Wednesday, November 30, 2011

RTW: Books of November

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's the best book you read in November?

This time around the Best of's block, I find that I have a tie on my hands. It's between the book club choice of the month, The Scorpio Races, and my other favorite, Matched. They both have some great things going for them, so I'm just gonna have to say that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I recently reviewed both of these lovely novels, so if you feel like making a click-stop to see what I have to say about them while you're traveling down the YA Highway, please be my guest.

Just click on either cover to go to the respective post.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sitting on My Laurels

Appropriately enough, I never can seem to shake that feeling of "OH MY" when someone gives me something. It doesn't matter if you've just given me a leaf you found on the ground and that's been trampled on for three days, or if the gift in question is a cup of coffee with eight sugars and two creams (the ultimate gift IMO) because I will always react the same way.

"Thanks! This is so awesome!"

And I'm having one of those moments right now.

Murees Dupé over at Daily Drama of an Aspiring Writer has given me the Liebster Blog Award! Isn't she great! Thanks, Murees!! I won't forget you around Christmastime, although I don't know how much it will cost me to ship a crocheted hat to South Africa...*stares at map perplexedly*

Cool, huh? Yeah. It has a heart on it, so you know it's legit.

Ahem. The Liebster Blog Award is meant to bring attention to other blogs, which is compounded by the fact that liebster is German for "favorite" or "dearest." Isn't that sweet?

In any case, there are a few things I must do as a proud Liebster awardee:

1. Thank the giver. Check!
2. Put the award on my blog. Check!
3. Pass the award on to five fellow bloggers with less than 200 followers.

And the award goes to... *drum roll*

Donelle Lacy over at a Little Dversion!

Cindy Thomas - Aspiring YA Author!

Eve. E over at Clueless Eve!

Stephanie Allen over at My Personal Fairytale!

Val the Victorian over at Unbagging the Cats!


Congratulations to each of them and all other preceding Liebster awardees! I'm going to apparate over to each of their blogs and give them the good news before this post has had time to cool. I hope that by continuing the liebster love, I've contributed in some small part to the greater good of the blogging community. It's the least I can do for all of the wonderful people I've met since jumping into the blogosphere.

On a side-note, I just ate a really spicy dinner roll that I thought was gonna be, yanno, not spicy, and now I'm very uncomfortable. I feel as if I've just kissed the sun, and not in a good way. I think they should label dinner rolls at the dining hall from now on because my cranberry juice just isn't fighting the fire like I thought it would. 

*adds to list of grievances for dining hall right after Not Enough Grilled Cheeses*

The Day of the Do-Over

Happy Deja Vu post! Here's the link to the article I wrote waaaay back in April about inspiration and nachos. Enjoy!

Drip, Drip, Drop!

And while you're enjoying that blast from my blogging past, click on over to the Blogfest host and take a gander at the other bloggers participating! Or sign yourself up! Either would be great! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Scorpio Races

Unlike our dear Tracey Neithercott over at Words On Paper, I asked for a pony when I was a wee one. Not only that, but my wish was granted. His name was Buck. Buck was an ex-barrel racer, trained to buck on command, and the color of a caramel latte. His name was quite appropriate considering his coloring and nature. But I loved him anyway.

Buck was only the first horse to come into my life, although he will always be one of the more memorable. 

While reading The Scorpio Races, I couldn't help but think of Buck whenever Dove was mentioned. The memories of my childhood kept floating to the surface, like Capaill uisce, and galloping across my mind. I think it made my reading of the book all the more special. 

Tracey has already done a wonderful job of discussing some of the fundamentals regarding Stiefvater's novel, such as the dual plot narrative, the setting, etc. 

However, I want to focus on the kelpie legend and the final outcome of the book. 

I hope no one who hasn't read the book happens upon this post, because there will be spoilers from this point forward. So, here's your warning. 

Stiefvater mentions in her afterword that she struggled with writing this story for a while, because the mythology surrounding the water horses was so dense. There were multiple legends pointing to separate ideas of what constituted a kelpie, but most kept the bloody aspect. There are just as many names for the kelpies/water horses/capaill uisce as there are legends about their existence. 

As a fan, I have to say that I think Maggie did a wonderful job of utilizing the myth (I think that by isolating the characters on an island was a great way of containing the scope) and the capaill uisce were extremely believable. I'm with Tracey here. If Stiefvater told me that Thisby and the capaill uisce were real, I'd believe her 100%. 

The fact that the island and the people on it felt Irish or Celtic to me (in my head) also added to the atmosphere of the book. I've always pictured kelpies as being creatures that haunt the Celtic isles and indigenous to that area only. I can't tell you why. 

The End
Part of the wonder that is this book is the way I found myself at a loss over who I would like to win the race. Usually, I tend to favor one character over another, or either the author manages to make it easy for readers to choose a favorite. However, I couldn't choose between Sean and Puck. At one moment, I think I may want Puck to win because she has to take care of her family, but then Sean would return to my mind and I'd remember how he feels about Corr and his own story. 

Even down to the last few pages, when the race is in full swing, I was unable to choose between them. I wanted both of them to win, which in a way, I suppose they did. The conclusion cinched the book in a way that I didn't know was possible. How could they both win when only one of them could win? Regardless of my own confusion, it all made sense. 

Puck wins on Dove, saves her home, and because Corr is damaged beyond repair, helps Sean purchase Corr from Mr. Malvern. It's a tidy ending to an otherwise messy dilemma. Yet, it isn't rushed and makes complete sense. When books end as happily (or semi-happily as it felt to me) as The Scorpio Races when the entire book prior to the ending has been contention on all corners, readers usually tend to doubt the neatness of the ending. 

However, not so in this case. I'm happy to believe in this ending, because it doesn't at all smell of hasty end-tying. The entire book falls into place like a neatly played game of chess, so that at the end, when Stiefvater checkmates me, I'm so entirely surprised and impressed with the skill in which she played me, that I'm perfectly thrilled to have been beaten. 

Now, if you haven't read The Scorpio Races and my comments haven't ruined it for you (which they shouldn't have), I recommend that you go out and get your hands on a copy, and then promptly read it. You'll thank me. It's not everyday that you get to read a book like this. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I've Lost Your Comments!

I'm so sorry anyone who's ever commented on here! I just switched over to Disqus so I could actually comment back to each of you individually, but alas! Your comments were lost to the world as a result! I still have them in my archives, so if I ever get lonely I can go back and read what you've all said...

But I'm not sure if I can get them to come back. :( Y'all wouldn't mind going back and re-commenting? No? Oh well, it was worth a shot. I don't blame y'all one bit! 

Anyway, I just felt like I had to explain why there are NO COMMENTS on any of my posts anymore. It's really sad. Forgive me?

I still love every single one of you for each and every comment tossed my way! You're lovely, dear people.

Each comment is like being hugged. Or in the case of this tiny kitten, being licked by a giant tongue.

Thank you all sincerely for all of the hug-licks via comments.

Wow. That image keeps getting funnier and funnier.

I wonder if the kitten grew up thinking it was a German Shepherd?


Kitten: "Mom, how come people don't run from me when I bark at them?"

Dog: "Honey, you're a cat. You can't bark."

Kitten: "Whaaaaat? LIES!" *hisses and spits*

Deja Vu and Things

Of all the things that may someday drive me truly crazy, my frequent moments of deja vu are at the very top of the list. I don't know, mostly because I'm afraid to look, if having deja vu every day is a bad thing, but the simple fact remains that I do.

Sometimes it's stronger than others. Usually it's just a slight inkling in the back of my mind that I've encountered a situation or conversation before, but when I ask someone if I have, I almost 90% of the time get negative answers. Either they don't have good memories or my family and friends are a bunch of liars.

I'm not quite sure which I would prefer. However, this little info on my inner workings has a purpose. There is a blog fest going on and it's called the Deja Vu Blogfest: The Day of the Do-over. Catchy right? Just click on the link to add your name and blog to the list.

So what's the deal with this blogtastic event? So glad I asked.

Bloggers from across the interwebs will be reposting a past post that may not have got many views, the authors felt particularly fond of, or was posted back when the blogger was a fresh face in the blogging world. Hence, deja vu.

Sounds fun, right? My sentiments exactly. So, if you have the time to spare to repost an old piece of your blogging past that could use some extra attention, go on over to DL Hammons blog (or any of the other three hosts: Creepy Query Girl, Lydia Kang, and Nicole Ducleroir) to participate. I'm also going to have the Blogfest button on my sidebar to facilitate any clicky-clickthrus.

My deja vu post will be coming soon, so keep an eye out for it. I'm not quite sure what it'll be yet, so if you get a weird feeling that you've read something before, don't worry; you are just as sane as I am. Also to come this week will be my review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, which I read as part of the November Book Club held at Words on Paper. I'm looking forward to that discussion on Monday!

I think that's all the news I have for this weekend, so I hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is rested up for December. I know I'm not, although I did have a nice break. I didn't sleep or eat nearly as much as I would have liked, but I did manage to read two books and finish a portrait for Lindsay Cummings that I've been working on for months. I can't wait to seal it (once the wet weather goes away) and then send it to her!

Have a great week everyone! I'll see you again tomorrow!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hey Y'all. How's it Going?

I missed RTW and the Friday Fives post this week. I feel lost. I need to make up for it somehow, but the only thing I can think of is to write this. So...yeah.

I was being all monitory today and took a gander at my stats for the ole bloggy blog, and somehow, some enterprising individual found me through searching "aragorn return of the king." It made my heart all warm while making my head spin.

How in the world did they find me using that search criteria? I'm not complaining, since I find it extremely flattering that I could be connected to Tolkien in any way, no matter how minuscule, but still. It's a puzzle. And I don't like leaving puzzles unsolved. It makes me itchy.

However, due to the fact that I don't have much time to invest in ferreting out the answer (if there is one), I'm going to have to be content with not knowing. No matter how much it irks me.

I'm off to read The Scorpio Races in hopes of finishing it today so I can focus on those research papers sitting menacingly in both corners of my mind.

*looks askance at papers* *papers crack knuckles*

Yep. I'm going to have so much fun this coming week. Someone shoot me now.

Thursday, November 24, 2011



That was my first word-reaction after I turned the last page of Matched. I tell you what, Ally Condie can write a heck of a book. I bow to you, milady. Now, I must get myself to the nearest book selling establishment and purchase Crossed. My bank account, however, does not thank you. That's okay, I never pay attention to it anyway.

Matched is what I want to call a blend of Brave New World, The Hunger Games, and Pride and Prejudice.

So, basically it rocked my socks. I'm still reeling from what I've read, and it's been only...*looks at clock**uses calculator to subtract time*...17 minutes since I finished it. All the STUFF is still banging around in my head screaming things like "WHY?!" and "OMG!" and "I love it so much! I just wanna die I love it so much..."

My book reactor (the thing that reacts to books, duh) got put through its paces by Mrs. Condie. And I have to say, "Bravo." It needed the exercise. I missed doing the RTW this week because I slept through the entire day and then worked on a portrait for the rest of it. Hey, I'm on vacation. *shrugs*

So now I know what everyone in the blogosphere has been talking about when they said things like "Matched is so great! You should read it asap!"

I give full props to anyone who recommended it, because it is now going on my Recommended Reads list.

For anyone who hasn't read it yet, I have this to say: do. It's beautiful and remarkable and all of those -able things that are good. It's also a bunch of adjectives synonymous with the above adjectives. Throw some adverbs in and a phrase or two and you have a great glowing review that came from me. As it is, this is all I can manage at the moment. I'm just too caught up in it right now.

On another note, I adore Ky and Xander, although I've never been fond of the letter 'x'. I don't know why. I think I must have missed that episode of Sesame Street.

Cassia is a very easy heroine to read. I liked her and the way she loved words. It reminds me of me, and when she discovers poetry, I felt like I was intruding on something intensely spiritual and private. That's a great thing about this book. The entire work is littered with personality and depth, but I never felt like I was drowning. Instead, the lyricality, I suppose, guides one through the story, lending the musical quality that some of the passages seem to have.

There are soaring moments throughout the book that seem able to lift you above the world contained with the pages so that you can see the specks below as they slide through the routines, oblivious to the gears beneath the surface. It's scary and honest, and I know I won't be able to stop thinking about this world in which the Officials keep order and the Society dictates every choice, even that of love.

I can't wait to get my greedy hands on Crossed. I'm shivering just thinking about it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sanity Break

Hey, y'all. At the moment, I'm trying not to despair. I mean, why worry about all of those papers that I need to write when I could write blogposts instead? Right? Right?!

Just think of this little post as me allowing y'all a glimpse into my mind on Shakespeare. I've just spent about five hours writing a paper about why Iago is probably a super villain. My position: he is. That may have been redundant. I'm too tired to go back and read what I wrote. That's not sad at all.

Anyway, you people may not see much of me in the next few days, which is fairly normal considering I mostly post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Unless I decide to post on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays, and let's face it, sometimes I do. Take today for example. So...I forgot what I was trying to say.

I know! I'll do a list.

Things I'd Rather Be Doing Instead of Writing (which doesn't happen very often):

1. Sleeping. I'm so tired, I can't come up with anything funny to say about how tired I am.

2. Eating fried chicken. For some reason, I've been craving fried chicken and right now my stomach wants to drive itself to the nearest chicken finger establishment and buy itself a box of tenders. Good luck with that, stomach. You're an organ. Have fun reaching the pedals and paying for your food. No pockets, no hands, no feet. Sucks, right?

3. Watching Melancholia. I rented it from iTunes a few days ago and now I'm just waiting for a spare hour and half to watch it. Its day will come. Eventually. Maybe.

4. Reading one of the many books that are currently fighting for my attention. First up is The Scorpio Races, since I've decided to participate in the November Book Club this month.

5. Knitting my scarf. I started out going strong and managed to knit about a foot and half of scarf, but other things took over my time and now it's sitting at the foot of my bed giving me accusing looks. I'll get to you soon, coffee colored scarf. Your day will come as well. Maybe in conjunction with Melancholia. I think y'all will get along.

Okay, that list is going nowhere and is starting to bore me. I guess that means I need to get back to writing papers...aww man. At least I'm done with Shakespeare for today. Now I just need to write a five-pager about one of three topics for my World Literature I class. It's either going to be 1) something about "The Iliad" and "Ramanyana" or 2) something about early Chinese poetry. I'm leaning more towards "The Iliad." There are three topics, but I don't remember the third one, so it may as well not exist.

Until next if you see me because I may be in a bad mood.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Funny, You Say?

I know what you're thinking. This is the second blog hop I've done this week. Not what you were thinking? Oh well. I'm about to get to the funny stuff. Or so you hope.

So, Cassie Mae over at Reading, Writing, and Lovin' it! is hosting her first ever blog hop and it's pretty much as far up my alley as you can go. Not only does it have an embarrassed polar bear as the picture, but flushing is something I do quite well. Take that as you will.

Now, there is a prize involved for those who participate. A $10 Amazon gift card! (Go click over to her page to find out more about that!) You don't think I'd write embarrassing stories about myself just for the heck of it, do you? Oh, you do? Well, you may have something there.

Here's how it will go:

Write a short story about an embarrassing experience one of your characters went through, or if your characters are so perfect that they never do anything embarrassing (lucky them), tell us something from your own life that left you blushing like a little boy threatened with cooties on the playground. 

Now, I'm not in the habit of writing about my characters' misdeeds, so I think I may just regale you folks with a story from the vault of my childhood. Goodness knows I have plenty of embarrassing memories.

Let's go back in time...

"You can't have popcorn for lunch," she said firmly.  
"But--but--but I want popcorn! I don't want a hotdog!" the little girl cried and pressed herself further into the rocking Lazy-Boy. She thought that if she pressed hard enough, maybe the chair would swallow her up. That would teach her mother for not letting her eat popcorn for lunch.  
"Stop whining and come eat your lunch," her mom repeated. "Bailey, look at me. You can't just eat popcorn for lunch. I'm going to tell Dad when he gets home..." 
That announcement only made the blond girl even more upset. She knew her dad would spank her if she kept disobeying her mom. But she couldn't stop. Not now. Too much was at stake. She wanted that popcorn. 
"NOOOO!" Bailey shrieked. "Don't tell Daddy!"  
"Bailey...look at me," her mom said in reply.  
Bailey didn't look up, but continued to cry shakily into the Lazy-Boy's green exterior. It wasn't fair. It's not like she was asking to have candy for lunch.  
"Bailey...Bailey....look at the camera." 
Oh no. She wouldn't...and yet, Bailey looked up almost against her own will. Her mom was videoing her.  
"Moooooom! Don't video me!" Bailey started sobbing once more, and wished again that the chair would swallow her whole, like the whale did Jonah. "'s not fair..." 
The scene fades into gray and white static and then switches to another home video, but someone hits pause. On the watching side of the television screen, people of all ages are laughing at my younger self. I'm one of them, but it still stings. My Dad is wiping tears of laughter from his face and my siblings are probably dying. I can't tell if their spasms and red faces are something I should be worried about or not. But hey, what's family for except to laugh at you and teach you to laugh at yourself? Even when you don't think it's that funny. 

Yes. That's an actual event. Every time I acted like a complete brat when I was growing up, my Mom and Dad would whip out this VHS and play it or threaten to play it. I'd stop doing whatever I was doing and change my tune. I'm embarrassed just thinking about how red my face was in that video. I had some major lungs on me too at age six.

Alrighty, that's enough me time. Now, let's get to hopping!

Friday Fives: The Instruments of Words

I had to think about this question in depth a few months ago when I read Roland Barthes interview "An Almost Obsessive Relation to Writing Instruments." My critical theory professor adores Barthes and we studied this essay for weeks trying to find all of the juicy hidden meanings behind everything. The part that stuck with me the most, and that applies to this Friday Fives prompt, is the fact that Barthes was very particular about his pens and his writing environment.

In fact, he was extremely set in his ways. He's a structuralist in every sense of the word and openly admits it in the essay. "To be able to function, I need to be able structurally to reproduce my usual work space," he states near the beginning of the piece, but "It isn't the walls but the structures that count."

In addition, he would not write unless it was with a fountain pen--the kind with nibs--and he had a compulsion that drove him to buy fountain pens whenever he saw them. As a result, he had pens from all over the world and was always buying more. He didn't use all of them, but he simply had them for the reason of having them.

Sort of like me at the bookstore.

This post requires me to go at the process of writing from an angle that I'm not used to traveling. Without the computer, pen, or pencil, what else is there to the writing enterprise? What could I possibly need in order to write?

Here is where Barthes comes into the equation once again, because he does manage to provide some interesting insight into the writing process. All writers have certain "quirks" when it comes to how, where, and when they will write. We may not acknowledge those things as existing, or maybe we do but take them for granted. For Barthes part, he knows exactly what he needs and what must be in place in order for him to write, and he's very specific about his writing areas and practices.

As for me, I must:

1. Be cross-legged and wearing comfortable pants.
2. Be alone.
3. Have something to drink.
5. Hear music, but only if I'm in the mood for it. It can't be loud, and the type depends on how I'm feeling or what I'm writing.

That's about it. Of course, there are always instances where I can't have all of those things or I might not be able to play music, sit cross-legged, or be alone (like during a test), but those times don't happen very often.

The reason I put so much emphasis on the no FOOD is because food, while yummy and life-sustaining, really distracts me more than anything else. I can write with the TV on and if my neighbors are playing the same thumping song over and over again, but if you put a bag of chips within reaching distance of me while I'm trying to write, I will eat instead of writing. That's just the way the cookie crumbles. Cookies... *wants*

It's for this--and other reasons, my ADD notwithstanding--that I take breaks while writing. They're short breaks, but breaks all the same. Sitting on your feet can make them fall asleep or so I've discovered. But standing up and eating every 30 minutes is my built-in system to prevent distraction and numb appendages.

What five things do you need in order to write? Fluffy pillow? Fruit smoothie? Full moon? Let me know in a comment below or go on over to Paper Hangover to join in the linktastic fun! Also, have a great weekend!

(So sorry for dragging on and on about Barthes. I'm studying for my final in that class and the stuff just won't leave me be.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

RTW: Required Reading, Oh Yeah

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: In high school, teens are made to read the classics - Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Bronte, Dickens - but there are a lot of books out there never taught in schools. So if you had the power to change school curricula, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?

This question is right up my alley. As an English education major, I've been considering this very problem for a while now. Actually, I was thinking about what I would make kids read if I were a teacher back when I was still in high school.

I like to plan ahead like that. I never really had a problem with reading some of the "classics" that were on the required reading list. I like them. A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books of all time. Same goes for the rest of the lot.

However, I feel like today's fiction and even the fiction of a few decades ago is also worth exploring in the high school setting. Yes, it's good to keep the classics well in mind and to introduce students to them while they're still under some sort of obligation to at least look at them.

But it's also important to show them that some of the more modern texts are worth reading as well. A few that I would include are:  

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (Although I know that some high schools do teach it, or so I've heard, but mine didn't.)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (The post is now complete!)  

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (In conjunction perhaps with Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.)  

The Princess Bride by William Goldman (Because we all need to read a little ridiculous into our lives.)

I could go on forever like this, naming books that I want other people to read and to love, but then I'd be here forever and you'd all get tired of reading this post. Besides, I rather like the list as it is. It's eclectic, but not too much so. I have a modern work, a book that's a classic in my opinion, a YA dystopia, and a farcical whimsy of a tale.

So, what books would y'all require students to read?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holiday Blog Hop Story Share

So, Jenny over at Jenny's Imaginary World and Megan at This Post Will Self Destruct are hosting a Holiday Blog Hop, and in order to participate, one must write a holiday themed story in 250 words or less (or more). I'm a new follower of both of their blogs and I hope to meet more awesome bloggers through this hop. 

I had no idea what to write about, so I went for the obvious holidays just around the corner. For some reason, I couldn't write a happy story today. Oh well. Actually, it's a little happy with some sad mixed in. Here's my story!

“It’s always the same,” Khaela muttered as she caught sight of the employees at the store hanging tinsel and wreaths at the end of each aisle. “They always skip Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas.”

“What’s so great about Christmas?” she asked herself as she loaded her buggy with cranberry sauce and pie shells. “It’s too long and too commercial.”

Khaela paused and closed her eyes, trying to fight a sudden temptation to run screaming from the store. Christmas held too many bad memories, but Thanksgiving, now that holiday was perfect. No gift buying; no extended, family visits. Just one day and then it’s over. Peaceful.

“Brian’s bringing the turkey and Ann’s making the dressing,” Khaela commented. “So all that’s left is the pie filling—“

“Try the cherry,” a voice interrupted.

Khaela turned around slowly and found herself looking down at a little boy of about six years of age. He had bright blue eyes and elfin features, but he didn’t say anything else.

“Pardon?” Khaela asked, unsure if he had been speaking to her.

“Try the cherry pie filling,” the boy stated. “It tastes like Christmas and happiness. My mommy used to make me a cherry pie every Christmas before she left. Cherries make me happy and you look like you need more happy.”

Khaela didn’t have a response; she merely stared at him as he smiled like he’d done her a huge favor with the suggestion. Then, he walked away.

“Cherries,” she repeated slowly. “Happiness.” 

Happy Holidays!
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

It Happened on a Sunday

As y'all can see, I've made a few purchases recently. Some were premeditated. Inheritance and Reckoning for example. Others...just happened.

It always happens that way, without fail. I can't even tell you exactly how I ended up at BAM!, I just know one minute I was driving to get food and then I was standing in the YA section...

The next few minutes of that trip consisted of me staring aimlessly at book covers until I fixed upon the cover of The Scorpio Races. It jumped into my arms. Next came Dearly, Departed, and then with those two clutched tightly to my chest, I regained some sense and started to realize a purpose: I need books, and the more the merrier.

Faster than I can say "Christopher Paolini's Inheritance cycle" I had that stack of books and I was headed to the checkout counter before I lost all control. Six books and a pack of WTF sticky-notes later, and I'm finally back on the road to get food. Which was my original destination.

Anyway, with these new additions to my TBR pile, I'm set for reading my way straight through Christmas break with no breaks. That's the plan, at least. We'll see how much I get done. I'm hoping to read at least 30 books. That's the goal. In fact, it's going to be my resolution for this year. It's a little late, but you know what they say about those things. Better than never.

What books are y'all trying to read before New Year's? Hopefully we can keep each other accountable, because I have a TON to read. Until next time...attack that TBR pile!
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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sharing Saturday #3 (I think)

Since I just love sharing things--big, small; important, benign; funny, boring--I thought I'd spread the joy of Saturday in the EDM310 lab with y'all. Normally I get at least one or two students, during the five hour window of time, who have questions and assignment needs to be met.

However, it's one of those slow Saturdays (sometimes preferable if I'm not in a great mood) and I've had multitudes of time to watch YouTube videos. I watched The Aristocats, and now I can't stop humming "everybody, everybody, everybody wants to be a cat!"

But--and hold on to your hats folks--I found something even better. "Blasphemy!" I hear some say. Well, here's my proof.

Yes. That is Lord of the Rings in animated form. I know this may not come as such a big shock or seem like a big deal to some of you, but finding another way to get my Tolkien fix is probably the best thing that's happened all week. That's including getting a haircut. (Although if you are my sister and you're reading this, the haircut is awesome. You did a fantastic job!)

I'm now watching this instead of Disney movies. There's also The Hobbit animated movie on YouTube as well. The Internet will never cease to impress me. At least not today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Fives: WIP It Now

Goodness, this is a difficult prompt for me to answer. You see, I've only ever "gotten to the end" of one WIP. And it was what I consider to be entirely an accident. Well, not completely an accident considering I did mean to conclude it at some point, but it's not like I had an actual end in mind.

That's one of my problems that I conveniently forgot to include in my list of Weaknesses in the RTW this week. I'm horrible at finishing things. I'm great at meeting deadlines for the smaller projects, but when it comes to tying up loose ends in a WIP and typing "The End," I find myself at a loss for how to proceed.

However, I have a pretty good idea of what I should be doing to reach that fabled end point and I often lecture myself using these very points to follow.

1. Just type! It doesn't have to be perfect the first time!
2. Just keep typing, just keep typing, just keeeeeeeeeeep tyyyyyypiiiiiiing!
3. Carpal tunnel is for babies! Keep typing, cadet!
4. If you don't keep typing, your character will die. Do you want them to die? Oh, you do? Wow, umm, this is awkward. Keep typing?
5. Once you finish, you'll feel so good. Don't you want to feel good? I bet you do. Also, at the end of the book is a pot of gold! I know you want that! Type!

So there you have it folks. My five ways to finish a WIP. Now you know why I have so many issues. I have multiple personalities and none of them are good coaches. Although I think Number 5 sounds pretty nice, and Number 2 probably likes "Finding Nemo."

Thanks gals at Paper Hangover for another Friday Five. Maybe next week I'll have a better list. Oh my! I just realized that I didn't include Harry Potter in this list! This is like an alternate this real life?

Just because I felt like it, I've decided to share my Pony Alter-ego. I was really into creating pony-alikes for all of my friends about a month ago (thanks to C.J. Redwine) and here's the one I made for myself.  Of course my pony is reaching for a book, although how she thinks she's going to read it without opposable thumbs I have no idea. Crazy pony-me. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

RTW: Superpowers, Meet Kryptonite

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 are your writing and publishing superpowers (drafting? beta-reading? writing queries? plotting? character creation? etc.) -- and what's your kryptonite?

The Powers:

I have no problem coming up with ideas for stories, characters, and such. In fact, it's kind of my specialty. I can come up with anything in a lickety-split. It may not be the awesomest thing you've ever heard, but odds are it'll be interesting to say the least.

I can spot grammatical, syntactical, fluency, and vocabulary errors, or any other kind of error with my eagle eyes. It's like they're lit up with giant flashing arrows pointing at them and screaming, "Fix me! Fix me!" This is partially due to the fact that I'm an editor with my campus paper. I have to find them. It's my job.

Time and I are like this: *crosses fingers* We get along; I don't flaunt deadlines and time doesn't unexpectedly throw me a curve ball. It's a partnership. Learning to manage my time effectively wasn't easy, but after a lot of trial and error, I came up with a system of determination that allowed me to have some sort of control over the unexpected. I meet the deadlines; they don't meet me. It takes a great amount of self-control and motivation, but it's worth it in the end.

The Weaknesses:

Focus aka Writing ADD
I may be able to come up with an insane amount of new ideas for books, but my follow-through is something that I continue to struggle with. I think it has something to do with the fact that I may have undiagnosed adult ADD, because while I have all of these wonderful ideas, I can't seem to focus on just one for any amount of time. There are a few exceptions, of course, but those are rare.

Editing Blindness
Sometimes I get so caught up in looking for the mistakes, that I forget to look at the actual content. I can read an article while I'm "editing" and when I'm done, it'll be all marked up with pen, but I couldn't tell you what that article was about. It's necessary sometimes for me to turn off that inner editor part of me in order to actually read. It's a huge distraction to always be looking for errors.

Control Madness
I'm a control freak. I know it, my family knows it, even my friends know it. I have anxiety if I feel out of control. This need for control is good for helping me maintain a structured schedule and pattern of activities, but it also limits me in the sense that I don't find myself doing new things. I'm not spontaneous unless I plan on being spontaneous. I resist all kinds of control outside of my own. This is something I've been working very hard on for the past few years to control. It's hilarious, actually. I'm trying to control my need for control. I'm pretty sure there's a conflict of ideas somewhere in there or something.

Well, I think that's enough introspection for today. I think I need to read the second act of Hamlet anyway. Have a great Wednesday y'all!

Oh, yeah and thanks to Jaime Morrow for linking us all to the create your own Marvel superhero site! I couldn't resist making my own! She's called ImagiGirl! She has the power to inspire people with her "incredibrainstorming mystical aura" and in case there are some horrible villains trying to destroy the world's imagination, her swords are at her back ready to SLICE! through the trouble. She also has a whip, but it's just there to look cool. ImagiGirl is from a planet of cat people, but since she's half-human, she only has pointy ears and a tail. I've always wanted a tail and pointy ears.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Inheritance At Last

That's right. It's that time of the century again. Another Paolini titan is about to descend upon us mere mortals. In less than 12 hours, I believe. No, I'm not going to the midnight release. I grew out of those without even having to go to any of them. I love them, but nerds up past their bedtimes are almost too much for me to take. When you throw in the fact that they'll probably be adults (since Inheritance took eons to arrive), it would just be one of those sad moments that reminds me that I'm not a kid anymore.

For some reason, I find this reading to be slightly depressing. I don't know if it's the fact that I never found Paolini to be a very charismatic speaker or that time has dulled my appreciation for Eragon's plight in Alagaesia, but this excerpt didn't get my nerd juices flowing like I thought it would.

Oh well. I'm still going to go buy a copy, maybe not tomorrow since I don't get paid until Friday, and I'm going to read it. I'm just hoping that it doesn't disappoint me. I've been waiting so long for this last book that I'd pretty much stopped caring. That sounds horrible, but it's also true. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's thinks this is a bitter-sweet release. Let's just all pray that my doubts are wrong and that my "Bah humbug" attitude gets a sharp check by the actual book. I really want to be proven wrong in this case.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Holding My Breath

Happy Fall Back Day, everyone! Are your clocks, both internal and external, set to the right time? I think mine are.

I'm at work at the moment, where one lone student is typing desperately away at one of the lab Macs in order to turn in her blog post on time. Her dedication astounds me.

As I was driving this somewhat warmish Fall day, I came upon a rather common scene in the crossing of Mobile Bay. You see, there's this tunnel that all cars must go through in order to continue on I-10. It's not very long. When I was a kid, I used to hold my breath when my parents were driving through it and it was no problem for me to hold my breath the whole time.

However, as I've come into my own as a driver, I've noticed that some other motorists find the prospect of driving through the tunnel to be slightly frightening. Here is the conversation I have with them (every single time):

"Oh no! This tunnel looks so scary! I think it wants to swallow me and my car whole! I need to slow down so it doesn't think I'm a threat!"

Me: "The speed limit in the tunnel is 55 mph! It's safe to go at least 60 then! Why must you slow down to 35? The tunnel is your friend!"

"Oh, now that I'm in the tunnel, I feel kinda safe. It's like the womb but for cars. I don't think I want to leave, but now that I know it won't hurt me, I'm going to speed up. This is kinda fun!"

Me: "Thank you! Now we're finally back up to the speed limit. Oh wait, don't--"

"Oh no! There's a light at the end of the tunnel! I think it wants to blind me as I try to exit! The light isn't my friend! I need to slow down to a crawling speed again even though that person in the car behind me is honking! I sure hope I don't die when the sunlight hits my car!"

Me: *fumes* "You have on sunglasses! GO INTO THE LIGHT!"

"I'm so relieved! That tunnel wasn't so bad. This sunlight feels nice on my hands. I'm glad I remembered that I had sunglasses. Also, I feel like going faster! Weeeeeeee!"

Me: "I hate the tunnel."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Fives: Authors of Legend

Paper Hangover does a fantastic job of getting my brain juices flowing even though by the end of the week I'm pretty much useless. I don't know what that says about my writing, but I think that when my brain sees the Friday Five prompt, it gets its second wind.

This week, I'm going to try and keep things simple. For one thing, I'm tired and I have a few articles to write and an interview to transcribe, but for another, sometimes I feel like an author's body of work speaks for itself and anything I may try to say is just extraneous flapping of the gums. Or in this case, flailing of the fingers.

1. Garth Nix

2. J.K. Rowling

3. J. R. R. Tolkien

4. Edgar Rice Burroughs

5. Jorge Luis Borges

Now, I know there are a few in that list that you were likely expecting me to say, but that there are also a few that some of you may not have anticipated. I like to do that every once in a while. Just to keep y'all on your toes.

It wouldn't be a Friday Five post without a little dash of Harry Potter magic, so of course Jo Rowling is on there. I've already discussed, I believe, my fascination with Garth Nix's Abhorsen series and his writing style. Tolkien is never far from my heart. No really, I have one of his books near me at all times. It's kind of freaky actually. I don't even plan it. Right now I can see The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.

As for Mr. Burroughs, he has been a favorite of mine since childhood. My great-grandfather collected his books--the stories of Tarzan, Mars, Venus, Pellucidar, and other various fantastical worlds--and when he died, my grandmother continued the tradition. Whenever I would go over to her house, I'd pick out one of Burroughs' books, and since they aren't very long, I'd finish it before I left. She says she's going to give me her entire collection one day. The thought makes me all warm inside, because, although it's not necessarily what we might call a literary tradition in the sense we know it to mean, it is a tradition of literature to me.

Mr. Borges, though, now he's a newcomer to my author shrine. I only met him through his collection of short stories, Labyrinths, almost a year ago. It was for a 400 level class and immediately upon reading the first story, I fell in love with his writing style. It is almost impossible for me to explain it, and if you haven't read anything by Borges, I know you wouldn't understand even if I tried. What the heck. I can try.

Borges writes so thoroughly that I feel as if he knew that one day I would be reading his words. It's like he's speaking directly to his audience, without speaking directly to them. This isn't working.

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." - Jorge Luis Borges, "Poema de los Dones"

That is Borges. It's not the best that I could show, but it's just so hard to choose that I had to just pick at random. Anyway, happy Friday! Until next some Borges!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

RTW: The Coach

Welcome to our 103rd 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.

What kind of writing coach do you need? When you have to coach friends, what kind of coach are you

What a doozy of a question. Honestly, I've never thought of myself as a very good coach. When I dabbled in team sports, I found that I didn't like listening to the coach or doing the actual practicing. I prefer to be allowed to do things on my own in an organic fashion. That dislike of coaches translated over into my own practice of coaching. But that's just me. Not everyone dislikes coaching, some in fact need it. 

When it comes down to encouraging my friends and writing buddies, I'm not always the best at finding the right thing to say to motivate them. I tend to make a lot of jokes and say stuff like "Won't know until you try" or "You can do it! I know you can! You're the bestest of the best!" 

It sounds lame and often feels pretty lame while I'm saying those things, but it's all I can think of. I mean, what else do they want from me? I can't give them any ideas, the best thing I can do is to just provide a good sounding board for their thoughts and give them encouragement. 

That's all I would want. That's all I do want. Sometimes the best coaches don't tell you exactly what to do, they just distract you from your worries long enough for your brain to recharge and find a way to cope with whatever obstacle finds its way to your path.  

Coaches, in my mind, can either be a distraction from the path or a distraction from the obstacles. Finding a writing coach who keeps you focused on your path while also helping you see past/around/through/between the things in your way is not easy. 

Sometimes people are lucky enough to find good writing buddies (like mine: Kills and Tiger! Love y'all!) who are both friends and motivators for your writing. They may not always know the right things to say, but they don't give up on you, and you in turn don't give up on them. The best writing coach is someone that you have a sort of symbiotic relationship with and that isn't afraid to tell you what they think. 

It's scary to let someone get that close to you, especially to your writing if you are a newbie to letting others read your stuff, but it's a necessary step in this process. In order for a writing coach to be effective, you as a writer have to be willing to hear both the good and the bad, and take what you're told and deal with it. 

On that note, I end this little discussion of writing coaches. I feel like I'm getting a little preachy, and y'all don't want to hear me get up on my soap box. I get really chatty up there because I feel powerful with the extra height. 

Until next time...y'all are the bestest of the best!