Friday, July 29, 2011

The Awesomeness

It beckons. It calls me from the deepest slumber and awakens a spirit of longing in me. Can you feel it? Do you feel the tendrils building inside you waiting to find an escape, some way to be more than echoes of an emptiness created by a creative drought?

Look at this, and be refreshed.

I found this picture, as I always do, by trolling across the internet with no aim at finding anything. It's a proven fact that if you're looking for something, you'll never find it; it's only when you stop the search that it appears in your hands, or in my case, my Google+ home page. (By the way, if you need an invite, let me know. I can get you in.)

The beauty of this photograph--beyond the mere visible loveliness--is the fact that it isn't photo-shopped or otherwise computer altered. It's nature. It's purely natural and it's awesome.

That word, awesome, has come to be rather weak in recent years. It's been used so much that we forget that when something is awesome it actually inspires awe in us and we feel that awe to our very core. It's a chilling feeling, somewhat akin to fear and wonder and love in mixed proportions, depending on the nature of the object.

That image of the phosphorescent algae in Australia, as captured by Phil Hart, is breathtakingly gorgeous and I wish I had more descriptive words to fully convey what I feel deep down in my soul when I look at it. I feel like I'm being sucked into the stars while floating in the blue glow of the water.  I want to thank Phil Hart for taking that picture and the many others on his site. 

And those images are likely going to inspire my writing. How can they not? I'm in awe.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RTW: Best of July

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link -- or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

This Week's Topic:
What was the best book you read in July?

This summer hasn't been good for my reading side, since I've been kept busy at work and with classes, but my classes ended a week ago and I've been reading like a fiend for the past few days.

Best book so far has been Eona by Alison Goodman. One word to describe it: breathtaking. Goodman created a magnificent world in Eon and Eona continued that world and left me satisfied by the end. It's amazing how many times I thought to myself, "No he/she didn't!" and had to keep reading to find out what happened. I ended up finishing the (huge) book in one night because I couldn't put it down.

However, July isn't over, so it's still possible that the next book on the agenda might knock Eona down the ladder of favorites, but at the moment it's standing strong.

What a lovely cover. :)
As for recommending it, I definitely do, and I've already told one of my friends to find a copy STAT. He got it in e-book for his Kindle. Or was it a Nook? Can't remember, I just recall him saying he had to bring it back from the dead and now he had a Frankenstein reader. I thought it funny.

Anyway, I know my response is a bit late to the Road Trip party, but I just got internet back at my house, so I was lucky to even get a chance to post at all.

Until next time, keep reading!

Monday, July 25, 2011

S'rimpin and Mobile

I've never concealed the fact that I'm from the South, because I'm actually quite proud of that identity. If you think that all Southerners are slow-talking simpletons, I have to say that even Forrest Gump would correct you on that, and he's perhaps the most famous fictional Southerner of all time.

Even my conversation partner from South Korea knew who Forrest Gump was and had seen the movie. I warrant most of you have too. It's a good movie, heartwarming and touching, funny with a tinge of truth, but have you ever read the book?

That's right, there's a book, and if you stood the book and the movie side by side, you'd be surprised how different they are one from the other.

The book, written by Winston Groom (he lives in my hometown part of the time), is a type of book jambalaya. It's part satire and part history, part truth and part lie, part love and part lost, all things Southern and yet nothing like the South.

Groom took the obvious and turned it inside out and watched it make fun of itself. Through the voice of Forrest Gump--a man who suffered, rose like the phoenix from his own ashes innumerable times, gained and lost fortunes, made friends and enemies without trying, and learned in the end that life was something that you just gotta live--Groom tells his readers a story about themselves and helps them to learn how to see the ridiculous in the most perfect of circumstances.

Oddly enough, it is an orangutan named Sue who appears to the reader as being the most human among a litany of characters from all walks of life.

I know this doesn't sound anything at all like the movie, because the truth is that it's not. Forrest Gump, as played by Tom Hanks, is a character worthy of our respect and he wins us over from the beginning as Jenny tells him to "Run!"

Groom's version of Forrest is a bit harder to figure out. He has horrible grammar, and if you're a grammar Nazi like myself you'll grit your teeth in frustration until you get used to it, he always falls prey to horrible luck each time you think he'll finally do something right.

It's crazy and I loved it. If you haven't read it, I recommend it. It's taken me like the entire summer to read it, but that's because I've been so busy. But hopefully that will change for the next two weeks once I've taken my last final. Fingers-crossed.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

RTW: The Bad Guys Have It

First off, I'd like to acknowledge the fact that I'm blogging again after almost a two week break. It felt like forever. Now, on to the fun stuff!

Welcome to our 88th Road Trip Wednesday!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments,you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link -- or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

This Week's Topic:
Who are your favorite literary villains/antagonists, and why?

This is actually a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. For the most part, I tend to dislike all villains and wish them fiery deaths of volcanic proportions. But that's just me. However, there happens to be one villain in particular that manages to make me feel all tingly inside. And not just because he's so very good looking.

Who is this dashing fellow, you may ask? Well, it's none other than Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Why is he a villain? Let's recap. At first Elizabeth is all "He's too snobby." So he is a villain.

Next, he becomes not-a-villain, for which I'm lacking a word, when Elizabeth begins to like him because he understands her in a way that no one else can, and their witty dialogue is somuchfun.

That un-villain status changes when Elizabeth thinks Mr. Darcy is a vile man after coming to the conclusion that Mr. Darcy was behind separating Jane and Mr. Bingley. That idea was compounded by Colonel Fitzwilliam's slip about Darcy saving Bingley from an "imprudent marriage." Also, she'd been listening to Mr. Whickham's testimony of Darcy's inherently despicable nature, so it's no wonder she didn't think very highly of him.

Image at the beginning of Chapter 34. Darcy pr...Image via Wikipedia
Me? Marry you? Am I being punked?
Of course, all of this back and forth between villain and not-villain is great sport for Elizabeth. She loves it. So it isn't that much of a surprise that she again changes her mind about him when she accidentally meets him while on a tour of his home, after her outburst and refusal to marry him based on his behavior. His change in demeanor takes her off-guard. So, she feels tenderly toward him. Not villain again!

More stuff happens, he does her family a good service, but somehow along the way, they don't know it was him, so of course Mr. Darcy is still a villain to most of the Bennets. It's a wonder the poor fellow didn't just give up.

After another bout as a villain, though undoubtedly less of one than he was at the beginning, Mr. Darcy ends the novel as a hero.

For this magnificent bi-polar villainy, I thank Jane Austen. Well done, madam.

And Mr. Darcy lives on in our hearts as the ultimate bad boy turned gentleman.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

RTW: From My Eyes to Your Eyes

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:

Share some images that inspire your WIP(s).

I've always been a highly visual person. Whenever I study for a test, I have to make tests for myself to take, then make note cards of the things I missed, draw diagrams of the material (even though it might just be vocabulary), and on top of all of that, I draw pictures of my notes. How? Well, I don't know. I just do. It happens. Anyway, I have to admit that I do draw inspiration from images for my WIPs. Here are a few!

The first image is of Mobile Bay from a pier in Fairhope. It's so beautiful and makes me want to write about life on the water, and whenever I look at it, I feel at peace. It's nice fodder for my often crazed brain.

The second image is one I took from my back porch. The pecan trees frame the night sky and the tiny crescent moon. Quite lovely. It's one of the images that sparked my foray into my Science Fiction WIP. I'm always looking at the sky, whether it's during the day or at night when the moon and the stars are looking back at me. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have my camera so I can attempt to capture the feelings of freedom and longing that I get in those moments when I feel like I might float away.
When I graduated from high school, I was lucky enough to be able to go on a trip to the gorgeous British Virgin Islands with my family. I don't remember exactly where I took this picture (but according to the time stamp, I know for sure when it was taken.) I do recall how I felt when I did take it though. I felt so small and insignificant in comparison to this gnarled old tree that loomed over me. I was hot, probably tired, and it shielded me from the overbearing sun, while still allowing light through its foliage. The light that resulted reminded me of Heaven. I can't explain it better than that. In many of my WIPs, I mention trees and this is partly because I have a strong connection to trees and nature. When I was growing up, my parents could always find me in a tree when it came time for dinner. I was raised to appreciate the outdoors, to hunt, to love trees, to enjoy nature, to see the beauty in creation. I can't stop loving trees any more than I can stop breathing. Wow, I said 'trees' a lot. Good thing I love them.
I think that one common thread in these images has to deal with their relation to my heritage. I'm a member of a family with deep ties to all things Southern, and I've lived on the Gulf Coast my entire life, so perhaps I take some things for granted, like living on the beach. But when the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill happened last summer, my pristine world was sullied. These hands represent the hardworking people who pitched in to return the coast to its former condition and to save the endangered wildlife, and in a bigger sense, they represent the best in all of us. The oil does double-duty also as itself and the darkness in the world that we can't seem to escape. It's just important that we keep trying despite being covered in it. Many of my WIPs deal with this theme. Man, I get chills just looking at that picture, don't y'all?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thank You, LZ Granderson. You're My Hero.

As a member of the retail sales industry, I have to deal with a lot of crappy stuff. Unloading tons of clothes that I want to buy but can't afford to (but I buy anyway), horrible hours and short breaks, and the list goes on. However, I've come to discover that the worst part of being a semi-public servant is dealing with the people. Customer service, something I used to think I was awesome at, has become torture.


Johnny, please stop screaming. We're trying to watch American Idol.
People, and to be more specific, children, are brats. But really, are any of you that shocked? I shouldn't think so. But every day when I go into work, I have to remind myself that I have to be nice to these kids because their parents are going to buy them stuff. Of course, then I get bitter about it as the day goes on because the parents buy those brats stuff when they should be spanking the crap out of them.

Hey, it's not just me, folks, that thinks this way. You all think it at some point. Kids are out of control these days. When I was growing up, if I even looked like I was going to throw a tantrum near somewhere public, you can bet I was going to get a butt whooping when I got home. I learned my lesson early in life to be respectful of adults and act like an angel in public. My parents got so many compliments from strangers as a result of my and my sibling's good behavior when we went places. Reason: we were disciplined and we aren't "emotionally disturbed or conflicted" as a result of it. We turned out great. In fact, if kids aren't disciplined properly, I figure they're going to be the ones who are messed up. How do they know right from wrong if someone doesn't teach them and show them there are consequences?

I found this article by CNN contributing writer, LZ Granderson, about this very topic today, and it made me feel good about myself. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but sometimes I wish I could  just make those parents who don't discipline their kids see how much harm they are actually causing them in the long run.

Also, as a future teacher, I don't want to have to deal with students who don't know how to behave. So parents, please don't be selfish. Spank your kids. They deserve it.