Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christmas Book Review - Part I

This might be kind of ironic, or maybe just annoying. I read two Christmas books in the past month. One I read at the end of November, and I haven't written a review for it yet. I will. I just keep leaving my notes on my desk, and not with my laptop.

The other book is a book I've read countless times, but I love it so much that I try and read it every Christmas. That book is The Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff.

I might be a bit biased. I received this book when I was 10 years old as a gift from my teacher. (Which would be the lovely Dianne Salerni if I'm remembering everything correctly.) I'm normally someone who can't really get into books about characters much younger than myself, but this one gets sweeter each time, despite the fact that the characters are ten and six.

The Christmas Doll is a relatively short book about two orphaned sisters, Lucy and Glory, stuck in London in the 1800's. They live in a horrid workhouse and the sickness is going around. Little girls start dying, and then little Glory starts coughing, and her older sister realizes that if they stay trapped in the workhouse, Glory will not survive. So Glory breaks the two of them out and they try to survive on the freezing cold streets with nothing but filthy rags for clothes, and made up memories Lucy tells Glory to give her hope.

Then by luck, the sisters come across a doll that they find in a muddy river. What makes this doll remarkable is that it is the unique doll in Lucy's stories, with the smile the curves up on one side making it ugly and beautiful at the same time. It's Glory's doll -- Morning Glory. The only problem is that Lucy made up Morning Glory, and now they found her.

The story goes on from there. Morning Glory is probably the start of the turning plot, so I won't go on myself. Here's what I have to say about the story.

Dolls usually creep me out. Especially since I saw this video. But there is a certain magic within the pages of this book that makes these dolls friendly, loving, and warm. Maybe it's the kindly Miss Thimblebee, or Glory's huge heart, but these dolls don't scare me.

Another thing I like about this book is the imagery. Years later, and I still get sucked into their world. I can feel the gray light of the workhouse and the bitter cold of the city streets. I become desperate for the warmth from the oyster stand and the muddy river. And I can feel myself consumed by the warmth and atmosphere of the shop at Number 9 Mulberry Lane. Even more, I feel like I'm in 19th Century London.

Something so special about this book is the relationship between the sisters. Nothing means more to Lucy than her little sister. She would do anything for Glory, and probably couldn't survive without her. And there is such trust and loyalty between the two, where Glory would do anything for Lucy just because she's her sister. And the love continues right through the very last page.

I must also commend the publishers, or whoever did the layout (yeah, I should figure that out) for starting each chapter with a sort of banner at the top of the page that shows the city skyline of the time. It sucks you into the time. Although I can't be sure if this is in every possible edition of the book.

The only negative I really have, besides the "perfect" ending (although I would hate to see it any other way with how young and innocent these girls are), is this one paragraph. It's a "little did she know" paragraph. "Little did she know that this one action would change the future for her and her sister forever." (Not a direct quote.) I absolutely can't stand when those are stuffed into stories because they tear the reader away from what's happening.

Overall, I love this story. It's a nice, light, holiday read. I would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

For the Love of Writing

Oh the things we do for the love of writing. I might have to suck it up and watch... *gulp* Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers.

Now let's be honest, that saying "girls love a man in uniform," doesn't usually fail to apply to me.

Yes, that is My Chemical Romance. Just go with it, I love that music video.

As much as I dislike history, historical fiction, any "history" class I've ever had, I have some sort of strange fascination with the World War II era. Actually, I have a fascination with that whole 40's through early 60's era. The dress, the hair, the mannerisms. Even the fact that they smoked in offices and women had way less rights (I'm not completely approving of those) I just love that era.

Well, a few nights ago, I was lying in bed, waiting to fall asleep, I came up with a new idea. Heh, I get a lot of good ideas while I'm falling asleep. Unfortunately, I'm too comfortable to bother getting up and scribble something down, and I lose it the next morning. This time, I refused to lose it. I turned on the obnoxiously bright light, found a pen and a notebook, and jotted down some barely legible notes. Actually, the handwriting was pretty legible, but the organization was a little... interesting.

Anyway, what it comes boiling down to is that this new story (that I will get to [at some point]) will be a modern day story, with parts that slip back into WWII. It'll be these history flashbacks that will push the plot forward. And I don't plan on basing it after real people unless I find a similar story. Chances are it's happened a few times anyway. Sort of.

So yeah. The funny thing is, I make such a big deal out of the fact that my dad loves Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. If either are on, he has to watch it, and I groan because I really don't care for war movies. (Despite my fascination with the time period.) And now I'm going to voluntarily watch them. The things I do for a good story.

(Don't worry, I plan on doing some real reading and additional research. This will just be the jump in.)

Christmas is Among Us

The first part of this post is in response to this week's Road Trip Wednesday. What would I ask Santa to bring me this year? That's a tough one. I don't really know what I want this year. How about a completed manuscript? But then I'd feel guilty for not actually writing it myself. An agent? Well, I suppose I should do that myself. A full time job! I need that. Or a boyfriend! That'd be nice. Seriously though, I actually don't know what I want besides a handful of books and music off of amazon.

Okay, I'll get into the spirit of things. What about this awesome bag? I'm a sucker for typewriters despite how utterly useless they are. Santa can bring me a cool colored vintage typewriter for Christmas. That'd be nice.

For the second part of this post, I wanted to share a little Christmas-time experience. It's that time of year, and a lot of the regular bloggers are sharing some Christmas stories and traditions, and mine is a little odd... just like everyone else, I image.

Every Christmas Eve, my family goes to Christmas Eve service at my Grandfather's church. It's almost an hour away, but my dad grew up there, and my older sister and I went there every Sunday until I was about 7, when we moved.

But I love it.

First, we head out to Ridley. (That's where I first grew up.) And the first thing we do when we get there is order Inside-Outs. But what is an inside out?

Oh gosh? What is that thing?

These things, as far as I can tell, are pretty exclusive. If you want one, you'd have to go to Double Decker Pizza in Ridley, PA. (Delaware County.) But what is it? Well, it's basically pizza dough that has been filled with sauce, cheese, and (optional: toppings,) folded over, and then thrown into a deep fryer. I guess that's basically the recipe for a calzone or stromboli, except for the fact that it’s deep fried instead of baked in the pizza oven, which is way better. Some people say it's nothing special, and refuse to admit that I'm right about this, but anyone who has tried it tends to side with me.

oh the hot, greasy mess! (wrapped.)

So we get them to go, and then eat them in the church parking lot. These things come hot so the cheese and sauce is melted, like liquid or magma or whatever, just sitting inside the dough. So when you take a bite, well the top is empty, but once you reach the mess, it drips, and it's hotter than hot candle wax. It's nearly impossible to eat a fresh one without spilling it all over oneself, but it's part of the tradition to spill it on our nice church clothes. You'd think after all these years, we'd learn our lesson and bring a bib or something, but no.

Then we go to church. A whole bunch of my Grandpa's friends whom I can't remember come up to me saying things like "oh remember me? I remember when you were just this tall." Thankfully, that attention has started to shift to my sister's daughter. We go in. The choir sings kind of out of tune to an organ that is out of tune. We listen to an odd message that I illustrate twice as odd in the program. (I'm still trying to live down the "Baby Jesus in a Bubble" year.) ...(The message was that God was the word, and the word was God, so I drew a picture of Baby Jesus in a bubble, and when the bubble popped he was born, and he told us the word was "God" like in Sesame Street... in case you were wondering.) My favorite part of that is when we turn the lights off and all light our candles and sing Silent Night. It's because of that I always associate the smell of candles that have just been blown out with Christmas. I even don't mind when the hot wax drips on my hand in the middle of a silent prayer.

So that's what I look forward to every year. Christmas day is great and all, but really nothing compared to the night before. (Hopefully I won't get scheduled to work. We close at 6, but I have to be at church by 7.) And we have a nice Christmas breakfast with Bacon (a rare thing our our house) and orange juice. But even as a young adult, the anticipation of "Santa" (or as my niece calls him "Tee-ta") is the best part.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Quick Break for a little Holiday Cheer

This song means a lot to me.

At my Alma mater (of high school) the winter band concert always closes with this song. The Wind Ensemble (the “better” of the two bands, the one you have to audition into with more than just basic instrumental skills) plays this song, and invites the alumni to join them and play on stage. Meanwhile, the Concert Band fills the auditorium aisles and sings each song with the audience.

It’s a long standing tradition. And although some of the more fun traditions have disappeared with the coming of a “more professional” band director (ie: percussionists bobbing up and down during “Deck the Halls” and the trombones standing up for their feature during “O Come All Ye Faithful”) it’s still a song that band kids of either band look forward to each year.

My Freshman and Sophomore years I stood in the aisles and encouraged the audience to sing along. My Junior and Senior years, I was lucky enough to play it. This year I am an alumni. I love this song.

Reminiscing over.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rabid Fangirl of the Wrong Kind

I am not the fangirl who camped out to see the latest Harry Potter movie at midnight. Or the one who reread the book in a night the night before going to see the movie. (Truthfully, I haven't seen it, and I haven't gotten past reading Order of the Phoenix.)

No, I'm fangirling about MCR's latest album. I took a moment to step back and examine their video, and the whole approach to the new album. If you'd like to read some of it, you can here:

This is my artistic analysis

and this will probably make no sense to you.

hey! At least I got some sort of writing done!
Also, keep in mind, my tumblr is my "character" in this album's universe.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cornbread and Porcupines

I've never been very good at titles, but that one sure caught your attention, didn't it?

Surprise, surprise! Since when have I had 16 followers? It took about 8 months, but now I have 16 followers! I'm amazed I interest that many people. Thanks people. I'll try to continue entertaining all of you.

In other news, I am doing a poor job at being a writer. And no, it's not just because I haven't done much NaNo-ing, or because I've been letting my inner fan-girl get the better of me. (No, I was not one of the many obsessed with the new Harry Potter movie, but I was one of those who flipped out about the latest My Chemical Romance video. And I may post a link to my artistic analysis of it on my tumblr once I get around to writing it.) No, I am a bad writer because last night I dreamt about my novel, and I can't remember it.

That should have been a good sign. To dream about a writer's novel in midst of working on it is a welcome experience. Especially since I dreamed the answer to my novel. I've been stuck, and in my dream I figured out how to kick it off into awesome-ness. The weird thing was, I didn't dream I was in it. I dreamt I was figuring it out, and it was so perfect. It gave a perfect explanation to a plot hole, and it kicked up the interest level.

Lo and behold, I can't remember. The only thing I can remember is the plot hole filler, but because I can't remember what the extra scene is that I would have to add, it opens up even more potential plot holes. Needless to say, I'll be wracking my brain and my subconscious for the answer to return. And I'll be tearing the beginning of this novel apart until I figure it out.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Totally Stuck

Just as the title of this blog states, I'm totally stuck. It happens to every writer at least once. To some it happens more than once. To me, I'm currently just stuck.

I was totally excited for NaNoWriMo this year. I figured it would get me to write something I've been dancing around for months.

*insert nervous laugh here*

It's been over a week since November started. I've turned 19, I've done early Christmas shopping, and I've written a grand total of 3000 words. I should actually be well over 15,000 words at this point. I should be a quarter of the way through the novel, and I'm only past chapter 1.

So what's the problem? Writer's block? Boredom? Procrastination? What is it that's hit me? What hits other writers in this predicament, and how do you overcome it?

For me, I know that what I have to do is throw away that pesky inner editor. The biggest problem is that I was not satisfied with the beginning, and I am not capable of skipping around. If I can kick out my inner editor, I think I may just be able to squeeze a novel out of my brain.

That's my update for you all. Anyone else working on NaNoWriMo? Anyone else stuck like me? Even if you're not participating in this challenge?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Excuses, excuses...

Reasons why I don't blog enough:
-I can't think of anything to write
-It's been done
-I've been writing
-I've been reading
-Oh look! Something shiny!
-I've been editing
-I've been procrastinating
-I was at work
-the power went out
-I didn't have any caffeine
-I forgot my password
-My computer crashed
-I temporarily forgot how to use a computer
-I was called away on a top secret mission
-I was hungry

Lame attempt at humor.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The End of October

This might be considered cheating because I haven't finished reading the book yet. Then again, October isn't over yet either. Regardless, Road Trip Wednesday wants to know what was the best book I read in October.

It would have to be Witch, by Christopher Pike.

I haven't read much of Christopher Pike. I read one book when I was in 10th grade, but I actually can't remember what happened at all, but I do know that I enjoyed the book while I was reading it. Since then, I've acquired a few more of his books, and I'm starting to put a dent in that pile.

Witch so far is pretty good. It's about a girl named Julia Florence. She is a witch. She can heal people with her touch, and she can see things happening elsewhere when she looks into still water with the sun shining on it. However, she accidentally looks at the water with the moon shining on it, and she has a vision of the future. Someone she has never met is going to die. Later that night, she meets him.

Julia works hard to protect him, and as a result, one of her very best friends is shot instead. This fills Julia with rage and a desire for revenge.

The writing is descriptive, not overdone. There are multiple viewpoints, but they're broken up by chapter, so you know who is the character of focus at all times. There's twists and turns that are a tad unpredictable. It's a very good read, and I can't wait to finish it before October ends.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What did you say about Parents in YA?

Such a beaten-to-death topic, I know, but I just want to get my opinion on the matter out.

Really quick:

I think the reason parents are so absent in YA is because young adults -- teenagers -- try their hardest to keep parents absent from their lives. I speak from experience. I didn't really want to deal with my parents as a (younger) teenager. Shouldn't a book about teenagers reflect that? YA books are about young adults, not their parents.


November... what comes to mind?
Leaves changing? Thanksgiving turkey? Christmas stuff already out?
How about election day? Or changing the clocks? Or my birthday? (19 years old!)
Possibly you think of NaNoWriMo?

To NaNo, or not to NaNo, that is the question. Some people hate this concept. Some people see it as appalling. It causes all these people to fill with unrealistic expectations. They write a book and think that they're gonna make it. Well yeah, if these people write their novel and then immediately ship them off to publishing houses.

I find NaNoWriMo an incredibly awesome thing. Had it not been for this month last year, I never would have completed a manuscript. Thankfully, I haven't sent it off yet. It's been in the editing stages for a year. (However, I haven't touched it in a while. I need to get that editing done.)

I think this is the kind of activity that works for me. I beat around the bush all the time. If I could win an award in procrastination, I wouldn't get it because I'd wait too long to get around to making it to the stage to accept. NaNoWriMo doesn't let me procrastinate. (Especially when I had a prize of a free proof copy. Unfortunately, that made everyone think that I had it published. How many times do I have to tell everybody that it isn't?)

Regardless of my rambling, I plan on participating again this year. 50,000 words or bust... hopefully more. Plot of choice? Two word: Stockholm's Syndrome.

Anyone else?

Monday, October 11, 2010

How Predictable

I finished reading another book, so I guess that means it's time for another book review. And no, that's not what's predictable. (Although maybe it is.)

What I'm talking about is the book The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore by Joan Lowery Nixon.

"Christina spots the masked man in the dark, lonely parking lot--but too late. She's grabbed, drugged, and whisked off to a dingy basement, where she struggles to stay alive.

When her family pays the kidnappers' ransom, Christina thinks her ordeal is over... but then discovers that her family thinks she orchestrated her own kidnapping! Christina is desperate. How far will she go to prove her innocence?"
Source: the back of the book

The premise is promising enough. Ooh! Girl gets kidnapped! She's being beaten to within an inch of her life with no food or water, tied up, scared out of her mind, confused. Just barely gets out, and now her parents don't believe her! But no. The premise builds up something that the story doesn't live up to.

I'd hate to spoil things, but I might end up doing that, so read with caution. I'll point out the obvious spoilers along the way:

To be blunt, this book was very predictable.


After Christina gets out, she sees this guy and there's a quick description and multiple mentions of him. Ding, ding! My sensors are going off -- this guy is going to be crucial to the plot from here on out! (I was right.) Then I get that feeling -- she's going to start having feelings for him! (I was right, and it brought back horrible Twilight memories.) I also get the feeling he's got an agenda, not just wanting to help Christina! (I was right.) Even from the very beginning, there were things that were probably intended to be foreshadowing, but made that sensor go off. Christina talks about a creepy guy in the beginning, and you know from there that this guy is the kidnapper. You didn't even have to wait for her to figure it out.

Then there are some nitpicky things. The novel is written in present tense. I'm not a big fan of present tense, but that's my opinion. So don't let that sway you. If you like present tense, you might like this book more. Second, the style of the writing seemed a tad immature to me, but again, that's my opinion.

And I truly believe the description on the back was a bit exaggerated. Christina "struggles to stay alive." Not quite the case. I won't say too much, because actually, what really happens has to do with the plot, and the twist it takes. It's just it read a little boring to me... for a kidnapping.

Apparently this book won the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. I wasn't very intrigued. I wasn't gripped by this book. I wasn't even scared for the character. I really don't know what to say. It's a good story, but I think it could have been better. That's my opinion, so I'll let you decide.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

They Never Came Home - A Book Review

This might be a new record. I finished exactly half of the book in one day.

They Never Came Home, by Lois Duncan.
Now this one, I never actually read, so I have a fresh perspective on it.

One weekend, Larry Drayfus and Dan Cotwell go camping in the mountains, and they never come back. Search party upon search party turn up zero results. They are declared dead. Then Larry's sister answers the phone, and a mysterious man says that Larry owes him a large sum of money.

Well, doesn't that just put everyone in a pickle. Joan (Larry's sister) can't possibly tell her parents. They've gone through so much grief already, what with Larry's disappearance/death. She's not taking it well either, seeing as Dan was her boyfriend. However, she takes it upon herself to sort out these matters, seeking help only from Dan's younger brother Frank.

Any more than that and I might spoil it. So I'll just deliver you my thoughts on what I read.

Honestly, it wasn't my favorite Lois Duncan book. Let alone the number of typos I encountered. (Misspelled words and even forgotten punctuation.) But the plot was slow moving. I feel like this book never really hit a climax. Oh it was suspenseful alright. It kept me wanting to know what was going to happen, but there was no real climax. More like several steep hills that you barely realized you went over.

Then there was the ending. (Don't worry, no spoilers.) Part of it seemed a bit far fetched. But then again, this book was written in 1969, and things were different back then. (Which also explains the language -- addressing one's daughter as "daughter," and telling someone to "can it.") So perhaps that even explains the slightly boring plot. In 1969 it might have been much more riveting, whereas in 2010, it's boring because it... happens more often? Something like that.

I did like the last chapter though. The last few paragraphs. And the last line especially. You know me, I'm not too keen on happy, puppies-and-rainbows-and-cupcakes-with-sprinkles-on-top endings. This was not one of those. It was almost morbid, but it was almost fitting. The character that gets in the final word -- you sympathize with him, and you're almost cheering him on in his final decision, despite how morally wrong it is.

I'll probably pick this book up again in the future. It's boring in parts, but it's also of a different time. Honestly, the plot reflects a different generation, but if you can sink into it, and believe you're a baby-boomer, (even if you are) then this book is pretty good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Writer's Therapy

Do you ever get to the point where everything you do just seems pointless? In the sense that whatever you write sounds horrible? And everything you create just seems to suck! Yes? At least for me anyway. Lately. Pretty much all summer. It got to the point where music was boring, and reading was boring. That's a sign that things are going downhill.

Then a few days ago, everything changed.

I sat down and picked up a book I left under my bed for almost a month and finished it in three days. Then I sat down with a pen and paper and started writing something that I'm really proud of. (Well, in style, not in topic. More on that later.)

So how did this happen? How did I suddenly go from bored out of my skull, and utterly depressed about my writing to metaphorically jumping with joy?

What I will call Writer's Therapy. This would be something that has come totally unexpected. Something that is totally different and catches you off guard, and gets you excited again. What was this for me though?

This is where I will tell you to cover your face and sigh. Yes, My Chemical Romance pulled me out of my slump. Honestly, they had good reason too. These guys have a reputation for being dark and dreary. Then a few weeks ago, they unveiled their new music and a trailer for the new album, and it's full of brightness and color. It's also loaded with a concept that a literary agent would probably consider "high concept" if it were a novel. (We're talking, future world where music, art, and expression are controlled by the government.)

Suddenly I was hit with a wave of creativity. I started writing again. Granted, it was more or less fan-fiction, but it put me back in a place I thought I would never return. I'm writing the way I wrote months ago, but haven't written like for months. It gives me hope.

Sometimes you need that epic change that pulls you out of a slump. My Writer's Therapy people. What's yours?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Abundance of Katherines - Book Review Time!

I just finished the book, and it coincides nicely with this week's Road Trip Wednesday!

The best book I read in September.... well, I think it was the only book I read in September. Somehow this month got away from me. (Actually, I know how, but I'm gonna spare you the details. For now. It may come up in a later post, but I'm gonna twist it into a writing-related post.)

So I started this book in the beginning of September, put it down. It actually spent a good week or two half under by bed. Then I picked it back up like, three days ago, and finished the second half.

What book? Why, An Abundance of Katherines of course, by the talented John Green.

Colin Singleton is a prodigy. He also has had 19 girlfriends, all named Katherine. When Katherine XIX dumps him, Colin and his friend Hassan go on a road trip and find themselves in the tiny little town of Gutshot, TN. There, Colin has his first Eureka moment, and begins work on a theorem that will predict the outcome of any relationship. And of course, having 19 relationships to base it off of, it should be easy, right? Apparently not.

This book is relatively good. It's a John Green book, that's for sure. As in, no love-sick teenage girls, (although Colin is a bit lovesick as he misses K-19 for a while.) No paranormal whats-its. Pure realism. Pure, seamless writing. Not much to hate about it. The only downside? Math.

Yes, that's right, there is math in the book. I did tell you Colin spends most of the book working on a theorem right? I did. And he thinks about it a lot. And it shows up a lot, in the form of equations and graphs that actually show up in the pages between passages of plot. Thankfully, John Green is able to make the story take precedence over the math. In fact, you can gloss over the graphs and equations, and the story still makes perfect sense. (And supposedly, the math makes sense too. I'll take his smart friend's word for it.)

There's another quirky thing about this book that makes it great and unique. Throughout the book, there are footnotes included. These are things that might normally be found in parentheses. What I like about them is that they give you a better sense of who Colin is because most of these footnotes include information that only a child prodigy would know, or even think about in certain situations. So it brings you closer to him.

I like this book. I liked Looking For Alaska better, but this was definitely a good book. It would probably fall somewhere in my top ten.

And for the record, I like the other cover better.

22,000 Metaphorical Words

They say a picture is worth 1000 words. How about a picture of 22 books?

I told you all that I keep my books on my piano. Yes, I do have a bookshelf, and yes, it is fully functional. But this thing is right next to my bed -- my bookshelf is on the other side of my room. (Although this reminds me of how when I was a youngin', I had a bed where the headboard was actually a bookshelf. It was rather distracting because as I was trying to fall asleep, I'd reach behind my head and just play with the books.)

So this is my "To Be Read" pile. Technically. There's actually a few more books in my bookshelf that I have yet to read, that I'm looking forward to read, but haven't made it to the piano yet. Most of these books I bought over the summer. 11 of them to be exact. (Whoa! That's actually half!) 1 I won in a contest. And if you'll notice, I do indeed have two copies of Killing Mr. Griffin and I Know What You Did Last Summer. The original print version, and the modern print version. I intend to read them back to back. (I still have to add the updated version of Don't Look Behind You, but I don't really feel like shelling out the cash for it right now.)

To top it off, I've read half of these books. Okay, 8 of them. Not including the "modern" versions of two of them.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to make a dent in my pile of books.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

8 Things You Never Needed to Know about Me

So an internet tag has been going around where the blogger answers eight questions, and then tags eight people to answer the same. I was tagged by Coffey, Tea, And Literary. And since I only have 8 followers, you're all tagged.

Be warned. There's some fangirliness/obsessing in here. (I'm only human.)

1. If you could have a superpower, what would you have? Why?
Normally I'd say Telekenisis so that I could screw with people and fly, but I think that'd make me lazy. So just the power of flight would be awesome. If I couldn't have that, then I'd choose orbing from Charmed, because that was just pretty cool.

2. Who is your style icon?
Probably My Chemical Romance from a theatrical standpoint. They've dictated a lot of my style, from my love of dark (slimming) colors and red, too even the nicer way of dress. They might be a dirty rock band, but they know how to clean up.

Honestly, I could go on a whole tangent about this band from their writing, to their theatrics, to their style, and their music. I'll save that for a later post so that you'll know what you're getting into, and so that I can organize it so that it's interesting.

3. What is your favorite quote?
"Writers are the only adults who get to spend all day in their pajamas playing with their imaginary friends." by, I forget who.

I actually have a whole list of favorite quotes, but they're all in reference to either MCR, Back to the Future, or Supernatural.

Oh, there's also this good one: "Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum viditur. -- whatever is said in Latin sounds profound."

4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?
When I was told I write with a style very similar to Sylvia Plath. I was floating on that for days.

5. What playlist/cd is on your ipod/cd player right now?
Now surely you know the answer to this. Currently it's Kaizers Orchestra. But it's been hopping between that and MCR because they just released half of a new single (yes, half of one single song.) and it's got a lot of energy to it.

Actually, there's two other things constantly playing. I've got a loop of rain falling for when I need to calm down, and I'm also working on aquiring the Supernatural Soundtrack. (I'm a sucker for soundtrack music. I also have the soundtracks to all the X-Men movies, and to the first Transformers movie.)

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Night, night, night, night, night. Ironically, I'm too jittery at night to write, but I can't keep my eyes open in the morning. (Slightly related note... caffeine has no effect on me.)

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Dogs. Dogs will always be there for you no matter what.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
My blog name actually started out from my gmail account. When I was a junior in high school, my German teacher needed us to make gmail accounts so we could make power point presentations and send them to her. I couldn't think of a name, and I wanted something unique. I wanted something to do with writing, and then for the second name... all I could think about was (roll your eyes now) how [the lead singer of a certain band] just had a daughter and her name was Bandit. (Seriously, what is it with famous people when they name their children. It's cute and all, but still.) Thus "writingbandit."

"B-b-but... you're Writer Renegade." Yes, that's right. When I decided to make a blog, I got paranoid. I thought "if I use 'bandit' in the name, will that mean that I steal from people?" I thought it would mean people would think I plagiarized everything. Then Renegade by Styx started playing on my computer and I was like... "got it!"

TL;DR version of it, I wanted to be something/someone different, and I couldn't get the song out of my head. It's also the name of my alter ego.


Okay, that's it for now. I tagged you, but you might not do this. If you do, leave the link in a comment for me to see.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Craziness... Here's Why:

Okay, so I might have been going just a little bit crazy for the past few days. Here's why:
  • the new season of Supernatural starts in 11 days.
  • My Chemical Romance (my favorite band ever... sorry if that offends you) is stirring up some serious shiz on the internet. A new album is on the horizon, and they're telling us nothing but cryptic messages. Fun. (Only half-sarcasm.)
  • I've discovered Kaizers Orchestra, and they are now my second favorite band. (Because who doesn't love the Norwegians?)
  • and Lois Duncan's new books are finally being released!
Holy shiz! I've been waiting for this for months! I randomly checked her website one day and she said she was rewriting and re-releasing several of her more popular YA suspense books. If you've been following my blog long enough, you'll already know how much I love her books and style of writing. (Some people don't like her. That's okay. To each his own, but I love her.)

So the first chunk of new editions is being released right now. The first two: Killing Mr. Griffin and I Know What You Did Last Summer (the book was better than the movie, and the two are very different.) I have already ordered from amazon. The third won't be released until October. I just think this is so cool. Here's why:

A lot of Lois Duncan's books were written a very long time ago. Like, generations ago. For example, Killing Mr. Griffin was first published in 1978. I Know What You Did Last Summer was published in 1973. One of my favorites, Ransom, was first published in... 1966! Okay, now you might be rolling your eyes. After all... A Clockwork Orange cane out in '62. The Great Gatsby was published in '22. But Gatsby was deliberately set in the 20's, was it not? And even Clockwork was set to be kind of a futuristic novel. Lois Duncan's novels here... they're "modern." They're supposed to "reflect the current age" if you will. And if you read them now, they clearly do not.

These kids do not have cell phones. They do not have caller ID. They do not have the internet. They lack information at their fingertips, and digital cameras, and they call their parents "mother" and "father." (Quite formal to our ears.)

And now Lois Duncan is rewriting them to fit the millennium. I think this is awesome, if not for a love of the author, but to see how she adapts them. I want to compare them and see what is gained and what is lost by modifying the stories. Honestly, I'm usually one to say "the original was way better than the remake!" or "you can't change it from what it's supposed to be!" But this is exciting. And of course, I couldn't resist that ever-growing urge to add to my bookshelf. (Have I mentioned that in the past three days, I've bought 8 books? And one of them was on impulse. ...Is there a book addiction support group anywhere? The ABBA? Addicted to Buying Books Anonymous...)

Now I don't think that I can end this post without a quick once-or-twice-over of that top list. And it will include pictures and graphics. Please forgive me. I need to spaz every now and then, and midnight seems like the perfect time. (And for the sake of the title...) Here's why:

Sam is mysteriously out of Hell, and Dean has been living the past year, not as a hunter, but as a husband and a dad. He's tucked his shirt in! (*gasp*) and worse of all, he keeps the Impala under a tarp!
Drive on Metallicar! drive on...

Kaizers Orchestra own a part of me now. Maybe it's just my fascination with other languages. Or maybe it's my fascination with fun, bouncy songs that have lyrics that don't fit the mood.

And as for MCR and their crazy shenanigans? All I have to say is... forget team Edward or team Jacob. I am team Dr. Death Defying.

...and because leather jackets are cool.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Book that took a Year to Read

In that, I'm referring to The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Yes, it took me a year... more or less. I picked up this book from the library in the beginning of August, 2009. I read through two and a half chapters before band camp started, so I returned the book, and hadn't gotten back to it.

Then one day this summer, I was going through a little shopping spree on Amazon, and what do you know, I realized I had an opportunity to read the book again if I bought it really cheap. (Because if I got it from the library again, I wouldn't finish it... again.)

I didn't get back into the book until literally a year later.

So now here's what I have to say about it.


If I can sum it up in one words it is "phew!" It's definitely not like anything I've ever read before. It's not bad, but it's not as gripping as I thought it would be. For all the praise it's gotten, I thought I'd get more interested in it. The beginning I liked, but the middle bored me. I didn't get into it again until the end, but that might have been just because I was reaching the finish line on the book.

I will praise the book though. The fact that it follows Holden Caulfield's stream of consciousness is interesting. It threw me a few times, but it was different. However, I kind of wanted to punch the kid in the face. He annoyed me.

With that, I do think it's worth a read. It's something you don't see anywhere, so from the perspective of a writer and a reader, it will help expand what you know about prose. (Somehow I feel like everyone around me has already read this book.)

And another thing... after reading it for a little while, I get the sudden urge to talk and curse like him. It's amazing what immersing yourself in a different text can do to your personality. Don't worry, I'm quickly coming out of it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Duff! - Contest

Now, I'm not an avid follower of The Duff. Although almost every blog I follow is. (No, this is not a book review.) But, this book, The Duff (by Kody Keplinger) was just released, after a long and grueling anticipation.

The Duff -- The Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Sounds like my life story, right? Ha!
In all seriousness, this kind of book normally would not appeal to me. There's a person on the cover, even worse... it's a close up. But the book kept popping up everywhere... including the "obnoxious" cover. (Don't get me wrong, I'm just joking around. At least this girl isn't all... ethreal.)

So I looked at the premise:
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

El gasp! I feel like I might read another story that I could relate to! (A rarity in the current publishing world.) (In my opinion... after all, I'm rather picky.)

So this book actually looks good. I'd like to read it. And what better way to read it than in a free copy of the book, that I could only win in the contest being held here: clicky!

No, I haven't won. Yes, I'd like to. Who doesn't like free books?
(On a related note, thank you to Dianne Salerni, for my new book from you!)

Enter the contest, don't... I'm just here to inform you. I'd rather you don't, so I could win more easily. If not, I'll probably buy the book anyway. I have an addiction to buying books. -- (currently I'm trying to keep myself from buying The Great Gatsby, Thirteen Reasons Why, Artichoke's Heart, The Replacements, The Haunting of Hill House, Gives Me Hope, Will Grayson Will Grayson, the modern versions of Lois Duncan's books, and even X-Men and Philosophy. -- Heehee, I'm a freak.)

So... that's that. Contest, I've led you there. Books, I must add to bookshelf. New blog post coming soon. Bag of candy corn empty. Must finish reading The Catcher in the Rye. Goodnight.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August Book

So, with the first of September, and another flip of the calendar page, it's time for me to contemplate the books I've read in August. ...Not many. I think I read two and a half books because I am absolutely lazy.

Band Geek Love, Artichoke's Heart, Catcher in the Rye. In that order, meaning I'm still in the middle of Catcher in the Rye. (By the way, this is my second attempt at reading it in over a year.)

Which book is the winner and gets to be deemed "The Best Book I Read in August?"

Artichoke's Heart, by Suzanne Supplee.

Honestly, this was a great book. The first few paragraphs were hard to get into, despite how easy it was to follow. I think it would have to be because the main character is southern, and while she doesn't speak with a visible dialect, she has a few verbal mannerisms about her that prove she's not from the Northeast. There is also just a way about her, her family, and her surroundings that just give it away without being too much, which I have to applaud. People always say that in writing, if you're going to place someone somewhere like that, you have to be careful not to overdo it. Suzanne Supplee did not.

Now you might be wondering what this book is about? Artichokes? Hearts? Who? What? Artichoke is actually a cruel nickname for the main character - Rosemary Goode. She's a fat girl. It's Christmas, and she's hit her all time low -- or high rather, on the scale. (And no, this isn't some "average" girl complaining that she's "fat." This girl is. She weighs over 200 pounds and wears pants larger than me.) (And no, I'm not going to divulge my weight on this blog.) Anyway, she was given this nickname by the cruel girls at school -- The Bluebirds -- when she wore a green puffy coat to school one day, years earlier.

Rosemary has no friends except for Mr. Hershey, Mr. Reese's, and Mr. Snicker's. She is ridiculed for her weight by her peers, her mother, her thinks-she-knows-everything aunt, and even the old ladies at her her mother's hair salon. Every time she thinks about being thin, or exercising, or having no desire to pig out, she indulges in chocolate.

Then one day, everything changes. And with a few bumps and bruises along the way, Rosemary realizes a few things... that I would have said here... but I didn't want to give anything away.

Here's what I like about this book.
  • The Southern-ness -- Like I said before, these things are just kind of sprinkled in, and aren't overwhelming. So it's much easier to understand than something like The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin. (If I never have to go near that book again, it'll be too soon.)
  • The issues of being FAT -- Speaking from experience, I've struggled with weight problems for most of my life. Ups, downs, it's there. And there are never really any books that really deal with something like this in a realistic way. Now I can't say I've been friendless because of my weight, but I'm also from a different place. This book deals with weight like it should.
  • The style -- it's light, it's funny, and it's easy to follow. You get to know Rosemary, and you feel for her. You feel like you're friends.
  • The ending -- no spoilers here. I just have to say I liked it. And it was a happy ending. (Shocker for me, I know!)
This book deals with weight, friendship, romance, single parents, annoying aunts, cancer, therapy, and chocolate. But it's very good. I picked it up from the library, but I plan to add it to my bookshelf soon. It's inspirational. I'd read it again, and I'll recommend it to anyone.

Friday, August 27, 2010

For Lack of a Better Title about Writer's Block

A lot of this post is to show a bunch of pictures I enjoy about writer's block. The rest is to complain discuss the setbacks of writer's block.

I think I've got to put an end to this. This sitting around, staring at that blinking cursor, waiting for the story to come out. That story that's just sitting there in my brain, but just doesn't seem to want to transfer out into compelling sentences. ("Chapter 2" is mocking me even more.) So I go to put an end to it, and I tell myself "just write! Whatever comes out, you can fix later." Then I find myself finishing those odds and ends -- those tasks that never seem to get completed until that dreaded Writer's Block rears it's ugly head.

The laundry is done! The dishes are put away! Oh I've been meaning to vacuum. I wanted to make that shirt a while ago. Ooh! I think I want to crochet another blanket! These YouTube videos are just so entertaining!

And then I see my piles of empty notebooks...

I'm insane at this point. How does one get over writer's block? That's what I want to know. When does it strike? Is it a seasonal thing? Is it a personal thing? Tips, tricks? I've got a few up my sleeve:
  • random writing prompts. I've compiled a list of 100 or so words, and with a random number generator, I tell myself I must write something about that word, in some way.
  • write and be happy. Like I said earlier. Don't get it right, get it written. There will always be time to fix it later.
  • or just write something random that will never reach the eyes of anyone, because then I'm at least writing something.
Anyone have anything else? I'd love to hear.
But at this point, I really do have to change. September, I will start fresh. In fact I hope tomorrow to spend the entire day editing my already written manuscript.

Happy writing!

Picture credits:
It Mocks Me
Writer's Block I (by a great friend of mine.)
writer's block.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Debut Novel Game

This was a cool little thing that I stumbled upon. It's the Debut Novel Game! Create your own debut novel book cover. Here's the steps to play:

1 - Go to Fake Name Generator. The name that appears is your author name.

2 - Go to Random Word Generator. The word listed under “Random Verb” is your title.

3 - Go to FlickrCC. Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.

4 - Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in, as desired.

5 - Post it to your site along with this text.

Now here's mine

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

If I Wrote The End...

Another Road Trip Wednesday post: If you could rewrite the ending of any book, how would you end it, and why.

I don't know... I could always say the obligatory Twilight. Because I think if Edward ate Bella in the end, it would have been better. And then I'd just throw Wolverine in there, and see if those adamantium claws can really cut through anything. ...Oh yeah, lets see if the Cullens can hold their own against the X Men. Doubt it.

Seriously though? I don't know. If I don't like the way a book ended, I think I usually block the entire book out. Wow, this is really stressing me out that I can't think of a book that I'd want to change the ending too.

Hey, how about my own? Because it sucks, and I've been meaning to change it anyway.

Okay, so not the best post, but I was too tempted to include that comic there.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Expressions and a Picture

Put quite simply...

Well, this picture certainly takes the phrase "I'm in love with a fictional character" to a new level.

Talk about getting wrapped up in your book.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Band Geek Love

While that is the title of the book I'm reviewing, that's also what we (band geeks) say about a book that obsesses over marching band.

So I just finished reading this book titled Band Geek Love, by Josie Bloss. I have a lot to say about this -- both praise and criticism alike.

Synopsis (written by me): Ellie is a senior, finally the section leader of her trumpet section. She's been waiting four years for this, to finally be the leader, to whip her section in to shape, and to show off in front of the entire band with her amazing trumpet solo. This is her year to shine. Then he shows up -- Connor -- the mysterious new trumpet player who turns everything upside down in Ellie's world, something she was trying to avoid since her freshman year fiasco.

First, I must commend Miss Josie Bloss on her use of marching band as a prevalent theme in a book. That doesn't happen very often. And when marching band does occur, it's done wrong. As a former band geek, I can safely say that this book touched upon every aspect of marching band, and got it right down to a T -- right down to the color of the polo shirts they had to wear! (Although that was merely a coincidence.) I won't get into the details of marching band, but if by the end of this post you want to read this book, I think you'll be able to follow along nicely, and maybe gain some respect for us bandos.

Next, I will criticize a few things. Basically, this plot could fit into any other group in high school -- preps, cheerleaders, jocks, art kids. It just happens to be in band. The romance. I know, I know... it's a YA novel, so romance is almost a given, and it's pretty much the major plot point in here, but--this book is supposed to be a quirky, yet realistic novel, and I felt like I was reading a band geek version of Twilight.

Now I mean that in the best way possible of course. There were no sparkling vampires, or games of thunderstorm baseball, but what was in here, was the arrival of a mysterious new boy who was incredibly hot, and distracted the female protagonist to no end. Not to mention, she just went three years ignoring boys, and now suddenly she can't keep her mind off of this new one because for some reason that no one can explain, he's attracted to her.

Now, am I the only one who thinks that is just a little bit suspicious? I for one, am not fond of unexplainable attraction. He's hot, okay, but coming from a band geek who watched many hot band geeks march around in front of her, hot guys really don't distract as much as you'd think. Whatever Connor's initial attraction to Ellie is, I don't understand, because the only thing I picked up on right away was "you're cute when you yell." (Not a direct quote.)

I just had to touch on the ending. (Not a spoiler, I hope.) I felt like it was one of those "and then I woke up" occurrences... where the author kind of wrote herself into a corner, and she had very few options out. Plus, it was too sappy for my taste, but with the style of the book, it did fit nicely. I don't think it could have ended a different way (aside from that suspicious "deus ex machina" thing.... oh yeah, I went there. I learned things in english class!)

Aside from that, there are things I will praise about this book. It was well written. I connected with the characters. I won't say that Ellie didn't piss me off from time to time, but then again, so do a lot of people I know. And she was just reacting to the drama... something I tend to shy away from. But... it was a nice, light book. It was a quick, easy, entertaining read. And, get this, I think it had a deep message.

Ellie transformed in this book. So much so, I almost feel like the book could be edging on literary. (Not completely.) It's just that when the book starts, Ellie starts out thinking she is one person. She is so sure she is the band geek, completely devoted to her trumpet, against dating in high school, etc, etc, etc. But by the end, everything she knew was turned upside down, and by the end, she realizes she is not who she thought she was. There's a lot of self discovery here, although jammed into a tight package.

Overall, it's a good book. I wouldn't pick up the sequel, but the first one is worth a read.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Metaphorical Underwear Drawer

Road Trip Wednesday asks another great question -- What does your character hide in their underwear drawer - or other secret location?

So it's funny they should ask that question, because for my current characters -- written and unwritten -- the underwear drawer remains empty, or for some of them... nonexistent.

I want to touch on my characters from my completed WIP. (Is that a bit of an oxymoron?) These characters have nothing to hide except secrets. At least in Olivia's case, because as I'm writing this, I think Benjamin is, in fact, hiding something. And it's so much a secret that it never made it into the manuscript. (Although now I'm thinking maybe it should.) It's just that these two characters have a huge secret -- something along the lines of the power of mind control. How do you hide that in an underwear drawer, unless it's the underwear drawer of your mind?

Okay, now that may be getting a little personal. I can only imagine what might exist in a mental underwear drawer. Possibly creepy. But think about it... Benjamin and Olivia, they've got this big secret, (and of course lets ignore the idea that they could make people forget if they ever found out... which then leads to the "what if they have earplugs" discussion... another post for another time... if I ever get to that as it might not interest people who haven't read the book,) and so where do they hide it? Certainly not in a tangible underwear drawer. But possibly a metaphorical one.

Then we think about Benjamin. Like I said, he's got something that might really be hidden under his tighty-whities or boxer shorts. (Seriously, I never really thought about what underwear he'd wear, so... I'm just going to stop there.) He got himself caught up in a bad situation with his underwear drawer-worthy secret. He let get things out of hand, and now that's a secret that leaves physical evidence. It's the kind of evidence he'd need to scoop up and hide before anybody could pin it on him. (Now if only I could figure out what this evidence is. Come to think of it, it might actually not exist.)


I hate to do this, but I'm making this post even longer. My unwritten WIP, (not true, I have a chapter written,) involves a different kind of underwear drawer. Poor Mason doesn't have a home, so he doesn't have an underwear drawer. He's got a duffel bag that he just happens to keep underwear in. But surely he must have something at the bottom of it.

The perfunctory response would be "his gun" or "a deck of cards." While both are true, they are only sort of true. The deck of cards is a spare, in case he loses the one in his back pocket. And as for the gun? He tends to keep that under his pillow, or hidden on his person. He only hides it in the duffel bag/underwear drawer when absolutely necessary. (Hey! I spelled necessary right on the first try! That's... a first!) Anyway....

Despite that, Mason does have something hidden at the bottom of the duffel bag, under all the underwear his father wouldn't dare touch, because lets face it, they're both grungy, but they're not about to touch another guy's underwear. So what is it that Mason -- some sort of master criminal -- hides under all that? Maybe a picture of his mom, because after all, he's got to feel some sort of guilt for leaving her when he was twelve to join his father in his illegal escapades.


Wow, this was fun. I discovered a lot about my characters.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Constant Reminder

I now have a constant reminder on my desk... constantly reminding me... to write.

I just got it in the mail today. My little sign that will nag me every minute I'm on the computer. It's beautiful, it's awesome, it has that "new wood" smell, I love it. Dude at Etsy is awesome. His shop is called Banished. So look him up if you want your own sign. You can get it to say anything.

And if you're really bored, don't hesitate to check out my shop, Pandasandpansies, and consider buying something from me!
...shameless self-promotion over...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

When Nostalgia Hits the Graduate

So, I've just gotten to thinking about how I've finally graduated from high school. I'm thrilled to be out of that "hell hole" known as "public education," but sometimes I still miss it.

Ha! I know. I've been out of school for two months. I've been mentally checked out of that place for seven. But what I'm talking about is the small things that I'm going to miss. Now I could go on and on about how I'm going to miss marching band (is it crazy that I miss having that uniform hanging in my closet?) or those lunches with my friends (because I had two this year), or the few teachers and classes that were awesome (German!), but I won't. That's as far as I'll go with that. Instead I must muse upon what school did to me in the creative sense, and everything I'll surprising miss about that -- and then wonder how I'll replace these things...

  • The bus -- If you could ride that bus you'd wonder why I didn't just suck it up and walk ten miles home. I had to rush to it to make sure I actually got a seat, and then I'd jam my headphones in my ear so I didn't have to hear the inappropriate comments. But you know what made this something I'll miss? That forty minute ride home (what's wrong with that... forty minutes for 10 miles?) was where so many great ideas/daydreams came to mind that I had infinite stuff to write when I got home.

    Then we'll consider the band bus. The ride home was the same. I couldn't look out the window in this case, so I'd sleep, but same idea. And the way to our performances, I wrote. An excellent time to write if I do say so myself.

  • Lunches -- I had two, because I was a senior. And so I spent an hour and a half writing, while also obsessing about my characters to my friends. Yes, I was frequently called crazy. In fact, one good friend of mine constantly told me I needed to find help. But if it wasn't for them all listening, and their occasional good ideas, I'd be lost, drowning in a sea of insanity.

  • A handful of classes -- Granted, this year was an easy one for me, but I still wrote like crazy during class when I should have been paying attention. (And somehow I still got perfect grades.) But this year was great. I sat in the front row in my Psychology class, and half the time, I was writing part of my novel. In Science, I sat in the back, and we watched so many movies, I just wrote part of my novel. I remember one class, I checked out completely and stared out the window. It was snowing. I wrote a piece of flash fiction in my head that I translated on to paper later, but it was awesome. Meanwhile, I have no idea what we learned, other than the fact that it was something to do with world history.

  • Possibly the biggest thing I'll miss -- the setting -- which is an all important thing when writing YA. I can only hope I've retained enough memories to keep my settings realistic. My freshman friends will only remain in school for so long, and the authorities frown on adults stalking children.
So, that's that. I don't know what else to say. School was a blast, but I don't think I'll miss it that much. Just those little things. And now I have to find new ways to fill those gaps. Let alone the fact that there just aren't any recreational marching bands like my alma mater, but we don't have a public bus system for me to stare out the window of (and I can't zone out while driving -- that's dangerous). And blocking out lectures and lessons is easier than blocking out nothing (go figure that one out.) So who knows. Maybe I'll just have to take a risky drive to the grocery store (by not thinking) and sit in the cafe, and hope a lot of people crowd around me. (Which might not happen if I decide to wear a 'crazy writer' outfit. ... that would be fun.)

I'll stop rambling now.
And in case you haven't noticed by now... I don't plan out my blog posts. I just write them.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Demons of the Summer

I think it's time for a fun post... but it may just be because my brain is melting in this heat. For whatever reason, I'm finding it easier to type a pointless blog post than I'm finding it to write the second chapter to a book I'm working on... one that I'm really excited about, but can't seem to get two more words written down about it.

Anyway, anyone else feeling the heat wave? At least up here in the northeast. Phew! What's this, our hundredth heat wave of the season? And then the added bonus of humidity! Yeah... Sure, we've got the air conditioner on, but my room sits in the weirdest place in the house, meaning it's got the worst insulation and the worst air circulation from the AC. Result? It's the warmest room in the house. The thermometer on my ceiling fan says 84 degrees when I go to bed at night. (One night it actually said 87.)

So I tell myself, "It's summer break, dude! Get over it. Lounge around, sit downstairs where it's cooler, ignore that computer, and write in your notebook! You've got a million of 'em!" Then I respond to myself "I would, but the heat is seeping in. The lazy days of summer are devouring me."

Thus the "demons" of summer have attacked. By now, my readers, I'm sure you know how much I love the show Supernatural. I'm just thinking about these demons -- the summer demons -- possessing someone, seeping of evil, forcing their eyes to turn all black, and causing mayhem and misery everywhere they goes. Ha! Maybe it is a demon. Makes me think of the horsemen they fit into the latest season. *cue the dramatic movie trailer voice* "First there was War, then Famine, and Pestilence and Death... and you thought it was over. But you were wrong. Coming this summer, to a theater near you, it's the Demons of Summer!" And then the black clouds of demon smoke descend upon unsuspecting writers who are trying to use this free time to write, but are instead forced into a state of melancholy.

Now that that fun paragraph is over, I'm serious. I'm spending all day lounging with a notebook in my lap and a pen in my hand. Every ten minutes I'm pulling my hair into a ponytail or pulling it back out because of the change in room temperature, and I'm being attacked by great ideas that I can't seem to organize or write down.

I'm starting to notice a trend. Last June, I tried to write a book. I failed. I tried again in August, and it just didn't even start. Then the cool weather seeped in, November started, and I completed a novel in a month! Now it's a year past that first attempt, it's July, I've written roughing 2000 words... barely a chapter, and it's been 12 days since then. What is it about the summer? Is it just me? Or does it affect anyone else the same way?

On a side note, you know the heat is really getting to you when you start raging at the internet... more specifically, the Target website because they don't have the laptop listed that you want when you were hoping to find it at a cheaper price. The poor internet... it's not his fault. Hmm... maybe if I went to bed before 1am for a start...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Long Overdue Post - Looking For Alaska

Long overdue in two ways: I'm sure plenty of you have read this by now, and finished it a few weeks ago, actually.

"If people were like rain, then I was drizzle and she was a hurricane."

Above is just one quote that stood out to me with such ferocity, I'm amazed the words didn't jump off the page and strangle me. Who can come up with a quote that says so much in such a simple way? Well, obviously John Green can. This man is a literary genius, in my honest opinion.

Now yes, I have only read one book by Mr. Green. But I have An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns sitting on my piano (...yes, that's where they are sitting, seeing as my piano is right next to my bed...) anxiously waiting to be read as much as I am waiting anxiously to read them. But for now, this post is about Looking For Alaska.

Who here has read this book? Show of hands please... yeah, I figure that's probably most of you. If not, it's probably on your list. And if I'm still wrong, then don't I seem pretentious? If you haven't read it, Looking for Alaska is about a boy named Miles "Pudge" Halter. He decides to leave his boring life in Florida in search of "the great perhaps." He is fascinated with last words, and that's about the only thing that makes him interesting, to start. Then he moves to a boarding school, Culver Creek to be exact. There, Miles meets his roommate "The Colonel," who is the one who deemed Miles "Pudge." Shortly after, Miles... er, Pudge, collides (not literally) into Alaska Young. Surprisingly, Alaska is not a nickname, but it fits the outrageous personality that she has.

So the trio, along with Takumi and occasionally Lara, spend the start of the year smoking, drinking, and pulling pranks. And it all leads up to a fantastic prank, and a night that goes horribly wrong. And that's it, without me trying to give away spoilers.

There are so many things about this book that makes it great -- possibly the greatest book I have ever read, of course that's merely an opinion. But for me, it knocked A Clockwork Orange out of the number 1 spot!

Where do I begin?
First of all, there's the format. John Green set the book into two sections: before and after. I'll compare it to a roller coaster. Before is the giant hill. You're thrilled! You're so excited as you travel up the hill, the clicking of the chain beneath you egging you on, setting you up, and running a whole bunch of different emotions through your head while you wait. And after, you go down. It was totally expected. You knew it was going to happen, and you even knew what it was going to be like, but that doesn't take any of the excitement out of the fall.

Based on that analogy, it's safe to say that what happens "after" is pretty predictable, but it still caught me by surprise. I expected the lead into it to be completely different, so it changed my perspective, and made me attached to the book.

What else?
Realism. I swear John Green kidnapped a bunch of teenagers and turned them into a book because the dialogue is perfect. Not only that, it isn't mind numbing -- which can be said about the book as a whole.

It's literary. There isn't some supernatural plot element. There isn't some corny romance. In fact, the way this romance plays out... well, I think Nathan Bransford can sum that up better than I can right here.

The characters have so much to them. From the asian kid to Alaska, I saw them all clearly in my head. Their backstories weren't just stuff thrown in there to fill up their histories. They made sense, as though they were real people. Even better was the minimal physical description, which allowed me as a reader to use my imagination on who the characters were. Of course, I have to say that I did imagine Alaska Young as LynZ from MSI. Can you see it at all?

Okay, so at this point, I'm losing steam and I think I'm beginning to not make anymore sense. So I'm going to leave off here, and let you decide whether Looking For Alaska is a worthwhile read, or if I'm going crazy.

Peace out!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Happens When You Ask Me About "My Space" (and I don't mean that horrible website)

YA Highway: Road Trip Wednesday... (it's still Wednesday... cut me some slack, I had to work!)
--What would your ideal writing desk look like? Right down to the perfect pen or laptop.

(If you want to skip this dreadful intro, skip to the *)
When I think about the perfect writing desk... well, let me think about the perfect
writing space, because the desk doesn't mean squat if the surroundings are too intruding and what not. I think about the perfect writing space and a thousand and two images come to mind, and unfortunately, none of them mesh. I think about all the perfect things, but they don't add up to anything but bad.
So I'll start with what I do have... nothing but distractions.

I have an alpha-smart. When I bought it I had this idealized vision of me sitting in the coffee shot at the grocery store, typing away at my latest novel. I saw myself on the swing in front of my house. I saw myself sitting in the living room, watching my niece, but still managing to type, despite my computer being upstairs.
To that paragraph, I laugh -- heartily. What a terrible investment! (For me. I distract easily. If anyone wants to buy it from me, I'll gladly sell it for a cheaper price than the alpha-smart website. Seriously!) A laptop would have suited me better, or at least a netbook. (But after an book shopping spree, I'm strapped for cash.)

So now I'll move on to my bedroom. My beloved writing space. My so-called "perfect" writing space, despite how horrible it actually is. Cue another hearty laugh.

In one corner of my room is a keyboard. The ol' 88 keys... well, 61. In another corner is my bookshelf. But wait, isn't reading a writer's friend? It is, but when the second shelf is full of movies, then that becomes a problem. (Especially when that shelf includes all the Back to the Future movies, and season 1 -- and hopefully soon season 2 once I get the money -- of Supernatural.)
Not quite in the corner, but off to the side, is my bed. Oh so horrible, but oh so comfortable. And across from that, the dreaded tv. Thankfully, it's behind me when I'm at my desk, but I can easily turn my swivel chair.

*All of this thought about my current space has made me think about the perfect writing space. A few paragraphs later, I can describe what the prompt asked for.
--A stark white room: but how do I go on to describe this white? Bright, I suppose. But not so bright that night time looses it's darkness and shadows. Because there will also be...--A large window: with an acceptable view. One that stays the same, but also changes... like a road.
--And I need it to be bright, and white, with no curtain on the window, so that I have that big black hole at night to stare through for inspiration.
--The desk I have no preferences, other than space for me to put my feet up so that I can lean back in my "spinny" chair and type comfortably.--and my computer needs to have some sort of block on it so that I can't access anything of or relating to ...
Supernatural, Amazon, Etsy, deviantArt, email, random google searches not relating to the novel, 1967 chevy impalas... and that sort of stuff, because that slows me down. I'd say get rid of the internet all together, but... that's just wrong.
...and finally...--an abundance of post it notes, which I think would also make a great book title, as well as ... oh cricket! I had an awesome book title earlier, and I mean awesome! and now I can't remember it. Anyway, post it notes are my best friend when I write. And they must be colorful, because they will be posted everywhere! On the desk, on the computer, on the chair, on the floor, on the walls... everywhere but the curtainless window.

Oh yeah, and the floors must be hard-wood and there needs to be a rug. And a window seat in front of the window that I can lay on.
Such a random post. Random in that I didn't restrain myself when I wrote. Could you tell? What about the pictures... like 'em?