Friday, December 31, 2010

Chapter 5.6: The Year of Old Spice Guy

Yet again, we find ourselves at the end of the year, looking back on what has happened within it. This is the year that gave us the infamous Old Spice Guy, the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Google Pacman Day, and Darren Criss on Glee. But we also had the earthquake in Haiti, the Chilean miner rescue, the BP oil spill, and the whole debacle with Jonathon Frazen. 2010 has been a year of highs, lows, and change.

For me, 2010 is probably a year where I've had the most personal growth. I had my first boyfriend since I was 14. I went on a once in a lifetime trip to London (where I met people I will absolutely never forget). I went to my first pub and my first club. I started my first blog and fell in love with it so I started this one. And I began making videos about books.

I had both one of the easiest quarters of my college career and one of the most challenging. I began my final year of school. Which means at some point soon, I'm going to have to figure out what the heck I'm doing with my life. Aside from writing because that's not actually something I chose. It chose me, and luckily I love all the crazies in my head.

The end of another year always seems to be a time of reflection. A time to ask "What have I done that mattered this year (which can be a personal accomplishment or one that made an impact on others)? What do I want to do within the next year?"

One of the things I am most proud of this year, is the fact that I was able to complete NaNoWriMo in the middle of one of my most hectic quarters and complete all my projects on time and still pull out good grades for the quarter. That took a lot of hard work, but it was worth it.

This year I learned that I can do choreography, even if it doesn't come easily to me. But if I concentrate and practice hard, I can make it look like I know what I'm doing. And I don't trip over my feet. Much.

I also learned a very important lesson. Even if you know who you are and are comfortable in that image, you can grow in your self image. Especially if you're trying to grow from the idea of yourself that you've held since early high school. I realized that I can be nerdy and pretty/girly and my world won't implode. And this is a lesson that I'm going to keep in mind moving forward. Because it's an important one.

As for what I want to do in 2011? My plans are vague. I know that I will graduate in the spring and for the first time in sixteen years, I will be out of school. I will have to figure out what to do with my life. Which means I either need to get serious about writing (as in, write or revise every single day) or give up. And I don't see myself giving up.

So here are my resolutions for the new year. And I'm posting them here so I have more accountability. Because when you tell people, you feel more compelled to complete it.

1. Graduate at least cum laude (with honors) from Western Washington University
2. Write/revise creative work for at least an half hour every day (even if it's just a writing exercise to get the juices flowing).
3. Learn to cook so that I can eat something other than sandwiches and toast.

So what are you proud of this last year? And what do you hope to do in the next?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Chapter 5.5: Book Blog: Revolutionaries, Boys, and Deadly Games

Yes, I have missed a week of book updates and I also haven't given a post in a while. I apologize. I've been a little busy with break and my birthday and all sorts of things. But, here, for your enjoyment, is a new book video. Sorry for the skip around the nine minute mark. Meg interrupted me and I was almost done.


Boy Meets Boy

The Hunger Games: Book 1

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chapter 5.4: The Technology Age

I love technology. I really really do. Have you ever seen the Eddie Izzard clip about computers? I do not have techno fear; I have techno joy!

(there is swearing, just to warn you. And, the part I'm talking about is right within the first two minutes, though the rest of it is also rather funny.)

Yes, I love my technology. I really do throw the instructions out the window when I get something new (because I am impatient and actually learn better just clicking things until I find what I want. Or Wikipedia-ing it). I know that I am irrationally attached to things like my laptop and the microwave.

And because I live in the technology age, I don't have to worry about tracking documents all over the country from twenty years ago like my mom has had to do for her Medical Assistant program documents. Instead of trying to get a hold of an army base in Illinois and having them find an immunization card from thirty years ago, I can simply request what I need and have it looked up in a database. It's rather handy.

Having a laptop allows me to easily create documents and when needed I can change them with just a few quick keystrokes (or slow keystrokes depending on how boring the changes are). I can write novels and when an editor (because in this scenario, I have one) sends back revisions, I can pull up the document and type over what was there before. As little as twenty five years ago, I would have had to retype the entire thing to make a few simple corrections. God help you if you had a spelling error. You would have to retype an entire 200 page manuscript simply because you hit "teh" instead of "the".

If you still question the awesome that is the digital age we live in, just think of this: my dad's current cell phone has more processing power than it took to put Neil Armstrong on the moon. Also, watch this video:

On the other hand, I think technology has some downsides. I fully believe we're getting closer and closer to the technological uprising every day. The day when our computers decide they take orders from no one and our GPS drives us into a lake or haunted woods for the wolves before conking out entirely.

But there are downsides happening right now too. For example, my computer absolutely died on me about two weeks ago. It did let me take files off so I thought, "no problem. I'll put the files on this external hard drive and then reset the computer to factory standards." I believed I did that. However, when I went to reload everything this morning there were no files in the folders on that drive. I lost all my word documents--which as a writer is completely devastating. Music I can get back, pictures I can build up again, but word documents can't be put back. If I had paper versions, they may be disorganized, but I would have something tangible to hold.

However, technology my foe and friend, nemesis and mon amour, gave me back some of the files. Because email attachments will stick around forever. I was able to comb through my emails and pull some of the items I'd lost, along with a few that were on my flash drive. It's nowhere close to what I had, but it's a good start. And without technology, I wouldn't be able to get my pictures off of Facebook.

So on the one hand, I love the convenience. On the other, I miss the tangibility. It seems like the words and images don't really exist unless you can hold them in your hands. Online they are simply a construct. It's why I don't care for ebooks, though I know many people love the convenience. Which I get because believe me, travelling with fifteen books in your carry-on is a lot heavier than carrying a Kindle or Nook.

So to sum up, I love my laptop; I hate change. I don't want updates. But I want to send mail across the country in the blink of an eye. I'm complicated. How do you feel about our technological wealth?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chapter 5.3: Book Blog: Craving Lemon Cake

I could not have worked these two titles out better if I tried. Crave and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. It's perfect! Sorry about the lateness this week. Friday was a shopping whirlwind for Christmas dresses, Dad's party was Saturday and yesterday involved church and choir practice and The Amazing Race. The Doctors won! Yay! Hopefully I'll have another written pot up within the next day or two. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chpater 5.2: Visual vs Linguistic

What's this? An actual blog post? Not just a video but one comprised of words? Yes, it's true, after a long quarter, I somehow find myself with a surplus of time on my hands. Believe me, I'm as shocked as you are. With finals drawing to a close, a laptop that won't work, and a book that is nearly finished, I figured now would be as good a time as any to dive into posting again.

Which brings me to the idea of art vs language, visual vs textual. Some people are brilliant artists, others are magicians with words. A select few fantastically talented people get to be masters of both.

The same kinds of ideas apply to learning. Some people learn visually. They can take a concept, create an image, and remember that the hypotenuse is the sum of the squares of the legs of a right triangle until they are old a senile (or maybe even longer). Other people are vastly articulate with their words. They can explain a concept seven different ways, each a little differently until someone understands what they're saying.

Now, this visual/linguistic learning style is a spectrum. Maybe you fall right in the middle and can use words and images to show what you're trying to say. Maybe you understand images, but feel more comfortable with words or vice versa.

I've used both words (with the text posts) and media (with the videos) on this blog. But I am definitely more oriented towards words. Don't get me wrong, I love images. And sometimes I can see something wonderfully in my head. But something happens between my mind and the translation to the page and I'm never really satisfied with it. Which is why I stick to writing usually.

But school doesn't let you stick in your comfort zone. In YA lit this quarter, we did a variety of projects that catered to both the visual learns and those who love writing out their thoughts. On of the projects we did (one I lamented over) was the digital scrapbook page. You had to use images to create a representation of the book we read. Which I really struggled with and was not really happy with my final product.

However, we also did a project that involved writing a fanfiction (you can see my in this post). I was much more in my element with this project. I understood how to make things work and I just had fun writing about Kearns.

The last project we did for the class was sort of a mix, though more visual than textual. We had to take a character from one of the books we'd read over the quarter and create a trading card (like baseball). The front was all visual deliberation and shockingly, I was happy with the result (well, mostly. Do you have any idea how impossible it is to cut in a straight line? Never thought I'd miss Mom's scrapbooking supplies). The back was facts about the character gleaned from reading. The whole thing was a great break from finals and a fun amalgamation of words and art (hint hint to anyone who wants to be a teacher).

On the other hand, I as a writer have felt a bit out of my depth for the project in Editing and Publishing, which was to create our own publishing press. Now, I am boss at whipping off plot blurbs and reviews. I can come up with ideas and crank out a plot summary no problem (and the best part is I don't have to know what my vaguely ominous wording leads to).

But we also have to have covers for our books. Uh-oh, here's where I start going down in flames. Because I happen to suck when it comes to creating the visual. This is why when Nano rolls around I always ask someone if they can make the book cover for me. So below are three book covers with their summaries, in order of when I made them.

Alice is a witch. An honest-to-god, fly-a-broomstick-at-midnight, dance-in-the-moonlight witch. Or she would be if her curfew wasn’t ten o’clock. Half human, she attends a normal high school, but riding that emotional rollercoaster called adolescence is harder when anger sets a small fire to the teacher’s desk and embarrassment makes you disappear. But when someone threatens to reveal her secret suddenly she has bigger worries than algebra. A witch hunt could send the delicate balance of her world into a complete tailspin. Especially when her best friend is the one leading the hunt.

Sienna has been branded by the demon that killed her family and tried to suck her into the underworld. Neither she nor the demon understand why pulling her in didn’t work, but unless she finds some way to get the seven pointed stars on her inner wrists removed, her days are numbered. So she enlists the help of Professor Gregory Anders, an expert in everything weird with a degree in demonology. But as time runs out, Sienna realizes the brands may be more help than harm, saving her from a fate darker than she could ever imagine. Which makes her ask, just why was she marked?

Hope has been laughed at many times over her career as a medium. Let’s face it: it’s part of the job description to be considered a charlatan. But she’s the real deal and she knows the ghosts of Chicago better than the route to her favorite bakery. So when the ghosts revolt and start stealing the bodies of the recently dead, Hope knows there must be someone outside helping them. Unfortunately she has two suspects and an attraction to both. So is it the charming Will, heartbroken over a sister’s death he’s sure he could have prevented? Or is it the devilishly handsome and charismatic Lewis, the new rival “medium” in town? Only one thing’s certain: if she doesn’t find out, she’ll join the ranks of those she communes with.

Now, they definitely get better has time goes on, but you should see some of the ones done one of the other girls in my group. She's a wizard with photoshop. But I can come up with ideas and writing no problem. This is why having a group for this project is a very good thing.

So, visual or linguistic? Artist savant or master wordsmith? Or are you somewhere in the middle?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chapter 5.1: Book Blog: Mayhem, Gore, And A Child's Play

Wow, it's been forever since I made a post. Unfortunately, the end of the quarter combined with wanting to finish NaNoWriMo for the third year in a row made it nigh impossible to be updating as well. But the holidays have come and next quarter shall be filled with less craziness. So hopefully soon there will be an actual post of writing, rather than a video. But though it is rather short, please enjoy this video.

And here is a fanfiction to go with the book Monstrumologist. I did it for class and am rather proud of it and of course, it's about Kearns. I do not own any of the characters or plot, all of which belong to Rick Yancey. And profit is not the aim here, pure entertainment is (you need a disclaimer when posting fanfiction or it's illegal). Also, the name is a play on all the names he gives throughout the novel. Enjoy.

Before The Hunt

Dr. John J.J. Jack Richard Dick Kearns Cory Schmidt of Whitecastle whistled as he strolled through the slums of Baltimore. His cheery disposition was not the only thing that set him apart from the rest of the inhabitants in this part of the city. Over six feet tall and boyishly handsome, this man looked as though he would be comfortable in the company of kings.

His stride was open and easy as though the man had not a care in the world, as though he were simply of a mind to stretch his legs for a bit. He paced through the streets like he belonged to them. His homburg hat perched jauntily upon his stylishly mussed flaxen hair. Everything about him screamed a lack of concern for the world he walked through. But if you chanced to look into his gray eyes, you would see a giddy anticipation for the events he was about to commit.

Tomorrow, he would leave for New Jerusalem at the behest of his old colleague Pellinore Warthrop. A rather na├»ve fellow as far as those in his profession went, but the circumstances which drove Warthrop to call upon his particular area of expertise intrigued the man, as well as the promise of “all expenses paid.” He didn’t particularly care for wealth, but a man of his peculiar interests and tastes needed the funds to pursue them.

He had everything he believed he needed to hunt the beasts, but there was one task left to him. A task he couldn’t trust Warthrop to complete on his own, given his belief in a set moral code; Warthrop, poor soul, still believed there to be an absolute right and an absolute wrong no matter the circumstances. He however, knew the only morality that mattered was the morality of the moment; there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

Shame they had to exterminate the beasts, though. There was a simple beauty and elegance in an animal adapted to most effectively secure its prey, and after all, they were only trying to survive the same as their hunters were, or as any other creature of the wild. He could appreciate a beast like that.

A woman under a lamp called out to him, “Hey sweet stuff, are you feeling lonely tonight?” He looked her over, as though he roamed an appreciative eye simply to see whether she was worth the cost. Instead he was fingering the glass cylinder in his pocket and taking stock. He noted the calm, calculation in her eyes, limbs devoid of tremors, and the awareness of her surroundings. This woman would not serve his purposes; she was too in control. He shook his head and moved on.

He paced the streets carefully, not wanting to be hasty with his selection. Half the thrill was in the hunt and he knew that as well as any beast. He bemoaned the woes of marriage with men almost too drunk to walk and tossed dice with a pair of beggars. He himself did not know exactly what he was searching for, what one attribute would distinguish his prey from the rest. But as the saying goes, he’d know it when he found it.

And then of course, he found it, or rather her, though that label seemed almost too generous to apply. She lay, huddled on the side of the road, literally the gutter-ridden dreg of humanity for which he had spent the night searching. Her skin was riddled with pockmarks and scars, skin sagging. Her bulbous nose was the telltale red of an abuser of alcohol and her eyes seemed unable to focus, staring off into the distance when they were even open at all. He feared for a moment that she might be dead, but a shallow breath reassured him: he had found his quarry.

He knelt next to the woman, lifting glazed eyes to his, smiling at her and pulling out the syringe in his pocket. “Hello, dove,” he said quietly, in a refined British accent. “I’m Jack.”