Saturday, February 28, 2015

Love a Blogger Saturday #3

Welcome back—it’s time to love a few more bloggers! If you haven’t been here the last few weeks, this is just a post to recognize a few of my favorite bloggers; maybe you know them, maybe you don’t, but I hope you take some time out of your day today to go say hello!

Of Battles, Dragons, and Swords of Adamant

Gillian has a beautiful blog design (which is not the most compelling reason to visit but it’s true) and I love her post topics. At the moment she’s hosting a year of giveaways, with each month corresponding to a different theme—it’s super cool! To be perfectly honest, though, my favorite posts come from her Villainy 101 sessions from The Agent. As we all know, I love villains, so that just makes those ideas perfect for me.

I think her most touching posts have been about her car accident and that scrape with death—sometimes we forget how dangerous reality can be.

Gossiping with Dragons

Imogen’s blog is awesome. I feel like I’ve been following it forever, which is probably true, actually. Not only are her graphics consistently beautiful, but she always recommends beautiful music, as well. No really, I don’t know how she writes and finds these things, because if I go on Youtube, I never come back. Imogen frequently talks about writing, whether it be creativity (or the lack thereof), poetry, or her own works. I love that she always gives you something to take away without taking too much of your time—concise and convenient.

Also, my best friend and I enjoyed her post about Rules in the Library.

Stori Tori’s Blog

Last but not least, we have Madame Victoria from Stori Tori’s blog. And also, it is my understanding that she draws her own stuff, which is super cool. Victoria is very good about posting Wonderful Words, mellifluous music, and different kinds of tea—which I think is rather brave, because even though I usually like tea, teas I don’t like usually make me feel like throwing up. She is way more willing to put unknown flavors in her mouth than I am!

Her most interesting post I’ve read (thus far) discusses diversity and stereotyping white people—I’d certainly be interested to see what you think!

Here ends my Saturdaily post. THANK YOU Gillian, Imogen, and Victoria for blogging—you three are awesome.

Stay tuned next week for a few more awesome bloggers!

Are you familiar with these blogs? Are you about to make yourself familiar? Who do you want to thank this week for being an awesome blogger?

Friday, February 27, 2015

WBI: James (Twilight)

All right, I realize Twilight is not the most popular series to ever exist—nonetheless, I found James an intriguing character study and one who fits perfectly into a category we haven’t discussed yet.

(Also, I’m tired, and I know Twilight well enough that I don’t have to actually go get the book to talk about him.)

Photo Credit: Twilight Wiki

WBI Profile

Classification :: Σ1357!&
Role :: Lone Wolf (autonomous villain)
Motivation :: evil (hurting Edward), psychology (wired to track and compete), lifestyle (vampires drink blood), personal gain (Bella as a trophy)
Bonus :: superpower (tracking skills), family ties (Victoria)

Click Me to Big Me

A Study

wary—the first time we meet James, he stands back and observes the scene

sneaky—in fact, it could be considered rather suspiscious that he lets Laurent act like the coven leader

(as a side note, I really like how the filmmakers encouraged that idea by giving Laurent the power when he says, “James, let’s not play with our food.”)

prepared—of course, in deceiving the Cullens, it’s obvious that James is accustomed to the vampire lifestyle and knows his game

vampire—obvious, but true: James is a vampire and claims all titles that come with it, including power over humans

normal—even though James is an antagonist, it is a vampire’s nature to want blood, and eating people is nothing personal

it’s personal—James sees how protective Edward is of his “snack” and in a blink he’s ready for the challenge: hurting Bella isn’t about hurting Bella; hurting Bella is about hurting Edward

gaming—on that note, this challenge is a game to James; he’s messing with the Cullens because it’s fun

skilled—James has brought his tracking skills to the other side; he is a master at what he does

teamwork—although Laurent was passing through, Victoria is James’ mate, and they work in tandem to overcome the Cullens

love—although Meyer doesn’t examine James’ emotion so much, we can see from Victoria’s actions in the subsequent books that they were mates and therefore perfect for one another; James has a heart to him (somewhere)

seeker—in order to set his trap, James hunts down Bella’s home and starts taking notes

manipulative—James lures Bella with the perfect bait, and he sets it up so she will believe him, as suited to her character

unforgiving—the vampire who created Alice was killed by James; he was cheated out of his snack and that was annoying enough to warrant death

gaining—by getting to Edward, James is boosting his own ego; this is another prize for his shelf

eager—James really, really wants Edward to try and avenge Bella; this is thrilling

polite—he really is rather polite and remembers to say please; apparently it’s not your lack of manners that makes you brutal

dramatic—filming Bella’s torture and death is a little over-the-top; again, this is his demonstration of his own power to the world

alone—in the end, Edward has the rest of his family to help him defeat James; without Victoria, James is alone

dead—through his pride or through his foolishness, James was burned in the fire that took the ballet studio

alone—regardless of anything else, James did everything because he felt like it; no one beyond his circle was involved

Big Idea

everything is not as it seems—James’ deception seems to fool the Cullens; because Edward-the-mind-reader doesn’t even catch on, it indicates that James was not only willing to participate in body but also in spirit. He stood back, observed the Cullens as he would any other enemy, and almost let them go, until they offered him a game to play. Then he let his true colors show.

the gain is gain for a reason—James, Laurent, and Victoria all drink human blood, but Laurent, the unattached vampire, only sees Bella as another human. Whatever. There are seven billion others. However, Bella is special to James because she is special to Edward. The personal gain he seeks comes from triumph over his enemies, it comes from showing his dominance, and it comes from playing with other people’s hearts. The reason he enjoys the hunt for Bella says a lot about his character, and why the rest of the book played out the way it did.

vampires are gods—James does not feel bad at all about breaking into Bella’s mom’s house. Or destroying the ballet studio or eating people or putting Charlie in danger, etcetera. James’ lifestyle, his innate nature, grants him the right to do whatever he wants when it comes to mortals. He sees himself as better. Because he’s better, he feels no qualms about killing Bella. She is just another bug.

there are different kinds of love—James loves Victoria the way all vampires love each other; essentially through perfect companionship, partnership, and physical-lovership as they carry on in the field. It adds to James’s character, but he doesn’t seem to understand the rest of the Cullens—Edward won’t go looking for Bella alone. Edward and Bella have Carlisle and Esme’s parental love, and the brotherly love of Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie, and Alice on their side. Granted, it is the numbers that eventually defeat James, but this is the reason Edward had the numbers to begin with. Being part of a family made him more protected against a rival vampire—and when said rival vampire didn’t take that into account, he got burned.

(Side note, this is where Victoria differs. She never once tries to meet with the Cullens alone or head-on. She’s tricky.)

And, hey, here’s a quote:

“I would just like to rub it in, just a little bit. The answer was there all along, and I was so afraid Edward would see that and ruin my fun. It happened once, oh, ages ago. The one and only time my prey escaped me.” –James, Twilight, pg 447

So, was that bearable? How do you think James served as a Lone Wolf? Would you ever write a Lone Wolf character yourself?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

One Lovely Blogger and Versatile Blogger Awards

So, covering two blog tags today: One Lovely Blogger and Versatile Blogger Award!

If you clicked through on the link to Victoria’s post two weeks ago, you may have realized that she actually nominated me for two gigs, but I decided to split them up, because I could. Thanks for the nomination, Victoria!

And, because the award Precious from Clockwork Desires nominated me for has basically the same requirements, I am doing them at once. (Thanks to you, too, Precious!)

The Rules:
♥ Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
♥ List the rules and display the award.
♥ Add 7 facts about yourself.
♥ Nominate 15 other bloggers.
♥ Follow the person who nominated you

I’m sure you guys sit around at your computers reloading Sometimes I’m a Story all day, wondering if I’m going to post or not and, if so, what will you learn about me, on account of I am so interesting.

Well, today is your lucky day (or unlucky, maybe, since I was being sarcastic and that probably doesn’t describe you at all).

Prepare yourself for seven things you may not have known about me.

1. My favorite color is gray. Then black. Then white. Then brown.

As I write this, I am wearing my gray snuggly bathrobe. I do not have any socks on, but I am wearing black sports shorts and a t-shirt that says I AM SHERLOCKED which is black and white.

2. If I were going to change the blog design, instead of hands there would just be purple velociraptors instead.

But I cannot draw a velociraptor or pay anyone to draw me velociraptors and also that sounds like a lot of work because I did just change this design a few months ago, by the way. Also, the velociraptor could have glasses and hold a pen in its claws. And maybe the blog's name would have to change to suit those velociraptors. Hm.

3. I hate my glasses.

They are pretty glasses, as glasses go, and I don’t look bad in them, but I don’t like having rims in my vision and I don’t like not having the tops of my ears. But I can’t pay for contacts. Blah.

4. I’m 5’1”.

You may not realize this but you are reading the words of a very short person. My only consolation is that my best friend is shorter. (En broma, Spranz.)

Then again... There are some advantages.

5. I like pets but I don’t think I could have them.

I’ve struggled with the idea of wanting pets because I feel like when I live on my own I should have some motivation to feed things other than myself, but pets smell bad. And I have asthma.

6. I am mentally really organized.

My Google calendar is like, a testament to my skills. I use everything on it daily, and track my life on it, and the day Google was down at school I flipped.

7. In deed I am not so organized.

I keep my school stuff organized, and my writing stuff more or less organized, but mostly everything is a ‘set it down and deal with it later’ matter when it comes to my bedroom.

Now you have learned a few things about me—yay! Also, thanks again to Victoria and Precious for tagging me!

(Also, I don't tag people on weekdays. So, you are welcome to leave now.)

What are things that I can learn about you? Interesting things? Funny things? Let me know what I don’t know!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fan Month: Why Bloggers Need You

If you’ve been around for the last week, you know that in just a few days Fan Month is starting up. There’s still a signup, still a giveaway, and you’re welcome, if you want to learn a little more about what exactly we’re going to do.

the reader
Flickr Credit: Caroline
But before you go look, perhaps you should take a moment and think about why I might go out of my way to promote a linkup like this. Everyone puts their own spin on this task; as for me, I’m jumping in all the way. No posts. Only sharing other people’s stuff. Being a reader first and a blogger second.

Why that sacrifice? It boils down to one simple idea:

Blogging requires a reciprocal relationship. 

It’s a little bit like getting married—if you think more about what you will get than what you can give, you’ll be in trouble.

(By the way, this doesn’t imply a union should be some kind of slavery, either—there should be a balance. If one party is dominating then maybe you should have a heart to heart talk with the Civil War and reestablish the federal government in your relationship.)

This principle applies to all blogs, too—not just the book blogs, or the teen personal blogs that you may be accustomed to seeing. Yes, that’s one option. But at the same time…
  • business blogs need to cater to their customers
  • writing blogs need to give useful advice
  • humor blogs need to make you laugh
  • financial blogs need to teach and guide responsibly
  • political blogs need to make a statement
  • book blogs need to share things people will (or won’t) read
  • personal blogs need to make you care

Except for that last one… They ALL need to make you care. Because whether your blog is trying to sell something, say something, share something, or simply help someone—it isn’t really worth it if the people on the other end aren’t interested.

That’s only half of the relationship, though.

Because, you see, if there aren’t people on the other end in the first place, then a blogger is trapped. Without you there to read the blog, the reciprocal relationship never happens.

As a blogger, sometimes I spend so much time being a blogger that I forget to be a reader, as well. I spend a lot of time looking at other blogs, but my interest is passing. I want to get back to what I’m doing.

However, if you try to blog on your own little island, no one will ever row over to visit.

So, Fan Month is a month to be a reader. A month to remember that, hey, we’re all in this together. A month where we can settle back and enjoy other people’s work without being preoccupied with our own, and a month to remind ourselves that other bloggers are just as important as we are.

This, of course, leaves the big question—what are you supposed to do about it? I brainstormed.
  • write a comment (this, by the way, has got to be the easiest one of them all)
  • share on Twitter
  • share on Facebook
  • pin on Pinterest
  • share on Tumblr
  • share on ALL THE PLACES
  • follow the writer on social media
  • take the time to read older posts
  • shoot them an email just to say hi
  • request a guest post
  • check out the blogs they love
  • check out the books they love
  • check out the music they love
  • offer praise
  • make a sock puppet of their face
  • write a review for their blog
  • write a review for their writing
  • give shout-outs in your own posts
  • specifically recommend them
  • take their advice and give them feedback
  • consider their advice
  • follow up on one of their posts
  • make a craft they recommend
  • buy their merchandise
  • share said merchandise
  • put their button on your community page
  • share their link(s)
  • propose a blogging toast
  • give to an organization they care about
  • give them food (if it wouldn’t be creepy)
  • thank them, often

Not a conclusive list—there’s plenty more you can do to tell someone you’re grateful.* And Fan Month is meant to serve others with that grace. Many people can’t join, and for some people, stepping out is hard.

But, at the same time, I have to believe that promoting that relationship is worth it—for all of us.

Hands Across Time
Flickr Credit: Bill Gracey

What do you think? What do you think is the best way to promote a reciprocal relationship in blogging? Will you join Fan Month? Or #FanMonth, since other people decided on a hashtag over on Aimee’s blog, I think. 

*the list is just thinking; it could be a bad idea to send someone food unless you knew that blogger in person, and it’s not like you have to do it all the time—but if you needed an idea for ONE thing, at least you have some ideas

Monday, February 23, 2015

Interview a Notebook: Spanish Notebook

If you recall my porcupine story, then you’ve already been introduced to this notebook—my Spanish diario. It’s hot off the press, as I finished it only earlier this month when I decided to leap the last hurdle and reach the last page. So I turned in thirty extra pages but that’s okay.

I went to my teacher and begged to have it come home on a weekend trip with me, so we’re going to take the opportunity to interview it while it’s here!

Tell a little bit about this notebook. Where did you get this notebook? Why did you start writing in it?

My Spanish teacher assigned us a free write, so I needed a notebook. Mom went to Staples and found some “Renewable Earth” notebooks, and she asked how many I wanted. I said three. She was skeptical, but I am using two for school, and I’ll use the third for writing when I get through the open ones.

How long did it take you to fill all the pages?

I began August 20, 2014 and ended at 11:40 PM, February 6, 2015. I crammed the last few pages—I once wrote over ten pages in a night, because I really wanted to finish the notebook while I was motivated.

Summarize the things you’ve written in the notebook. 

Basically anything that was on my mind—it’s like a continuous stream of thoughts. There’s plotlines, there’s what’s going on my life, my rants, my thoughts, rough drafts of blog posts, everything. Other people wrote like they expected their Spanish teacher to see it. I wrote like I was going to use what I wrote. Which I will.

Paste a snippet from within the story, as is. No editing allowed!

Trilobite- un serpiente de China 
Trilobite es de un templo en un pueblito de los tiempos antiguos, antes de Cristo, etcetera. Fue creado para decorar las paredes. Cuando él se juntó con la piedra, él empezó ayudar a los ciudadanos del pueblito, y con mucho éxito. Sin embargo, durante el siglo IXX tenía un accidente, y causó demasiado agua inundar al pueblo.  
Un explorador del gremio estaba sospechoso de que una quimera hubiera causado el problema cuando él encontró a un pueblo muriendo de hambre—las inundaciones mataron los campos y habían sido personas barridos de la tierra por el agua.  
El explorador le quitó a Trilobite del pueblo para neutralizarlo—su sentido de necesidad fue ruinado, y ahora él no podía confiar en sus habilidades nunca más. 
(Apunte: para neutralizarlo, ellos cambiaron sus percepciones de demasiado a demasiado poco.)

I apologize for the many errors. Sea lo que sea.

What’s the best doodle/brain bubble in the margins?

I couldn’t decide between the Soy Catbug! I drew upside down (based on the episode when he was born, complete with my inferior drawing skills) and a happy T-Rex.

Are you still working on anything originally written in this notebook?

Yes. The last thing I did to fill pages was to draw out character sketches of the chimeras in my current WIP—about a page for each one. I’ve been told they need some development, and I developed them, and then I turned them in which is why I had to beg for it back. Let me tell you: it’s hard to edit when you don’t have your notes.

Now all the pages are scanned, so I can refer to them whenever I want.

Do you think you would go back to anything written in this notebook?

Two stories. On the one hand, I wrote about 50,000 words of a superhero novel that has great characters, but I ended up falling through about halfway through the plot. I love the characters, so I might come back to it someday, but I don’t think that I am ready to write it just yet.

Secondly, as I approached the last page I got an idea I really want to pursue, basically summed up with “The Underworld Intern.” I don’t know exactly what I want out of it yet, but it would be Greek-mythology based and basically follow someone working through the ranks of the Judgment Bureaucracy.

(Also, Hades would be a main character—because I love Hades.)

Are you mostly embarrassed by this notebook, or mostly proud?

I’m actually quite proud of this one. I’ve never spent a lot of time writing in another language, and so I’m glad that this is something I can keep to prove that I know at least a little Spanish. Plus, due to my initials (“doble h”) and my status (“dobleagente”) my Spanish nickname is “Doble.” And I did doble the work, let me tell you.

What is your favorite thing about this notebook?

I like that I never held myself back. Usually when you know someone is going to read your notebook, you hold back, because what will that person think? But even though it was my teacher’s assignment, I maintained that it was MY notebook. The end.

Just for fun, edit the snippet from before—do you think you’ve grown?

(I’m actually going to translate it into English, because I assume most of you don’t speak Spanish.)

Trilobite- a Chinese dragon
Trilobite is from an ancient village’s temple, B.C., etcetera. He was created to decorate the walls. When he bonded with the stone, he began to help the townspeople, and successfully. However, during the nineteenth century he had an accident and caused too much water to flood the village. 
A guild explorer suspected that a chimera had caused the problem when he found the town, dying of hunger—the floods had killed the fields and people had been swept away by the water. 
The explorer took Trilobite from the village to neutralize him—his sense of need was ruined, and now he couldn’t trust in his abilities anymore. 
(Note: to neutralize him, they changed his perceptions of too much to too little.)

That’s what I’m working on this week! What about you? What are you working on? Drawn any doodles? Oh, and any great story ideas to share? 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Love a Blogger Saturday #2

As promised, the Saturday after Valentine’s Day has arrived, and that means it’s time to introduce a few more bloggers I love and enjoy. Through the end of March I’ll be posting a few blogs I love and enjoy each weekend, and maybe you’ll know them, maybe you don’t, but I hope you take some time to stop by this weekend and see what they’re all about.

Olympians Rule!

Okay, this one is a little weird just because this is actually the author blog of George O’Connor, who I do not fangirl about enough. This is the guy who actually convinced me that Hera and Zeus are awesome in their own right, and I am dying to read his latest book, Ares—in honor of which there have been a few fan art posts such as this and this and this and this—and I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. Anyway, posts are rare, but I always enjoy when the posts appear, because I. love. these. books.

And, if you want to get started falling in love, you can look at this post to see some fancy art.

Paper Fury

I love the way Cait writes. Like, I realize that she has over a thousand readers and that’s a pretty good indicator that a lot of people like the way she writes, but Cait puts character into her writing. I really enjoyed hearing about her NaNoWriMo experience, and I’ve really enjoyed participating in Beautiful People a few times. She’s a book blogger, and while I have enjoyed reviews like those for Ensnared or Trust Me, I’m Lying, I think one of her greatest services to me was demonstrating what book bloggers do—thus showing me why I don’t want to be one. I’m grateful.

She also recently posted a review of Fairest by Marissa Meyer and excuse me while I go choke on my longing.

T.T. Kesley

I feel bad, because for a long time I didn’t realize that Tara’s comments were getting filed as spam on my blog. However, it has not stopped me from enjoying her blog, which has dabbled with music lately (love songs and a Lyric tag), her own characters, and books/writing. She writes beautifully and rather succinctly, and probably my only complaint is that I don’t know if she has Twitter so I can’t mention her whenever I share one of her posts. Life is hard.

But, I still love reading her blog anyway: my favorite post I’ve read thus far was called Roots, and you should read it.

So basically, these are awesome people and THANK YOU FOR BLOGGING, to Tara and Cait and also George. Go visit them!

Are you familiar with these blogs? Are you about to make yourself familiar? Who do you want to thank this week for being an awesome blogger?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

TCWT February Blog Chain: And Now For Something Completely Different

(Friendly reminder; the giveaway for a gift card is still going from Sunday, and also, still begging for guest posters in March, if you are interested. Email me.)

Guess what day it is? TCWT day! And today we are talking about something that is a constant part of my life: music!

My Wunnerful Hosts
For example, right now I am listening to The Wiggles in Taiwanese (no, I have no idea what they’re saying, but Dorothy’s laugh sounds the same) and that’s going to be completely normal in this post. (But you already knew that.) Leading to this month’s question:

How does music relate to your writing?

The short answer: it doesn’t.

I mean, I completely invite you to check out the rest of the chain, and you will find beautiful writing and people who have different playlists for each and every novel they write or favorite movie soundtracks or different sounds that are super way meaningful.

And, um, I don’t do that.

I mean, I have 2-4 hour fantasy/Celtic tracks; the Riverdance album used to be up. I listened to The Lion King OBCR the other day, occasionally there is a Les Mis funk, and I will listen to my playlists at all the times of the day. Most of the time I just turn on Pandora when I want to get down to business.

I have one Pandora station (originally made in 2011), and I like all the things on there. It tends to centralize around pop, rock, new wave, Disney, country, metal, alternative, musicals, Celtic, instrumental, classical, and songs in different languages and it is good to listen to.

I recorded everything I listened to for an hour, which was mostly rock, with a few others mixed in, and then it turned into musicals and pop/children’s afterwards. Anyway, here’s a glimpse at what I listened to today.

The Ralph Covert one is gray because I thumbed that one down. And I love “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Great songs, and you are welcome to go hunt them down.

But the thing is… Sometimes songs are inspiration, and sure, maybe I’ll pick a certain track to meet my mood, but writing music isn’t a thing for me. Everything is work music. And if I can’t work while I’m listening to it, then I can’t play it.

That goes for homework. That goes for blogging. It goes for novel-writing and it goes for cleaning my room.

For some people, music is an almost spiritual experience, because music is one thing that can get in your veins and addict you and inspire you and open your mind, and it’s good because it’s not illegal. Certainly, there’s some music out there that can hurt us, but at the moment I’m listening to “Go Go Go Joseph” (okay, not all of us have gotten over our Andrew Lloyd Webber phase just yet, thanks) and I’m bopping around in my seat.

Lately I’ve been addicted to “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” and been humming along to that.

Owl City really kept me going on the walk home today.


*sigh* Songs about suicidal narcissists are great.

Anyway… Go read the other people’s blog posts. They have a fantastic grouping of instrumentals, movie tracks, and artists to suit your every mood.

But I’m also posting this, because I wanted to remind you: yes, there are writers who have that particular track, brand, style, album, or whatever to keep them going. Music is their muse. And that is perfectly fine.

It’s just that some of us listen to music that is red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach and ruby and olive and violet and fawn and lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve and cream and crimson and silver and rose and azure and lemon and russet and grey and purple and white and pink and orange and blue.

I mean that in the literal sense (*Joseph*). But I mean it in a figurative one, too. I don’t care what I’m listening to, really. It could be last week’s single or a hit from 50 years ago. Mellifluous or edgy. Instrumental or vocal.

I just need the kind that pumps me up for the next song.

Coral - Carisma Osasco
Flickr Credit: Wander Soares

So, what do you listen to while you write or work? Is it awesome? Is it The Beatles? I love The Beatles! But you can also like other things, too. Do you like Joseph? Hammond from Jurassic Park is in that movie. What are you listening to right now?

If you ARE in the blog chain—be sure to remind me to look at your post, if I haven’t visited already!

If you ARE NOT in the blog chain—go check out what everyone else has to say! There are some great music recs; I promise.

Prompt: “How does music relate to your writing?”

6th – Typewriter Music and Music and Writing

7th – Listen to Envision

8th – Music and Writing

9th – <My service provider doesn't believe this site exists...

10th – TCWT Blog Chain Post

11th – When Music and Writing Collide and TCWT February Blog Chain

12th – 8 Essential Tracks of Writing Playlists

13thWrite Me a Story, Sing Me a Song and Music is Love, Music is Life

14th – Joys of Music

15th – Prog Rock and Prog Writing and Music and Writing

16th – How Does Music Relate To Your Writing? and Music and Writing

17thMusic for the Pen and Where Words Fail, Music Speaks

18thME! and Do You Hear That?

19thHow Does Music Relate to Your Writing?

20thI Won't Write Until the Fat Lady Sings

21stTeens Can Write, Too! (February 2015) and My Favorite Music for Writing

22nd – and Music, and Writing

23rdA Taco King and Still a Winged Princess

24thHow Music Influences My Writing and Music and Writing

25thWhat Music Fuels Me?

26thWriting with Music and Teens Can Write, Too! February Blog Chain

27thFebruary TCWT Chain and

28th – (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

5 Ways to Stay Engaged While Reading Blog Posts

(Hey, guess what? If you haven't entered in the giveaway for an Amazon gift card or you want to participate in Fan Month, both of those things are still happening here!)

At this minute I am backed up on 43 blog posts on Bloglovin’, and the sad truth is that I am not going to get through them any time soon. For one thing, I do have a life outside of the Internet. Writing, school, etcetera.

However, another part is that I do spend some time on the posts that I read, and that means I can’t always get through the pile very quickly.

I mean, it’s important to write a good comment when you’ve read something, and to do that, you need to have a little bit of focus.

May 28th 2008 - Will Work For Attention
Flickr Credit: Stephen Poff
Here are a couple things that work for me:

1. Only Open One Post at a Time

I know this can sometimes be hard, especially if you aren’t using Bloglovin’, which (sometimes) keeps track of what you have or haven’t read—but one tab means one focal point and less switching around.

2. Mind Your Other Tabs

I know that if I’m on Pandora or Facebook, general maintenance or a new message can easily pull me away from what I’m reading. Either by signing out or playing long tracks, I look for a good 3-5 minutes I can spend on a post without getting distracted by my other activities.

3. Read it More Than Once

I don’t know about you people, but reading vertically is really hard for me. Sometimes it helps to go through things a couple times to make sure I didn’t glance over any of the details.

4. Keep Your Hand Off the Mouse

It is SO EASY to scroll with the scrolly wheel—but I find that if I allow myself to look at the screen without giving myself the option of moving the screen down, I am able to keep my attention better.

5. Think About the Comment

Admittedly, sometimes you can get caught up in what the comment is going to say, but by spending time thinking about your reaction, you’re also participating with the text—and that’s the point!

I know—it’s super easy to skim, and we’ve all written sweet nothings in the comments box, but we all have the chance to change. Staying engaged with what you’re reading is just another way to show your appreciation for the bloggers you love!

Now, this certainly isn’t a conclusive list, so I’ll ask YOU. How do you stay engaged with what you’re reading?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Interview a Notebook: Celtic Diary

(Remember, the giveaway and signup for Fan Month is still up! Go check it out!)

It’s Monday—and we’re going to interview another notebook! Sort of. The last two weeks we’ve taken a closer look at a few of my writer’s notebooks, but this time I thought I’d interview an old diary, just to mix things up.

Tell a little bit about this notebook. Where did you get this notebook? Why did you start writing in it?

This is the second journal I ever filled; I had just finished the first one, so I went to Barnes and Noble picked up this pretty design. :) I still love the cover, and it has an elastic strap and a pocket in the back.

Essentially, it was a good place to continue my thoughts and it was the most beautiful journal in the store.

How long did it take you to fill all the pages?

This journal lasted me from January 13, 2011 to May 1, 2011. (I date my pages in diaries, but not in journals.)

Summarize the things you’ve written in the notebook. 

Celtic Cross
Flickr Credit: Fiona Thomson
This is the latter half of my eighth grade year and the experiences I had with friends online and the things I was experiencing in that life. There’s me complaining and being a silly person and having much different thoughts about God than I have now—but I was young and innocent and didn’t know better.

Really, though, the person who is writing this and the person who wrote that are two different people entirely.

Paste a snippet from within the story, as is. No editing allowed!

(names are edited just because safety for other people; nothing personal, but this is the Internet)

We moved onto a different slubject on the channel, which was random. I made an account on Youtube for Nancy since her computer wasn’t letting her. She freaked out at first, since she didn’t exactly know I had her email, which I got from the forum. I said a bunch of stuff so she knew she was safe. Her last name is in her email: nsmith. As in Nancy Smith. But I promised her I wouldn’t let anyone have it. I meant all of the promises too. When I really make a promise, I keep it. Same with Casey. Same w/ the others.

Nancy also said that I mean a lot to her. I always stayed calm and stuff.

When Andrea said that she didn’t feel like she meant very much, I said that I couldn’t replace her. She’s one of a kind. About as rare as a $36.92 dollar bill.

According to Nancy, it’s in my personality to make people feel good. It’s embedded in my DNA. I said that I rarely feel like I’m doing stuff right. It’s only when I’m writing when I feel like I’m actually making something worth keeping. Here. On the IRC. In my story journal. That’s what I’m good at. :)

(Slubject was a thing, by the way. Not a typing error. XD)

What’s the best doodle/brain bubble in the margins?

I didn’t really doodle in this diary, but there is a pocket in the back with a few mementos. This one is my ticket to a talent show when my best friend was performing, and I was proud of her, because she was the first decent performance that night.

Also, my best friend was stalked by a random student who didn’t know her name but thought she was “kind of cute” and I called him a stalker, to the amusement of her family. I believe I also said something that led her mom to say, “Heather, you know lots of things.”

She wasn’t wrong.

Are you still working on anything originally written in this notebook?

Thank goodness, no. I mean, of course I’m still best friends with my best friend and I have maintained a few of my friendships, but this diary is basically a testament to things I shouldn’t have done.

Do you think you would go back to anything written in this notebook?

To be honest, I’ve really struggled getting through this notebook for this interview. It’s pretty on the outside… Not so pretty on the inside. I don’t read it often, and I definitely never want to go back to the situations in this book. Even though I wrote about happy times in my life, what I didn’t see at the time was that many of my friends were hurting me—maybe not intentionally, but still hurting me—and I was too naïve to recognize my situation or change it.

It almost hurts to read this thing… But I’ve never been one to say that pain is a bad thing, either.

Are you mostly embarrassed by this notebook, or mostly proud?

I’m ashamed. I don’t say embarrassed because in some of my other writer’s notebooks, I just didn’t have enough practice to write serious work, and they’re all first drafts. And we all have the right to laugh at the first drafts we wrote in eighth grade, I think.
Celtic Cross Redding Cemetery
Flickr Credit: Denise O'Brien

I am ashamed of this journal. To this day I sign my name in my own diary when I’ve finished—these things have never been letters for me, or anything more than a place to record my thoughts—but signing my name at the end feels final, and I like it that way.

But instead of signing Heather at the end of every entry, I wrote the name Shadow. A fictional character who was superior to me in every way—beautiful, an accomplished singer, of godly descent, dark and mysterious and adventurous and my perfect opposite. It wasn’t enough to be Heather, because I didn’t like Heather. I wanted to be Shadow.

And the fact that I didn’t even value myself makes me angry and upset. It’s also why you’ll see me go by Heather or HeroineHiding, and that’s it. I am never doing that to myself again.

What is your favorite thing about this notebook?

That it represents a time of the past. Like, I realize my life was not that bad. I really do. I was fed, my family loved me, I had an awesome BFF (still do), and I did well in school. But at the same time, the kinds of friends I had, the kinds of choices I made, the kinds of things I thought—it almost seems like I was in pain and didn’t even realize it.

So, I’m glad that I’m happier. I’m glad that I still have a best friend who brings me joy, that I’ve grown in my relationship with my family, and that I’m making more responsible choices when it comes to my future and with my emotions.

Just for fun, edit the snippet from before—do you think you’ve grown?

(since it’s a little hard to edit a set of true accounts, I think I will write a response)

I am privileged with secrets. It used to be names and coordinates and numbers—but it’s easy to learn your name; it’s another thing entirely to learn who you are.

I’m glad I help. I want to help! But my friendship has taken practice; my fidelity isn’t always easy. Whether it’s genetics or grace that makes me the way I am, I’m not so silly as to reduce myself to a writer alone anymore.

I don’t know everything. I’m certainly not good at everything. But I know how to listen. I know how to forgive. I can be there.

Being matters. Being there keeps people from being alone. Being there reminds them that I love them. Being there describes that I’m willing to sacrifice my time, and my efforts, and anything.

Did I even understand? Sure, I write. I have about fifty pounds of fan fiction to prove it. But did I realize? Did I truly stop to think?

We all have friends, and we all rely on each other when the going gets rough.

But did I know that my empathy was something that made me special?

Celtic Knot
Flickr Credit: Karen McQuilkin

So, that got heavier than I expected. Do you have a favorite joke? Do you keep a diary? I realize that not everyone is as excited to share their deep dark secrets the way I am (not) but hey, if you’ve got a diary story to share—share it!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fan Month: I Declare (Plus Giveaway)

I got home from school two hours ago (it’s Friday) so I can post this on Sunday and life is switching between the TCWT post I will post on Wednesday, Rafflecopter, InLinkz, Pandora, and so on. I’m also super stressed out because my parents are at parent-teacher conferences right now (I guarantee that my parents will come home feeling validated in regards to my sisters and me) and so the last few hours have been those of self-doubt and second-guessing.

And I have contemplated not doing this, because what kind of investments am I making with my life and what am I doing with this and what if I look bad, because I sound awkward.

But, I have realized: Fan Month isn’t about me.

Audience at Humanities Theatre
Flickr Credit: batmoo
The point of this is actually not about my blog, but about being a good follower to other bloggers. The giveaway is to reward awesome followers (although, admittedly, I cannot give everyone five dollars. Remember how I don’t get paid?). And the Love a Blogger posts (to be continued on Saturday) are meant to find the best in the blogs I follow.

I don’t know if you know how cool it is to have other people read the stuff that I write. If you didn’t know: it’s kind of awesome.

I always get excited when people agree with me, or decide to invest their time by commenting, or sharing my posts on Twitter. I love shout-outs, and conversations, and blog chains and all that good stuff. That’s how a community works.

And the thing about community is that it’s nice if other people give to me, but it works all the better when I give back to them as well.

By them, I mean you.

So, as a reminder, the focus of March is going to be on audience and fanship, and for one week, I am going to be missing because I am going to be focusing on being a good audience member instead of keeping track of my own blog.

This time, you are welcome to join in!

I think it helps to have a little bit of direction, so I have created a little questionnaire so that I (at the very least) know what I’m getting into next month. If you want to join in, you are welcome to (you can steal the picture and add in your url, even), and you can join the linky at the bottom. (Also, the italics are to help me clarify; do not feel obligated to include those.)

No, that is not an upside-down mustache.

1. When do you plan on being a fan?

(The general idea is to make a time solely for being an audience member. I’m going to do it for a week. Maybe you decide to be a fan on Tuesdays. Or between 3–4 PM. Whenever you’re riding the train. When can you give your attention to others?)

2. What goals will you set for yourself?

(Previously I went to ~200 posts and over 50 blogs; this year I think I want to do more than that. How many blogs do you want to visit? How many comments do you want to leave? How many new blogs do you want to find?)

3. Are you going to set any rules for yourself? Exceptions to those rules?

(You can look at my pre- and post- posts from last year for ideas; for example, sharing 5 posts from different blogs on Facebook daily, not posting on your blog but responding to comments, you must comment on every post you read, etcetera.)

4. Where do you plan on sharing the great posts you read?

(Facebook, Twitter, whatever. I actually have a whole Pinterest board where I pinned every post I read last time; I will be using it again.)

5. Where could you be a fan outside the blogosphere?

(This came to me randomly, but why not? My little sister plays piano; maybe for me it means sitting down and listening to her whole piece. Maybe it means sending a letter of appreciation to a teacher, or thanking a family friend for helping you out. Being a fan doesn’t just stop here, people.)


Yeah, five questions works. I’ll probably post a follow-up question-list later, for after Fan Month, to give you a little time to reflect on what happened. I'm not counting on a lot of people, but it's always good to reflect.

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for: the giveaway.

Pretty much I have broken all the rules. Short introductory post? NOOP. Week-long-or-less duration? NOOP. About 3-6 tasks for you to do? NOOP.

But I did want to tell you that stuff, I do want to give people time if they’re interested in filling out that questionnaire (I realize people have blog schedules and stuff), and the more I give you to do the bigger the stakes. I want to watch the world burn.

Come to think of it, I have spent way too long thinking about this post… *shakes head* Here, have a giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So, who’s up for Fan Month? Or for a giveaway? Either is cool. Stay tuned for the giveaway winner and my own response to the questions on March 1!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Beautiful People: Valentine's Day!

Essentially, the romance in my WIP is a flop. And I realize that, I do, which is why I originally wasn’t going to write this post because I thought it would be dumb to write about a romance I don’t know anything about.

And then I realized that probably the point is to use these questions to help develop your romance if you haven’t already.

Therefore, many thanks to Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In for hosting Beautiful People yet again.

Your Gal: Lindsay Gray, crush-struck girl of seventeen who is a little too accustomed to privilege and is a little overwhelmed by her impending future.

Your Guy: Quinn Casey, talented sportsman and vibrant academic who has always been pushed by his second-gen immigrant parents to take advantage of the opportunities they couldn’t.

1. How long have they been a couple?

Strictly speaking, they aren’t yet. They went on an exciting journey to South Carolina for a few days, and after that he took her out on a date, but they aren’t together-together. They were just with each other at the same time.

2. How did they first meet?

They always belonged to the same school district, so they knew each other that way, but they acquainted themselves as teenagers through various parties and were truly introduced when she accidentally thrust a coma-inducing illness upon him.

via Pinterest

3. What were their first thoughts of each other? (Love at first sight or “you’re freakishly annoying”?)

Lindsay doesn’t believe in love at first sight, but she was initially attracted by his face, which she finds nice to look at. Quinn, on the other hand, was initially indifferent and then confused. Lindsay looks fine, as things are, but he did not have much time to ponder the complexities of her character while he was in a coma. After that, he was told that she was in some way responsible for the incident, but he couldn’t understand why, and so was interested in what on earth she did.

4. What do they do that most annoys each other?

Quinn is a little pompous and a little too perfect, for Lindsay’s tastes. She likes him, of course, but sometimes he makes assumptions and decisions about or for others because he trusts in his own intellect. Also, because Lindsay has been struggling with her own self-worth as of late, everything good about him makes her feel worse about herself. It makes her angry.

Lindsay holds onto tradition and isn’t willing to take risks, in Quinn’s eyes. He likes moving forward and especially since breaking off his relationship with his parents, he has decided that traditions and religions are ultimate failures—science saved him, and if Lindsay believes in magic, or whatever, he simply has to find a way to prove the science behind it.

via Pinterest

5. Are their personalities opposite or similar?

I believe they’re both extroverted and enjoy the company of others, but Quinn has a lot more initiative than Lindsay, which is why he has a concealed carrier’s license and participates a lot more at school. Lindsay, on the other hand, tends to be more realistic—the executions of her parents ground her, and the knowledge that even if certain traditions or ideas are wrong, they can’t be immediately ended with the expectation that life will be perfect.

6. How would their lives be different without each other?

Lindsay wouldn’t have someone to hold her accountable on the journey, and she might even turn back because she would be too afraid to go on alone, or wouldn’t have enough resources by herself to keep going.

Quinn would never have entered a coma, but he also would have remained blind to a few of his parents’ idiosyncrasies that occasionally depend on tradition, which he hates, and a few behaviors that are truly unhealthy in a family.

via Pinterest

7. Are they ever embarrassed of each other?

Quinn never lets his relationships embarrass him, but Lindsay gets shy when she has to talk about him to the rest of her family.

8. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship?

Lindsay’s grandfather is concerned, mostly because he isn’t honestly interested in becoming a great-grandfather in the near future. He doesn’t dislike Quinn, but he’s also suspicious of boys.

via Pinterest

9. Do they see their relationship as long-term/leading to marriage?

No way. Quinn has had a few girlfriends before and doesn’t have any extra expectations placed on this one, and Lindsay never really considered marriage—she just liked his face. Neither of them thinks this is beyond a high school relationship.

10. If they could plan the “perfect outing” together, where would they go?

They would be in Lindsay’s room with the chimeras to keep them company, and watch a movie together. I would like to say Inception because I want to watch Inception, but I’m sure that if they were going to pick a Nolan film it would have to come from the Batman trilogy, because Trog loves her Christian Bale.

刊載於日本雜誌 I'll try to find the heart.2013年10月1日發行heart with smile.植物園,Taipei
Flickr Credit: Pan .
There you go.

I liked these questions, they really made me think—and so, thanks again to Cait and Sky for the great questions!

What are some of the romances in your WIPs like?

(Also, remember, next week Love a Blogger Saturday resumes! Who will you share some love with today?)

Friday, February 13, 2015

WBI: The Thénardiers (Les Mis Musical)

The Thénardiers, from Les Mis: no, I haven’t read the book, and if that bothers you, the x is at the top, thanks for stopping by! We’re going to talk about the musical, because I have a good portion of that thing memorized and I cannot read that book.

Photo Credit: Natalie G. (originally from 2012 production)
The Thénardiers are a husband and wife who initially work at a hash-house down the way where they take in and abuse a small girl called Cosette in her mother’s absence. They exploit their guests and the man who takes Cosette away; when the inn fails, they make money by begging, cheating, lying, and stealing from the dead. When Thénardier tries to rob Jean Valjean, he tips Javert off to Valjean’s true identity and later meets him again in the sewers. Later, the devious duo crash Cosette and Marius’s wedding and steal plates, and are kicked out into the sunset to be malicious ever after.

WBI Profile

Classification :: Ω179&
Role :: Omega (immoral common criminal)
Motivation :: evil (gaining pleasure from others’ misfortunes), gain (stealing goods), wealth (stealing money)
Bonus :: family ties (a married couple)

Click Me to Big Me!

A Study

enjoyable—the Thénardiers are easily the most evil characters, but their humor and songs are funny!

liars—you can never trust the word of a Thénardier, not ever

publicly crooked—the Thénardiers really make no secret of their vileness to their regular clientele; they’re swine and proud of it

charming—believe it or not, the Thénardiers have to con people kindly; their attitudes are usually the bait that catches the fish

reputable—in the intro to “Master of the House,” customers reflect on what they know of their host, and his notorious crimes

married—the Thénardiers often work in tandem, and are an excellent team to steal and cheat together

unattached—though married, the two seem to stay together due to the inherent benefits, rather than for love (“thinks he’s quite a lover but there’s not much there!”)

cold—the Thénardiers care little for Cosette until she becomes profitable to them; all relationships are about the transaction

greedy—there is nothing these two won’t do for money

talented—and, when it comes to their chosen profession, money is the stuff they smell

tightly-knit—a decade later when their luck has gone down, the Thénardiers and their band are still close and capable

disparaging—the spouses function in tandem, but they struggle in their relationship with their daughter and generally dislike her (Gavroche is another matter completely…)

detail-oriented—Thénardier in particular remembers exactly who Jean Valjean is, and that he is a wanted criminal

slimy—they aren’t below sweet-talking the police (not that Javert particularly cares)

sneaky—Thénardier is completely prepared to rob Valjean, nor above punishing his daughter for interrupting his plans

uncaring—neither parent is particularly moved when Eponine is shot at the barricade

opportunistic—when Thénardier is presented with bodies, he starts to salvage what he can from them in the sewers, uncaring of their identities beyond what he can find before they sink into the refuse

marketable—the Thénardiers crash Marius’s wedding and are more than happy to sell him information about the “murderous nature” of Jean Valjean

satisfied—these two are positively merry when they start singing about going to hell as they steal dinner plates from the party

immoral—Valjean and Javert are both led by a concept of God; Thénardier says it flatly in “Dog Eats the Dog” that his only master is death, he gets what he wants while he can, and only the harvest moon shines down

alive—despite their immorality, at the end of the musical, the Thénardiers are the only characters with moral significance who are still alive; Valjean and Javert are dead

Big Idea

humor works—let’s face it, the Thénardiers really suck. But, because “Master of the House” is a clap-along song and because they snag a few grins every now and again, you can’t despise them completely when they abandon Eponine or try to tarnish Jean Valjean’s reputation, because you know they’re entertaining.

pick your partnerships—Monsieur and Madame Thénardier picked profitable people to marry. Sure, she used to dream that she would meet a prince (and God Almighty, have you seen what’s happened since?) but they’re still married. They had kids. They stay together, always, but they don’t show many actions of love the way Valjean does towards Fantine or Marius towards Cosette. They stay together because they’re better together, and when in crime, you always need to pick your partners well.

omegas are not classy—I think “Beggar at the Feast” is pretty much a great example of how not-classy the Thénardiers are, but that is kind of the point. We like our villains to be competent, capable, full of twists and turns and excitement to make us cry. But there’s no two buts about it: the Thénardiers just want money. They have no ideals, they have little kindness. They are simply omegas, and that means they are the lowest scum the world of villains and antagonists has to offer.

play with morality—for Valjean, mercy is everything; for Javert, justice. When Javert’s understand of the world fails him he can’t cope and kills himself, when Valjean faces death he again falls into the merciful arms of his God on high. In the end, it’s almost the Thénardiers who win, because they are the ones still standing, and they know how to stay alive. Knowing that Victor Hugo had a very anti-Catholic stance, and this is just my speculation, if death is losing and life is winning, might he be saying something about the human condition?

Better yet, the Thénardiers are main characters so they sing in LOTS OF SONGS. “Master of the House” is one of my favorites and if you ever need to do the dishes, it is great for that. Others include “Waltz of Treachery,” “One Day More,” “Dog Eats Dog,” and “Beggars at the Feast,” though of course they appear in other songs.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to see a man about a barricade...

So, that was long. What did you think? How do you think of the Thénardiers as baddies? Yea? Nay? I know some people don’t like the musical, much less the characters, but I still think they function as lovely symbolic characters. Did they win? Discuss.

(Also, if you’ve only seen the movie, just pretend you’ve seen something better. I don’t want to think about that right now…)