Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Which Thing Take Over and Cause Influence

Let me start off this post with an apology. I'm not sure why exactly, but I have a feeling that at some point, I'm going to need to apologize, so I'll just do it now. (Not anything bad, just me forgetting to be normal.)

Have you ever been inspired by a piece of art, a song, or literature before? I'm sure you have. Most, if not all artists probably must have been to be an artist. How about inspired by something because you couldn't stop thinking about it? Did I lose a few people? Okay. Now suppose this something is, in your mind, one of the greatest pieces of anything ever. Did I lose the rest of you? Okay.

Now of course I'm exaggerating, but it's fun to do that from time to time.

I think obsession can be a healthy thing sometimes. (As long as it is in moderation.) Obsession with a piece of art can be healthy because it gets the mind going. Yes, I am speaking from experience here, and I shall elaborate.

The Boondock Saints.

Ever seen that movie? If not, you're missing out. It's not for everyone. It is for me. Basically, I watched this movie for the first time last week, and it has been on mind for the past week. But why? Am I obsessed? Am I incredibly infatuated by the lead actors, who just happen to speak with Irish accents? Or do I just love action and drama mixed together?

While all of these are valid points, I think the largest reason, (and the healthiest) is the characters. Troy Duffy, (writer and director) wrote a piece of fiction about three very well developed characters. Let's see, there was the homosexual FBI agent. (This was the 90's.) And the very religious Irish twin brothers who take it upon themselves to rid the world of evil. I suppose that's just the outer shell though.

I'm one to over-analyze anything, and I did just that with this movie. It got to the point where I can now tell you the differences in the twins' personalities, because the character development was just that great. One is more emotional, and one is more rational. And yet the more emotional one is less reliant on his brother than the rational one. And then the FBI agent slowly loses his mind as he comes closer to solving the case.

So how does this tie into a post about influence? In short, my latest WIP now has Irish brothers, when a week ago, it was just one, normal boy. By having this movie on my mind, my imagination has been running wild, to thousands of places it wasn't going before. Suddenly my characters need more to them. They need a background that is never fully explained. They need a quirk that creates an ongoing gag. This one simple character has now gone through a name change, has gained a sibling, a slight accent that gets thicker when he's angry or excited, and a history and strained relationship with his parents. And he was originally the most undeveloped character of the story.

Isn't obsession great sometimes? Now if you'll excuse me, I do believe there is a movie in my DVD player that requires watching.

An On-Time Road Trip

Oh hey, two road trip Wednesday's in one day. And there might be another post before I go to bed. I'm on a roll!

It's the big one this week. It's the end of the year. What other question is there to ask than "What were your top favorite books from 2011?"

This year I was smart. I kept a list on my blog of all the books I read. I started off strong in January, then I got my first full time job and slowed down, but let's take a look and pick out the good reads.

Books read in 2011 - I will bold the favorites and elaborate later. (I will also exclude the re-reads.)
In a Heartbeat - Loretta Ellsworth
Unwind - Neal Shusterman
Girl, Stolen - April Henry
Dirty Little Secrets - C.J. Omololu
The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club - Laurie Notaro
Night - Elie Wiesel
Supernatural Origins - a comic series, by various artists and writers
The Twisted Window - Lois Duncan (re-read)
Page by Paige - Laura Lee Gulledge (A graphic novel)
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
The Giver - Lois Lowry (re-read)
Forget About It - Caprice Crane
The Book of Awesome - Neil Pasricha
No Plot, No Problem - Chris Baty
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

Okay, now I'm tired, and my head hurts. (Clearly, or I wouldn't include this in this post otherwise.) So I'm going to shorten the elaborations. Good book, intense book. Good book, intense book. Good series with good art, and in canon. Good book with lots of art, and applied to me personally.

In that order.

Oh this post would be so much more interesting if I could read it aloud. I could go on, but I've already had my say in previous book reviews, so what I will leave you with is this: Have you read any of these and what do you think?

I Procrastinated Once Again

I've been just a tad bit busy with the holidays (as it's the busiest time of the year when working at one of the largest nationwide retailers of the year.) So I'm doing a Road Trip Wednesday a week late.

Where do you buy your books?

That's the question more or less being posed here. Online? In store? Maybe steal them from the local bibliophile?

For me, personally, it's a mixture. (Except the whole theft thing. Although I did lose someone's copy of A Clockwork Orange one and he's convinced I just didn't want to give it back.) It's a mixture of online and in store, and to be perfectly honest, it all depends on where I am, or what mood I'm in.

Let me explain.

Amazon is a beautiful, beautiful thing. It's full link after link to books that I could never imagine existed. Bookstores are just as beautiful, and while they lack the comfort of a sofa and a laptop, they have the fresh smell of coffee and books, and the ability to flip through the pages, and spend hours lost between shelves.

So where do I make my decision? If I'm out, I'll usually find my way towards a bookstore, or the book section of whatever store I'm in. If it's a legitimate bookstore, (Barne's and Noble, and once upon a time Borders) then I will buy something. (This mostly stems from an ongoing paranoia that if I walk into a store, I have to buy something or they'll think I stole something. Don't judge me.) But there's something so great about buying a fresh, clean book. Excited just by seeing the clean text and sharp covers. And the great feeling of knowing I've donated another dollar to the brick and mortar store.

But then I get home, and there's that sick feeling in my gut. It's the one that says "you just spent 15 bucks on that book. You could have gotten that same book for 2 bucks on amazon, with 3 dollar shipping, and saved yourself 10 dollars. What is wrong with you?"

So basically, the way it works for me is -- bookstores are impulse buys, and amazon is more planned out. (But don't think that I don't have plenty of impulsive amazon purchases.)

To add to that, I also utilize paperbackswap.com. And when I was in high school, there was an annual book swap, both of which give me books for free. And who can hate that?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Can You Guess My Character's Age? - Follow Up Post

Thank you for all the comments on my previous post; it was nice to see how everyone else read into my writing, (for lack of better words.)

Since I didn't make the semi-finals, I thought I would divulge the actual age of my character. But first the comments.

Out of 12 people...
5 people guessed 15
3 people guessed 16
1 person guessed 12
1 guessed 13
1 guessed 14
and 1 guessed 13 or 14

And who won? No one. Yeah... unfortunately, Olivia is actually 17 years old; probably a few months shy of turning 18. She's a senior in high school at the start of the story. So that "12" kind of stung a little bit. But then again, everyone reads into things differently. It's all part of the learning experience.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Can You Guess My Character's Age? Blogfest Contest!

Okay, so I almost forgot about this contest, and had I not been playing around on my computer at 1:30am, and randomly going through my saved bookmarks, I would have missed this contest completely. (It must be a good sign.)

The contest can be found here, if you just click this fantastic sentence on any word of your choice.

And below I will submit the text of my somewhat completed manuscript. (I was going to use my NaNo-attempt, but it's not even close to "somewhat completed.") It is the same exact entry from the last contest, but that's basically what it's asking for.

Go ahead and read it, and see if you can guess the character's age by my voice, and the story itself.
Disclaimer: I will neither confirm or deny any correct answers. But that's what makes it fun!
(It's almost 2am; please humor my mood.)

--
250-Word Excerpt:
Sitting in that hard plastic chair in the principal's office stunned Olivia. It was worse than a bad day, or a bad dream. It was more like a nightmare.

Olivia sat motionless in her seat, her hands folded in her lap. If she could have coiled herself into a ball, she would have. A nervous chill tiptoed its way up and down her spine.

To her left was some girl who had claimed to witness the incident. Legs crossed, her foot shook to some beat that only she could seem to hear. Her gaze never found its way towards Olivia. To her right was Hunter. His eyes were set on the receptionist’s desk, fixed as though he could see through the panel of wood, directly at the secretary who continued to type away at some problem of her own.

Every now and then, Olivia felt his gaze shift, as though he were staring her down through the corner of his eye. She wouldn't blame him. He was the victim's brother.

Olivia did not want to think of Chase as a victim. It made her feel like she hurt Chase on purpose. It made her not want to think at all. As she sat there waiting for her parents though, listening to the ongoing click-clack of a keyboard behind the receptionist’s desk, the unpleasant thoughts pushed their way through, invading Olivia’s mind.

She never wanted to hurt him, Hunter or Chase.

After maybe an hour's wait, and countless people passing through the office doors, Olivia's parents came rushing through.