Saturday, November 2, 2013

My NaNo Prep Work

The month of insanity for all writers has just begun and I wanted to share how I get ready for writing a story/novel in general. Now, my absolute favorite part of the writing process is the beginning, when I get to build an entire world out of nothing...well, not exactly out of nothing. To build a story I need the key ingredient—inspiration.

Everyday life is the first place to search for inspiration, but a hermit like me has a very uninteresting life! What do I do? I turn to other sources. Sometimes times just by listening to a song, watching a movie, or reading a book, the light bulb will go off. But I’m a visual person and it’s websites like DeviantArt, Pinterest, and Tumblr that feed my inspiration and creativity, and eventually give me ideas. I can spend hours and hours browsing, but eventually I need to make a choice. So, after a quick search, these three paintings have inspired me.


Forest Dragon by *AlexKonstad on deviantART


The Scorpion Salesmen by *AlexKonstad on deviantART


Dog- Mass Age by *AndrewRyanArt on deviantART

After I find inspiration and get a hold of an idea, I then start molding said idea. I think of the possibilities. I think of the impossibilities. I think of names, places, weather, problems, animals, plants. I play with the ideas, and since nothing is set in stone, I’m free to change my mind at anytime! At this point, I like to start taking notes.

I ground myself into my stories, by meeting some characters. So, the next thing I do is search possible names based on the setting I’ve chosen. From the inspiration pics I found, I have a desert setting, a robotic dog, and an earth dragon. Right away, I’m thinking futuristic western with Asiatic influence. With this in mind, I begin my search. There are a couple of sites that always help me with names.

Behind The Name – It lets you search by meaning—for example, if you want a name that means strong or bright—and lists names by nationality. It also has other cool features like Names for Twins, Name Themes, Anagram Names, etc. There’s also a sister site that’s called Behind The Name: Surnames

The Baby Name Wizard – It has a lot of the recent ‘invented’ names, after you click a name it suggest names for brothers, and lists possible nicknames.

Think Baby Names – A ton of interesting names come up when you use the random baby names generator.

Random Name Generator – It's my go to place when I need a disposable full name. The site also has link to other name generators like (Medieval Names, Japanese Names, Fantasy Names, Last Names, etc.)

When choosing names I often go for meaning and feel. I make a list of names that feel like the character I have in mind and if I like the meaning, then all the better. I also note down any other names that catch my eye, because I use those later for secondary characters. After fifteen to twenty minutes of searching—yes, I do take my time with names!—meet my characters:

  • Ayman (the “salesman”) – I liked the name because he’s a poor traveling sales man with only a robot dog and a lizard to keep him company, and it seems ironic for his name to mean blessed or lucky. It’s something that I’ll keep in mind as I write. I could choose to make him really lucky, so that he owns up to his name, or make him really unlucky.
  • Bia (the biobot/robot dog) – I made her female and really overprotective of Enki. The name is a diminutive of Beatrix, but this time I didn’t pay attention to the meaning. I just like the feel of the name Bia.
  • Enki (the earth lizard) – I couldn’t stop laughing with this one. He’s a little lizard and his name means lord of the earth. Plus, the name sounds cute.

Now that I have my characters, I start working on setting. I might even go back to the first websites and search for landscape pictures/drawings for more inspiration. I also start asking questions. LOTS of questions. Where do these people live? Nowhere. They’re nomads. What hardships do they have? They survive on whatever they sell during the day. What is the dynamic between the three? Bia is protects Enki and the mint plants he grows on his back (Why mint? I don’t know yet. Maybe Ayman got him because he likes to make mojitos). Ayman depends on Bia for security. She has xray vision and can spot a weapon before anyone even thinks of using it. Why would anyone want to attack him? To rob his wares. Why are they so valuable? Don’t know yet. And on and on the questions keep popping into my head.

The point of brainstorming is to try and find the story behind these characters, behind the world they live in. Notice, all the questions lead to possible problems and that’s exactly what I want to find. Problems, things that keep the tension up and move the story forward. I’ll also need solutions to the problems, but those might come later as write the story.

If after some brainstorming I haven’t found a story to follow, I do one of two things. I can go back to step one—find new inspiration, other characters, change setting—or I can hang on to what I have and write a scene. This is what I usually do. I mean. I’ve just met them. I need to give Ayman, Bia, and Enki a chance to impress me, right?

So, I write a scene. Any scene. A cute scene? Ayman meets a lovely girl who wants to buy his wares (I still haven’t decided what he sells), but doesn’t have enough credits to buy them. He gives one his wares to her for free and she brings him food the next day. An action scene? A group of men comes for Ayman. He leaves the girl in charge of his market stand with Bia watching, and slips into an alley where a fight ensues. Ayman shows to be very proficient at killing. (This leads to more questions. Why is he proficient? Where did he learn? Why do the men want him?)

By the end of all this prep work, I should have a set idea of what the story is going to be and where I want to take it. Writing more scenes will help me see things clearer, but I don’t make any final decisions on a first draft. And this is why NaNoWriMo works, because it forces us to keep moving forward without worrying about final decisions. It’s all about momentum, about writing 1,667 words or more every day without looking back.

Find me in NaNoWriMo: Sylirama

Friday, August 30, 2013

At the Movies: The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones


Movie: The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones
Stars: Jamie Campbell Bower, Lily Collins, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West, Robert Sheehan, Godfrey Gao
My Rating: 5/5

I read the books way back during my second or third year of college, so by now most of the things of the story have faded away into vague memories [not because the story is forgettable, but because I read SO MUCH it's hard to keep track of stories]. At first, I wanted to re-read the book before going to watch the movie, but I decided against it. I wanted to take in the movie without any expectations at all. What I found out was that not only was the movie super enjoyable, but it brought back all those awesome book memories I had locked somewhere deep inside my mind.

What I Loved~
All the actors. They all did an outstanding job of portraying the characters. Lily found a perfect balance between vulnerable and strong that just worked really well with playing Clary. Jamie is Jace, there’s no question about it. I didn’t oppose his casting, but I still wasn’t sure about him being good for the role. And I was so, so wrong. Kevin as Alec did a good job with all the jealousy issues, and OMG his surprised face when Magnus calls him sexy...
Godfrey was flawless as Magnus. Jemima played Isabelle exactly as she's suposed to be, sexy but a hell of a lot dangerous with that whip. Holy shadowhunters everywhere did this girl whip some ass with it! Robert as Simon took me by surprise, not only was he funny but he almost made me cry during confession time. The secondary actors also did an excellent job with Clary's Mom, Luke, Valentine, Hodge, etc.

Flawless Magnus is flawless…with or without pants.

What I liked~
All the settings. From Clary's house, to the Institute, to the City of Bones, Madame Dorothea's home, Hotel Dumort, Luke's shop, etc. They paid attention to every single detail and everything took me back down memory lane, especially the Institute. All I can say is that Disney better get working on building a second castle and making the church turned shadowhunter lair part of their attractions ASAP.

The portal. I was really confused by this when it appeared on screen, because I didn’t even remember a portal being in the books. But then I remembered there is one at Madame Dorothea’s. For the sake of the movie though, it totally made sense to move that feature to the Institute. Plus, Jace messing around with the portal water LOL

A sort of role reversal. We’re all used to the girl throwing a tantrum, or to seeing a scantily clad heroine or villainess, but Mortal Instruments twists this in a really awesome way. It is Jace who throws the tantrum because he thinks Clary doesn’t love him, and then we have Valentine prancing around with a leather jacket and no shirt.

Crunchy punches. I mean literally a crunchy sound with every punch and hit. It had me wincing and making painful faces at the screen during every fight, but boy were those fights awesome. I wanted to get up, jump inside the screen, and join the fight. Oh, and remember girls, frying pans and silver platters are acceptable weapons in any fight.

The Ships were sailing...or beginning to sail. Jace and Clary, check. Alec and Magnus, look at the gif above. Izzy and Simon. Huzzah! I did so not expect this on movie one, so thank you movie-making people for giving us this. There was even some Luke and Jocelyn o___o

Wish they’d done~
Parabatai. There was a severe lack of bromance in this movie and it just made me want to cry or stand up and curse at the screen. What happened to all the wonderful Jace/Alec interactions?! Other than showing a very jealous Alec and a very oblivious Jace, we don’t get any of the precious parabatai dynamic these two have. Heck, they don’t even mention the word parabatai at all. And I wanted that. I felt its absence like a big black home in my fangirl heart. I think they could've done so much more with it, especially during the fight scenes.

Magnus’s party. How dare Pandemonium’s party be louder and livelier than Magnus Bane’s party!? That is inconceivable! I was hoping for this big, awesome party full of different and noticeable downworlders everywhere...but Bane's party was pretty tame. *sniff*

Magnus’s voice. When he first came out and started talking I frowned, because there was something weird going on that I couldn’t pin point. I later realized that Godfrey Gao’s accent was missing. Magnus was speaking flawless English and It. Bothered. Me. Did they fix his voice with a computer (if so I do not like) or is that really Godfrey speaking?

No Church the cat. I know, I know. They announced this from the beginning, but I’d somehow erased the fact from my mind.

What I didn’t like~
Werewolves... in a school bus. It's not that I didn't like it, but it was a big WTF moment.

The City of Bones. Why oh why didn't they show this awesome place? WHAE!? It's like Welcome to the City of Bones, we shall show you only one tiny room and that's it.

Valentine’s hair. From the second he appeared on screen I just wanted to jump on his back like a rabid koala, take a knife, and saw through those horrible fake braids. HORRIBLE. FAKE. BRAIDS.

Jokes. Some of the jokes fell flat for me because they sounded forced. The jokes that I remember from the book were awesome, but the others not so much.

PS: I didn't mention the Greenhouse scene because we already know that's the best scene ever, second only to the Magnus/Alec first meet.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I'm not lost...

...just drowning in work!

It's been more than a month since I last made a post, and I'm cringing at that because I promised myself I would be diligent and make regular posts. Alas, thesis work, writing blocks, and graduate studies have taken over my life.

If I haven't posted any book reviews is because I haven't read anything since May. I'm already having severe withdrawal symptoms. You know, insomnia, anxiety, and an uncontrollable desire to buy every new book that comes out even though I've got mini pyramids of unread books all over my room.

If I haven't posted any movie reviews is because I haven't gone to the theater since May. *cue sad music* I missed all of the summer movies: After Earth, Man of Steel (I didn't get to see that suit on the big screen and for that I will forever cry), Monster University, World War Z, Despicable Me, Pacific Rim (everyone keeps telling me it was amazeballs and I just whimper because I have to wait for the BluRay), etc. I'm still on time to watch Wolverine, Percy Jackson 2, and Elysium, but I just Don't. Have. Time. Or more like, I fear if I get a taste of the outside world I won't want to come back and work. I'll be like a wilde beast set free to stretch its limbs who will then put up a fight when it's time to go back in the cage...And the example got away from me. *apologizes profusely*

Anyways the only movie which I'll go see (hopefully today) is The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and it's because IT'S THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS!
*fangirl mode: on* 
AHHHHH! OMG ASDFGHJKLLSDFRW ITSMAGNUSFREAKINGBANEPEOPLEANDALECANDJACEANDCLARYAND
DEMONSANDTHEGUYFROMTHETUDORSANDQUEENCERSEIAND
AHOTWEREWOLFWHOWASONCEAHOTDWARF
ANDSTUFF!COOLSTUFFALLAROUND! /DEAD 
*fangirl mode: off*
A possible review will be written after watching it and after all the fangirl has died down a bit.

The bad news is that from here on out things will only get harder with the thesis and school work. Overachiever me somehow thought it was a smart idea to take not one, but two classes this term, a how-to-teach module and a grammar module, on top of trying to finish revising my entire novel for this term. *throws up* Yes, I'm fine. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS.

The only thing that's kept me in a semi-alive/sane state through all this is...

Kpop

Because being a hermit writer was getting kind of boring, I've now become a hermit writer with a Kpop obsession. I think this is perfectly normal for us writerly-nerdy-mostawesometypesofpeople types to have an obsession (read:fandom). I don't know about the rest, but I've found that having a current obsession typically fuels my muse. So while others have their tumblrs desktops filled with Supernatural, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Sherlock I have mine filled with all of those plus Kpop idols. Pics, gifs, fanfiction, you name it, it's there. And while it's been an uphill, graveled and thorny road with my thesis, I'm sailing down a nice stream writing short Kpop fanfics that will probably never see the light of day, but that nonetheless keep me writing.  Kpop videos have also fueled something in me I thought long lost...the desire to *gasp* dance. Yeh. I've been dancing (read:wiggling/spazzing) to some of the kpop dances and it is beautiful to have something active to do.

In other words, obsessions are useful procrastination.
And in dire times, they keeps you somewhat sane.

PS: Note I've tagged this as 'rambling'

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Amy’s Odyssey

Y’all know that thing people say when something bad happens? One day you’ll look back upon this and laugh. Well, I’m not waiting for later. I want to laugh now and then FORGET the beginning and ending of evil trip from hell ever happened. The middle part was cool as you'll see from the next post.

- My first flight was cancelled and the next flight out of the island was three days later. It's fine. I aimed to arrive there a week earlier so I'd have time to get used to the language change and have a few vacation days. It's not fine, because my trip to Niagara Falls just fell apart.

- Three days later the flight is delayed so much that I would loose the connecting flight, so they set me up with another airline…only it required me to drive three hours to the capital city where the main airport is. It was 3:45am and the flight left at 7am.

- I haul ass to the main airport and get there on time but late, and by that I mean that TSA is so slow that when I get to the gate everyone is already on board and me and four others are kindly asked to check in our carry-on bag because there is no more space. This is where I point out I have issue with checking in bags when I'm in connecting flights. But I keep my cool as we’re asked to take out valuables and electronics. Then the girl beside me stares at the airline girl and says, “My clothes are valuable.” I try not to laugh.

- Flight goes smooth. This new airline  has TV’s on the back of seats unlike the one I usually fly with and I comfortably watch two movies…by which I mean, I slept through both movies and drooled all over myself.

- We're let out at terminal B, where I immediately head first to the bathroom and then search for the monitors to see where is my connecting flight. I walk and walk and walk…and walk…Atlanta’s airport is freaking huge people…and walk and find the monitors. I try not to groan as I see the flight departs from an entirely different terminal.

- Walk walk walk walk walk walk walk walk walk walk...hopefully all the walking burned the calories from the huge burger I ate before finding terminal A. Now, on terminal A I need to find A3, which of course is at the END of the damned corridor. Walk walk walk walk... 

- I've almost a full hour to wait so I head to the CNN shop to browse stuff. End up buying a magazine featuring the cast from Divergent. I go off on a daydream of escaping to Chicago and sneaking in on the set to meet the cast in person, so that when I sit I fail to notice the people around me until..."You're getting on MY plane?" And I turn to find Scott Johnson, most beloved and feared mentor at SHU. I, of course, proceed to make an ass of myself by first making him think I'm not someone from the program and them completely cutting off all conversation because my mind went blank. In my defense, I was operating with only two hours of sleep, but note to self: keep working on those conversation skills.

- An hour later we board. I take my seat and wait. Then I notice the old guy sitting one row in front and across from me zooming in and out porn pictures on his iPhone. SERIOUSLY. On a plane? Then the guy sitting beside me starts to fidget...a lot. The in the middle of a big silence the sound of his zipper going up. AWKWARD. So I had Scott’s red sneaker at the edge of my vision, porn right across from me, and a restless and embarrassed cute guy beside me. I put in my earbuds and closed my eyes.

- The landing was a riot. The plane had identity issues and believed itself to be one of those hydraulic cars that jump in the front. Yeah. The guy beside me woke up to exclaim “Soul Train!” at which several people laughed, including me. Then he very enthusiastically complimented my nails. I’ve no idea what face I made, but he quickly corrected, “Color for a car. I mean, it would look awesome on a car…right?” My answer, “Of course.”

The Residency week with my SHU friends was awesome! More on that in a separate post :)


Return Flight...
- Flight was on time. I was one of the first people to get in the plane, so I didn't have to check in my suitcase. Everything was going perfect, except for the whining guy in front and his mother sitting beside me. Plane pulled out of the gate, went down the runway, stopped to the side before getting on the main runway for takeoff...and then…and then we we're sent back because of a mechanical problem! The desire to cry was strong.

- After some 20 tense minutes, the problem solved. The Captain proceeded to explain that it was a simple matter of resetting the airplane's computer that had frozen up, and he didn’t know how to do it because (and this is a direct quote) “it’s above my pay rate.” So, I’m sitting there thinking if the computer fucks up again mid-flight we’re doomed. DOOMED.

- We arrived at Ft. Lauderdale without any doom, but with a bit of gloom since it was raining. I mentally prepared myself for the 8hr layover. First thing I did was secure water and food, then found a seat near the windows in case the sun cane out and I could warm up.

- The benches there are like four seats welded together. I sat on one side, took out my laptop and started to work. Then something crash landed onto my bench almost unseating me. I looked to the side and realized a man has taken residence on the other side on the bench. The thing was really unstable so that each time he moved it rattled the whole thing. You might wonder why I didn’t move away to another seat. The answer is simple. He was on the phone. First, he fought with an employee about some cars being delivered wrong. Then fought with another employee about not finding a truck, because ‘how the fuck do you lose a truck!?” It’s a very good question and it rhymed so I found it extra funny. The third call however was the highlight of his stay at my bench. I’ve no idea what role the woman on the other side had (wife, girlfriend, concubine) but the man proceeded to tell her in great detail how “much I miss you…want to be inside…it feels good…so good…next time, I’ll take you to (on?) the rooftop.” And that was my cue to put on some headphones.

- Later, I met Florida Barbie. She sat beside me, took out a makeup bag and proceeded to apply every single tube, cream, and powder she had in there. I was afraid of a chemical explosion from all the mixing of creams she did, so I moved one seat over.

- Hunger struck at 8pm, so I set out on a hunt for food. When I returned there were NO SEATS left. I’d no idea when the herds of people arrived, probably while I was deciding which cold sandwich was less disgusting. There were people everywhere. So, before I could panic, I made myself a small and sat against a column between the benches. The lady in front of me had to be in her late fifties, but she was rocking some serious black leather pants, and a black coat which said ‘Made in Italy.’ I stroked the coat's arms while she wasn't looking. I believe the label was legit.

- After a 10 hour layover, I got on the final plane of this trip at 1:50am. There were two crying babies, one in front and one in back, you know, to get the full surround sound experience. Skullcandy earbuds I worship thee. Luckily, the flight went by pretty quick. Pilot flew like it was Fast & Furious: Plane Edition and we got to Puerto Rico in record time of 2hours, shaving off a full 30mins.

- To close off the adventure, Dad’s driving was worse than all the trip’s landings combined.

Monday, June 10, 2013

At the Movies: Now You See Me


Movie: Now You See Me
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo
My Rating: 4/5

What I loved~
The tricks! When the first, lets say, 20 minutes of the movie had passed I was kind of worried. All the footage I'd seen in trailers and special scenes released pass during that time. And now the chase began, so I though...that's it? No more tricks? Because you know they'll be running and hiding. WRONG. That was just the tip of the iceberg. What comes next was as or even more impressive and visually satisfying than those previews.

The Four Horsemen: Daniel Atlas, Merrit, Henley and Jack. These guys couldn't be more different from each other if they tried, yet they are brought together and the result is an amazing team.
I do think they could've expanded more into each character's lives. The only one we get to know really about is Merrit and only because the detective reads his file. We know Daniel and Henley had a past together. But nothing is said about Jack, that I remember.

The ending...I admit to having my mouth full open for the entire time it was going on. The people in the theather were all like.. "Naaaah." "Nooo" "OMG" Then it became really funny when I heard the whispered, "It cant be" and then, "Is this for real?"

What I liked~
The main actors. As with the characters, this was an unlikely cast to be brought together yet they worked so well. Oh and Mark Ruffalo in all his scruffy, ruggedy, but not hulky goodness was a treat to watch.

Morgan Freeman...because he seems to be in every freaking movie I've watched this year. Having him explain the tricks was very cool.

What I didn't like~
As a proclaimed romanceaholic, I was surprised to find myself wanting to skip or fast forward the sexy tension scenes between the detective and the interpol agent. The scenes just dragged a bit and I only wanted to get to the next trick :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

At the Movies: Fast & Furious 6


Movie: Fast & Furious 6
Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Ludacris, Luke Evans
My Rating: 5/5

What I loved~
The flirtatiousness of Dom and Letty getting to know each other for the first time...again. It was an unexpected romantic element to a franchise that its known for action, action and more action. But these two finding each other again amid gun fights, races, and a whole lot of crazy was just perfect.

The setting! From the Canary Islands to London to Spain. It's not about getting the shots and action sequences right. It's also about having the perfect backdrop to enhance those things. A fast race is dangerous. A fast race with multiple cars through the tight streets of London is DANGEROUS. See the difference?

Flying shit everywhere. I mean planes, cars, tanks, people...
And Roman isn't the only one to fly either. It was a bunch of ridiculousness that I couldn't help but love. This is why I go watch these movies: to see the impossible and laugh.

What I liked~
We've seen this crew battle through a lot and the camaraderie is evident here as they embark on yet another mission. Roman Pierce had the funniest most annoying comments and moments ever (yes, that is a good thing.) and Tej was right there being sarcastic and poking at him. Han had the sweetest moments with Gisele (this girl is like totally badass! Dare I say, much more so than Letty). And dammit, I knew he was dead, but seeing it again </3

What I felt missing~
Sexy cars...Okay, so they're not exactly missing. They're freaking everywhere, but none of them stayed in my mind like say Dom's Charger in the first movie or Han's orange Mazda in Tokyo. The only one that I really appreciated was the red Dodge Daytona, which is of course Dom's.

What!?~
Fast & Furious 7 preview. Dear god, it's...It's Statham!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

At the Movies: Star Trek Into Darkness



Movie: Star Trek: Into Darkness
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch
My Rating: 10/5 

I'm a new Trekkie, meaning my love for this is only from the Star Trek 2009 and this movie. Therefore I did not have any expectations of this Khan character or what his role was 'supposed' to be. All I knew is that Cumberbatch would be playing it and he'd be awesome. And he was.

Fun Fact: As a newbie Whovian I was proud of myself on recognizing Mickey...

What I loved~
The cripsness of the movie. Those first scenes in the twisler jungle (i have named it thus) were brilliant and from there on is amazing shot after amazing shot. The spaceships (new and old), the planet, the buildings, the fight scenes, the fucking gorgeous new warp graphics, everything was clean-cut and sharp.

Carol Marcus (Alice Eve). Sure, she's the new girl on the ship, and at first I was like nah she doesn't fit in. But by the end of the movie she more than proves herself capable of dealing and working with the Enterprise crew.

Bones (Karl Urban). His metaphors...oh dear lord.

Scotty (Simon Pegg). From being stranded on an ice planet, to head of engineering, to running missions solo, he can do it all. Scotty to the rescue!

Sulu (John Cho). He might not have the drive to be captain, but he sure can deliver a captain's speech like no other. I did miss his badass fencing skills though.

Chekov (Anton Yelchin). All he ever wanted was to relay messages and this new work he's assigned to is so not going to work. Poor Chekov :(

What I loved loved~
The tiny echoes to Star Trek (2009). Like Scotty yelling "Get down" or Bones standing by the captain seeking assurance. The music is the same epic one, and that sonar beep is still there. I liked the addition of the celular-device-thingy's beep, too.

Uhura (Zoe). No one can do pissed off like her and boy she will speak her mind. This girl is brave like no other and the boys totally respect that about her. She doesn't need saving, she can DO the saving! Though there's not much Spock x Uhura action, there was still some development there ;)

The 'Klingon fight' and the 'ship flight through the city fight' scenes. They aren't the only action scenes, but definitely the most notable ones. Again, all very sharp and crisp.

Spock x Khan running...Don't ask.

What I LOVED~
The Kirk x Spock bromance. Now this is the meat of the story, and let me tell you it is very juicy meat. These two do a lot of growing up and changing throughout this movie. I can't believe they made me cry! But yes, there I was tearing up because of their heart to heart moment.

Cumberbatch's flawless acting as Khan.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin


The Killing Moon
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Publisher: Hachette, 2012
Genre: High Fantasy

The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers - the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe...and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh's great temple, Ehiru - the most famous of the city's Gatherers - must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess' name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh's alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill - or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

At the Movies: Iron Man 3


Movie: Iron Man 3
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley
My Rating: 10/5

No. That is not a typo on the rating I'm giving this movie.
No. I am not missing the "What I didn't like" section.
This is just how it is.


What I loved~

Pepper Potts in bad-ass violent mode. I didn't think she had it in her, but man did she go all scary for a moment! Kick ass, girl power, and all that. 

Mark #42, the suit that could not keep its shit together. A+ for bringing on the funny. Here it is chillin with Tony.

What I liked~

The Mandarin. OK...I did not see that coming. I couldn't stop laughing.

Jarvis, voiced by the handsome Paul Bettany with his panty-dropping voice. I always liked Jarvis, but here with the suits, he dominated.

Tony's vulnerable side. I knew it was in him, somewhere locked in a tight vault inside the deepest most shadowy corner of his heart.

The kid. He is awesome, that is all you need to know.

The 'bad guy minions' are not supposed to be funny! LOL They're supposed to be evil and stuff.

The after credits end scene. At least B is keeping his cool.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

At The Movies: Oblivion


Movie: Oblivion
Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough
My Rating: 4/5

What I liked~
The dragonfly-style flying craft. I'm always amazed by the designs they come up with in scifi movies, and I have to say this is one of my favorites. It's clearly based on a dragonfly, but instead of wings it uses two circular engines that rotate and drive the ship. The bubble cockpit also moves 180 degrees as shown in a very awesome fight  scene. Specs of the ship can be found here.

The house on top of the pole thing. Very Jetsons, but it totally worked. Great views all around and the pool...ohmigod.

Jaime Lanister...I mean, Nicolak Coster-Waldau. Full on squeals and giggles ensued at his appearance on screen. He didn't even have to change looks, just put on a scifi looking suit (what is with the cod piece!), grab a gun and he was ready to kick some ass.

Morgan Freeman with a cape. Do not doubt the badassery of that.

What I didn't like~
Olga playing the role of weepy wife. Also, I wished she'd done more in the movie. Not just be the woman the hero carries around.

This movie used a very 'old school' sounding track in certain scenes. You know, those with an epic score but heavy on the drums and a keyboard...Listen to it here. The first 30 seconds of that song get played on a couple of scenes and it totally took me out of this post-apocalyptic world! Oddly enough, I do like the song on its own. It's a love hate situation.

The unknown entity. Can't explain this more or else it's a spoiler. You'll know when you watch it.

The too happy happy-ending! It doesn't go at all with the tone of the rest of the movie. I would've been happy for Plan A which was the ultimate sacrifice scenario.

What I loved~
The nickname Vika for Victoria. Seriously. Considering it for my firstborn.

Yeah, this again...I want one.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My Way or The Highway

This term I had to deal with the thing that writers all over the world cringe at a single mention of it...

REVISIONS

It is a messy, messy affair, and something that I didn't know how to go about because I'd never finished a story before (Yikes!). So, I read books, and read posts, and asked fellow classmates and authors to prepare myself for this horrible task. The books turned out to be overwhelming, the posts had a million different opinions, and other writers didn't give straight answers. I wanted a formula, a checklist, something to make this as painless as possible. In other words...I was delusional.

There's no such thing as painless revisions.

It is messy AND painful. Ripping apart chapters, deleting characters, seeing that word count—the one you sweated blood for and tore your hair out to get to that 80k (or more) mark—go down. It's not pretty. But I'm getting ahead of myself. As I said, before I started to massacre my novel, there was one step everyone agreed I should do. And that was to read the whole manuscript without changing a thing to get a general sense of your novel.

I couldn't do it.

The thing is I’m a very OCD person and sometimes the simplest things like not fixing what is wrong immediately initiates the most dreaded writer's block. But I tried. I really really tried reading without changing things, but I couldn’t. My hand had a life of its own. Those fingers would snatch the pen from my desk and before I knew it, the page would be bleeding red or purple. I kept thinking, ‘This is wrong. I shouldn’t be doing this. This is SO wrong.”

And thus the mental blockage ensued.

Luckily, I found Chuck Wendig's posts about editing, and after reading his collection of posts called Edit Your Shit: Part 1 and the subsequent Parts 2 and 3, I realized something...

Not every writing method out there has to be MY method.

It was one of those Eureka! moments that leave you completely embarrassed at your mental capacity for not having figured it out before. A big fat DUH. The thing is...Just because 95% of the writers out there read the whole manuscript before diving into revisions, does not mean I have to do the same. I wasn’t comfortable with it, yet I pushed myself because this was ‘how it was done.’ Well no! I am different. I am that awkward 5% that doesn't follow every rule, yet can write and revise as well as any other. And that it OK.

Lesson one: There can be a 'how it’s done' in writing, but ultimately it is done the way it works for me.

Lesson two: Have a writer issue? Read a Wendig post and the world will be brighter again.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

War for the Oaks - A Recipe for Swoon-Worthy Leads


War for the Oaks
Author: Emma Bull
Publisher: Tor Teen, 2004
First Published: 1987
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Eddi McCandry has just left her boyfriend and their band when she finds herself running through the Minneapolis night, pursued by a sinister man and a huge, terrifying dog. The two creatures are one and the same: a phouka, a faerie being who has chosen Eddi to be a mortal pawn in the age-old war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Eddi isn't interested--but she doesn't have a choice. Now she struggles to build a new life and new band when she might not even survive till the first rehearsal.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Anubis Gates - What I Liked


The Anubis Gates
Author: Tim Powers
Publisher: Ace, 1997
First Published: 1983
Genre: Science Fiction

Brendan Doyle, a specialist in the work of the early-nineteenth century poet William Ashbless, reluctantly accepts an invitation from a millionaire to act as a guide to time-travelling tourists. But while attending a lecture given by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1810, he becomes marooned in Regency London, where dark and dangerous forces know about the gates in time. Caught up in the intrigue between rival bands of beggars, pursued by Egyptian sorcerers, befriended by Coleridge, Doyle somehow survives. And learns more about the mysterious Ashbless than he could ever have imagined possible.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

At the Movies: Oz the Great and Powerful


Movie: Oz the Great and Powerful  
Stars: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams
My Rating: 4/5

What I liked~

The opening sequence was black & white, very carnivalesque and quirky. It sets the tone for the movie and it's entertaining.

The presentation to the world of Oz. The super saturated colors totally worked in bringing this world alive. It was such an awesome scene with the flowers blooming, birds and butterflies flying, reeds sounding like piano keys, and the bamboo reeds whistling. Really well done, and then this little guy appears...

Yep. That's the land of Oz, cuddly looking but with sharp teeth, beautiful and dangerous. Very mischievous those water faeries.

Franco as the Great Womanizer Oz. Kunis as the Scorned Wicked Witch. Weisz as the Ultimate Evil Witch. Williams as the Good but way Cunning Witch. All the actors did a great job.

What I wished they'd done~

Make Glinda's crown real because OMG! I cringed when I saw it the first time...then I cringed some more when they showed it in a close up. Each and every time the damn crown was on scene, I cringed. Visibly shivered by the fakeness of it all. Would it have killed them to use a non-plastic one? I mean, seriously.

Let the Munchkins dance some more! lol

What I loved~

The little china girl. She's breakable but man she's got attitude ♥

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Riddle-Master of Hed - Of Riddles and Lessons for Morgon


The Riddle-Master of Hed
Author: Patricia A. McKillip
Publisher: Del Rey, 1987
First Published: 1976
Genre: Fantasy

Long ago, the wizards had vanished from the world, and all knowledge was left hidden in riddles. Morgon, prince of the simple farmers of Hed, proved himself a master of such riddles when he staked his life to win a crown from the dead Lord of Aum.

But now ancient, evil forces were threatening him. Shape changers began replacing friends until no man could be trusted. So Morgon was forced to flee to hostile kingdoms, seeking the High One who ruled from mysterious Erlenstar Mountain.
Beside him went Deth, the High One's Harper. Ahead lay strange encounters and terrifying adventures. And with him always was the greatest of unsolved riddles — the nature of the three stars on his forehead that seemed to drive him toward his ultimate destiny.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nine Princes in Amber - The Voice of Corwin


Nine Princes in Amber 
Author: Roger Zelazny
Publisher: Avon Books, 1977
First Published: 1972
Genre: Scifi

Amber, the one real world, wherein all others, including our own Earth, are but Shadows. Amber burns in Corwin's blood. Exiled on Shadow Earth for centuries, the prince is about to return to Amber to make a mad and desperate rush upon the throne. From Arden to the blood-slippery Stairway into the Sea, the air is electrified with the powers of Eric, Random, Bleys, Caine, and all the princes of Amber whom Corwin must overcome. Yet, his savage path is blocked and guarded by eerie structures beyond imagining; impossible realities forged by demonic assassins and staggering horrors to challenge the might of Corwin's superhuman fury.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

At the Movies: A Good Day to Die Hard


Movie: A Good Day to Die Hard
Stars: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic
My Rating: 3/5

What I liked~


The unstoppable tank-truck and how McClane stopped it. The mother of all tank trucks is after his son, and John goes after it...in a mini truck. When that get's destroyed, he goes after it AGAIN...in a Jeep. And he still wins. LOL. Seriously!

Jack/Jai's eyes. I'm a sucker for pretty boys with pretty eyes. Sue me.

A quirky villain (Bukvic). He doesn't want the unstoppable tank-truck to go faster, he wants it to fly! ...And fly it does.

What I wished they'd done~

Less stiff dialogue. I mean, it's an action movie. I don't expect lines and lines of beautiful prose, but come on. You killed the chemistry with that dialogue. What could've been an awesome John and Jack McClane 'vacation time' in Russia, came off as two actors trying and failing to play father and son. On that same note, the jokes could have use a facelift as well.

What I loved~

The sheer amount of car destruction in the first 10-15 minutes, which both made me want to weep and laugh maniacally, and the big ass military choppers bringing on the rain ♥

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Plans for Valentine's Day

To give...Valentine Mailboxes! I went a little crazy when I saw these on Pinterest and had to make some. They look small but I put 2 heart-shaped lollys, four chocolates, and a box of candy hearts in each...and there still was space!


To receive...chocolates, cookies, ice cream, and heart-shaped pens that light up when you write, but overall lots of hugs and kisses and love :)

To treat myself by...Painting my nails a saucy red; picking a romantic book and drooling over a book crush; popping in a couple of movies and dream of impossibilities, like boys who say "As you wish" or "You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love...I love-I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on"; And most importantly by remembering a woman doesn't need a man to be awesome, kick some ass, and bravely say "I am Merida Amy, and I'll be shooting for my own hand."

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Wizard of Earthsea - Fear the Wizard, not the Magic


A Wizard of Earthsea
Author: Ursula K.Le Guin
Publisher: Bantam Spectra Books, 1975
First Published: 1968
Genre: Fantasy

Ged was the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, but once he was called Sparrowhawk, a reckless youth, hungry for power and knowledge, who tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Huzzah! I've been tagged by Lauren over at Unwrittenlands to do this awesome meme. If there's one thing a writer likes it to be asked about his/her current WIP because then we can talk your ear off for the next hour or two (except when it's The Publishing World Powers that Be and then we all go blank...).

In this meme, each week an author provides his or her answer to the ten questions below and then tags five additional writers, each of whom answers the questions on the subsequent week, again tagging more writers, and so on. So! Here are my answers :)

1. What is the working title of your next book?
Out of Control (A MYTH novel #1)

2. Where did the idea com from for the book?
It came from having to come up with an idea for NaNoWriMo 2011. As with most of my stories, it started with a scene I imagined and a main character: A human girl that wanted to go to a school for supernatural teens. Of course, the kids there treat her as the outsider she is. The idea and the scene have both evolved drastically since then. She's no longer a human but a hybrid of two supernaturals, and she's having trouble controlling her deadly draining power which still makes her an outcast.

Now that I'm about to start on revisions, I'm sure some things might still change.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
I've been calling it a YA Paranormal Romance, but I feel it still needs extra sizzle in the romance department ;)

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh wow. This is a fun question. The only two characters I've had an actor in mind for since the beginning are Jayson (my vampire) who I've always seen played by Xavier Samuel and Liam (faery that gets killed by Annabel) who I know must be plated by Nick Roux. I haven't thought much about the others, but lets give this a try!

Maybe Dakota Fanning as Vinnie (my fire faery) because she's so petite. OH! And after watching Hairspray, I've definitely begun imagining Caleb (my wolf) as Diego Boneta (totally in love with his hair). As for Annabel (witch and heroine) I honestly don't see anyone playing her, but if Emma Stone wants to go red-head again or Ellen Page wants to dye her hair a bit, then I'm all for it!

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
After accidentally draining her best friend, teenage witch Annabel Ray gets sent to MYTH, a school for supernaturals, to learn control over her rare power, but Annabel's fears get in the way and after draining a classmate she becomes the main suspect for the mysterious student attacks at school.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I admire those who go down the self-published road, but I'd like for mine to be represented by an agency simply because the publishing world can be so intricate and overwhelming.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
A year, two months, and ten days...but who's obsessively counting, right? I started with a 50k NaNo novel, which I then split in two and reworked most of the first part to be book 1. I could've had a new draft done sooner, but I've been taking it slow, working 30 pages a month, then taking a month-long break during residencies at SHU so that all I learn there seeps in.

Last week I went back to read chapter one and I couldn't believe the difference in my writing. I believe revisions will be a pain but they'll be fun!

8. What other books would you compare this story within your genre?
Hahaha I wouldn't compare it with any story, but I'd say it has a bit of Harry Potter and Hex Hall, with maybe a slice of Vampire Academy, and a sprinkle of technology thrown in the mix. I was once told it was X-men meets Twilight...I've worked hard since then to correct that....

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
There's no specific person or thing that inspired me. It's a bit of everything that I love in books: boarding schools, beautiful and intricate world-building, romance, intrigue, supernaturals, strong heroines, swoon worthy heroes, hilarious sidekicks, unexpected villains, magic, and technology.

10. Who's up next?
All my writer friends have all been tagged already! So, If you stop by and are a writer, you've been automatically tagged. Yep. That's right. Now get answering those questions and when you have your post, drop by again and leave me a link so I can read your answer :D

Saturday, February 2, 2013

At the Movies: Warm Bodies


Movie: Warm Bodies 
Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton, Rob Corddry  
My Rating: 4/5

What I liked~

The actors. They all did such wonderful jobs bringing the characters to life! Hoult played R to perfection. Teresa's expressions were flawless. Analeigh did an awesome as Nora, the funny but badass friend. Last, but not least, Rob Corddry delivered some of the best lines.

The ending. Holy crap I think I like the movie ending better than the book! *hides* Seriously. The fall. The kiss. The shot! (which elicited a jump and a gasp) If I'd hated the movie, I would've still bought it for that last scene alone.

What I wished they'd included~

More of R's commentaries. The book has such great lines and while they did include some of his thoughts and dialogue lines in the movie, I felt some scenes could have benefited more from R's thoughts. Like, his inner dialogue could have easily given more depth to his struggle about comunicating with Julie and then confessing he was the one who killed her boyfriend. His inner dialogue could have also been used to explain his theory about why the zombies were turning back. There were many opportunities for his thoughts to be used. The scene would be playing and I'd be waiting for that awesome line and it never came. Most scene are just R sitting there being all sexy zombie and not delivering awesome thoughts.

What I loved~

R's eyes/ Nick Hoult's eyes. If you don't swoon over his eyes--with and without contacts--you need to check yourself and see if you're not turning into a Boney. So, yes, though there's an excess of 'silent scenes' at least I got to stare into his warm dead eyes ♥



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Hobbit's Secondary Characters


The Hobbit or There and Back Again 
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002
First Published: 1937
Genre: Fantasy

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

Whisked away from his comfortable, unambitious life in his hobbit-hole in Bag End by Gandalf the wizard and a company of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon... 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pride and Prejudice 200th Anniversary


From the words in the book...

to stunning movies and TV series...

to fashion...

and fun spinoffs...

There is no doubt Pride and Prejudice has bewitches us all body and soul.