Monday, May 30, 2011

It's My Birthday!

Yep.  That's right.  The real reason why we don't have school today.
I've got to review Matched, but I'm putting that off until tomorrow because I have a new desk to move all my stuff into! 

So, while you're on this lovely thing called the internet, why not go check out my book?  The first couple chapters are up on Inkpop, and I'd love you forever if you left even a small comment.  Or picked it.  Or recognize that it exists.

Secrets of the Legend Chaser is....right here!  And there you go!  Enjoy!

And just because I had a band thing this morning, here's a semi-related flair.  I find it highly amusing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

ABC Saturday: C is for Cats

Annie has never had a cat, but she loves them.  They're just so cute, and soft, and all that.  Black cats aren't a bad omen--they're gorgeous.

Some people were talking the other day about how if you want to know who in a room is allergic to cats, just bring in a cat and they'll come to that person.  Guess what?  It's true.  Annie is allergic to cats.  Does that stop her from petting them?  Ah, no.  Of course not.

Annie's always been a cat person.  She likes dogs, sure, but she likes cats more.  She loves how smart, athletic, and agile they are.

An old picture of a cat and Annie.  That cat's name is Snape, by the way.  Yes, that is Annie's fault.  Yes, that cat is female.
Of course, Annie also likes big cats.  Like tigers.  And white tigers.  And jaguars, and leopards...  The white tigers, though, will always be her favorite.
Aren't they just the cutest things?


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How to Battle Writer's Block and Emerge Victorious



Writer's block.  We've all felt the pain.  The question is: how do you fight this tyrannical monster?

First, let me define writer's block for you.  There are essentially two kinds:
1. I'm sitting there, staring at that stupid blank screen, and I know what I want to happen, but those words just won't come out of my clogged brain.
2. I'm staring at a blank screen but I have no clue whatsoever what should happen next.

The second one is the kind I always get.  If you ask me, it's not even true writer's block.  I suppose an outline would help...   So anyway, this post will deal with the first form.

I almost never get the first one, because, well...  Frankly, I don't believe in it.  Yeah, that sounds weird, but it's true.  I don't believe in that kind of writer's block.  I know I have plenty of words inside me, so just force myself to simply write, no matter how much the final product might resemble of pile of rotten vegetables.  You can always edit.  I know that I just simply have too many words inside me to run out that easily.

But for many writers, this a problem.  And here are some ways to deal with it.
  • Do something other than writing.  Chances are, your stock of life experiences is running low.  Go outside, get some fresh air.  Walk around your kitchen.  Watch TV.  Annoy your siblings.  Just do something, and you'll be surprised how fresh everything seems when you sit down at that computer again.
  • Read.  Read.  Read, read, read.  What better way to solve a lack of words than to fill your mind with...words?  Just read something.  Anything.  An epic fantasy novel.  A paranormal romance with a love pentagon.  An Agatha Christie novel where everyone but the killer ends up dead at the end.  National Geographic.  The newspaper. A dictionary.  The back of a Ramen Noodles package. Whatever.  Just pick up something with words and read it.
  • Listen to music.  Again, you're filling your mind with words, so all it can do is help you.  Or, even better: if you can play an instrument, go play it.  No matter if you play the guitar or saxophone or bass flute.  It's amazing how the music gets those words flowing.
  • Take a shower!  Seriously.  That's where I get all my heavy thinking done for SotLC.  It feels good, it relieves stress, and anyways...there's nothing else to do while you're in there.  Unless shampooing your hair takes brainpower.
  • Do something physical.  Run around the block (or up the road, if you're like me and don't live on a block).  Jump-rope, play tennis, do some archery, shoot baskets, do I sound like some sort of fitness add yet?
  • Sleep on it.  You might have a dream that'll help out!
  • Make something unexpected happen in your story.  Chances are, you might be getting a bit bored with your story, so why not jazz it up?  Make a tornado come rip apart your character's hometown.  Have a random guy come rushing in with a chainsaw.  Whatever.  It doesn't have to be that drastic; just do something unpredictable.
  • Engage in some sort of epic battle involving swords and dragons.  Don't hesitate to use your magical powers, because those really come in handy when you've got orcs out to get you.  Armor is recommended.  It's amazing how that'll get those creative juices flowing.
The following are only for the truly desperate.  Use with discretion.
  • Kill someone.  Well, someone in your story.  Please don't kill a real-life person.  Your problem might be that one character is bogging you down, so why not get rid of 'em?  That character might very well be putting the bricks on that wall that's keeping you from writing.  And besides, if you're writing fantasy, you can pull a Harry Potter and bring them back to life. :)
  • Take a healthy break from writing.  Try a day, at first.  Most likely you'll be fine.  If not, try two days, a week, and so on.  It's good to take breaks once and awhile, because when you return to writing everything is fresh and new.
  • Bash your head into a wall.  I've never tried this, but who knows?  It probably works.
  • Watch this video.  It's basically the cure-all for just about everything.
I hope that helps!  Feel free to add to my list if you want.  I wish you luck in all of your battles with this despicable monster.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    A Lot of Questions

    I was tagged. Kinda. And I just felt like doing this. So here goes...


    1. What’s your word count?
    Almost 50,000.
    2. How long until you finish?
    Too long.  Hopefully another month or so.
    3. If you have finished, how long did it take you?
    N/A.
    4. Do you have an outline? 
    Kind of.  Maybe.  Not really.
    5. Do you have a plot? 
    Well, duh.
    6. How many words do you typically write a day?
    My average is around 400, I think.
    7. What was your greatest word count in one day?
    I did 2,000 in one day once.
    8. What was your least impressive word count in one day?
    One time I sat there for an hour and wrote a whopping 6 words.
    9. What inspired you to write?
    Everything. The world.  The universe.  I can't imagine not wanting to write.
    10. Does your novel/story have a theme song?
    Syndicate and Never Say Never, both by The Fray, really fit well with the book.
    11. Assign each of your major characters a theme song.
    Davi-Prodigal and Secrets by OneRepublic
    Ayin-Never Say Never by The Fray
    Char-Long Live by Taylor Swift
    Bromen-Come Home by OneRepublic
    Kriyell and Relnor-Tyrant by OneRepublic (Yes, I like OneRepublic.  Just a little.  Okay, a lot.)
    Revan-I'm You by Leona Lewis
    12. Which character is most like you?
    Basically, Ayin is one side of me, and Revan is the other.  I didn't intend that to happen, but then again, the author puts a bit of herself into each character she creates...
    13. Which character would you most likely be friends with?
    All of the nice ones?  I'd probably get along best with Ayin and Revan, because they're so much like me.  And Davi, too.  And Spark and I would probably have a great time together.
    14. Do you have a Gary-Stu or Mary Sue character?
    Nope!  Never!
    15. Who is your favorite character in your novel?
    I love all of them, no exceptions.  Even the ones that I love to hate, like Kriyell, who's such an arrogant, treacherous jerk.  It's kind of like God, in a weird way.  God made Hitler, and while Hitler was a very bad person, God still loved him.  But if I had to pick an absolute favorite, of course it would be Davi. :)
    16. Have your characters ever done something completely unexpected?
    There's one scene where Char bursts out crying, which is completely out of character.  Of course, he's only faking it...
    17. Have you based any of your novel directly on personal experiences?

     Every author puts bits and pieces of their life into their book without trying.
    18. Do you believe in plot bunnies?
    That's a weird question.  Yes, I believe they exist.  I don't use them, though, because I couldn't bring myself to write a story that somebody else had come up with, an I'm too attached to my ideas to give them away like that. 
    19. Is there magic in your novel/story?
    Sort of.
    20. Are any holidays celebrated in your novel/story?
    Nope.  Unless you count the flashback to a wedding.
    21. Does anyone die?
    Yes.  Not telling who.
    22. How many cups of coffee/tea have you consumed during your writing experience?
    None, but I've had quite a few cups of cappuccino. 
    23. What is the latest you have stayed up writing?
    Not very late.  9:30ish, probably.
    24. What is the best line?
    "You're mad," Ayin whispered.
    "Really?"  Davi laughed, but there was no humor in it.  "I thought we established that right when we met.  I'm chasing after something that doesn't exist.  I live with creatures that aren't supposed to exist.  I just threatened a dragon.  No, surely I'm not mad at all."

    Or this one: "Legends are nothing without the fools who chase after them."
    25. What is the worst line?
    Um...the whole first chapter?
    26. Have you dreamed about your novel/story or its characters?
    Yes.  Many times.  You don't want to know how depressed I was when I woke up and realized that it wasn't real.
    27. Does your novel rely heavily on allegory?
    Nope.
    28. Summarize your novel/story in under fifteen words.
    Davi tries to revive the dragons while struggling to find his place in the kingdom.
    29. Do you love all your characters?
    See question 15.
    30. Have you done something sadistic or cruel to your characters specifically to increase your word count?
    Muahahahahaha, of course!
    31. What was the last thing your main character ate?
    Old, stale traveling biscuits.  Which another character then proceeded to throw at an enemy dragon.
    32. Describe your main character in three words.
    Determined, self-doubting, visionary.
    33. What would your antagonist dress up as for Halloween?
    He wouldn't.  He'd consider himself above such childish foolery.
    34. Does anyone in your story go to a place of worship?
    No.
    35. How many romantic relationships take place in your novel/story?
    If you count the people that are already married before the story begins, then...one.
    36. Are there any explosions in your novel/story?
    Well, duh!
    37. Is there an apocalypse in your novel/story?
    No.
    38. Does your novel take place in a post-apocalyptic world?
    No.
    39. Are there zombies, vampires or werewolves in your novel/story?
    No.
    40. Are there witches, wizards or mythological creatures/figures in your novel/story?
    DRAGONS!  LOTS AND LOTS OF DRAGONS!
    41. Is anyone reincarnated?
    No, but that sounds interesting...
    42. Is anyone physically ailed?
    Bromen's getting old.  Poor guy.  Oh, right, that's my fault.  And Davi's probably about to get lung cancer by now.
    43. Is anyone mentally ill?
    Kriyell, possibly.  And probably Davi, by the time the story is over.
    44. Does anyone have swine flu?
    Duh, everyone!  Kidding, kidding.
    45. Who has pets in your novel and what are they?
    Davi has a horse.  And he takes care of baby dragons, but they don't belong to him.
    46. Are there angels, demons, or any religious references/figures in your novel/story?
    No.
    47. How about political figures? 
    I have a monarchy!  Yay for medieval politics!
    48. Is there incessant drinking?
    My MC's brother takes a sip of wine and decides it's the most disgusting thing he's ever had.
    49. Are there board games? If so, which ones?
    No.
    50. Are there any dream sequences?
    Yes.  Many because I enjoy writing them too much.
    51. Is there humor?
    Of course!  I mean, one of my MCs chucks frozen biscuits at an enemy dragon.  How cool is that?
    52. Is there tragedy?
    Yep.  Sorry, Davi.
    53. Does anyone have a temper tantrum?
    Haha.  Davi does.
    54. How many characters end up single at the end of your novel/story?
    All of them, except the ones that were married to begin with.
    55. Is anyone in your novel/story adopted?
    No.
    56. Does anyone in your novel/story wear glasses?
    Not invented yet!
    57. Has your novel/story provided insight about your life?
    Yes.  I've learned that 1. I love the medieval time period waaaay too much. 2. I like cappuccino. 3. I can listen to Say (All I Need) by OneRepublic twelve times in a row while writing and not get tired of it.
    58. Your personality?
    I don't know.  All the personality I've got has been funneled into that thing.
    59. Has your novel/story inspired anyone?
    Not that I know of.
    60. How many people have asked to read your novel/story?

    Not many.
    61. Have you drawn any of your characters?
    I wish I could.
    62. Has anyone drawn your characters for you?
    No.
    63. Does anyone vomit in your novel/story?
    Just a little random?  No, not "on-screen", anyways...
    64. Does anyone bleed in your novel/story?
    Yes.
    65. Do any of your characters watch TV?

    Not invented yet.
    66. What size shoe does your main character wear?
    Shoe sizes haven't been invented.
    67. Do any of the characters in your novel/story use a computer?
    No.
    68. How would you react if your novel/story was erased entirely?
    First I would cry so hard that all the world's water shortage problems would be solved.  Then I'd get so angry that I'd hire myself out to a demolition company.
    69. Did you cry at killing off any of your characters?

    I haven't killed her yet, but I'm sure I'll cry!
    70. Did you cheer when killing off one of your characters?
    I probably will.  We have a love-hate relationship.
    71. What advice would you give to a fellow writer?
    Write.  Write.  Write.  Write write write.  Writewritewritewrite...get the idea?
    72. Describe your ending in three words.
    Bittersweet.  Satisfying.  Haha-little-main-characters-you-got-what-you-asked-for!
    73. Are there any love triangles, squares, hexagons, etc.?
    A love hexagon?  That sounds hilarious.  But I have none.
    74. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the least stressful, 10 being the most) how does your stress rank?
    99999999 x 10^9
    75. Was it worth it?
    Was what worth it?  This extensive questionnaire thing?  Sure, why not?


    So now I get to tag someone?  Hmm...ah, whatever, I'll just tag whoever wants to do it.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Plague (Gone #4) by Michael Grant

    Plague (Gone, #4)It's been eight months since all the adults disappeared. GONE.

    They've survived hunger. They've survived lies. But the stakes keep rising, and the dystopian horror keeps building. Yet despite the simmering unrest left behind by so many battles, power struggles, and angry divides, there is a momentary calm in Perdido Beach.

    But enemies in the FAYZ don't just fade away, and in the quiet, deadly things are stirring, mutating, and finding their way free. The Darkness has found its way into the mind of its Nemesis at last and is controlling it through a haze of delirium and confusion. A highly contagious, fatal illness spreads at an alarming rate. Sinister, predatory insects terrorize Perdido Beach. And Sam, Astrid, Diana, and Caine are plagued by a growing doubt that they'll escape - or even survive - life in the FAYZ. With so much turmoil surrounding them, what desperate choices will they make when it comes to saving themselves and those they love?

    Plague, Michale Grant's fourth book in the bestselling Gone series, will satisfy dystopian fans of all ages.


     First Look: ***** Of course this was going to be amazing! It's part of the Gone series, after all, and I've only been waiting for this since last, oh, June, probably.  Now let's look critically at that cover, shall we?  That's definitely Astrid over there, who's lost some weight since posing for the cover of book one.  I'm guessing that's Drake next to her, except for the fact that he has two (normal) arms.  Now, if one of those had been completely out of the picture I wouldn't have thought twice, but now... And I'm pretty sure that's Sam and Brittney on the back. Or possibly Brianna, but I think it's Brittney. Overall, the cover for Lies is still my favorite.

    Setting: ***** 
    While the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) is certainly one of the last places I'd like to live, it's super awesome. Amazingly awesome. It's so vivid in my mind, I can almost smell the...uh...never mind. Yay for living inside giant bubbles.

    Characters: ***** 
    For a while I thought the author was going to pull a cruel one and kill off my two favorite characters. Not one, but two. Fortunately for the story's sake, he didn't. And now I suppose I can't tell you who those characters are.  Anyway, they are all real.  Very real.  All too real, in fact, especially when they're coughing their heads off.*  Compared to Bella and Edward's messed up child stalker relationship, Sam and Astrid are very realistic.  As individual characters, and as a couple.  Of course, pretty much everyone in this series now is mentally ill in one form or other. But that doesn't stop me from cheering for characters such as Dekka (who doesn't want a power like that?), Edilio, and even Caine at certain points. Drake is just freaky. And Diana...*crosses arms disapprovingly* Well, Diana, what did you think would happen? You had better hope that you can escape in the next nine months.

    Plot: ***** 
    Amazing. Just amazing. The sheer intensity started at the very beginning and it Did. Not. Let. Up. Wow. I'm still trying to catch my breath. I really, really want to know what happens next after that ending. Completely unpredictable all the way through.

    Uniqueness: *****  
    There's nothing quite like this. Ever.

    Writing: ****
    Michael Grant's writing is awesome. He has a great way of telling a story in an intense, epic way. He did tend to use commas where semicolons should have been, though. At least, if you ask me.

    Likes:
    All of it!  And I even got the sound and fury reference, which made me so proud of myself!  I mean, I've only been staring at it written on the wall across from me in English for the entire year now. Glad to see it came in handy.  Besides, stories that involve anything radioactive usually are good.

    Not-so-great:
    It did get a little creepy in places.  I didn't mind, but some people might.  It's creepy.  Not The Marbury Lens kind of creepy and freaky, but still. People kill people. People cough and their...never mind. You've been warned. And I do not approve of Caine and Diana's...togetherness (don't worry, it was only implied).  And...muahahaha!  I found a plot hole!  Warning: the following statement may contain spoilers.  You've been warned.  At the beginning, when Diana was looking at herself in the mirror or whatever she was doing, it said that her period had stopped.  And now she's pregnant.  Um....what?

    Total Score: *****
    I raced through this. It's just that awesome.  It's overflowing with suspense and action and super awesome powers.  The characters are very real, and you forget how young they really are, which makes it almost disturbing when you remember.  The reviews are right.  If Stephen King had written Lord of the Flies, it probably would have been something like this.  It's awesome.  But make sure you read Gone, Hunger, and Lies first!  What's my verdict?  Well, Michael Grant, I hope you write fast.

    *Not literally. Probably not literally. Well, now that you mention it....

    Reviews of other Gone novels:
    Fear (Gone #5)
    Light (Gone #6)

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Twilight (The Twilight Saga #1) by Stephanie Meyer

    Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife—between desire and danger. Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

    First Look: ***** Warning: this review is going to be extremely chaotic, and at times probably more like a rant than a review.  Just bear with me.  First off, you should know that I didn't read this because it looked interesting.  I didn't pick it up because I liked the cover, or because the plot drew me in.  I picked it up because I had heard that it was either "Really really good, amazing beyond belief" or a "worthless excuse for writing: a disgrace to the name of literature".  I decided that it was time to make up my own mind.  I figured I'd come down around the latter end of the spectrum.  

    Setting: *****  I've been to the general area where this story takes place.  I have to say, it really didn't rain all that much when I was there.  I never got a feel for it from this book, which is bad considering I should know what it's like.  It was just...bland.

    Characters: *****  I now understand why this book inspired the call for strong female characters in YA books.  Oh my goodness, where do I start?  Bella was utterly pathetic.  She was helpless.  She couldn't do anything for herself.  Her clumsiness was apparently supposed to make her relatable, but it didn't work.  Instead it just made her whiny and annoying.  Edward was waaaaaaay too perfect.  It just wasn't real.  And besides...he watches her sleep.  He's decades older than her.  In my book, that makes him a creeper child stalker that should go to jail.  But no, instead Bella's all "Oh my gosh he really loves me!"  No, no, no!  Reality check!  That isn't love, people!  It's stalking!  It also bothered me that Bella's parents were so completely clueless and came off as ignorant idiots.  That's just not real either. 

    Plot: ***** For starters, it took me more than four hundred pages to actually find a plot.  Not good.  Nothing happened for that beginning part.  It was just "Oh wow, he's hot, but he's creepy, but I still have a crush on him, but no, he wants to drink my blood, but that's not scary at all and now I love him more and oh, Edward, you sparkle!"  And the famed baseball scene...  I had heard it was brutal and bloody.  Um...all they did was talk and glare at an enemy vampire.  Yup, people, that sure is morbid.*  Once something actually, happened that plot was halfway decent, but it took way too long to get there.

    Uniqueness: ***** I'm not quite sure how to give this a uniqueness rating, since it's been copied over and over and over.

    Writing: ***** 
    There were places where I wondered "Am I reading this right?"  If I see the words "his muscled chest", "his beautiful gold-flecked color changing eyes", or "his perfect" anything, I will scream.  Really, we got it the first time around.  The author paid so much attention to irrelevant little details, like getting a bowl of cereal.  Do we care?  And about four pages at the beginning were spent talking about Bella getting a car.  I don't know about the rest of you, but nothing makes my eyes glaze over faster than talking about cars.

    Likes: I prepared myself for the worst.  It didn't quite get to the "I hate this so much I'm gonna burn it" range, but...

    Not-so-great: Quote: "You are so absurd."**  Words of wisdom from the sparkly dude.  Okay, Bella, listen up.  Your boyfriend is a vampire.  He thirsts for your blood.  You smell yummy to him.  He's telling you himself to stay away from him.  And you don't listen?  That's just not right!  And at the end...Bella wants to become a vampire.  The one and only Edward Cullen himself is telling her no.  Listen to the voice of reason!  This is my huge problem with this book.  Bella wants to give up her soul just so she can live forever with her immortal sparkly boyfriend.  She's giving up the chance to go to Heaven.  She's giving up her eternity with God.  Don't look me in the eyes and tell me that's right, because it's not.  It's just plain wrong.  And the sparkleman himself said that vampires are evil creatures.  But he's good?  How can you be good if you're inherently evil?  It doesn't make sense. 

    Total Score: ***** Wow.  This book is a fairly plotless pile of 500 pages.  The characters were one-dimensional and pathetic.  The romance was one-sided and the love interest is a child stalker.  The writing was awkward and paid attention to minute details that didn't matter one bit.  Just because this book has been copied over and over and over doesn't mean it deserves the attention.  That being said, I couldn't find it in myself to despise this book.  I didn't like it, but I can't find a good reason to want to burn it.  Still, I would never recommend it.


    *I feel mean doing this, but let's compare this to Brisingr, shall we?  Perspective: Brutal in Brisingr counts as the first fifty pages or so, where insane people...erm, deliberately hack off their own limbs.  Brutal in Twilight counts as "Hey, look, enemy vampires!  No way!  I'm so scared even though all they're doing is staring at us!"

    **"You're absurd!"
    "Why that's absurd!  Say that to my face!"
    "You're absurd!"  
    Oh yeah.
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