, and minced ginger.

Okay, so it looks a little intimidating (and expensive), but it's not that bad. Really. The bottled ingredients will last you quite a while and the fresh ingredients are A) not that expensive, and b) add a kick that their powdered counterparts lack.

So to get this started, add the garlic, ginder, and a dollop of sesame oil to your pot. When making this sauce I usually adjust ingredients based on taste, so unfortunately I'm not going to be much help when it comes to measurements. The thing about most of these ingredients is that, while having more or less of one will change the flavor of your sauce, it won't ruin the dish. Don't be afraid to experiment--too much or too little of something never killed anyone.

Anyway, I like to cook the ginger and garlic in the sesame oil until they get soft and a little browned. This seems to help the flavors come out and make them taste delicious. . . but I really have no idea what I'm talking about. Just do it.
Once that's done, it's time to add the rest of your ingredients. Start off with a splash of soy sauce and rice vinegar. You want to have enough liquid to cover your noodles, so make sure to at least cover the bottom of your pot. Mix in some sesame seeds and the two ramen seasoning packets until everything is well combined. Add the green onions and give them the opportunity to soften a little. This is a good time to taste test and adjust the levels of sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar to get the perfect flavor.
When everything is to your satisfaction, add the cooked veggies that you set aside earlier. Get them all nice and covered in sauce, and then add your noodles. When you're mixing everything, make sure to get the noodles completely covered in sauce. You should have little to no liquid left over and your noodles will visibly change color when they are properly sauced (feel free to compare the color in this next image to the image of the cooking noodles above).
Almost done! Dish out your lovely creation into two bowls. Cut the shoyu eggs we made earlier up into pretty slices and place along the side of your bowl. And look at that, you're done!
Now doesn't that look delicious? Of course it does! Alternatively, if you're feeling particularly ambitious, you can pan fry up some chicken tenders in a little sesame oil and soy sauce, slice them up like the eggs, and have another element to your noodles.

So, how do you guys feel about instant ramen? Is it one of those foods that you avoid like the plague? Have you ever had the opportunity to eat real ramen in Japan? And, most importantly, do you have any alternative ramen recipes worthy sharing? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 25

Holy crap, I've been doing these things for almost half of a year?!

Days Worked On: All but the weekend . . . which is becoming pretty standard
Morale: Mostly cheerful
Total Word Count: 100,827 (+1284 from last week) plus 14,677 words in the story bible

What I Worked On: World building forever. Then, when all of the character profiles wrapped up, I looked at that horrible beast called chapter 8 again. Sigh.

Thoughts: Well, I continued writing out extremely detailed character profiles . . . so now I know everything there is to know about everyone thus far. Doing this was pretty damn boring (14,000 words of it!), but I think it'll be helpful later on . . . especially for characters that didn't have fleshed out backstories yet.

Then, instead of doing location profiles (because holy crap that sounds horrible right now), I went back to chapter 8. You guys remember chapter 8, right? The one that inspired a corkboard timeline, made me want to rip my hair out, and basically sent me into a spiral of misery?

(Melodramatic? Hah! What're you talking about? I'm not being melodramatic)

Wish me luck.

Writing Song of the Week: Deb Talan's Rocks and Water. The vocals are so clear and it makes such a lovely song about survival and learning from experience . . . and then there's the parts with a male vocalist in the background! *happy shudder* Makes me think of Eva.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Writerly Tools: Pinterest

Yes, this is a Pinterest post.

If you've been following pretty much any blog for the last six months, you've already seen at least one version of this post, so you're welcome to move on. If not, stick around an I'll tell you how Pinterest can be useful to you (and your writing).

Now the idea behind Pinterest was to create virtual pinboards for everything that you as a user thinks is worth pinning. Get it? Pin + Interest = Pinterest. Haha.

At first glimpse, Pinterest looks a whole lot like Tumblr because the entire website is an explosion of pictures. This is why it took me so long to get interested. What was the point of dealing with another social website when it was so close to Tumblr? The answer to that question is because Pinterest is a bit more self-centered than Tumblr.

At its core, Tumblr is just another blogging platform, though it does have a huge emphasis on sharing content. Pinterest, on the other hand, is an easy way to organize online content that you enjoy. Tumblr uses want followers because they want to share their content, while Pinterest users seems a bit more focused on collecting things they like.

Make sense? Maybe a little interested to hear more? Good, since this is the part where I cut to the chase and tell you five reasons why using Pinterest might be in your best interest:
  1. Pinterest is your inspiration board
    Remember when I did a WIP picture spam post? Well Pinterest allows you to easily cultivate images and ideas for your writing . . . or anything else really (and if you're curious, here's a link to my WIP board).
  2. Pinterest is a haven for writers
    So many authors have Pinterest accounts that it's not even funny. Want to see what kind of things that Laini Taylor associates with Daughter of Smoke & Bone or Beth Revis's with her mysterious new WIP? Well now you CAN.
  3. Pinterest lets you organize like a champ
    You can definitely have more than one pin board, which allows you to organize everything your heart's content. Want a board for every WIP? For the tastiest looking recipes? For everything related to comics books? Totally doable.
  4. Pinterest makes browsing easy
    Of course Pinterest has the standard search function, but you can also scroll through pins based on genre/category. Better yet, you can follow other people's boards and let them find all of the best content online.
  5. Pinterest is only what you let it be
    Maybe you'll use it for WIP inspiration, or maybe you'll use it to procrastinate from working on your WIP. Maybe you'll get some new hobbies or save every beautiful picture you find online. If nothing else, Pinterest is versatile.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 23+24

Days Worked On: Probably most of them . . . once again, didn't pay attention
Morale: It was low, then it got higher
Total Word Count: 99,543 (-485 from last week) and several thousand words in the story bible

What I Worked On: World building. ALL THE WORLD BUILDING.

Thoughts: In case you're wondering, there was no post last week because there was really no point. I hadn't done anything and there wasn't anything to say on the matter. I figured I wouldn't bore you.

This week, instead of working on the same nightmare section that I've been looking at for the past forever, I worked on something different. It was fun and therapeutic and reminded me that I actually do enjoy writing. What did I do? Worked on the story bible . . . which I have been ignoring for a long, long time.

Thus, I've been writing out super detailed sections on culture, class structure, character histories, locations, etc, etc, etc. It takes forever, but I think recording all of this information can be super helpful for several reasons:
  • It's easier to look up small details without searching through the text
  • Plot holes show their faces, so you can fix them now
  • Editing is better when you already know everything there is to know
So, you know, that's what I've been doing. Yay!

Anyway, this all brings me to a point I've been wanting to bring up for a while. But first, go look at the WIP Wednesday posts by Jessie at Little Bonobo's Book Café. Note the awesome cultural tidbits that she throws in at the end of each post. Is that not awesome? Yes. Yes it is.

Why is this relevant? Well, I've been wanting to throw in similar, interesting tidbits about my WIP in these posts, but I never do because I can't figure out what to share. What's too spoilerish? What's interesting to read about? Do you even care? I've spent the last week fleshing out more of these details, so I want to tell you guys things. SO MANY THINGS.

So please, help me! How do you know what to share and not share when it comes to your WIP? I feel like I'm over thinking this, so I need your voices of reason. Give me a heads up in the comments.

But first! After a lot of brainstorming, let me share something! Presenting a kinda old, mostly but not completely accurate because of the distances, map I drew of the world in my WIP:
Lovely, yes? Click to make it huge!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Raven Boys book trailer

Once again I'm incredibly impressed by Maggie Stiefvater's talent and skill when it comes to making her own book trailers. I mean, holy crap, just watch this thing, just listen to it:


Gorgeous, yes? Did I get anyone's curiosity piqued? If so, you'll be happy to know that sharing this trailer with your peeps may lead to an ARC of The Raven Boys. Either way, tell me all your thoughts. Is this an effective book trailer? And what about book trailers in general? Legitimate sales technique or waste of time? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, June 1, 2012

2012 May Book Roundup

It's the first of June, and you know what that means. Book Roundup! *thumbs up*

A quick primer: At the beginning of each month I do a quick review the books I read the month prior. But instead of letting myself get too wordy, each book gets a Twitter-length summary and a Twitter-length review. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my absolute favorites of the month are marked with a star ().

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima
YA Fantasy--Seven Realms #2. Han and Raisa are both on their way to Oden's Ford, one to discover his heritage and the other to hide from her enemies. § I had problems caring about Raisa because everything Han did was far more interesting. Of course, most of the book felt like setup for later.

The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima
YA Fantasy--Seven Realms #3. Oden's Ford isn't safe anymore, and now it's time for Han to discover the truth and for Raisa to take her place as queen. § This was Raisa's book. Sure, Han's a manipulative badass, but Raisa steps up and becomes worthy of her heritage and title. Can't wait for book 4!

Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson
YA Sci-fi--Ultraviolet #1. Alison has been institutionalized after she has a frightening psychotic break and admits to murdering a fellow classmate. § Alison has synesthesia, which makes for beautiful and horrifying prose that's just fun to read. The plot line is also delightfully mysterious. 

Black Heart by Holly Black
YA Urban Fantasy--Curse Workers #3. Cassel's a lot of things, but "good" has never been one of them. Now he needs to decide between love, family, and the con. § Cassel really does have some tough choices, but I love his decisions and how he balances the truths and lies. Also, Lila is still a badass.

Wildwood by Colin Meloy
MG Fantasy--Wildwood #1. When a murder of crows from the "Impassable Wilderness" kidnap Prue's baby brother, she must explore a hidden world and save him. § This book is like a folky, American Narnia set in Portland, OR. The pacing was a little slow, but the world was delightful and and adventurous.

Habibi by Craig Thompson
Graphic Novel--The story of Dodola and Zam, two child slaves struggling to survive in a world consumed by fear, lust, and greed. Also, calligraphy and sex. § Gorgeous artwork and webs of symbolism that warrant multiple reads. Not that pleasant to read though, so definitely for mature audiences only. 

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
MG Fantasy--Inspired by her father's stories, Minli sets off an a fantastic journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and change her family's poor fortune. § Fairy tales within fairy tails! *flail* Minli is adorable and her adventure is beautifully interwoven with her society's unique folklore. 

Gate 7 Vol. 1 by CLAMP
Manga--An simple sightseeing trip to Kyoto becomes something more when Chikahito stumbles into a world of elemental magic and historical warfare. § Some interesting potential, but the story was incredibly confusing (and I'm familiar with Japanese history) and reminded me too much of xxxHolic.

Gate 7 Vol. 2 by CLAMP
Manga--Now that Chikahito lives with Hana and her companions, it's only a matter of time before he is drawn into their war over the powerful oni. § This volume was a bit better, if only because we got character development. Still a bit confusing, but I'm interested to see what happens next.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
YA Post-apocalyptic--Under the Never Sky #1. After being exiled from the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria's only hope for survival is in Perry, a savage Outsider. § People with heightened senses, a post-apocalyptic society with technology, and survival drama! If anything, I want even more world building. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 22

Days Worked On: I've . . . stopped keeping track of this.
Morale: *shrug* Decent?
Total Word Count: 99,058 (-409 from last week)

What I Worked On: Chapter 8. And everything else.

Thoughts: Well, last's week revelation was a false alarm. So I spent most of this week re-reading all the other parts of my book and figuring out ways to fix their problems.

It's actually kind of nice to still be working on my WIP without looking at all of the stuff that's been frustrating me. It was also pretty helpful to refresh on later stuff and see what I need to fix in this section to keep everything cohesive, since this is the part of my story where the characters starting jumping to bizarre conclusions.

It doesn't seem like I was very productive, but I think one of the hardest things to explains to non-writers is how much non-writing we actually do while writing. There's so much thinking and gathering of ideas, and even though we don't have any progress to show for it, things in our stories have been clarified and perfected. Without all of that non-writing, our writing would never get anywhere.

Writing Song of the Week: Still Breath of Life. What can I say, I'm boring. But to be less boring, let me tell you about my writing song from a couple weeks ago: "Apotheosis" from the Journey original soundtrack, which was composed by Austin Wintory. The entire Journey soundtrack is beautiful, but "Apotheosis" is not only seven minutes long, but it's dramatic and orchestral and gives me feeeeelings.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Should YA books have a ratings system?

ETA (05/22/12): If anyone's interested, both Gayle Forman and Kiersten White have written fantastic posts about this same GalleyCat article. I encourage you to check them out!

Earlier today I read an interesting article from GalleyCat about YA books and how BYU professor Sarah Coyne thinks ratings might help parents decide what's appropriate for their kids to read. The article is pretty vague on what kind of rating system would be appropriate, but it seems to imply something similar to the MPAA ratings.

Now, this rating system would be awesome for two reasons: 1) it would allow readers to easily avoid certain content, and 2) wary parents would be able to purchase new books for their kids on short notice. Unfortunately, this ease-of-access comes with a pretty large downside. 

A ratings system based directly on "inappropriate" content encourages censorship. Many YA authors want to tell stories about dark and gritty things, but writing books is also a business. If high ratings on dark books mean that they won't sell, then we will see self-imposed censorship. And if we know anything about teen books, we know that there needs to be variety. Some kids need the reassurance that the world is not all puppies and rainbows. 

And despite all this clamor, there are resources that concerned parents can access right now. That's what book blogs and teen lit librarians are for. People critique for content all the time, and with the advent of smart phones, it's not difficult to get this information on short notice.

Of course, almost all media operates under a rating system nowadays, so I don't find it too surprising that I keep hearing about this potential rating system for YA books and I can see the value in it. However, if YA books had to be rated, I would personally prefer something similar to the current rating system for manga. Unlike other rating systems, this one focuses on targeted age groups along with specific content. This would help parents keep their younger teens from reading material written for a slightly older audience, which I think is the biggest issue at hand.

The thing about YA books is that the audience is really broad. There's a huge difference in maturity level between 13-year-olds and 17-year-olds, and it's really easy for adults to forget that. Because of this maturity difference, younger teens and older teens inherently want to read about vastly different things. And because everything is shelved together, it's super easy for a younger teen to pick up something that would be more appropriate for an older teen to read.

So theoretically, an age-based rating system would help protect younger teens without imposing censorship in the same fashion as a content-based system. Happy medium? Maybe? What do you guys think? If it makes parents more comfortable, should YA books have a rating system? Do you think it makes a difference on what kind of rating system is used? Or have I missed something important and would every rating system would lead to censorship? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 21

Days Worked On: ALL THE DAYS.
Morale: Mostly irritated . . . which occasional bouts of optimism that were quickly crushed beneath the irritation again.
Total Word Count: 99,467 (+870 from last week)

What I Worked On: Chapter 8. I talked with CPs, I worked on the corkboard timeline thing, and I wrote about ten different openings for the chapter. The conclusion I've come to? It's time to re-work chapter 6-3 (which comes before 8 chronologically).

Thoughts: I have a public service announcement: when having problems with a certain section of your story, it may help to re-read the chapter that comes before the one you're working on. Seriously. Don't skim it. READ IT. Because then you might notice something that you'd forgotten about that may possibly fix all of the problems you've been agonizing over for the last two weeks. *head desk*

Writing Song of the Week: Because I talk about music enough that it deserves its own section. This week featuring Florence + the Machine's new single, "Breath of Life." It's the theme for Snow White and the Huntsman and not only is the song gorgeous, but it's gotten me super psyched for the movie. Just watch this music video:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 20?!

Days Left to Deadline: -64

Days Worked On: Two-ish. Though there's been a lot of angst spread out over other days.
Morale: Miserable . . . then I realized it was week 20 . . . and it got worse. >_> Maybe I should stop numbering these things.
Total Word Count: 98,597 (+222 from last week)

What I Worked On: So . . . ugh, here's the deal: I deleted a scene from the original draft because it made for a better chapter break, but in doing so, I lost some important information (ie: setting and character introductions). So I've been struggling to get all of those vital bits back into place without info-dumping. This was what last week's cork board timeline was all about.

Thoughts: I've written this post three different times about three different things . . . and most of them were whiny. So this is me not whining. This week sucked writing-wise, but I've finally turned to my wonderful CP for some help, and I'm sure she'll be able to lend an unbiased eye.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Good to be a geek

Well, I went to see The Avengers this past weekend. It was wonderful beyond words . . . but instead of boring you guys with endless rambling about how marvelous it was (the pretty people and the explosions and the one-liners and the helicarrier and all the things), I'm just gonna tell you to go see it.

SO GO SEE IT.

Also, a geek-tastic music video. Because this is the start of a promising summer for superheroes. *thumbs up*

*

So have any of you seen The Avengers yet? If not, do you have plans to? It is, after all, a great combination of action and drama and humor and badassery . . . and yes. Go see it. Ahem. If not The Avengers, what's your geeky movie/hobby/whatever of choice? Tell me in the comments!

*Oh, and the Hank Green cover, for all of you Nerdfighters. :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

WIP "Wednesday": Week 19

Days Left to Deadline: -59

Days Worked On: Good question. Three or four? Or two? Or something?
Morale: A little frustrated, but not horrible.
Total Word Count: 98,375 (+191 from last week)

What I Worked On: Research. All I did this week was research. FOREVER.

I also made a shiny cork board timeline thing:
I know. It's sexy.
Don't mind the blank notecards. Stuff does happen on those days. Really.

Thoughts: So I've been researching a bunch of random crap that may or may not even appear in this book. It's important--don't get me wrong--but it's a hidden kind of importance. Which is frustrating.

Anyway, I've been trying to figure out how long certain events should take, which equals lots of research about airships, freighter ships, and tanks . . . specifically their speeds. Yes, I now know the fastest tank in WWII (the M3 Stuart at 36mph, since technically the M18 Hellcat isn't a tank), have discovered that tanks and freighter ships move about about the same mileage, and can tell you how air currents effect airships. Thrilling, I know.

Oh, and if you know anything about driving tanks off-road (specifically in sand and how that effects speed), I'd love if you gave me a heads up. Because that information is scarce.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2012 April Book Roundup

*dun dun dun dun* It's time for April's Book Roundup! *cheers* A quick primer: At the beginning of each month I do a quick review the books I read the month prior. But instead of letting myself get too wordy, each book gets a Twitter-length summary and a Twitter-length review. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my absolute favorites of the month are marked with a star ().

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
YA Sci-fi--Chaos Walking #3. Now that humanity is at war with the Spackle again, Todd and Viola must make the right decisions in they ever want peace again. § THESE BOOKS. I've never read something so frustrating and so wonderful at the same time. However, best fictional horses EVER and yay 1017 POV! 

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
YA Paranormal Romance--Emerson is plagued by phantoms of the past, which isn't all that great until her brother calls in the Hourglass organization. Enter le hot boy. § Emerson's voice is a fabulous combination of snark and charm. Loved it. However, the soap opera romance kinda overwhelmed the actual plot.

Wither by Lauren DeStephano
YA Post Apocalyptic--Chemical Garden #1. After genetic experiments ruined the future of humanity, Rhine is kidnapped and wed off to repopulate the world. She is displeased. § Such a pleasant surprise! ALL of the characters are well-developed, if not likable, and the atmosphere was hauntingly beautiful and creepy. 

Fever by Lauren DeStephano
YA Post Apocalyptic--Chemical Garden #2. Rhine and Gabriel have finally gotten away from the mansion, but freedom might not be worth it in this a world like this. § Haha, the physical world here makes no sense at all, but the prose and narration are so delightfully luscious/feverish that I don't care.

Corsets & Clockwork: 14 Steampunk Romances edited by Trisha Telep
YA Steampunk Anthology--The title says it all: a short story anthology that brings together the quirkiness of steampunk and the delight of young romance. *thumbs up* § I'm not so sure that most of the stories in this anthology count as steampunk, but they all have romance. All my kudos to "Tick, Tick, Boom."

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
YA Fiction--Cullen thinks he's got life figured out, but when an extinct woodpecker is rediscovered and his brother goes missing, everything falls apart. § Everything in this book starts off mellow, but ends up somewhere meaningful. Loved how all of the characters felt real and a little disastrous.

Monday, April 30, 2012

On superhero storyline reboots

There's something that the comic book industry has that isn't really prevalent anywhere. And no, I'm not talking about the superheroes. Comics books aren't afraid to break continuity and start over. Which I find pretty interesting.

You don't even have to read comic books to know what I'm talking about, just see Batman. Remember all the silly movies from the nineties and how Christopher Nolan took that material and made it dark and gritty for the newer movies? Better yet, did you know that there are plans for yet another Batman reboot in the future? And what about the new Spiderman that's coming out this summer? Or the two different Hulk movies?

And that's only the movies. If you start looking into the cartoon franchises and the source material itself, you'll notice that this is a trend. Comic books are all about rebooting the same characters and the same ideas, but giving them twists.

Which is fun, in a different sort of way. If you had a history with comics and watched the first season of Young Justice, you knew everyone's darkest secrets before they became an issue. You understood why certain characters were paired off and you knew what the future held for some of them. But that anticipation wasn't bad--it was awesome because not everything was the same.

Now, the reasons these reboots exist is for money. The idea is to keep an interested audience without losing what got them interested in the first place. But I guess what I'm wondering is, why don't we ever see this outside of comic book stories? I'm sure that everyone would jump on an alternate universe re-telling of Harry Potter. So why don't writers or filmmakers or video game producers reboot their stories? The profit is there, there are talented writers who would love to play with previous franchises, and the possibilities are infinite.

So what do you guys think? Would you love to see a reboot of your favorite book or tv show, or is that what fanfiction is for? Would you be willing to take your characters from your own writing and create new stories for them? And what about superheroes--why do these reboots work for them, but not anyone else? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Things I write with

I talk about the software and computer-based goodies I use to write quite often. *cough*ALL THE TIME*cough* So I figured it was time to address some of the physical things.

  1. The steampunk headphones
    Music plays a HUGE part in making my brain happy while writing. I struggle without it. And as a person who used to be a big fan of earbuds (so small, so portable!), let me tell you, these monster headphones changed my life. Let me tell you why:
    • Earbuds hurt after a while--big happy headphones do not
    • The sound quality is like singing angels
    • People are theoretically less likely to talk to you if you look irritated about having to take the large headphones off to hear them speak
    • On a similar note, putting them on is a little like blocking out the world and all of its delightful distractions
    • Holy crap are these things are so comfortable they deserve two bullet points 
    • If you're like me, the headphones become something of a tradition--wearing them means it's time to get writing
    • Did I mention the steampunk aesthetic?

  2. Smiley face computer
    I don't know about you guys, but I find it incredibly difficult to write with paper. Seriously. I think faster than I write, so writing by hand always turns into an exercise of frustration. On the other hand, I'm a super fast typer (we're talking like 70+ WPM people). Also, Scrivener can have my babies.

  3. Notebook
    I know, I know. I just said that I don't like to write by hand, which is totally true. Then why do I need a notebook? When I get particularly stuck (and I'm talking REALLY, REALLY stuck), I like to brainstorm/free write by hand. There's just something about getting all of my messy ideas down by hand that actualizes them.

  4. Crappy pen
    This is an important one. I love crappy BIC pens. They don't bleed through the pages, they's about the cheapest writing implement you can find, and despite everyone's whining, the ink flow is actually pretty decent. Also, if I lose my pen, there's no writerly drama about my perfect pen.

Okay, so most of that was pretty clean cut. I'm lacking the highlighters and the colored pens and the post-it notes and all of that good stuff . . . but in my defense, I'm a pretty green writer. I do most of my editing on the computer screen. HOWEVER, I will be whipping all of that crap out when I get to the line-edits stage. Maybe I'll do another post then, eh?

So what items do you guys need in order to write? Do you function on a level that's even more barebones than my own? Or are you a nightmare color-coding and wite-out? Tell me in the comments

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Weeks 16+17+18

Okay, so I fell off the blogging bandwagon for a little bit. I haven't read any blogs, I haven't posted on this blog . . . I really haven't done anything with anything. >_>

Days Left to Deadline: -50

Days Worked On: UHH.
Morale: It was a mess. Now it's better.
Total Word Count: 98,184 (-1,109 from forever ago)

What I Worked On: CHAPTER 5. Which was promptly split in two and completely re-written. It was a nightmare. Mostly because I spent forever on the re-writing bit before discovering that I was making it worse. Seriously. It went from okay to boring. >_> Of course, once I realized this, everything went pretty smoothly. *thumbs up*

Oh, and now I've officially edited the first story arc. Woo!

Thoughts: Yeah, lemme just come out and say it: weeks 16 and 17 were full of so much horrible and not doing anything. And then week 18 was awesome and full of productivity. Also, I listened to Apotheosis from the Journey original soundtrack on repeat about a million times.

Anyway, wrote about the infamous Trujillo again. Considering that the first version of this chapter was a glorified info-dump, I re-wrote everything except the plotty bits. For a while, Trujillo spent a lot of time wandering around the enormous market district in Jasmine. Then I DELETED IT ALL and started over. Now there's less wandering and more interaction with the bad guys. Oh, and sheep. There are sheep. *thumbs up*

Monday, April 23, 2012

JOURNEY

Okay, I've tried to write this post three times without any level of coherency. First it was going to be part of another 5 video games writers should play post. Then it was going to be another ost lowdown post. And now it's just a ridiculous mess and to hell with it.

Uhh . . . Journey?
Journey is a video game designed and developed by thatgamecompany for the PlayStation 3. And I love it. Irrationally, irrevocably, and, uhh, irresistibly.

thatgamecompany describes Journey as "an interactive parable, an anonymous online adventure to experience a person’s life passage and their intersections with others" . . . which just sounds weird. And Journey is more than that. While there's a plot, this is a game you experience instead of just play . . . so there's a huge emphasis on atmosphere and mood and what you as a player put into it.

This isn't your standard shoot-em-up. This is a game about feelings.

And if that's not enough to hook you, there's singing and scarves and magical carpet things and ruins and sand and glyphs and mysterious other players and a mysterious history to uncover. *flail*

Let me tell you how lovely it is
Because it's really lovely. Just look at these pictures. Tell me they aren't epic. I dare you.


Okay, MAYBE I'm biased. And MAYBE I'm like a crow with something shiny . . . but still, you've got to admit: pretty! thatgamecompany may have picked a fairly simple aesthetic, but it works.

And the visuals are only half the package--the score for Journey is some of the best music I've ever heard in a video game. Yes, it's that good. I just . . . there's no way to describe this without sounding ridiculous. But if you like sweeping, epic glory, you'll love it. And if you like writing to sweeping, epic glory, you'll really love it. Seriously. And if you need one more push, you might be interested to know that all 18 tracks are on iTunes (or the PSN) for only $5.

You should care
Yes. Yes you should. And here's why: as writers we are trying to create stories that make people feel something. We want our writing to have power.

Although Journey is simple, it achieved that goal and made freaking waves in the gaming community. Not only has it become the fastest selling game on the PlayStation Network ever, but it freaking moves people (including the tough dudes playing those aforementioned shoot-em-up), and the reason you can buy the soundtrack is because fans demanded it. Craziness!

So I guess my point is that I've learned things from Journey. And it was beautiful and heartbreaking and wonderful and I want you to learn them too. So play the game if you can, or at least give the soundtrack a quite listen. You won't be disappointed.

Okay, now that I've babbled like a fangirl and italicized half of the words in this post, I want to hear from you. How do you feel about video games? Have you ever played one that moved you, or are you mostly familiar with Angry Birds? Give me a heads up in the comments!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 15

Days Left to Deadline: -29
Days Worked On: 2
Morale: *cries in corner*
Total Word Count: 99,293 (+757 from last week)

What I Worked On: Now that I've finally finished working on the first story arc, I decided to go back and work on the few chapters I skipped (since they're from a different character in a different place). For future reference, these are chapters 5 and 5-1.

Unfortunately I have to rewrite most of chapter 5 because it involves exposition that, while interesting, isn't really relevant right now. Also, it's been a while since I've done any straight out drafting, so I'm finding that rather difficult.

Thoughts: Ugh, these chapters were some of the easiest to write in the first draft, but right now I'm having problems turning off the part of my brain that wants to write in Kai or Eva's POV. Speaking of which, these new chapters are in a new POV that I haven't mentioned online really. So, uhh, enter Trujillo, the sand pirate and some of the more prevalent steampunk elements in my WIP.

Monday, April 2, 2012

2012 March Book Roundup

Book Roundup time . . . weee! A quick primer: At the beginning of each month I do a quick review the books I read the month prior. But instead of letting myself get too wordy, each book gets a Twitter-length summary and a Twitter-length review. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my absolute favorites of the month are marked with a star ().

Looking for Alaska by John Green
YA Contemporary Fiction--Pudge is off to an Alabama boarding school to search for his "Great Perhaps." There he meets the smart, sexy, and self-destructive Alaska Young. § This book is the better version of Paper Towns. Love how Green tackles the hard issues, but wish his characters didn't sound college-age.

Witch Eyes by Scott Tracy
YA Paranormal Romance--Braden was born with witch eyes and can see the world as it truly is. Also, horrific visions, feuding witch clans, and crazy power plays. § A very refreshing read--the magic was unique and the gay romance was handled nicely. Though, battle sequences were a bit confusing at times. 

Manga--Usagi is the guardian of justice--Sailor Moon! The Dark Moon is here to take over the world with the malefic dark crystal! Also, revelations! § This story arc is much more exciting than the last one ... also, character development! Feelings! Dramatic happenings! All the good stuff!

Legend by Marie Lu
YA Dystopian--June is a military prodigy who's been groomed for success since birth; Day is the country's most wanted criminal. Insert dystopian agenda. § So much military goodness and a dystopian world that felt and acted dangerous! The instant romance was unfortunate, but I guess it worked.

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
YA Sci-fi--Chaos Walking #2. After fleeing into the clutches of Mayor Prentiss, Todd and Viola are separated and used against each other. Also, misery. § Ugh, this is such a dark, miserable read, though the atmosphere is perfectly appropriate. Ness is a master at playing with my sympathies. 

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
YA Contemporary Fiction--After Katherine XIX breaks up with him, noted prodigy Colin and his best friend Hassan are off on a road trip of self-discovery and worth. § Haha, Colin's thought-process is so ridiculous it's fabulous. In fact, I love all characters. But the epiphanies got heavy-handed at the end.

Purity (ARC Copy) by Jackson Pearce
YA Contemporary Fiction--When Shelby's father becomes organizer of the annual Princess Ball, the three promises she made at her mother's deathbed become hard to keep. § Liked this a WHOLE lot more than expected. Some pretty deep themes here--love, loss, and sex--but they're all handled nicely. Go pick up a copy! 

Johnny Wander Vol. 1: Don't Burn the House Down by Ananth Panagariya and Yuko Ota
Comic--A collection of autobiographical, "slice of life" strip comics about life after college, finding out who you are, and surviving the modern world. § These comics are always a pleasure to read (hint: I've recommended them to you before). Not only are they clever, but they're easily relatable.

Johnny Wander Vol. 2: Escape to New York by Ananth Panagariya and Yuko Ota
Comic--Again: a collection of autobiographical, "slice of life" strip comics about life after college, finding out who you are, and surviving the modern world. § Haha, more cat comics in this volume, so I was definitely happy. Also, I think the comic gets a bit more of a refined direction, which is nice.

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
YA Fantasy--Seven Realms #1. After encountering underage wizards, Han gets ahold of a forbidden amulet. Also, Princess Raisa, longs to escape her gilded cage. § Now this is some high fantasy! Started off a little slow, but it takes place in a Yellowstone-esque area and the politics get pretty interesting.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 14

Days Left to Deadline: -22
Days Worked On: Uhh . . . 2 or 3?
Morale: Spent a lot of time whining, but I'm feeling better now
Total Word Count: 98,536 (-317 from last week)

What I Worked On: Well, first I finished chapter 6-2 and then I finished chapter 7-2. And then I spent a lot of time deliberating whether they should be one chapter or two and whether the last 1500 words of chapter 7-2 should still exist. As of now I haven't decided on the one or two chapter thing and the 1500 words have become a tentative chapter 7-3 that might get axed in a day.

Thoughts: This week was strangely successful despite the only working on it for 2-3 days. Though, I finally got to play around with a character I've been looking forward to. So it's been very entertaining. In case you're wondering, his name is Markal and he's a charming douchebag. *thumbs up*

But let's see. What did I do? Cleaned up a giant conversation, added in some new stuff regarding a horrific branding practice, and spent an inappropriate amount of time rewording a paragraph about climbing into a cave. I'm telling you people, little timeskip "we walked here" paragraphs are my kryptonite. Gah.

Also, The Civil Wars' "Barton Hollow" has officially become my #1 most listened to song in the last year.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's all in the presentation

There are times when one spends an entire hour writing heartfelt blog posts. And then there are times when one stares at the computer screen for an hour trying to figure out what to say. In that second case, squid videos are always a good copout. *shifty eyes*


Actually, I want to talk about this video. Yes, all of the deep sea critters are nifty and fabulous . . . but the real question lies behind the editing. What's up with the shaky cam and the floaty letters? I don't know about you guys, but it reminds me of the title sequence to some a vaguely creepy, sci-fi-eqsue tv show, like Fringe or X-Files.

So, a little challenge, if you're interested: let's pretend this really is the title sequence of a TV show. What's the show about? Are all of the deep sea creatures the "characters" of the show? Or is there some kind of paranormal exploration going on underwater? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 13

Days Left to Deadline: -15
Days Worked On: 2
Morale: Melodramatic with a hint of good cheer
Total Word Count: 98,853 (-1072 from last week)

What I Worked On: CHAPTER 6. ALWAYS CHAPTER 6. Or, in the case of this week, chapter 6-3 and a teeny, tiny bit of 7-2. And because no one but be actually knows what that means, chronologically these are chapters 10 and 11.

Thoughts: This was my fake editing process*. I suspect my real editing process goes something like this:
  1. Read drafted chapter and cringe.
  2. Try to fix the hard parts.
  3. Give up.
  4. Go fix the easy parts.
  5. Feel accomplished.
  6. Realize that things would make more sense if I combined a few paragraphs or moved them around or some random little crap like that.
  7. Implement #6, which takes far longer than it actually should.
  8. Repeat #6 and #7 one more time.
  9. Go back to #2.
  10. Whine a bit.
  11. Succeed this time around.
  12. Revisit #8 for kicks and giggles.
  13. The end.
The most important step is #8. Seriously, I feel like all I do is re-write things and then move them around six times. *rolls eyes*

Anyway, despite a bunch of whining and procrastinating, I got a decent amount of work done. Deleted a crappy info-dump flashback that's been pending for a whole. Re-wrote the entire dramatic rain sequence since it was lacking the appropriate drama. Also, finally got to the introduction of a character I've been looking forward to for a while now. *rubs hands together*

How about you guys? Get any work done this week, or did you procrastinate the crap out of that WIP? Tell me in the comments.

*Discovered as being fake as of 08/03/11.

Monday, March 19, 2012

5 nifty, homemade bookmarks

I'm pretty sure that we can all agree that books make awesome gifts. But if you've ever given a book someone, you've probably noticed that it's not the most personal present. Especially if they specifically requested the book. So, I was thinking . . . why not throw in a homemade bookmark?

In the spirit of this idea, I've put together a list of some of my favorite bookmark tutorials on the internet. Just in case you're feeling a little crafty. Check it:






See, don't those seem like they'll make your gift-giving a little more exciting? A lot of them look pretty easy too! But if you're interested in even more bookmark tutorials, check out this list at Tip Junkie . . . it's a bit intensive.

Have you ever given anyone a book (or a bookmark) for a gift before? What book was it and why did you pick that book for them? Also, do you have a hefty bookmark collection like me? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The book your book could be

I don't know about you guys, but lately I've been reading a lot of different books that seem to rely on elements that are heavily important in my own WIP.

I'm not saying that these books are anything actually like my WIP. Because they're not. Really. But there are similarities that are easy enough for me to notice. Maybe they take place in a desert or maybe the main character gets debilitating headaches. Either way, reading a book like that is kind of a glimpse into the book my book could be.

And it freaks me out.

Every published book has something good to it--something that makes people like it and makes them want to buy it. So a lot of the time, when I'm reading these kinds of books, I lose all perspective. It goes something like this:
    Hey, this is kinda similar to my book. Cool.
    He/she/it wrote my book! D:<
    And he/she/it wrote it better than me~!
    And he/she/it is published!
    Why am I not published?!
    *cries in a corner*
See? Completely irrational. I mean, it's not like I've even queried or anything. Of course I'm not published yet.

Unfortunately, my sense of melodrama tends to stick around until I finish reading the book. It's difficult to be rational and remember why I love my book when I'm in the middle of being seduced by another.

So I guess I just wanted to remind everyone: don't be irrational about your WIP, especially when it comes to published books. Your WIP might be like something, but it's not that thing. It will never be that thing--your story will be brilliant and sparkling all by itself. So don't go changing your writing in response to similar books, okay? That would be stupid, because you should always be writing what you want to write.

Now that the PSA is out of the way, tell me, how do you feel when you read published books that share an element with your own WIP? Do you take as a challenge to write something similar, but better? Or do you have a mini-meltdown like me? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 12

Days Left to Deadline: -8
Days Worked On: 1
Morale: Neither good or bad, just . . . meh
Total Word Count: 99,925 (+23 from last week)

Thoughts: MY COMPUTER DIED.

But thanks to Hazel and Dropbox, I didn't loose any of my writing. Just, you know, a bunch of other random stuff since I apparently wasn't doing as good of a job with my backups as I had previously imagined.

Other than that, I spent a ridiculous amount of time working on a section that shouldn't have taken as long as it did. However, Kai has now looked at a canyon. *goes and dies in a corner*

Monday, March 12, 2012

Writerly Tools: Hazel

Huh, it's been a while since I've done one of these, hasn't it?

Today I'm going to talk about a delightful little program called Hazel, and unfortunately it's only for the Mac. Sorry PC users. *shrug* I've heard that Belvedere is the PC equivalent, so maybe try that out?

Anyway, moving on. Hazel is an automated organization program. As its creators at Noodlesoft have so elegantly said, Hazel is "your personal housekeeper."

The idea is that you set up a bunch of different parameters called "rules," and Hazel follows those rules to do the computer equivalent of housework for you. It takes a little work to set up all the rules, but it's ultimately worth it in the end.

I know, it sounds nice, but you're wondering how this is relevant to writers. Tell me, how many times have you forgotten to back up your manuscript? How many times have you ultimately suffered for that faux pas? With Hazel, NEVER AGAIN.

Interested yet? If so, good. Because now I'm going to give you five reasons why I think you might adore Hazel:
  1. Hazel is your backup ninja
    Like I said above, you never have to worry about backing up your manuscript again--just set up some rules for Hazel to follow, and everything will be taken care of. I prefer the double-whammy combination of Hazel and Dropbox.
  2. Hazel can do other things too
    Maybe you get Hazel for the automated backups, but the possibilities are endless. Hazel can keep your trash bin clean, organize your downloads, or even label files as certain conditions are met. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  3. Hazel works in the background
    Once you get Hazel set up, you never have to worry about it again. Everything is automatic, seamless, and behind the scenes. But if you do want updates, it's easy-peasy to set up notifications with Growl.
  4. Hazel has depth
    At first glance, setting up rules in Hazel looks super intimidating. However, Hazel is only as complex as you want it to be--which allows your automated rules to be as simple or as complex as you need them to be.
  5. Hazel makes your computer happy
    Writers spend a lot of time on the computer. Writing, networking, wasting time on the internet--the important thing is that Hazel's organization rules make your computer happy by removing the clutter.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The nails on FIRE

I made a completely frivolous purchase the other day. I bought a few bottles of the official Hunger Games  nail polish. Yes, you read right. There is Hunger Games nail polish.
Oh yeah.
There are 12 colors in all--representative of the 12 districts, don't cha know. From left to right these are: Luxe and Lush (District 1), Stone Cold (District 2), Riveting (District 3), Electrify (District 5), and Smoke and Ashes (District 12). *thumbs up*

I, uhh, originally was only going to go with, like, two bottles . . . but then I got sucked in. And seriously, when was the last time I could buy book themed fingernail polish? Oh wait, that's right. NEVER.

So yeah, because I know you're all dying to know about my mani, let me tell you.
I am incapable of taking nice pictures. Sorry.
I was going for a "girl on fire" look . . . because if I'm going to own Hunger Games nail polish, I might as well amp up the ridiculousness. So yes. Smoke and Ashes on four nails, Riveting with a topping of Electrify on the accent nail, and Electrify on two of the Smoke and Ashes nails to create "burning embers."

Yes. I may have put too much thought into this.

Anyway, I was wondering: what's the weirdest book paraphernalia that you've ever picked up? Just a Harry Potter scarf . . . or maybe something weirder? Would you grab some Hunger Games nail polish? And what do you think about my mani? Huh, huh? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Weeks 10+11

Days Left to Deadline: -1
Days Worked On: A grand total of 1
Morale: Err, good or something?!
Total Word Count: 99,902

Thoughts: Well . . . despite not really writing at all for the last forever, there are some good things to report:
  1. I am finally done moving. No more 12-hour car rides from hell. No more lugging boxes up and down stairs and into 60 mph winds. No more sleeping on a sofa bed.
  2. I finally have internet again. Yes. Full-fledged internet access where pages load quickly and where I can actually access Blogger to reply to your comments and where I can abuse Spotify to my heart's content.
  3. There is no three, but the list seemed incomplete with only two items. Let's just say that with the advent one one and two, life is better.
Okay, so none of those things are really writing related . . . but they give me hope for upcoming productivity in the coming weeks! *shakes fist*

Anyway, you also may have noticed how I am, uhh, one day past my self-imposed goal of doom. This is because I failed. Not only did I fail, I failed pretty miserably. The original goal was to edit my entire WIP by March 6th at 11:59 PM so I could have taken less than a year to edit it. Because, umm, it's super depressing to consider how slow I am. Unfortunately . . . I edited about a third of it. Less than a third.

HOWEVER. Something good did come of this failed experiment:

I have edited 18,209-ish words of my WIP!
And I did cut 3,657 words out of that stuff I edited!
And there are only 79,735-ish words left to edit!

*tosses confetti*

Yay for the bright side! I think I might keep up these WIP Wednesday posts until I actually make the freaking goal. It seems fitting. And I like to pretend that you guys are holding me accountable or something. I doubt anyone really is . . . but I feel bad whenever I have to write the "I suck and didn't write this week" posts. SO BRING ON THE GUILT.

Now tell me, have any of you failed a writing goal before? Was it because the goal in itself was outlandish, or was it because life reared its ugly head? Tell me what happened in the comments!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Behind the silence

Woo, okay, because I'm sure some of you have been wondering: a quick explanation for my sudden and unexpected hiatus during the last week.

As some of you already know, I've been in the process of moving for the last two months. Yes, it took that long. No, I'm not really going to go into details because they are boring.

Suffice to say, most of that time was spent not doing much, and thus, it didn't cut into my blog posting at all. It didn't seem like it was going to start being a problem either. Then, suddenly, everything was happening all the time.

I enjoyed four 12-hour car rides in a week. I lugged boxes around on those days that I wasn't in the car. I had little to no internet access, whether I was riding or lugging. There was no time or opportunity to do much of anything that wasn't moving, and that's why I abandoned you all.

So I apologize.

However, I have now returned! *salute*

Friday, March 2, 2012

2012 February Book Roundup

*fizzle crackle sputter*

. . .  and now for Book Roundup time! For those who don't know, at the beginning of each month I do a quick review the books I read the month prior. But instead of letting myself get too wordy, each book gets a Twitter-length summary and a Twitter-length review. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my absolute favorites of the month are marked with a star ().

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Vol. 3 by Naoko Takeuchi
Manga--Usagi is the guardian of justice--Sailor Moon! It's time for the final battle against Queen Metalia: the enemy of old. Also, a mysterious girl. § Artistically confusing in the beginning and packed with some odd translation choices. However, I really enjoyed the start of the next story arc.

YA Fantasy--Lucero-Elisa is an unlikely heroine, but she bears the Godstone. Savage enemies, secret political marriages, and charming revolutionaries. § Much love to how unheroic Elisa is at first, but not hugely comfy with the statement her transformation makes. Also, glorious world building. 

YA Sci-fi--Chaos Walking #1. Todd lives in Prentisstown, where everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts. However, Prentisstown also has a terrible secret. § Ouch. This book hurts, but the thought put into Prentisstown's history was worth it. Wish the villain had been less energizer bunny though. 

YA Fantasy--Calaena's off to collect a debt the Lord of Pirates owes the Assassin's Guild. But when the payment is to be made in slaves, her mission changes. § A fun story that definitely got me excited for the next three novellas and the book in August. Celaena's definitely tough and I love her sass! 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
YA Contemporary Fiction--Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12 and miraculously saved at 14, 16-year-old Hazel is still "alive." Then she meets Augustus Waters. § Sad, yet fabulous. Loved how it was a book with cancer, not a cancer book. I only wish that certain sections didn't read like an English paper.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
YA Paranormal Fantasy--Rory's off to London for her last year of high school. Unfortunately there's a murderer on the loose and he's mimicking Jack the Ripper. § This book is nothing like the cover suggests ... for one thing, it's modern day. Anyway, Rory's a fun character to follow, as is the murderer.

Voila, my lovely February books. :) So did you guys read anything particularly exciting? Or have you read any of these books before? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Radio silence

*sputter sputter fizzle*

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 9

Hahaha, back to the cesspit I go . . .

Days Left to Deadline: 13
Days Worked On: None
Morale: Surprisingly good considering that I am so NOT going to make my deadline with, you know, 82,343 words left to edit in less than two weeks
Total Word Count: 99,904

Thoughts: Oh goodness, I join a writing campaign thing . . . and then I never write. Super classy, I know. I'm in the middle of moving right now . . .  but that doesn't seem like a very good excuse. *pens writing in on the calendar*

On a more productive note, how is your writing going? Good? Bad? What kind of things prevent you from getting any work done, and how do you plan around those? Feel free to give me a heads up in the comments.

Monday, February 20, 2012

OVERSIZED LOAD

As many of you already know, strange things happen to me on road trips. So in lieu of anything relevant, I'm am going to tell you a story.

To set the scene: It was late at night in the middle-of-nowhere Montana. Boyfriend and I were in the last legs of our 12-hour car ride and were ready to sleep forever. Then we saw flashy, orange lights in the distance.

Now, I'm sure that many of you who've been on road trips before are familiar with "Oversized Load" vehicles. In general, they are miniature convoys that usually consist of two flag vehicles and a semi truck hauling anything from half of a house to parts of a wind turbine.

This, however, was not your standard "Oversized Load" convoy.

We passed a flag vehicle vehicle with rather prominent lighting that said, "Oversized Vehicle Ahead SLOW DOWN." Then we passed another one with a sign that read, "Be prepared to stop." The next truck was not only driving in the middle of the road, but it was strapped with a gigantic light-up sign that was reminiscent of the glowy communication helicopter from Independence Day.

Which we then followed at 35mph (as opposed to the actual speed limit of 75mph) for the next ten miles.

Luckily the road curved nicely, so we could see the entire convoy. Which included two more flag vehicles, a pilot truck, a two unmarked cars (which ended up being a police car and a flag vehicle without lights) . . . all of which were behind the actual "Oversized Load" vehicle. In front of it were two more unmarked cars (another cop car and unlit flag truck), and two lit flag vehicles.

The real question is, of course, what in the world did these people need to transport that 1) required 12 different support vehicles, 2) needed to be transported in the dark of night, and 3) had to take up the entire road?

Obviously it was a UFO. *nods*

In all actuality, I can't tell you what it was. When the convoy finally pulled over to let the block-up of cars past, all I could see were metal bars and tanks and valves . . . and I couldn't get a picture thanks to the whole pitch-black-middle-of-the-night thing. Alas. Maybe it really was a UFO. *shrug*

So have you ever witness such a large "Oversized Load" convoy? Or, better yet, do you have any other good road trip driving stories? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!