Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Fives: Banned Books


1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
(Actually, the entire series. But I'm just listing it once.) I LOVE these books. Absolutely, one hundred percent, cannot live without them in my life. I know y'all probably hear this all the time from other fans, but my life would not have been the same without Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger to keep me company, along with all of the other memorable characters within the wizarding world.







2. The Hunger Games
Fabulously frightening. The first time I read it, I found myself forgetting to breath in places along the story because it just felt so real.







3. Brave New World
What's not to love? I can see how this book could freak people out, but it doesn't give them the right to "ban" it. Heck, it freaked me out, but I didn't stop reading it. You have to be willing to see everything in order to make your own decisions; other people can't make those for you.















4. The Call of the Wild
This book, and other London stories, instilled in me a fierce love of nature and the elements. The natural world is unforgiving and primitive, but capable of great beauty and enlightenment. London captures those qualities perfectly, and it amazes me that someone could object to such wonderful prose and exploration of humanity.




5. The Lord of the Rings
I often talk about how much I love LOTR, and I do, I really do, but I think that the thing I love the most is J.R.R. Tolkien's attention to detail and language. His other books and poems (I'm currently trying to digest The Silmarillion) show just how much he cared about getting things right, no matter how many words he had to use to do it. Some people find his works to be tedious, but I derive a sense of immense pleasure from reading his densely explained works.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

RTW: September Gave Me Zombies

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 September?

Well, this was easier than it could have been. September has been a slow month for reading. The only book I've had time to read (and I just finished this week) is World War Z. It's about zombies, war, the human condition, government, capitalism, conflict, truth, society, and reality TV, and I highly recommend that you read it before you see the movie (starring Brad Pitt.)


Prior to reading WWZ, I was only passingly interested in the zombie culture phenomenon. I'd see a zombie book or movie and say to myself, "Well now, that looks neat. But I think I'd rather watch a vampire movie/read a vampire book," because honestly, those are The Shiz.

Anyway, now I'm all for fighting me some zombies and stockpiling supplies to survive in a world inhospitable to human life. The way I see it, I have a better chance of surviving than most people. I've been trained my entire life to be able to hunt, make fire, and live off the land (although lately I've been living in a sort of domesticated role.) I've read the SAS Survival Guide Handbook for fun, and I really have no qualms about killing things. Just ask all those ants and flies that no longer bother the fine citizens of this world.

AND I can climb trees like nobody's business.

I'm not exactly the strongest person in the bunch, but if you put me together with my entire family, we are a force to be reckoned with.

For some reason I feel like this post is just turning into a rant about how awesome I would be at fighting zombies and surviving in a zombiepocalyptic world.

So, I think that if you're a person who likes to read and likes social commentary by vehicle of zombiepocalypse, then World War Z is for you. You're welcome.



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Monday, September 26, 2011

The Deer That Saw My Soul

At this very moment, I am being judged by a lawn ornament. I know what you're all thinking: lawn ornaments are probably the last things in the world that should be judging people.

But it's true. Just look for yourself.
Scary isn't it? When I woke up only little over an hour and half ago, I did not anticipate having my hairstyle and clothing choices looked down upon by a foam deer.

And it's very judgmental.

You can't really get the full effect without being in my place.

It knows things. About me.

Now that I've sufficiently spooked myself and worried people over my sanity, let's get down to the real business at hand...





Zombies!

I have a feeling that this topic will attract a few bloggy friends of mine, or at least one. Anyway, I've been reading World War Z for the past two weeks (I know; it shouldn't take me that long to read a normal sized book, but since I don't have time to read, I'm excused just this once.)

Suffice it to say, I'm completely mesmerized by the Zombiepocalypse and I've even taken things to an extreme.

That's only a portion of how ready I am.

Just kidding, but really, I'm so obsessed with being ready for the zombie attack that I'm even attending a Zombie Multimedia Presentation! next month that's being presented by a zombie expert. Yes. I'm going to be prepared.

I'm not going to get eaten, that much I can assert with some confidence. I've been biking regularly and now have enough leg endurance to be quite satisfied with my ability to outrun/out-bike a zombie hoard intent on devouring my flesh.

Come and get me you undead fiends! I will smash out your brains with a shovel and then bike away into the murky, smoke-hidden sunset. And then climb a really tall tree to sleep in so I won't get bitten/eaten while the un-sleeping, virus-ridden creatures attempt to maul me and turn me into one of them.

Parting words:
"Constant vigilance!" --Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

RTW: I Judge 'Em by Their Covers



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 are your all-time favorite book covers?

I absolutely love this prompt. Kudos to the YA Highway chicks. They continue the Rock-Bailey's-Blog-World streak. Here follows my favorite covers.

1. I may have some serious issues with the way this series ends, but the cover for Twilight always makes me want to read it again. The image--and the allusion--give me a feeling of melancholy mixed with the shivery-awe of the simplicity that manages to convey so many things. To put it simply: it's beautiful.

















2. I absolutely adore this book. The cover completely captured my imagination the first time I saw it, and from that point on, Sabriel and the other Abhorsen books have been some of my all-time favorites.

















3. Graceling is a kick-butt book and the cover manages to convey that, as well as the beauty in the Graced world. The elements of this cover make it very lovely and eye-friendly. I was so glad that the story lived up to the cover's promise.

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4. Not only is this book cover easy on the eyes, but it's textured exactly as an old map or book would feel. It appealed immediately to me in both a tactile and visual way. Merely picking up the book and running my hand over the cover can transport me to the world contained within it's pages.




Of course, I have many other favorite covers, but I felt like four was enough for one day. I want to be able to post this link and go see what everyone else chose! Until next time...

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's the Start of Life as She Knows It

Hello everyone. Thank you for clicking by. Yesterday I became an aunt! Her name is Lucille Mae (Lucy Mae), and she arrived at exactly 4:27 p.m. on September 15th.

I don't think I will ever forget that moment. I was sitting in the hospital, waiting like the rest of the family members (munching on some candy corn because I was hungry), and then the "Baby Tone" played over the speakers. We all froze.

Joy and excitement took my breath away, and the silence in the waiting room was enough to tell me that it had done the same to everyone else. The silence was shattered by the intake of our combined breaths and as one, we stood up and made our way on trembling knees to the nurse station.

It's funny now that I look back, but the nurses gave each other knowing looks and I could almost swear that I saw them restraining laughter. I guess I couldn't blame them if they had laughed. The looks on our faces--mine especially since I'm known for wacky faces--were priceless. We looked like we'd just walked into Wonka's Factory and were beholding the candy world with fresh eyes.

Yesterday, only forty minutes after she'd been born, I got to hold a "fresh" baby for the first time. She was so small and wrinkly, but her eyes--oh her eyes!--were wide and alert, and even though I know from science class that newborns can't see that well when they are born, I imagined that we shared a glance of understanding.

I didn't cry. That much I managed to do. A few of the others, especially the great-grands, got teary and had to wipe away those runaway drops. I just didn't want her first somewhat-unformed perception of me to be of a weeper. Although that's probably just my weird way of thinking kicking into gear.

A baby. I held a baby, and I'm going to get to watch her grow up and even contribute to her raising. Is that crazy? How could this happen? I don't know what I want to teach her first. I've already decided I'm going to read to her every chance I get, and the first book is going to be Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I'd like to see them try and stop me.

I've also determined that I won't follow in my grandmothers's footsteps and put coffee in her bottle, even if she asks for it. It's my addiction, but I'm not going to pass it on.

I feel like I need to make a list. Yes. I think a list sounds perfect for today.

"Don't bother me. I'm writing a masterpiece.
You may change me later."
Observations from Two Days as an Aunt:
1. Babies poop, but they also make funny faces and who doesn't like those?
2. In case the baby does poop while you're holding her, you can always hand her to her daddy.
3. Babies mean power. If you have a baby and you're sitting down, you can get anyone to do anything for you so you don't have to get up.
4. If you have a baby, people bring you food whenever you want it, because: you have a baby.
5. The waiting room in the maternity ward only shows PBS Kids on its TV, so bring a book if you don't like Barney.
6. Sometimes babies don't like to come out of the womb, so waiting may take many hours. Bring snacks. The vending machines are expensive.
7. If you have a Shakespeare class on a Friday, but you don't want to go, going to see your niece is a good "excuse" to your conscience for skipping.
8. Babies don't care if you haven't put any makeup on. They don't know anything yet!
9. If you walk into a room that has a baby as its occupant, you're automatically guaranteed to hear people make funny noises and faces, and that can be amusing.
10. Women who just gave birth like froyo, so you have an excuse to get frozen yogurt for lunch and dinner.

Basically, newborn babies don't do very much but they look like little mini-Yodas, so that makes them AWESOME in my book. Until next time...
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

RTW: Deja Vu? Methinks Maybe

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 themes, settings, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find recurring in your work?

I'm BACK! And in more ways than one apparently, as it seems very appropriate to be discussing recurring themes and such after returning from a RTW dry spell. These past few weeks have been uncommonly hectic, what with classes and the writing and the newspaper and the helping of EDM310 students, but thank goodness for slow times in the lab. That's how I'm here right now typing at y'all.

Anyway, on to the fun stuff! *ahem*

Themes:
I tend to be on the side of Good a lot more than Evil, so really that's the only theme that I follow, at least overtly. My WIPs are many times following some sort of conflict either internal or external, perhaps even a combination of both. It may sound a lot cliche, but that's how I think. In cliches, haha! Although lately I've been stepping out of that "cliched" comfort zone and writing characters who have problems and seem more three-dimensional. It's been really fun. At the moment, my MC of the month is an ex-streetfighter who took over running a bar when her dad passed away. She (yes, this girl can fight!) has a penchant for cussing and does odd "jobs" to keep the bar afloat. Her past hasn't exactly been left behind despite what she may claim.

Settings:
This old store in Mississippi isn't that far from where I grew up.
Spooky. Also: tombstones?
Scooby and Shaggy would have none of that place.
None. Of. It. 
Oh dear, this is a doozy. Well, I have one WIP set in the South...then it's in Ireland...and then I have another one set in the South...and I think it stays there. Umm, then there's this one that's set in space...but then it's on Earth, but I haven't really decided where yet. Oh and then there's the one set in a place kind of like Metropolis for Superman, but I never really named it. I think I see a trend though. The settings tend to change or be a little Southern. Except for the WIP of the moment. It's set in a Chicago-like borough that never had a heyday. It's cold and dark and I love it.

Scenes:
I have a lot of introspective scenes, mostly because I write in first person quite often. But other than those, it's either very descriptive third person or ginormous conversations. It's, as we say, a work in progress! I'm constantly learning how some scenes can be made better by adding different elements or by subtracting them. I don't think I'll ever stop learning.

I think that's enough for now. I don't want to be sore tomorrow from all of this fun! Until next week...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tests

That word has come to mean many things, to me in particular.

As a college student, I have tests in my classes (although honestly they often feel like Herculean tasks). As a writer, I have deadlines which are tests in themselves, since I'm one of the world's worst procrastinators. As a daughter/sister/friend, I am constantly tested on all sides by those who know me, and whether or not they know they are testing me is another question altogether.

Life is full of tests, some bigger and some smaller than others, but in order for us to pass, we must learn how to face ourselves and develop our test-taking skills.

I'm trying not to delve too deep into the nether-region of psychoanalysis, but how we deal with the tests in life is definitive of who we are as individuals. I have this idea that it isn't the test itself that frightens us. We fear taking tests because we're afraid they will somehow reveal something about us that we would rather keep hidden.

The same goes for characters in a book. Whether you are writing a book or reading one, we all realize that at some point the main character is going to undergo some sort of test. Harry Potter is a prime example of a character that was constantly tested, often to the extremes of physical pain and emotional loss, but it is how he dealt with the aftermath that makes his story so gripping.

Harry Potter doesn't always say or do the things we as readers might think right, but he does use his own judgement and conscience to do what he feels is right. While we may not be acting under the high pressure situations that Harry finds himself in in every book, we can appreciate as outsiders the fact that he never chooses to give up and he does what others would not.

In the end, that is what we must do when life tests us. The only way to get past a trial is to keep going despite the knowledge that something bad may happen.

So there you have it, folks. My spiel for the week. Hopefully I haven't depressed anyone, because this post was actually intended to be uplifting. I guess that's just goes to show how words can just get away from you.
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Saturday Scenes: Picture Version

I have so many pictures that I just decided to make them one post! Anyway, I'll try to describe what each picture contains, but sometimes words just can't do a thing justice, no?
This is the concept design that the scenic technicians are working to create.
I call it: Mini Set. 

These are the brains and some of the brawn.
I let you figure out which is which. 

He gave me gum, so I left him alone with his saw. 

Jonathan (oooo! I used his name!) taught me how to scumble.
It's not as bad as it sounds. 

You gotta give them props. (Heehee.)

My scumbling paint. Low, Mid, and Hi, respectively. I think.
I actually think the Hi might be in the middle. 

Can you believe it took two of them almost two hours to put up two pieces of panel?
Yeah, I may be exaggerating. 


This is the set after I'd scumbled may way around the walls.
I'm pretty sure I'm not using scumble properly at this time, but it's just so much fun to say and type.
Try it. Scumble!
And there you have it folks! That's my theatre experience! I had fun.





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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mind Over Memory



This video pretty much says it all today.

The Day My Fifth Grade Walls Came Tumbling Down

The years have passed quickly, it seems. It's been ten years to the day that my spelling test was interrupted by the intercom and my fifth grade world was shattered.

Hope in the face of disaster. 
I don't remember what words I was trying to spell correctly, but I can tell you exactly what seat I was in when the events of 9/11 came crashing into my life.

Third row in from the door, first desk in the row. I'd been having problems seeing the board (and would later get glasses), but I didn't have any trouble imagining the horror of the scene taking place hundreds of miles from me in New York City and later in Washington, D.C. and that field in Pennsylvania.

It's hard to describe what it feels like to have your childhood ripped away in an instant by an act of terrorism so violent that the aftermath leaves a feeling of shock. As the scenes of the plane hitting the tower played on the TV set in our school library (where I sneaked off to see what was happening) and later the image of another plane and another plane and the smoke, ash, debris, and terror, roiled in my mind and the minds of my classmates, we did the only thing we were capable of: we prayed.

My school, thank goodness, was one of those that encouraged prayer, which I suppose was due to the fact that it was a private school in Mississippi. So, we all got down on our knees, spelling tests forgotten, and we prayed that God would watch over those in the Twin Towers, those on the ground, those who have family in those places, and anyone else that would be affected. We prayed for the president, the armed forces, the first responders, the onlookers, and the cab drivers. We prayed because it was the only thing we could do--we were only in fifth grade.

Even ten years later, the memory of my knees on the tile floor still recalls in me that feeling of helplessness that I felt as I watched the towers burn.

I don't know if I'll ever forget that day, and I don't think I will want to. Sometimes, it's the horrible acts in life that make the biggest impact, yet for all the pain I witnessed, it was the smaller acts of kindness that actually brought me to tears and can still do so today. Needless to say, we never finished that spelling test. It just didn't seem important anymore.

God Bless the USA.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday Scenes

As some of you may know, I am a college student and also the Life editor for my campus paper, The Vanguard. So, now that you're all up to speed, I can tell y'all about my morning working in the scene shop of the theatre department.

First of all, I would like to say that I am not a theatre major and there is a very good reason for that. Audiences make me laugh. I could just see myself trying to give a serious monologue and out of the corner of my eye catching a glimpse of the audience and then subsequently breaking down into hysterical laughter. I could probably act if I were allowed to wear a blindfold or played a pirate with two eye patches.

Anyway, as a journalist, I made the bright decision to write a series of articles about the theatre department, more specifically about the people behind the scenes. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. These people are crazy, but in the best way possible.

I did something like this. (Only smaller and...less grand.)
Normally I'm the most outgoing person within a 200 foot radius at any time. Not so this morning. I walked into the conference room where we were all gathering before beginning the work day, and found myself sucked into a mire of laughter, jokes, yells, jests, and stories that swept me forward and sat me roughly (though kindly) on a seat where I stared in rapt attention at the sheer force of what I was witnessing.

These people were so intense and close-knit that I wondered at first if I would fit in, but that too faded. I found myself welcomed heartily and learning to "scumble" a set wall. I painted limestone! (I also got paint in my hair that I don't think will come out!)

Despite the fun, I was basically useless to them. I did manage to act as the head painter's "personal assistant" which meant he stayed on the ladder, he'd hand me his paint brush, and I would dip it in the paint he needed. (Hi, Mid, or Low.) I think he appreciated it since he was on a sixteen foot ladder and coming up and down was tiring.

In just three hours, we managed to paint the entire set in shades of taupy-pink. By the time I left to go to my other job, I was in love with the entire cast of characters working with me and I felt accomplished, even though I only performed a small task.

I was going to include the pictures that I took during the work day, and they would have shown the progress from a blank set to a painted set, but alas, I left my camera at The Vanguard office where it belongs. Maybe I'll come back and add some.

Until next time...have a scumbling great weekend!
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Friday, September 2, 2011

Finally Friday

Blog world! I've been so busy and I've missed you! I didn't even get to do my RTW like I usually do...it made me sad.

Despite that lack of RTW fun, I did manage to be "productive" this week. I know what you're thinking: "She did something baaaaaad and now she wants to tell US about it. Oh boy."

Shame on you for thinking that. In fact, I did nothing bad that I can recall (key word: recall) but I have been hard at work writing things, predominately articles. But I did manage to squeeze in a few essays and a short story somewhere, so in all, this week hasn't managed to keep me down yet!

To add to my current state of tiredness and delusion, I just discovered today--actually about 30 minutes ago--that the reason it is raining and windy outside is because there's a tropical storm sitting right smack dab below me in the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile is just catching the top half. Well! I wish someone would have thought to tell me sooner and I would have worn my rain boots to class. (I didn't, and my feet got wet. Thankfully due to the knowledge I had of Mobile being the rainiest city in the U.S., I always carry an umbrella.)

Anyway, it's been one of those weeks that happens and you just don't know how you made it to Friday without having a nervous breakdown or two. I even went a whole day without coffee, but I don't want to talk about it.

Before I get too off track, I just want to share this awesome photo that Hex Hall author Rachel Hawkins tweeted a little while ago. Of course, for some odd reason it wouldn't blow up without getting blurry, so if you really want to see it close up, just click on it and it'll reveal itself in all its glory.




I want a GIANT version of this map, I love it THAT HARD. on Twitpic
Apparently, she loves it hard. And I have to agree. It's simply wonderful, and as a fan of these fantasy worlds, it just makes sense to have them all combined into one giant map.

Until next time...enjoy!
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