Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo - Reverse Mode

I finished NaNo in three weeks and this is how I did it:

In reverse.

I first heard about this method when a friend of mine shared the link over Facebook. The title was intriguing enough that I clicked Reverse NaNoWrimo and it was just one of those light bulb in the head moments.

The ‘rules’ of NaNo say that you write 1,667 words everyday for a month and at the end, lo and behold, you’ve got yourself a 50k novel. That 1.6k daily goal is very easy during the first week or two, when you’re all excited, words are pouring out, and you’re not only meeting the goal, you’re destroying it. But somewhere along the third week your words start to dry out as if the idea faucet has suddenly been turned off, and it becomes an uphill battle to even get 1k. NaNo troopers know this, and for years I've been reading how 'you just have to push through and keep writing.' It's too bad that  pushing doesn't always work.

This is where Reverse Mode comes in. It takes into account this shift in ‘writing mood’ by making use of those first two weeks when we’re all pumped up and ready to type/write until our fingers fall off to get most of the words out. By doing this, it leaves the remaining two weeks with word goals lower than 1.6k, effectively helping out the dry spell that comes on when we reach that stage in NaNo.

It totally worked for me.

Week 1
The word goals were between 3.3k-2.6k. The story was still shinny and fresh in mind, so I reached the goals easily, sometimes even going over by a couple of hundred words.

Week 2
The word goals were from 2.5k-1.8k. Again, I had no trouble achieving this since the muse was still going strong. I sometimes started more than one scene in one day, leaving half of one to work on the next day.

Week 3
The word goals were between 1.7k-1k. Even with fewer words, it's when I started to struggle. Mostly because I decided to play pantser this time around and had no outline whatsoever of my story. I’m a manic plotter by nature, so I fumbled in the end to come up with scenes. But I simply started writing random scenes that came to mind, even if I didn't know where they fit yet. Even when I skipped two days of writing, I recovered quickly and kept on writing.

Week 4
Goals were less than 1k, but I didn’t need them.

I finished NaNo in three weeks!

The NaNo word counter said 50,550 for final count.

After this year, I'm recommending the Reverse Method to any NaNo trooper/writer I come across. I'll definitely be using this to set my own deadline for future projects.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Finished the NaNo Madness

This is what I've been up to. I might return and to talk a bit more about my approach to NaNo this year, because it worked really really well!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

At The Movies: Edge of Tomorrow

Movie: Edge of Tomorrow
Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
My rating: 100/10 


Where do I even begin?

I'll try not to spoil anything, but apologies if in my excitement I do.

What I loved~

Major William Cage. You all know the joke about Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise in every Tom Cruise movie? Yeah, this is not like that. Well, not entirely. William Cage is sort of a wimp, and seeing Cruise get into that character (an opposite of what he usually plays) was not only amusing, but impressive. He dies over and over again, and most times it's because of stupid moves he makes. Of course, after some hard ass training from Rita, he gets into shape.

Sergeant Rita Vrataski. A famous soldier known as Full Metal Bitch and Angel of Verdun, she is one of the most badass characters I've ever seen in movies. She's strong, smart, determined, takes shit from no one, and makes no apologies for being a woman. I think Emily Blunt was the perfect actress for this role!

The fact that she is a woman in no way stops her from getting right in the middle of the battles, and most soldiers either respect or fear her.

She's so badass that she trains in the middle of the training room, which has revolving metal targets spinning really fast. And she's there doing her stretches and yoga thing, absolutely not giving a fuck.

What I L-O-V-E-D~

Romance? No. Attraction? Yes. I love romance plots and subplots, but lately it's become a sort of requirement for anything and everything, and most often people do a shitty job with portraying healthy relationships between characters. Which is why I'm sort of in love with what they did here. Rita and William don't even like each other when they meet. And even after being stuck together trying to figure out what's happening and how to defeat the mimics, they only grudgingly accept each other. He sticks to Rita because she knows what she is doing. And Rita sticks to him because of his 'power.'

It's only after they've relived days over and over, that we get to see a change in his attitude. Because he, of course, is the only one who remembers everything, while she gets to first meet him everyday. It was a natural progression that led them to that ending scene.


The humor. It was unexpected and I laughed my ass off.

This neat little trick of repeating the same day over and over again. The way it was handled in the movie was absolutely brilliant. The first three times we get almost all of the first full day, but after that, the scenes cut just to certain events and there is enough information in the shot for the viewer to know exactly at what part of the day they're at. It gets complicated when they start venturing outside of what we've seen already, but it's never confusing. It's sort of heartbreaking when he starts to admit things like, this is like the 36th time we've done this and I've seen you die.
"Find me when you wake up!"

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

At The Movies: Summer Edition Part 1

Movie: Edge of Tomorrow
Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
My rating: 100/5

HOLY #$%&!





Movie: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Stars: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellen, Jennifer Lawrence
My rating: 3/5

Was I the only one not impressed, excited or glad about the timeline/continuity shift trick?

Spoilers below. Highlight to read.
Jean alive again? NO.
Cyclops alive again? NO!
Jean/Cyclops/Wolverine love triangle again? HELL NO!

The movie was cool, but I was not a happy camper with that ending.

Movie: How To train Your Dragon 2
Stars: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
My rating: 10/5

THIS is how sequels are done, okay? Character growth, more dragons, escalating problems, and plot twists. But, seriously, near the end...HOLY PLOT TWIST WHY!?

Would I be asking too much if I begged for a third movie? Because, yes, I am ready.

Movie: Rio 2
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Rachel Crow, Amandla Stenberg, Pierce Gagnon, Jamie Foxx,
My rating: 3/5

I laughed.

I laughed out loud.

But the overall plot...hmm.

I also wanted Blue and Jewel's kids to play a bigger role; like be the main characters instead of the supporting cast. Oh well. Still highly enjoyable.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

At The Movies: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Movie: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
My Rating: 7/5

Out of all the heroes I've met so far through these movies (I know nothing of the comic verse), Captain America had been by far the least interesting and unappealing of them all. The first movie I watched only because it tied in with the others, but I would've skipped it otherwise. I think it's the fact that he's so good that turns me off. See, I like my heroes to be a little bit gray around the edges (Iron Man) or completely black (Loki). You might be asking yourself why if I dislike him so much did I give this movie a 7 out of 5...


What I loved~
Captain America and Black Widow's bromance. Bless whoever pushed to turn this into one of the coolest friendships ever. She teases him, she challenges him, she wants to finds him dates, and the captain isn't quite sure what to make of her, but he cares about her, protects her, and ultimately trusts in her. I love it. I love it all.

Falcon. I was a teensy bit worried when I saw the comic version (red costume and feathers yikes!), but this adaptation blew my mind. Awesome is awesome, and that is what Falcon is.

Closure. I needed this. And it seems it gives way to something interesting with Agent 13.

Nick Fury and Maria Hill. There two could rule the world. Seriously.

What I swooned for~
Captain America. I do not like him. I do not like him. I do not...I do...I do, yes. YES, I DO. The fighting scenes, holy $#%&.

The Winter Soldier. I was already half-in-love with the masked man by the time they revealed his true identity. And then I was like, "You @#%$! I hate you! How could you?"

The short clip at the end. Excuse me while I scream.

I was blown away by this movie, truly. Adds Captain America to favorite heroes list.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Guest Post: In the Business of Magic

In the last twenty years, magic schools have been a thing in young adult fiction. J.K. Rowling started the craze, and ever since, scholars and bloggers alike have tried to pin-point just what makes the magic school setting so enticing. I’ve read quite a few theories, and I agree a bit with each one.

There’s the “who wouldn’t want to go to school where your classes are potion-making and changing toothpicks into feathers?” theory, and that one holds a lot of weight. Potions beats algebra any day. There’s also the “it provides a safe way to observe/relive the school years.” There’s something to that, too. For me, dealing with accidentally poisoning myself in that potions class feels a lot less intimidating than dealing with dressing “in style” ever did.

Oh, that’s just me?


Anyway, no matter which way you slice it, magic schools fulfill a human/reader desire to get lost in a cooler middle/high school environment than the one we know/knew.

But why does the fun have to stop in school? Seriously, if I could have majored in potions, that would have rocked. Even more, if I could go to work for a company that made spellbooks…pinch me, I’m in heaven.

Yet there is a distinct lack of magic in the fictional corporate workplace. Urban fantasy is filled to bursting with books about paranormal bounty hunters/private investigators/shady night club bar tenders. Where are all the secretaries, personnel chairs, and CEOs? Why is there so much given to the hunter/stalker professions?

I’ve got a theory.

“We’re grown-ups now. We work in serious jobs, and it’s no longer okay to want magic.”

Unfortunately, I think this is all too true. Books that tell stories about teenagers at magical academies are acceptable because they deal with a part of life where it’s still all right to believe in magic and even hope that there will be magic someday. That bubble seems to pop right around the time college starts, and I think that’s because not everyone goes to college. Some people skip the higher education thing (which is totally cool) and go right into the workforce, where there is no magic to speak of, never mind think of. Oh, and there never will be any magic. “You’re an adult now. This is adult life. Get used to it.”

So we let the idea of magic fall to the side. It was a nice story to cling to before we had responsibility, but now it’s something we can’t afford to be distracted by. Every so often, we’ll pick up a book about a magic school to relive what could have been, but it’s only a fond memory. And don’t even think about handing us books about magical companies. That will send us over the edge. The idea that work doesn’t have to be, well, work is one we can’t stomach, don’t want to stomach. It’s too good to be true, and as we were taught as children, things that are too good to be true are never real.

So why the bounty hunters and private investigators in urban fantasy? I think it’s because those professions are considered “dangerous” and “exciting.” “I don’t want to work in my cubical all day. I want to be out chasing bad guys.” So the market floods with books about people who hunt bad guys all day.

And then those bad-guy-hunting characters wax poetic about how they just want to relax in a cubical….

It seems that those jobs with paranormal twists are all right because they aren’t considered “boring” by most people. They offer an escape into a more exciting life that I guess the idea of corporate magic just doesn’t hold. “Don’t destroy our carefully-built sanctuary of survive until five and get out of here. Don’t give us the hope that our stupid, boring, worthless jobs can be fun. They can’t be.”

But what if they can?

Mary DeSantis, also known as desantism, is an –ism—almost enough said. After spending the first twenty-something years of her life in a small city fifteen miles north of Boston, she up and moved to North Carolina, where she’s resided for about two years. Mary has been an avid Disney lover from age too-young-to-remember and, as a result, writes fantasy, often about royalty and soldiers. When she’s not slaving away in front of her computer, Mary can be found belting Disney songs at the top of her lungs, hanging with her local buddies from Write Club (which she’d discuss, but the first rule of Write Club…), getting lost in a book, or learning to fight fire breathing dragons.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

At The Movies: Divergent

Movie: Divergent
My Rating: 5/5

I am giving the movie a full 5 even when some things irked me, because overall I think it was an amazing adaptation of the book and the cast really made the story come alive. This one I'm definitely buying on BluRay!

What I liked~
Veronica Roth’s cameo in the canopy scene! Now how fucking awesome is that? It makes me immensely happy when movie people consult the authors and let them into the process, but giving the author a tiny part is beyond the call of duty and should be praised. Gives me hope for whenever a novel of mine gets to the big screen or even the tv screen as a series LOL

The connection between Tris and Four wasn’t like the one in the book, and I both liked and disliked that aspect. In the book, I could see why the two ended up together because there was that slow simmering attractions and a set of encounters that led to it. In the movie, of course, you don't have the luxury of a slow pacing and so their attraction felt a bit rushed? Either way, I still enjoyed the sexy times!

And the sexy times with tattoos!

The world building was pretty amazing. The devastated Chicago landscapes looked epic and the canopy scene, though obviously CGI, still gave me and my friends a thrill.

The fear landscapes were another thing that I was excited to see how they handled, and I have to say they did a great job. They looked both real and surreal, which was the point of them.

Her training. OW! I'm conscious it's a movie and that fights are staged, but damn those fights sequences had me cringing with each blow. I really liked that we got to see Tris's transformation from the point where she knows nothing, to the point where she can handle herself in a fight against anyone.

Friendships. Another point I was hoping they nailed and they did. Tris's friendships play a big part in the books, and they highlighted them enough in the movie to show that.

What I didn’t like~
Except for a couple of scenes, Tris remained monosyllabic for the first part of the movie. Her favorite words were Yeah, Ok, and I'm pretty sure there was a third one, but I can't remember it. I was pretty distracted by what was happening on screen--it is an exciting movie, after all--but even so, I noticed her lack of longer dialogue responses compared to other characters. It was very disconcerting since she is the heroine of the story.

This is more of an issue with how they shot the movie and not with the story itself, but the in-your-face close-up shots got boring pretty fast. Like, hello, let me see their clothes and the room/space around them!

The last shot of the movie was beautiful, but what the hell happened to Four’s lines? I WAS WAITING FOR THEM! I kept mouthing the words, reciting his lines, but he never says them! Here's the quote from the book...
"I have something to tell you," he says.
I run my fingers along the tendons in his hand and look back at him.
"I might be in love with you." He smiles a little. "I'm waiting until I'm sure to tell you, though."
So cheesy! So cute!

What made my fangirl heart explode~
The ‘wake up Four’ scene. Holy shit. That's all I can say.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

At The Movies (Home Edition): Frozen

Movie: Frozen
My Rating: 5/5

I am a big fan of Disney movies, especially those with princesses who can stand on their own without the need for a prince to rescue her. These last movies princess moviesTangled,  Brave, and now Frozenhave given me new heroines to look up to. Yes, I am 25+ and part of my role models include Disney Princesses. Deal with it. Also, I apologize for the great amount of gifs :)

What I loved~
Anna. Thank goodness for extremely dorky princesses who like to settle things on their own! That moment when she turns away from Kristoff to save her sister, and later when she stops Kristoff because she can very damn well punch Hans on her own. Hell yes! Anna isn't perfect and she doesn't try to be, which I think is a great message.

Kristoff. AKA The Valiant Pungent Reindeer King. Thank goodness for extremely cute and quirky romantic interests. As a kid, he adopts a reindeer as pet, talks to him, and rides him like a horse. As an adult...he still does all of the above.

Elsa. I loved her characterization and it mostly has to do with the metaphor of her ice being really the result of depression and insecurity brought on by the isolation her parents forced her into. We can’t ignore problems, or suppress them. We have to deal with them.

Sven and Olaf. I want a pet reindeer too. A real one. Or a plushie. And I agreed with Kristoff, someone needed to tell Olaf about summer and snow and what happens LOL. But hey! He got his own flurry!

Music. Like all Disney movies, Frozen comes with a wonderful set of catchy songs that will either have you singing, dancing, or both as you watch it. Aside from the main songs, I really liked how they tried to assimilate the background music with the setting. Arendelle is a Nordic/Scandinavian city, and the music certainly tried to match that. Like the icemen song.

Metaphors. The ice in someone’s heart represents isolation and rejection, and the only way to thaw it is with love. Elsa’s out of control ice magic lashing out at everyone was because she didn’t receive enough love and thus only knew coldness.

Oaken. He is the owner of Wandering Oaken's Trading Post and Sauna who insists on offering his guest the Big Summer Blowout Special in the dead of winter. You gotta understand the man. He's gotta feed his four kids and husband. I applaud Disney for taking this direction. Family is family.

What I wish they’d done~
Hans. It’s not that I didn’t like him as the villain. He was fantastic! All pretty faced and willing to help, and then sweetly backstabbing Anna. What I wish he'd gotten was a teensy bit more character development, because it felt like he was evil for evil’s sake. Like, boohoo he has twelve brothers and he only saw usurping a throne as his only way, but what drove him to that? Did his parents not give him enough love like what happened with Elsa? Did his brothers pretending he didn’t exist for two whole years affect him way too much? We'll never know.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

At the Movies: Vampire Academy

My Rating: 5/5

This series is one of my favorites and after reading a lot of mixed reviews—from OMG LOVE IT to OMG HATE IT—I was really concerned when I went to watch it at the theater. I went with two of my best friends who had never read the books and as soon as we stepped out of the theater they both asked me about the books and how soon could they borrow them.
We. Loved. It.

What I loved~
Main actors selection. Zoey Deutch is totally Rose. There’s no doubt about it. Lucy Fry nailed Lissa Dragomir. Dominic Sherwood captured the true personality of Christian Ozera. And Danila Kozlovsky convinced me as Dimitri Belikov, even though I still think he's too old.

Rose and Dimitri. Can you see the chemistry?

What I liked~
Suporting actors selection. Cameron Monaghan was freaking adorable as Mason. Knowing what happens to him later makes it worse. Sarah Hyland as Natalie was the right dosage of nerdy and dorky, and the final transformation was pretty awesome.

Friendships. I really loved how they highlighted the dynamic between Rose and Lisa.

The minimum angst. Though it’s clear Rose is disappointed at Dimitri’s refusal to initiate anything between them, I was SO glad when she turned everything around and flipped him.

The humor. I only laughed out loud a couple of times from really good jokes, while the rest were just like haha. But that still didn't change the fact that I had a huge smile on my face every time Rose was speaking.

What I didn’t like~
Headmistress Kurova. My reaction to her character in the movie was basically ‘What. The. Hell.’ Like, why did they make her into an airhead, mean girl, childish woman? I do not remember her like that at all. Yeah, she was always against Rose, but she was never petty about it. In the movie, she is mean on purpose, just out of spite. It was ridiculous. And my critique is to the character, not to the actress because I know Olga Kurylenko is phenomenal. But they took what I remembered to be a pretty serious character and turned her into a silly joke.

Shut up. There’s a moment in one of the final scenes where Lissa basically tells Queen Tatiana to shut it, and it was so out of character both for Lissa to do it—because I don't remember her ever challenging authority like that—and for the queen to simply follow along.

Overall, I think the movie captured the essence of Vampire Academy. I won't be able to tell you how closely it follows the book because I read the series a couple of years ago and my mind is fuzzy on specifics. But it was funny, entertaining, and so much better than anything I expected! Now, can we please get Frostbite? I need me some Adrian Ivashkov on the big screen.