Saturday, February 28, 2015

February Wrap-Up

Books I Read

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee 

5/5

Loved this book! It's by far my favorite classic. The writing is beautiful, the characters are fantastic, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and it reads very quickly. I love Scout. She's a great protagonist--spunky, smart, has a mind of her own, wise, and a total tomboy. (I can fully appreciate my dog's name now after reading the book.)

1984 by George Orwell


2.5/5

This was an especially cool book considering how much dystopian I read. You can totally see the similarities to The Hunger Games in this. If it weren't so depressing, I'd rate it higher.

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

4/5


It took a little bit to get going, but the second half of the book flew by. I stayed up into the early morning to read it. It was action-packed almost the whole time. I really liked the different POVs, too. But my favorite part was the family aspect. The three main characters--Dai, Jin Ling, and Mei Yee--were so sweet with each other. They all have very distinct personalities, but it's impossible to choose a favorite! I loved them all. I also thought it was cool that it was set in China. Most YA books seem to be set in America, but I like it when authors branch out and pick a different country. Some of the drug runs and infiltration missions Dai and Jin Ling pulled off reminded me of "Firefly."

Concluding by Henry Green

2/5

This was quirky to say the least. I liked all the different storylines, the fact that the entire book is set during one day, and the bizarre ending, but it was hard to keep track of everything. All of the girls at the boarding school have names that start with 'M,' which made it nearly impossible to set them apart. And since the story is set during one day, a lot of the book was long and dull.

The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

DNF

Oh my god was this poorly written. I couldn't take it. I read a total of 150 pages of stiff dialogue, cheesy descriptions, and cliches before tossing it aside. I'm pretty sure it was meant to be a YA book, considering the main characters are 14-15, but they seemed so young. It read like an MG book, which I'd be fine with if it didn't read like a bad MG book.

Movies I Watched

"To Kill a Mockingbird"

3/5

This was a good adaptation, but it didn't do the book nearly enough justice. They left out a lot of characters and subplots, which I know they have to do to shorten it, but the details are what make the book special.

"Chicken Little"

4/5

My brother and I used to watch this movie over and over and over again when we were little. I'd forgotten how funny it was! It's short and super cute.

"Emma"

3/5

Not a bad story, but not a particularly interesting one. It's really hard to follow at first, because all the characters seem the same. But once you can keep track of everyone, it's pretty good.

"Clueless"

3/5

We watched this after watching "Emma." The way they adapted it is clever, and it's funny. I couldn't stand the main character, but it's a good story.

"The Imitation Game"

5/5

This movie was so, so good. It's probably my favorite WWII story, too. Benedict Cumberbatch was incredible (as usual), the story was amazing and tragic, and the music was fantastic. I went to see it with my mom, then went again the next day with my dad. It was just as good, if not better, the second time. If you liked "The Theory of Everything," you'll like this. They're similar artistically, are both stories about geniuses, and both have great lead actors.

"Pride & Prejudice" 

4/5

I liked this one a lot better than Emma. I could keep track of the characters, I actually liked the main character, and the story was a ton more interesting. Keira Knightley's a really good actress. I do recommend watching it with subtitles on, though, otherwise you'll miss half the dialogue!

Quotes I Wrote

"There he is," Ross said, in a voice that wasn’t exactly comforting. It was the kind of voice that someone used when saying, "This is where we’re going to bury him," or "It was nice knowing you."
--August Knight and the Sword of Gold

"Holy banana split of the seven realms."
--August Knight and the Sword of Gold

"You’ve never heard of 'Buzzcut Season?'" Jenny gaped at me.
"Nope."
Jenny began to sing the song. "Explosions on TV—"
"Still don’t know the song."
"—All the girls with heads inside a dream—"
"I. Don’t. Know. It."
"—We live beside the pool—"
"You can keep singing, but I still don’t know the song."
"—Everything is good."
--Sunflower Springs

The worst part was the hugging. Kids, adults, it didn’t matter. They all wanted to wrap their sweaty, germy arms around me and hold me close. They wanted to suffocate me with their kindness. They wanted to choke me with their, “I’m so sorry”s. There was no escaping it. They all wanted to touch me, no matter how hard I tried to stay away.
--A Day to Remember

This is a poem I entered for my library's poetry contest called Stardust:

Falling wishes hit the ground,
And glistening stardust scatters ‘round.
I’ll keep some in a jar for you,
And plant them in your yard to
Watch the golden flowers grow.
And if your dreams survive the snow,
You’ll know your wish came true,
And you can plant some stardust, too.


Obsessions I Acquired

"Firefly." Even though there's only one season, it's really good and should've stayed on longer. It reminded me of "Torchwood," but more steampunk and less alien. I'm excited to watch the movie!

"Quiz Up"/"Trivia Crack." My brother and I recently got tablets and had these two apps download. So. Addicting. "Trivia Crack" is a lot like Trivial Pursuit with a few changes that make it extra fun. "Quiz Up" is my favorite, though. You can choose specific categories like "Doctor Who" or "Young Adult Fiction." They have every category you could possibly think of, and then some. You can level up in those categories to get cool titles, move up the ranks the more you play, and play against friends. If anyone reading this plays either of these apps, leave your username in the comments so we can play! :)

"Clarence." This is such a weird and random TV show, but it's hysterical. It's kind of like what "Invader Zim" would look like if GIR were the main character of the show. Each episode is only ten or fifteen minutes long, but they're so funny.

I recently discovered that I'm good at drawing eyes. They look pretty realistic, and now that I've got the hang of it I've been trying to draw the eyes of different celebrities. They're all so different, so it's definitely a challenge to get the colors and shapes right.

Picture of the Month

Regular eye, plus Benedict Cumberbatch's eye

Jensen Ackles' eye

3 human eyes (the one at the top is mine), plus a cat eye


By the way, Alexia Stevens and I are starting a group for teen writers called Bean Bags and Sofa's Writers Group. If you're interested in joining our community, please take our survey so we know what to add!

How was your February?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How Music Influences My Writing (TCWT Blog Chain)

Whew, it's been a while since I participated in TCWT. But it's so much fun, and I'm hoping to do it more consistently! This month's prompt is: How does music relate to your writing? As I love listening to music, especially when I write, this post practically wrote itself. I listen to music pretty much every time I write. In fact, I'm listening to my writing playlist as I type this. (Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You," is playing, in case you were wondering.)

There are a few artists/albums I listen to all the time, no matter what I'm writing. Taylor Swift is my absolute favorite singer, so she's somebody I listen to a lot. I also love The Civil Wars, "The Fault In Our Stars" and "The Hunger Games" soundtracks, OneRepublic, Lorde, Imagine Dragons, and the music from "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock."

But then I also have specific soundtracks I create for each book I'm working on. I love to picture my books as movies (I even cast certain actors and actresses as each of my characters), so the soundtrack is basically the list of music that would play at different parts of the story. Luckily I'm not someone who gets easily distracted by lyrics, so I can listen to it and write at the same time. Here are some soundtrack examples:

August Knight and the Sword of Gold

I'm still working on this one, but so far the songs on this soundtrack are "Wonderland" by Taylor Swift and "Run Boy Run" by Woodkid. I got the 1989 soundtrack right at the beginning of November, so that album always reminds me of NaNoWriMo. As soon as I heard "Wonderland" I knew it fit with my book. I kept thinking about the magical land the characters get sucked into, Librum, when I listened to it. And "Run Boy Run" is pretty self-explanatory. August and his friends do a lot of running. There's a lot of action and danger in the book.

Beneath the Moon and Stars

This is my favorite soundtrack, and it's also one of the longest. I listened to all of these songs constantly before making it, so it wasn't hard to put together at all. These songs are all kind of sad or bittersweet, a lot more mellow.

"Beneath Your Beautiful" by Labrinth feat. Emeli Sandé
"Dark Days" by Punch Brothers
"I'm Alone With You" by Weeping Radish
"Sad Beautiful Tragic" by Taylor Swift
"Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane (This would be the song playing during credits.)
"Say Something" by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera (This was the first song to end up on the soundtrack. As soon as I heard it, I knew I'd use it.)
"Wait" by M83
"All of the Stars" by Ed Sheeran
"Long Way Down" by Tom Odell (I've always imagined this song playing in the background during a specific scene towards the end of the book where Kya and Lane are in the grocery store.)
"Lay Me Down" by Sam Smith
"All of Me" by John Legend
"Stay or Leave" by Dave Matthews (This is another song that I've imagined playing during a specific scene. Kya and Lane dance at a New Year's Eve party, and I never mention what song they're dancing to, but this song's always played in my head when I write/edit it.)
"Photograph" by Ed Sheeran (This song would play at the end of the movie, right before the credits.)
"Wildest Dreams" by Taylor Swift
"Tenerife Sea" by Ed Sheeran
"You Are In Love" by Taylor Swift (This is basically Lane's theme song.)

Cosmo

This soundtrack is a little more upbeat, lots of pop, lots of songs you'd hear on the radio. I can totally imagine Cosmo and Celeste rocking out to some of these in Cosmo's bedroom.

"Change" by Taylor Swift
"Starlight" by Taylor Swift
"Raise Your Glass" by P!nk (There's a scene during a dance at Cosmo and Celeste's school where this song fits right in. Celeste puts it in as a request and dedicates it to all the outcasts that have been bullied there.)
"Same Love" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert
"Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield
"Fix You" by Coldplay
"Sweeter Than Fiction" by Taylor Swift
"Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera
"Who Says" by Selena Gomez
"Roar" by Katy Perry
"Apologize" by OneRepublic
"Welcome to New York" by Taylor Swift (Cosmo is set in New York, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to use this song. ;) )

The Fantasya trilogy

The songs on this soundtrack are very loud, big, uplifting. Definitely the kind of music you want for an MG fantasy book.

"Carry On" by Fun.
"Keep Holding On" by Avril Lavigne
"Gone, Gone, Gone" by Phillip Phillips
"Long Live" by Taylor Swift
"Beautiful Day" by U2 (This would play during the credits.)
"Unpack Your Heart" by Phillip Phillips
"Feel Again" by OneRepublic

Flightless Birds

If the soundtrack for BTMAS wasn't my favorite, this one would be. It's the longest, with lots of dark, haunting songs. A lot of them are from "Hunger Games" albums, because they fit the dystopian theme so well.

"Safe & Sound" by Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars
"My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark" by Fall Out Boy
"Atlas" by Coldplay
"Come & Get It"
"Not With Haste" by Mumford & Sons
"Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence
"The Ruler and the Killer" by Kid Cudi
"Place For Us" by Mikky Ekko
"Kiss Me" by Ed Sheeran
"What You Wanted" by OneRepublic
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Lorde
"Coming Home" by Sylar Grey
"We Remain" by Christina Aguilera
"Empire" by Shakira
"Burn" by Ellie Goulding
"Counting Stars" by OneRepublic (As I've mentioned before, this song in particular was a huge inspiration to me when I was writing the book. It fits Flynn and Raven's story so well.)

Secrets

This soundtrack is very similar to the Fantasya one. I didn't want anything too depressing, because the book(s), while action-packed, are very hopeful. I also got introduced to more Imagine Dragons songs through this soundtrack because I loved "It's Time" so much.

"Secrets" by OneRepublic (I had to include this. It was too perfect.)
"I'm With You" by Avril Lavigne
"State of Grace" by Taylor Swift
"It's Time" by Imagine Dragons
"Catch My Breath" by Kelly Clarkson

Sing a Song of Raindrops

I tried to include a whole mix of music in this soundtrack, because the characters have such different tastes. The book also goes up and down, sometimes it's light-hearted and sometimes it's depressing, so I had the soundtrack mirror that.

"Too Late" by M83
"Angel on Fire" by Antony and the Johnsons (There's a character in this book that controls fire magic, so this fits perfectly.)
"Au Revoir" by OneRepublic
"Buzzcut Season" by Lorde
"Dead in the Water" by Ellie Goulding
"Freewill" by Rush
"Ho Hey" by The Lumineers
"Hopeless Wanderer" by Mumford & Sons
"If I Die Young" by The Band Perry
"In My Arms" by Plumb
"Life is a Highway" by Rascal Flatts
"Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons
"Starlight" by Muse
"We Own the Sky" by M83
"Yellow Flicker Beat" by Lorde

The Sorceress

A lot of these songs remind me of songs that would be featured in the credits of a movie. I can easily imagine using "I Will Wait" or "Home" or "Counting On You" for the credits of The Sorceress.

"Eyes Open" by Taylor Swift (There's a battle scene towards the beginning of the book that I wrote while listening to this. I can almost guarantee that the scene wouldn't have turned out as well as it did if I hadn't been listening to it.)
"Kingdom Come" by The Civil Wars
"Lights" by Ellie Goulding
"Counting On You" by Mikey Wax
"Home" by Phillip Phillips
"Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol
"I Will Wait" by Mumford & Sons
"Just a Girl" by No Doubt (Anya isn't allowed to join the army because she's a girl, and she's often discriminated against because of her gender.)
"Gone" by Ionna Gika
"Human" by Christina Perri (People sometimes think Anya's invincible. They put all kinds of pressure on her to be perfect and never fail a battle. As someone who's only human, this wears on her.)

Do you listen to music while you write? Do you make soundtracks for your books? Why or why not? What are your favorite songs?


Be sure to check out the other blogs that are participating!
28th – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Encyclopedia of Me - H

























Harry Potter

(You knew this one was coming.) One of the hardest things to do is explain to somebody how much you love your favorite book. It's almost impossible to accurately and eloquently explain the passionate love you have for it without USING ALL CAPS OR TONS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS AND EMOTICONS OR TYPING GIBBERISH LIKE AKLJSDOGIH!!!!! But seriously, everything about this series is close to perfection (and the only reason why I say "close to perfection" is because I don't believe any book or movie or work of art of any kind can ever be perfect, no matter how amazing). The unique characters, the attention to detail, the backstories of each character (even if you don't learn them until playing Pottermore), and the storytelling just astounds me. If I had to pick one thing that inspired me to become a reader, it would be this series. I first finished the Harry Potter books when I was seven, and I haven't stopped rereading them since. Each time I read it (or listen to the audios by Jim Dale, which are also incredible), I pick out bits of foreshadowing or details I hadn't noticed before. I fall in love with it over and over again and never get tired of reading it. Hogwarts feels like my home and the characters feel like my family. It's the series I go to whenever I want to escape or simply just curl up next to the fire and dive into another adventure with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I think we all that one book or that one series that stays with us forever, no matter the circumstances, and Harry Potter is that series for me.

Hermione Granger

Hermione is the best. She's my favorite character in Harry Potter, and probably my favorite character ever. She has it all: Smarts, wits, loyalty, bravery, sarcasm, friendship, and all around awesomeness. In all the adventures she, Ron, and Harry have, she's usually the one who figures out the mystery. And she knows everything about everything. Harry may have defeated Voldemort in the end, but Hermione certainly helped him along. A lot. She's my fictional hero. Also, I can't think of a better person to portray her than Emma Watson.

Hogwarts

Like I mentioned before, Hogwarts feels like my home. When we went to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios a few years ago, my favorite part was getting to walk through Hogwarts. I'd pictured it so many times while reading the books and seen it on the big screen, but actually getting to go there?! It was awesome. I'm pretty sure I grinned the entire day. How cool would it be to have paintings that talked, staircases that moved, secret passageways behind tapestries or under statues, and a ceiling that looked like the night sky? If I could actually go to school there, I would. I'd be in Ravenclaw, of course, and play as a Chaser for the Quidditch team.

Happiness

This one pretty much goes without saying. :) I'm a happy person. I enjoy being happy. Simple things make me smile (books, chocolate, the theme song to my favorite TV show, sunshine). A day doesn't go by without me laughing at least once. My brother is usually the one cracking the jokes that make me spew water across the table. (Yeah, dinnertime's fun at our house.)

The Hunger Games

This was the first dystopian book I read, and I am so glad I did. I never knew such a genre existed before reading this series. It was one of the longest books I'd read in less than a day. I started it the night I got it and finished it the next morning. Same with Catching Fire and Mockingjay. It's also the book that made my best friend, Kirsten, like reading. My dad's taken me to see all the movies (which are fantastic), and I read The Hunger Games five times in a week before going to see it. That's how excited I was.

The Host

I tried reading Twilight and couldn't get past the Amazon sample, so I didn't think I'd ever read The Host. But then I saw the trailer for the movie, had it recommended to me by Kirsten later that week, and had to pick it up. It was so good. Sure, Stephenie Meyer's writing isn't the best, but she's a great storyteller. I fell in love with her characters right away and couldn't put it down. I read all 620 pages of it in two days. The movie was a good adaptation, but didn't do it nearly enough justice. If you like dystopian books, this one is a great choice.

"The Hunger Games" albums

I love the style of music that's featured on these albums, particularly the first two. "Safe and Sound" is my favorite song because of it. The dark, haunting, and sometimes somewhat creepy songs fit the theme of the movies perfectly. They also make for great inspiration when I'm writing. I've used many songs from the albums on my book soundtracks. It also introduced me to The Civil Wars, one of my favorite bands, after I heard "Kingdom Come."


"Here Comes the Sun"

This is my favorite Beatles song. It's light and happy and fun. This stands out to me as a summer song more than anything else, and I often listen to it while I'm at the beach or reading in the backyard.


Hugh Nicholson

Hugh Nicholson is a minor character in my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel, an MG fantasy book called August Knight and the Sword of Gold. He's an extremely old, very eccentric, narcoleptic wizard. He's adept in all magic and potions and would slay the dragon himself if it weren't for his arthritis. He's also known to fall asleep in the middle of his sentences, wake up, not remember what he was saying, and not even remember your name. He's called August a variety of names because of this, including Alan, Augustus, Augustine, Alex, and Audrey, all within five minutes. He always smells like pickles, too, though no one really knows why.

Homeschooling

I'm so glad we homeschool. If we didn't, I wouldn't have nearly as much time to read and write as I do now. Plus, it's tons of fun. Our schoolwork is mostly playing games and going to lectures and getting together with our friends. We learn all sorts of stuff and have fun with it. (And we can stay up late and sleep in the next day if we feel like it.)

What's on your "h" list?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Beautiful People Linkup--February

Happy Valentine's Day! :) And since we're celebrating love in all its forms today, I'd like to reference an old blog post of mine about my favorite OTPs. Click HERE to read it.

Now onto the main post, Cait's "Beautiful People" linkup. This month's linkup is a special Valentine's Day edition about couples in your stories. I'll be writing about Kya and Lane in my YA contemporary romance Beneath the Moon and Stars. I might ship them more than any other couples I've created. ;)

PAPERFURY


The cover I created.


1. How long have they been a couple?



Kya and Lane meet at the beginning of the book, and since I don't want to give away the ending for those of my readers who are beta reading it, I don't want to give away what happens. ;) The book takes place from about early December to the middle of January, so do with that what you will.

2. How did they first meet?



In a grocery store called "Jake's" in Kya's town. Jake's is small, dark, dirty, and in the middle of a bad neighborhood. Homeless people and gang members often hang out there, so it's not exactly a destination for a rich boy like Lane. Lane's grocery store, Lou's, was out of his favorite flavor of ice cream, which was why he went to Jake's in the first place. He continues to go to Jake's even after Lou's restocks their shelves so he can see Kya.

3. What were their first thoughts of each other? (Love at first sight or 
 “you’re freakishly annoying”?)


For Lane it was definitely love at first sight. Kya tends to be more wary of people, so while she was nice enough, it took a little bit for Lane to convince her that he wasn't a serial killer.

4. What do they do that most annoys each other?


Lane can't stand how self-deprecating Kya is, to the point where she beats herself up over the tiniest things. Kya hates it when Lane tries to get her to run away from her abusive stepfather, Marcus, because she's told him time and time again that she can't leave her mother, and she's worried that Marcus would find her anyway.


5. Are their personalities opposite or similar?


They're both extremely witty and sarcastic, both like books and art and music, and both have problems at home (though Kya's is infinitely more dangerous). Lane, however, is more confident and outgoing while Kya has been beaten down so often--physically and mentally--that she's nervous and timid.

6. How would their lives be different without each other?


Kya would have no friends outside of school. She would be constantly stressed out and have no one who could relax her or cheer her up. Lane wouldn't have any intellectually stimulating friends, no one who was his equal in conversations. He'd be bored out of his mind at home with his mother's snobby, gossiping party guests.


7. Are they ever embarrassed of each other?


Never.

8. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship?

HA. Yes. Lane's mother, Christine, loathes Kya. Kya is a source of shame for her, someone she has to hide away when anyone comes to visit. She pretty much spends the whole book trying to break the two of them up.

9. Do they see their relationship as long-term/leading to marriage?


Lane, always the optimist, definitely thinks long-term. Kya, with Marcus dictating her life for her, likes to take things one step at a time, hour by hour, day by day. She can't set herself up for something that might not happen, and therefore pushes any possible thoughts she has about long-term relationships/marriage out of her mind.

10. If they could plan the “perfect outing” together, where would they go?

Paris. England. Spain. Italy. Somewhere exotic and far away from where they live now. They'd paint and sing and read and eat good food. They'd explore small towns and back roads and get to know the locals. They'd stay up late and sleep in and not even bother making the bed.

Tell me about your couples! I'd love to hear about them in the comments. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Eight Terrible Titles Games

I saw this meme on Facebook a while back and thought I'd share it with all of you. It's addicting, hysterical, and so much fun. Take a book you've written or are currently writing, start at the top of the document and scroll down with your eyes closed, then open your eyes. Whatever sentence your cursor lands on, that's one of your eight "titles" for that book. Here are some of mine.

Beneath the Moon and Stars

1. "I don't care how old she is."
2. "If Lane breaks this poor girl's heart like he's crushed so many others, I'll be banned!"

3. Guess the invisible thing hadn’t worked.
4. But she was still breathtaking, in that not-so-extraordinary, sometimes unnoticeable sort of way.
5. “You could be a murderer, or a rapist, and I just got in your car?”
6. I laughed a little, incredulously.
7. Jesus, Becca. Are you going to shine a light in my face, too?”
8. “I don’t really read ‘books.’

Flightless Birds

1. He slowly began to tweak already existing laws, ones about equality and fairness.
2. Bang.
3. “We’ll have to get another one soon.”
4. It’s harder to think when I’m busy trying to get my face back to my normal color.
5. I wanna know what you’re really up to.”
6. “I don’t have the pass code!”
7. How could there be no survivors? 
8. “Don’t you ever do that again,” he says, his voice cracking a little.


Sing a Song of Raindrops

1. “Where are we going?” Micah asked me for the fifth time since he’d woken up.
2. That's precious chocolate you've wasted.
3. Like I was a ghost come back to haunt her.
4. I didn’t even have to hotwire anything.”
5. “Uh, you froze time,” I said.
6. Glass clung to her hair like diamonds, or stars in a black sky.
7. “What room is he in?”
8. Weren’t those the exact words I’d used with Micah when we were running for our lives so many moons ago?

August Knight and the Sword of Gold

1. But just then, the book grew heavy in my hands.
2. “The legend itself said that it was cursed!”
3. You'd think they'd pick something a little more . . . flashy.
4. “Can we just find a way out of here?”
5. “I never once in a million years would’ve thought that something like this could’ve happened to me.”
6. “Maybe she’s playing hide and seek!”
7. Maybe she’d let me keep one if she didn’t keep trying to kill us.
8. “Good thing you’re not alone, then.”


The Sorceress

1. Anya’s smile faded.
2. Sensing her fear and trusting her instincts, Ronald pulled out his sword.
3. I'll kill anyone who moves, speaks, or interferes with anything I do, understood?
4. “Let me explain,” the man said.
5. The boys chuckled a little but agreed to help.
6. Anya’s shout silenced the other boys.
7. “How can someone be a coward and a show-off?”
8. Anya swung towards his head.

Fantasya: A Giant Problem

1. “Don’t forget the giants!”
2. Every troll or unicorn only needed a sprinkle to be able to teleport to earth.
3. “Room service!” I called in a high voice.
4. “Brake! BRAKE!!!”
5. “Thank you for the potion, though!”
6. “Off with you!
7. “It tastes like . . . peppermint.”
8. I was almost sure that my unicorn would be bright and shining.

What did you come up with? Share your lists in the comment!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Encyclopedia of Me - C





Cait

Cait is one of my best blogging friends, and is hysterical. Every single post she writes makes me laugh. She makes an effort to respond to every comment she gets, which I always appreciate in a blogger, and her comments are the best. She is responsible for getting me obsessed with "Supernatural," one of my favorite TV shows, and is always up for some fangirling. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have read The Lunar Chronicles, Throne of Glass, or These Broken Stars (all five-star books, too. Our tastes are super similar). Also, she's the Queen of Gifs. No one dares challenge her unless they're ready to face defeat. You can find her at "Paper Fury," where she's working hard, and succeeding, at turning her blog readers into faithful minions for when she takes over the world.

Castiel/Charlie Bradbury

Aside from Sam and Dean, Cas and Charlie are two of my all-time favorite characters on television. You can't help but love them.

Cas is an angel. Literally. Though he's had his ups and downs, Cas ultimately uses his divine powers for good and doesn't hesitate to stand up to his own kind if it means protecting Sam and Dean (especially Dean). But he also has lots of human qualities about him that make him endearing and hilarious. He doesn't always understand social cues, the importance of personal space, or how to use voicemail. But he does love texting. And emoticons.

And Charlie! Charlie is the best. If you've ever seen Felicia Day in anything else (especially "The Guild," which is so funny and highly recommended), you'll know that she's basically playing herself. Charlie is quirky, socially-awkward in the best way, and a total geek. She's a lover of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, LARPing, and more. She makes me laugh and cry in each episode she's in and she has a fantastic relationship with the Winchesters. I keep hoping they'll make her a regular, but no such luck yet. Oh, and she's a lesbian, but a well-written one that's not thrown in just for the sake of making the show diverse. I've seen some poorly written gay characters in books that are clearly there to shake up the cast of characters a little. Charlie's not like that at all. She's awesome. I want to be friends with her and fangirl over books together.

Characters

What would a story be without characters? Characters drive the plot. Characters make a story come alive. Readers fall in love with them, laugh with them, cry with them, and sometimes hate them. Some of the best people are fictional, especially if they're written well. They can feel like family.

And since I have some fascination with names beginning with "c" that I only noticed while writing this post, here are a few shout-outs to characters of my own creation.

Cassandra Day/Cornelia Moonstone/Clara Day/Cricket Moonstone from my MG fantasy trilogy, Fantasya. Cassandra and Cornelia were the main characters of the first book A Giant Problem, which I wrote when I was ten. They were the first characters that I wrote and completely fell in love with. I felt like they were my friends, I wanted to hang out with them, I could picture them clearly in my mind. I wanted to live in Fantasya and meet everyone there. Clara and Cricket were the children of Cassandra and Cornelia and the main characters of the sequel The Trouble With Trolls. I loved them just as much, if not more, than Cassandra and Cornelia, and I think the sequel is much better than the first one I wrote. Writing the characters of Fantasya is like wrapping myself up with a warm blanket.

Cosmo Moonshine and Celeste Smitherson from my YA contemporary, Cosmo, would totally be people I'd be friends with if they were real. I think my favorite thing about writing the two of them is the dialogue. Cosmo's witty. Celeste is quirky. I love the friendship that they have. (Also? I love Celeste's dads. I feel like there aren't a lot of parents in YA fiction that are present in the story, especially dads, and I wanted to change that.)

Chippy from my chapter book, The Adventure That Started With Nuts, was the chocolate to Nutty's peanut butter (har har). Chippy was a chipmunk, and her best friend was a squirrel named Nutty. Chippy was the cautious one in their adventures, always the voice of reason, but Nutty helped her to break out of her shell several times (apparently I'm full of puns today).

Christina Michaels! She's a character from my YA dystopian novel, Flightless Birds, who shows up about halfway through the story. She's spunky, tough, and independent, but sometimes she can be a little blunt. Rude, even. Raven, the main character, helps to soften her a bit, though she remains kickbutt as ever.

Charley Echoes, from my WIP, a YA fantasy called Sing a Song of Raindrops, is a bit like Christina. But where Christina tries to avoid too much attachment (at first) for the sake of being independent, Charley is insanely protective of her family. She would do, and does, anything for them, no matter the cost. She's also a fan of alternative music, the color blue, and peanut M&M's.

Christine Hawthorne is a character I loved to hate. She's a secondary character in my YA contemporary romance, Beneath the Moon and Stars and the mother of one of the main characters, Lane. She's rich, haughty, and has a serious grudge against Kya, the other main character. She's all smiles and compliments when she's face-to-face with a person, but once that person turns her back, she's catty and mean. In the name of keeping up appearances, she does everything she can to keep Kya and Lane away from each other. I couldn't stand her, but I loved writing her.

Calvin & Hobbes

Calvin & Hobbes gives me the warm-fuzzies. :) I've stayed up late into the night--and sometimes the morning--reading it by the light of a flashlight since I was five. I got a beautiful treasury set when I was six for Christmas and still pull it out to read to this day. It's imaginative, funny, adorable, and sweet. Calvin and Hobbes continue to be some of my favorite characters in books. It's definitely my favorite comic, probably even more so since my brother and I used to have adventures with our stuffed animals all the time. I've also had a stuffed cat named Menedy (no clue why) for almost twelve years now. She's definitely well-loved. She used to be white, fluffy, and able to hold her head up on her own. Now she's gray, her fur's matted down, and floppy. I was so worried that Scout would tear her apart when we first got her, but Scout loves her and sometimes snuggles up next to her. It's so cute.

The Civil Wars

Ever since I heard them featured on "Safe and Sound" by Taylor Swift, I've been obsessed with their music. They're country, but not a super twangy kind. They're haunting and unique and perfect writing music when I'm writing something especially dark. I was so sad to hear that they split up not too long ago. Some of my favorite songs by them are "Kingdom Come," "Poison & Wine," and "Falling."

Cookies

Hands down, my favorite dessert! Soft or crunchy, chocolate chip or chocolate peanut butter, homemade or store-bought, Chips Ahoy! or Oreos, I love them all. (Except for snickerdoodles. I've never liked those for some reason.) I will never complain if you randomly show up at my house with a plate of them. (Hint, hint.)

"Carry On My Wayward Son"/"Counting Stars"/"Cups"

Three awesome songs with great memories associated with them. I will never be able to hear "Carry On My Wayward Son" without thinking about "Supernatural" from now on (not that I'm complaining). But I do tear up every time I hear it now. I always have to brace myself for the season finales, because I know I'm going to break down once the intro starts to play.

"Counting Stars" offered lots of inspiration when I was writing Flightless Birds for NaNoWriMo in 2013. I always think about Raven and Flynn when I hear it now. Plus, it's by OneRepublic, whose songs frequently rock.

"Cups" is super catchy and makes me think about summer when I hear it, because I taught myself the cup routine in mid-July, and then I taught my friends. We all sat on the front porch with plastic cups for the longest time. It was so much fun.

Capture the Flag

My friends and I play this at the park every summer when our homeschool group has our Park Days on Fridays. We'll play it for hours on end. Sometimes the games are short, sometimes they last a couple hours. But they're always massive and tons of fun.

Christmas Eve

Since my mom's 100% Portuguese, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. We'll make a nice dinner and then open all of our presents that night. We'll stay up until one or two in the morning opening and playing with them, then sleep in the next day and make a big breakfast. We try not to go anywhere during the week between Christmas and New Year's so we can just relax and hang out at home as a family.

What's on your "C" list?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January Wrap-Up

Books I Read

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King

5/5


Recommended to fans of A.S. King's previous work, anyone looking for a contemporary with a paranormal twist, and a small cast of interesting characters. You can read my review HERE.


The Boy In the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes books set during WWII, YA/adult books with young protagonists (I believe Bruno is eight), quick reads, and plot twists.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes sassy, kick-butt heroines, a long series to get invested in, well-written love triangles, and mystery. I'd describe it as Tamora Pierce meets The Hunger Games.

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

DNF

This isn't a bad book if you're interested in learning about the '20s, but that era isn't particularly fascinating to me. I'm willing to try other Bryson books, as several people have said his other books are better.

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin

3/5

Recommended to anyone interested in learning about Joseph Stalin and anyone looking for a middle-grade book you can finish in a day. Fans of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas will like this book.

Movies I Watched

"If I Stay"

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes movies that make you cry, The Fault In Our Stars, character-driven stories, romance, and stories told through an interesting format (half of the movie is told through the eyes of the main character, Mia, as she walks around the hospital in a ghostlike state).

"Sherlock Holmes

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes "Sherlock" (though it in no way comes close to being as good as that), Sherlock Holmes stories, likes to laugh, and plenty of action.

"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies"

5/5

This movie was probably my favorite of the three. Non-stop action with a good amount of comic relief. Also, Legolas is awesome when it comes to battles. Just saying.

"The Watsons Go to Birmingham"

4/5

This is a cute, sweet story about a black family living in the south in 1963. It's short, family-friendly, and will make you cry.

"The Incredibles" (a rewatch)

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes to laugh, Pixar movies, superhero movies, and James Bond.

"Boyhood"

2.5

This movie had an interesting concept (they used the same actors, filming once a year for twelve years so you could watch the kids grow up), and the first half was really good, but it fizzled toward the end. It got to be too boring and angsty for my taste.

"The Lake House"

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes romance, a touch of sci-fi, and simple, character-driven stories. If you watch "Doctor Who" and like the whole 11th Doctor/River timeline thing, you'll love this. (Plus, it'll be way easier to follow after watching something as confusing as that.)

Quotes I Wrote

Waking up with a dagger pointed at your throat is exactly as terrifying as you think it would be.
--Sing a Song of Raindrops

It was times like this, sitting around a crappy motel room, eating junk food and laughing at each other's corny jokes, that I truly felt like I had a family again.
It was also times like this that I wondered how in the world our lives got so screwed up.
--Sing a Song of Raindrops

"Izzy?"
"Yeah?"
"Are we ever going home?"
I found that it was suddenly hard to swallow. I reached over and tousled Micah's jet-black hair, the only feature we shared, but I didn't answer him.
I couldn't lie to him.
--Sing a Song of Raindrops

Lily chewed on her lower lip and stared down at me. Her normally bouncy, curly, bright red hair was frizzy and hung in strings just above her shoulders. "Did you give them a [fake] name yet?"
I nodded. "I had to."
"And?"
"Hazel Grace Lancaster."
The corner of Lily's mouth twitched up and she squeezed my shoulder. "That's my girl."
--Sing a Song of Raindrops

Obsessions I Acquired

No new "obsessions" this month, other than a streak of good books. :) Oh, and my parents and I finished the first season of "Veronica Mars" and can't stop watching. There's a twist in every episode!

Picture of the Month

Run, you clever boy, and remember.
This is a really cool picture. I wish I could edit photos like that.


How was your January?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ranking the "Doctor Who" Companions

I've wanted to do a post like this for a long time now. (Actually, ever since I caught up on "Doctor Who," around April or May.) It's been a lot of fun to write, and I can't wait to see what you all think! (Minor spoilers ahead.)

Main Companions

Rose Tyler




Rose is by far my favorite companion. She was the first person to travel with the Doctor (in New Who, of course) and she was the first character I connected with. She had amazing chemistry with both Nine and Ten and is the only companion besides Clara to travel with two Doctors. I don't think Clara connected with both Doctors like Rose did, though. Billie Piper's acting is fantastic (pun totally intended). She can be funny and goofy (she has a great laugh and smile), but she can also switch to seriousness in a heartbeat. (Come on, who didn't cry at the end of "Doomsday?") Also, she has a great laugh.

Rose was smart, brave, and could stand on her own, but she was also always there for the Doctor. She cared about Mickey and her family, helped others whenever she could, and always stopped to marvel at the little things in the universe. She proved that anybody can make a difference in the world. An ordinary girl can be a hero.

(Also, I ship Tenrose like FedEx. It's definitely my top OTP.)

Donna Noble



Donna! She was in no way at any point in any way attracted to the Doctor as anything more than a friend, and their platonic relationship was refreshing. She was sassy and wasn't afraid to smack some sense into him (or anyone, really). She was hysterical and gutsy. I know some people couldn't stand her strong personality, but I thought she was wonderful. I wish she'd lasted more than a season, and I cried a lot when she left. (Why is it that the companion departures are always so tragic?)

Amy Pond/Rory Williams



I had to group these two together, because while I liked Amy on her own, I much preferred the family dynamic. It was interesting to see how three people aboard the TARDIS behaved, and I was not disappointed. While Amy was adventurous and willing to put up with the Doctor's shenanigans if it meant getting to see a new planet or alien creature, Rory was a good balance. He was able to bring some sense and logic to their travels. I think it did the Doctor a lot of good to have more people around him. It helped him to not be so lonely. Also, I'm glad Amy and Rory ended up together rather than Amy and the Doctor.

Martha Jones



















Poor Freema Agyeman had a hard act to follow. I need to go back and watch S3 again now that a few months have passed, because I think Martha deserves more credit than she gets. If she hadn't been the one to follow Rose, I think she would've gotten a lot more love. While the whole "companion-in-love-with-the-Doctor" thing was cliché (seriously, the only companion to not hit on the Doctor was Donna), Martha was definitely impressive. From the very first episode, the Doctor was calling her brilliant. Martha may be the smartest of all the companions to board the TARDIS. Not to mention she managed to keep the Doctor safe when he'd completely forgotten who he was in "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" and literally walked across the world for him in order to defeat the Master at the end of the season. And she was the only companion to voluntarily leave the Doctor! She put her family first, was recruited by UNIT, and ended up marrying Mickey Smith. She always helped the Doctor when he needed her, though. Everybody wins.

Clara Oswald


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Ah, Clara. If so many amazing companions hadn't preceded her, I think I would've liked her more. She's definitely not unlikeable, but she's a little boring. While I like her better with Twelve than Eleven, I feel like she's overstayed her welcome. Also, I don't think the writers have any idea what they're doing with her. Her plot line is all over the place. Clara's cute and fun and great with kids, but she seems to cause the Doctor a great deal more trouble than help. She ends up getting captured or lost or trapped in near-death situations often. She frequently makes poor decisions, especially where Danny Pink is involved (such as throwing away all the TARDIS keys . . . -_-). I'm not sure how long into S9 she's going to last, but I hope we can have a new companion soon.

Other Companions

River Song











Everything about River is absolutely brilliant. She and the Doctor are great together. I never get tired of their exchanges. While utterly confusing, her entire story left me astounded. I loved trying to figure out where the writers were going with her, though I failed every time. River was definitely her own person. She's the only companion I've seen break out of prison, sneak into high-security vaults, shoot bad guys, and come up with snappy retorts to everything while in a dress and high heels. And between all of this running and fighting, she somehow has time to do her makeup. She's another companion I wish we could've seen more of.

Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax













These three are hilarious. I love Strax to pieces (especially in "The Snowmen"). Jenny is tiny, but packs a powerful punch. Vastra is very intimidating, but you can't help but like her. (And Vastra and Jenny are adorable with each other.) I hope they show up lots more in upcoming seasons.

Captain Jack Harkness

















To be honest, I couldn't stand Jack for the first few episodes. The word "sleazy" always came to mind when I thought of him. (He still is, kind of.) But, after getting to see more of him, especially in "Torchwood," I can see the good qualities he has. He's funny and undeniably charming. He's the perfect part-time companion for the Doctor. (And I in no way saw the whole Face of Boe thing coming.)

Mickey Smith














It's a good thing Mickey and Martha found each other, because they get overshadowed a lot. Mickey is not a bad companion. He can be very helpful and likeable. He just happens to, unfortunately, have many other great companions to go up against. Mickey was another person I couldn't stand for a while. It was only about midway through S1 that I saw the likeable traits in him. But Mickey is definitely more than just a "tin dog."

Let's discuss: How would your companion list go? Who are your favorites/least favorites and why? And, as a bonus, how would you rank the Doctors? (My list is, from favorite to least favorite: Ten, Eleven, Nine, Twelve.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Encyclopedia of Me - I














"I Don't Eat My Drumsticks":


This is the name of my little brother's blog, and though he doesn't post a lot, I always love reading the ones he writes! He especially loves writing about games, music, and photography.

Imagination/Inspiration

I combined these two because I think they often go together. The inspiration for all of my artistic projects is often imaginative, and therefore tons of fun to create. I use my imagination daily, from the moment I get up and ponder my current novel in the shower to the minutes just before I fall asleep, when I tell myself stories in the hopes that my dreams will finish them for me. You can make any mundane project fun with a little imagination, which helps when I want to pass the time while folding laundry or washing the dishes.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

This book was almost as good as its predecessor, Divergent, which I absolutely loved. A bunch of my friends and I are going to go out to dinner in March and then catch the movie afterwards. The trailers for it are amazing. I can't wait!

It's the End of the World As We Know It by Kate I. Foley

This is the short story I wrote for the Fauxpocalypse anthology. I had so much fun writing it and couldn't get the song out of my head for weeks. Plus, it's the first story I've ever had published!

iPod

I carry my iPod with me everywhere. It's such a handy tool when I'm out and want to look something up or write something down and my computer isn't nearby. It also has all my music on it, which is a necessity when I'm writing. I often use the mail app when I want to catch up on my e-mails whenever I have a few minutes, or check my Twitter and Pinterest accounts. (I also want to give a little shout-out to the song "I Will Wait" by Mumford & Sons, which was a huge inspiration to me while I was writing The Sorceress, and the band Imagine Dragons, which I listen to on a regular basis.)

I.N.C.H.

This is the name of the homeschool group that my mom set up, and I'm so glad she did! Without it, I never would've met my best friend, Kirsten, let alone all of the other amazing friends I have today. Even though a lot of my friends who started out homeschooling have gone to public school, they often come to the park with us during the summer and make sure to keep in touch via text or e-mail.

Isabel

Isabel is my (sort of) middle name, and I absolutely love it! There's actually a funny story as to why I have it. When I was little (maybe four or five), I was under the impression that since Max's middle name is Perry, mine was Perry, too. When my dad broke the news to me that I didn't have a middle name, and that Perry was only Max's, I started crying. A little bit later, my mom and dad told me that they had thought about giving me the middle name Isabel, and asked if I would like that. Of course I loved the idea, and the name, and have used it ever since, even though it's legally not my middle name (yet).

Isabel is also the name of the main character in my newest WIP, Sing a Song of Raindrops, which is a YA fantasy novel. She usually goes by the nickname Izzy, though. (Click HERE to see my Pinterest board for it, if you're interested. Lots of cool pictures there.)

Internet

(I totally stole this one from from Max. He couldn't believe I didn't think of it myself, but I couldn't resist using it once he'd mentioned it.)

The internet is pretty freaking amazing. We have instant access to all the knowledge in the world, and then some. We can communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime through a thousand different websites. We can create videos that go viral. We can download music with the click of a button. We can share ideas and inspire people to create their own, all with a few taps of the keyboard. I can't imagine a world without it.