Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Word Count Buddy

I have a new friend. His name is Ivan Idea. Ivan helps me keep track of my word count and mirrors my emotions. Here's what he looks like now.

http://wordmeter.herokuapp.com/meter/words=20874&mood=6
Ivan Idea
I'm doing pretty well right now, so Ivan is typing away at the keyboard. I just barely passed my 50% milestone. But if I'm stuck and not really doing much, he might look like this.

http://wordmeter.herokuapp.com/meter/words=20874&mood=0
Ivan Idea Destroying a Computer
Where did I get my new buddy? On Writertopia. I was looking for some word progress meters when I stumbled upon Ivan. (And, yes, he admits to stealing his name from a character off of an old computer game my brother and I used to play, but it fit so well he wanted to keep it). Ivan is hanging out on the side of my blog right now, if you'd like to check him out.

(What's that? Okay, I'll tell them).

Ivan wants you to adopt his siblings and add them your blog. Some of his brothers and sisters are . . .

Penny Foryour Thoughts
Wright Ersblock
The Count of Words (A.K.A. Bob Smith, but don't tell the Count that I told you that)!
Ms. Cuppa Coffee
Dr. Chock Late (If you really want to make the doc happy, give him some dark chocolate)!

Some of Ivan's siblings are *gasp* unnamed! Do you have any ideas for some possible names? Leave them in a comment! :D

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Blog About a Quote

I'm doing this blogging exercise as a practice for Bryan Hutchinson's guest post on The Write Practice. For the exercise we need to pick a quote and blog about it. Here's the quote I picked:

"Only in the darkness can you see the stars." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Writer's Challenge

The reason I picked that one is because, well, there are a lot of reasons. First off, I just love the quote. I think Martin Luther King Jr. had a lot of great things to say. Secondly, in my current WIP, Cosmo, I always have a quote at the beginning of a chapter. The quote always has something to do with what happens in that chapter, which is difficult a lot of the time. There's a chapter where something truly awful happens--I won't give away what--and this quote is at the beginning of the chapter.

So what does it mean?

Well, one could take it literally and say, "It has to be dark outside for you to go stargazing." And while that's all good and true, I don't think that was what Dr. King was going for when he said this.

To me, this quote means that in your darkest and most awful times, you can find something good. It might not pop up right in front of you, singing a TV jingle, and dancing in a sparkly dress, but you'll find it eventually, and when you do it'll be great.

Here's a chapter excerpt from that particular chapter (don't worry, there aren't any spoilers):

     Celeste hugged me even tighter.
    "I'm so sorry."
    Celeste didn't ask me any questions. She just sat there next to me on my bed for hours while I cried, holding my hand. I got up to blow my nose in the bathroom and when I came back, there was something written on Celeste's hand.

     Only in the darkness can you see the stars.

    "I can't see any stars at the moment," I said quietly. Celeste gave me another hug.
    "Maybe the city lights are blocking them out."
    "I wish they wouldn't."
    "Give it time. Maybe by then you'll see the moon."

Saturday, May 25, 2013

How to Recover From a Book Hangover

Stuck in a book's world? Can't start another one because the last one was just too good? I have a few solutions for you in my latest guest post on "The Book Chewers": "How to Recover From a Book Hangover." Check it out! :D

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Blank Page

It's taunting me. With its white-as-snow perfect color. It's laughing at me.

"Ha ha!" It's saying. "Nothing is smudging my perfect color! There are no pencil marks, no letters, nothing that prevents the white from showing!"

I'm grinding my teeth at it, but that only makes the blank page laugh louder. I crumple it up and stuff it in the trash can. It's not as satisfying as I thought it would be.

My mind is empty. Just like the blank page. Words aren't coming as easily as they should be. I have ideas, but I can't find a way to use them. How infuriating.

I get distracted and walk away. When I come back, the page is still blank. Of course it is. It would be too easy, too unrealistic to expect the words to blossom without any water to make them grow. I haven't even planted the seeds yet. Why should I expect tomatoes when all I have is dirt?

Now I'm thinking about gardens, which is making me hungry.

Focus, focus, focus.

"You can't write. I'm a blank page. I'm supposed to just sit here and look pretty."

"Shut up!"

"I can't shut up. I'm a blank page. I'm supposed to taunt you."

"I said shut up!"

"La, la, la. I'm a blank page. You can't write on me, you can't write on me, you can't--"

"ROAR!"

I rip the page, but the taunts are still ringing in my ears.

Focusfocusfocus.

Who am I kidding?

I'm having one of those days. Inspiration, anyone? ;)

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Interview With Celeste Smitherson

A while back I interviewed Cosmo Moonshine, the main character of my current WIP, Cosmo. I took a short break so I could finish up The Sorceress, but when I came back I found a new character waiting for me. Well, maybe she wasn't new, exactly, but her personality had changed. Cosmo's best friend, Celeste Smitherson, was no longer just the funny, goofy, new best friend for Cosmo. She still is, but then I realized that she had more depth to her. Her childhood was hard for her in many ways and I discovered some new hobbies of hers. She has quickly become one of the most interesting characters in the book.

Cosmo Moonshine, here, interviewing my new best friend (since Vanessa is no longer talking to me) Celeste Smitherson!

Celeste: Thank you, thank you.


*Celeste takes a bow*

Please introduce yourself.

Celeste: My name is Celeste Smitherson, I'm fourteen years old, and I'm a complete and total spaz.

We can see that . . . very easily, might I add. Tell us about your family.

Celeste: Well, there are my parents who I don't see very often because they're always working, and that's it. Unless you let me adopt Polaris. Pleeeeaaasseeee?

Absolutely not. That little, white fuzzball of a kitten is mine.

Celeste. Aww.

Can you tell us more about your hobbies?

Celeste: I like to read, but writing's not really my thing. I really like art: painting, coloring, sketching, pottery, anything that's creative and involves using your hands a lot.

Writing involves using your hands.

Celeste: You know what I mean. Oh, and I also like acting, but that's just a hobby, while art is going to be--hopefully--my career someday.

Who do you think is more in control: Yourself or Kate?

*Celeste laughs*

Celeste: Oh, so definitely me. My dialogue practically writes itself! I know what I'm going to say before Kate does. It's hilarious to see the look on her face when I say something.

Who is your greatest enemy and why?

Celeste: Anyone who is a bully. I've been transferred to fourteen different schools due to either bullying or having to move for my dad's job. Sometimes I've had to move to different states because of bullying problems. I've lived in five different states and I haven't ever lived in a house for longer than a year. It sucks.

Who (or what) do you think inspired Kate most when she was creating you?

Celeste: I honestly don't know--and I don't think Kate does, either--but I know that I inspired her to put a quote at the beginning of each chapter she writes. We have some pretty good quotes on there: lots of song lyrics, book quotes--including stuff from the Harry Potter series and stuff from The Wizard of Oz--, and quotes from people like Martin Luther King Jr and Neil deGrasse Tyson. The Wizard of Oz is my favorite book. Ever.

Mine, too. What is your biggest dream?

Celeste: To be a famous artist. I'd like to do book covers, I think. I should do the book cover for Halley's Comet.


It's not even finished yet!

Celeste: But it's awesome so far! You need to put up another blog post, soon. Your followers are waiting.

You're my only follower.

Celeste: Yeah, but did you check your stat counter? Your getting hits from places like India and Japan!

Yet no one has commented on my posts except for you, yet.

Celeste: Maybe they're just a little shy.

Kate: Okayyyy, we're getting a little off topic here. Sorry, guys, but I need to wrap up the post.

Celeste: Aww, just a few more minutes? Plleeeeeaaaassseee? This is as famous as I'll ever get when it comes to blogging. You have way more subscribers than I do (*cough* four *cough*).

Kate: Maybe next time. Now scoot!

Celeste: See ya'!

Bye!

Let's spice things up on here. Do you have any questions for Cosmo or Celeste? How about Cassandra or Cornelia? Katherine or Kristen? Leave a comment and they'll get back to you as soon as possible! :D

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, everyone! :D Click HERE for a fantastic chocolate chip cookie recipe!

And be sure to check out my guest post on Positive Writer (see below)!

My First Guest Post On Positive Writer

Yes, I got another guest post job! :D Positive Writer's Bryan Hutchinson has offered for me to do a monthly post for his blog and my first post went up today! Click HERE to read it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Exciting Events and Summer Reading and Writing Goals

Ahhhhhh, summer. What do you think of when someone says the word "summer?" I think of flowers, the park, my friends, my family, my dog, the beach, the ocean, animals, ice cream, the pool, bare feet, friendship bracelets, the sun, and books, books, books. Books beyond books. I think everybody reads more in the summer, and not just because things are less busy in the summer, but because there's a wonderful feeling when you read underneath a tree in the summertime or by the pool under the sun.

Courtesy of martinlieberman.com


I'm planning to read and write a lot this summer, not that I don't during the winter, fall, and spring. ;) This is also the first year I can participate in the teen summer reading program at our libraries. Some books that I'm planning to read this year are:

1. Any book in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.
2. Catching Fire and possibly some other books from the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.
3. (Maybe) The Host by Stephenie Meyer.
4. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
5. The Rising by Kelley Armstrong.
6. Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale.
7. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.
8. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins.
9. I would say Allegiant by Veronica Roth but (sadly) that doesn't come out until October 22 of this year (SQUEE!!!!) (Wow, the 22 must be a good date for books and movies that I like. Did you know the "Catching Fire" movie is coming out on November 22? !!!!)
10. Many, many, MANY other books.

My writing goals for this summer are:

1. To finish editing either A Cherry Pie, an Iguana, a Silver Dollar, and a Spitball Fight or The Sorceress.
2. Write a new novel.
3. Win a writing contest.
4. Write a short story.
5. Write a poem.
6. Query agents until I (hopefully) find one willing to represent my book.

Some exciting events this summer:

1. I'm taking a writer's workshop in June!
2. I'm going to Taylor Swift's "Red" concert with my parents, little brother, and BFF in July!
3. Some of our best friends are (hopefully) moving here this summer! If not this summer, then probably sometime later this year!

How about you? Do you have any reading or writing goals for this summer? Do you have any exciting things happening? Leave a comment! :D

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The 10 Most Ridiculous Things I See In Minecraft--A Post By M.O.R.O.N.

First, I'd like to say, Happy Mother's Day to my awesome mom! :D I love you and I can't wait for next Saturday so we can watch "Gilmore Girls" again!

What is M.O.R.O.N.? A new blog post series I just made up. ;)

M.O.R.O.N. stands for My Outstanding Rants On Numbskulls. Every month (usually on the 12th) I--or another member of the M.O.R.O.N. team--will post a rant/post/few comments about idiots. It can be a poem, a funny meme, a short post, or some other creative thing about idiots. Here are the members:

1. The Magic Violinist

Yup. I'm the only person. If you would like to join, please post a comment with your e-mail address (unless I already have it) and I will contact you.

Without further ado, I give you "The 10 Most Ridiculous Things I See In Minecraft!"

Minecraft is an awesome game! In fact, it's one of my favorite computer games (along with Webkinz and Wizard101). Unfortunately, most everyone on there is stupid. Seriously. I've yet to see someone who can capitalize their "I's" or can actually spell out the word "you." (And, seriously? You should know the difference between your and you're by now. Yeah, I'm looking at you, college kid)!

1. Bai and Hai

I sort of get don't get why people use "u" instead of "you" or b4 instead of "before," because it doesn't take that long to type out whole words in the first place! But this . . . this is just absurd. If the whole point of spelling things wrong is to "use ur time affectively" (and I saw someone type this as their excuse), then why in the world would you use "bai" instead of "bye" or "hai" instead of "hi?" "Bye" and "bai" each have three letters! Now you're just coming across as stupid (not that you were doing any better earlier). And if you're really trying to save yourself time, typing "hai" instead of "hi" is not a good way to do that.

2. Imma

"Imma go to dinner." "Imma let my dog out." "Imma cool." I've seen all three of these things (and more!) on Minecraft. "Imma" means "I'm going to," apparently, though some have used it just to "sound cool" by typing things like "Imma love chocolate" or "Imma in love with Justin Bieber."

I'm just waiting for the day when someone says, "Imma idiot."

3. Excessive Swearing

Swearing is used, supposedly, to make a point. But when you use the "F" word five thousand times over about every little thing (whether it's a good thing or a bad thing), you really lose all of your power. I like what my parents have said about swearing:

"You should be able to express yourself well with the billions of different good words in the world before you go around using the small handful of bad ones."

4. DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!!

"Obama's a Muslim." "Taylor Swift kissed Justin Bieber." "Gays use witchcraft." To that I say, "You obviously know nothing about our president," "No she didn't, otherwise she'd be in every entertainment magazine known to man," and "Stop being ridiculous."


5. Spamming

Most people on Minecraft just want to play. That's why it was invented in the first place. For entertainment. We don't want to see the message, "OMG I JUST ATE THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE EVER" pop up on our screen twenty times while trying to build a house or kill a zombie. It's distracting, annoying, and rude.


6. "I'm bored."

You're bored?!?! Then get off the freaking computer and read a book or go outside! You know, there's this really cool thing that's been invented. You might not know about it yet, since you've apparently been on for the past forty-eight hours, but it's called 'nature.' There are other living things that are out there, and trees, and grass, and all sorts of other things just waiting to be discovered! We don't even know you, so why should we care that you're bored? If you want me to be your personal entertainer, I'd better be getting paid for this. I love this quote by Louis CK. 

“I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.'”

7. Stalkers

These people just creep me out and usually end up getting banned for being inappropriate. I've seen guys try to get girls to go to the prom with them. I also saw a girl try to get a guy's phone number. One guy tried to get someone's address, and succeeded, might I add, because the girl thought the guy was "hot."

By the way, you can't see people on Minecraft. You get fake avatars!

8. Phone Numbers and Skype Usernames

People go around giving out phone numbers and Skype usernames all over the place! They obviously don't know anything about being safe on the internet. If I had written down every bit of personal information that I've seen on Minecraft, I could contact enough people to form my own private army. Well, maybe not that large, but I could probably contact a good few dozen people.

9. Putting In Your Two Cents . . . Or A Whole Dollar

You could make a fantastic point, have the most incredible idea, or have a world-changing plan and I wouldn't take you seriously if you didn't spell anything right. If you want to talk about your opinions, talk to your friends and family, or start a blog! That's part of the reason I love blogging. I can write about anything I want and if people care enough to read it, they will, but they don't have to. It's not being shoved in their face like it is on Minecraft. I absolutely love the servers where you can turn off public chatting so you can just play. That's why I play single player, too.

And for the last time: OBAMA IS NOT A MUSLIM.

10. "I really shouldn't be on here . . . but . . ."

"My mom grounded me for a month because I stayed up playing Minecraft instead of doing my homework, which means no more Minecraft for a month, but I got on, anyway." "My colage [sic] won't let me use the dorm wifi for video games, but they don't know. ;)" "I called into work sick so I could play Minecraft all day."

?!?!?!?! You know your boss, your college, and your mom can find all of this out, right? One screenshot or one click of the "show all history" button will cause you to lose your job, your computer privileges, and get you into some serious trouble with your college. Though, you spelled "college" wrong, so I'm not sure how much you care.

This rant was brought to you by M.O.R.O.N.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Can You Keep A Secret?

Yes, I know this is the second post of the day (and be sure to read the one below this) but I just had to tell you all something!

I'm writing another book! :D But not just any old book. I'm writing this one with my best friend Kirsten and her sister Avery. This will be one of the first books I've written with other people. It's called Can You Keep A Secret? What's it about? Read on.

Our Lovely Book Cover


Indie Snow, Amber Jones, and Kaitlyn Wate are the best of friends. They're all fourteen, they all go to Willow High, and they all have a secret of their own. One that they haven't told anyone.

In Willow High, secrets are treasure. Secrets get passed around the high school faster than wildfire. Sometimes the secrets even trickle down into the middle school. Indie, Amber, and Kaitlyn have heard the most dangerous and the most wild of secrets, but none of them will ever have the same effect that their secrets will have.

Can you keep a secret?

Kirsten, Avery, and I all created a character for the story. There are three different points of view, so we switch off every chapter. My character is Indie Snow. I got to start off the story and I am sooooo excited to see the finished project!

Want to see the first chapter?


Indie

          "Can you keep a secret?"

          The five most feared and highly anticipated words in Willow High, where secrets are treasure.

          If you say no, it either means you're a freak, you're too popular for such petty nonsense, or you're too scared of what you'll hear.

          If you say yes, it means you're either so desperate to be in with the popular group you'll do or say anything, or you'll listen and try your best not to blab, though everyone does at some point.

          It also means that you're ready to brave the unknown.



          I have a secret. No one knows what it is. Not even my best friends, Amber and Kaitlyn. Not even my family, though I think they suspect that something's up. I've told them I don't have a secret. They said they believed me, though I don't think they do. I'm sure they have secrets of their own, too. They just haven't told them yet.

          It's not a deadly secret. Just a crazy one. No one would believe me if I told everyone what it was, anyway. I wouldn't be any worse than Holly Barrow, who said she had kissed Liam Michaels, who is the cutest, most athletic, buff, and most popular boy in junior high. He's in tenth grade at fifteen-years-old, and totally out of Holly's league. Liam is on the football team and dates ditzy cheerleaders that have big hair and no brains. Holly is a Mathlete and wears Harry Potter glasses.

          I've heard deadly secrets before. One secret got passed around so many times, no one knew who it was about anymore. All anyone knows now is that someone's brother had murdered somebody. Rumor has it he had killed his girlfriend for cheating on him. For months after the secret was told, everyone jumped if someone tapped them on the shoulder. Girls shot suspicious looks at their boyfriends. No one walked home alone. (Enter names here) and I slept over at my house nearly every night, including weekends. My dog Sprout--a large, German shepherd who barked at every noise he heard--made us all feel safe. Nobody calmed down until everyone heard another secret, one about the murderer getting caught and going to jail.

          No, my secret's just crazy. Sometimes I don't believe it myself. It's like a recurring dream that haunts me with each passing day. I try not to think about it, and most of the time I'm able to shake it off for a few hours. But after the lights are out and moonlight comes streaming in through my windows, I remember everything all over again.



          "What up, Indie Snow?" It's Kaitlyn Wate, the spaz of our trio. Kaitlyn is a tiny thing, at 4'9" and 98 pounds. I often feel like a giant when I'm next to her. Her head looks too big for her body, but her large hazel eyes take care of that, along with her long, straight, strawberry blonde hair. She gets more attention than Amber and I do, but that might be because she's so much louder than us. She's wearing a tank top today, yellow, as usual. If it's not yellow, it's white. If it's not white, it's yellow. Kaitlyn's predictable that way. She has a cute pair of bright purple shorts on with pink polka dots. She's wearing black leggings underneath. Complete that image with a pair of boots, her hair in a long ponytail that bobs up and down, and a little bit of makeup and you have Kaitlyn Wate, age fourteen.

          As for me, I'm a bit calmer in the stuff I wear. Actually, I'm a bit calmer, period. Today I had on my square glasses (of course), jeans, a pair of gray, Converse knock-offs, and a T-shirt that said, "Misuse of the word literally makes me figuratively insane."

          Now you might think I'm a nerd, but I'm really not. I'm just a grammar nerd. I read, I write poetry, and I get straight A's in English. Other than that and the D's and C's I get in math--no matter how hard I study--I'm the middle of the middle. I'm not too smart, not too dumb, not too skinny at 123 pounds, not too fat, not too short at 5'4", not too tall, not too athletic, not a couch potato, not too popular, not a freak. I'm recognized by most everyone in the ninth grade, but not because I'm loud like Kaitlyn or a geek like Holly, but because I'm just Indie. I'm not trying to be someone I'm not.

          "Hey, Kaitlyn," I say. I fiddle with the combination lock on my locker. "Amber around?"

          "Haven't seen her." Kaitlyn twirls a loose piece of hair around her finger. "Saw Holly, though."

          Kaitlyn rolls her eyes.

          "Another one?" I groan. "You'd think she'd quit by now."

          "Nope." Kaitlyn gives a loud sigh. "This time its Taylor Matthews."

          I laugh and shake my head a little. Taylor Matthews was Liam Michaels's best friend.

          "Taylor Matthews wouldn't let her come within ten feet him, much less let her kiss him."

          Kaitlyn shrugs.

          "Hey, it's more believable than saying his brother kissed her first."

          "We're way too young to be kissing boys," I say. "We should wait at least another two years."

          Kaitlyn smiles and tucks the strand of loose hair behind her ear.

          "I've kissed a boy," she says in a sing-song voice.

          This time I roll my eyes.

          "I've said it a thousand times and I'll say it again, kissing a poster of Adam Levine does not count as kissing a boy."

          "Oh, you spoil all of my fun." Kaitlyn shoves my shoulder playfully. "At least I'm not kissing my poster of Demi Lovato."

          "Eww!" I say. Kaitlyn just laughs and bursts into song, singing "Skyscraper" so loud that people turn to stare.

          "Move it." I push Kaitlyn down the hallway. "We're going to be late for English."

          "And we know what you'll do if we make you late."

          Amber catches up to us and walks by my side.

          "Yeah," I say. "I'll pound you both to a pulp."

          Amber Jones looks as different from Kaitlyn as I do, if not even more so. She has long brown hair with curly ends, eyes the color of dark chocolate, and is wearing black Converse, skinny jeans, a plain, blue T-shirt, and the locket from her mom with a picture of the two of them inside. She wears if every day, all the time, and only takes it off when she's going to get wet or super dirty. She's super close to her mom, Maria Jones. Amber's 5' exactly, and 105 lbs.

          "We wouldn't want to miss the 'announcing of the winners.'" Amber says these last words with the air of a king making a grand speech.

          "Yeah, but we both know that Indie's gonna get first." Kaitlyn winks at me.

          "No," I mumble, my cheeks heating. "We don't know that. Emily Grace told me that Olivia Carmen's poem was about her cat's death. Emily said it made her cry."

          "Hoooo boy." Kaitlyn sucks in a big breath of air. Our English teacher, Mrs. Meyers, told us every class that if we were to impress her with our writing, we need to make her feel something powerful, whether you were making her feel inspired, elated, or depressed. She said a writer's hardest job is to fill their readers with tears of either sadness or joy.

          "But your poem about Sprout was really sweet, too," Amber said, placing her hand on my shoulder. "I loved how you used the word 'frolicking.' That's such a fun word!"

          Kaitlyn immediately began to chant, "Frolicking, frolicking, frolicking."

          I hit her on her arm. Kaitlyn says, "Ow!" and laughs.

          We dart into the English classroom just as Mrs. Meyers takes out a piece of paper.

          "You're just in time girls," she says, beaming at us. "Sit down. We're about to announce the winners of the poetry contest."

          I sit in the middle of Amber and Kaitlyn, holding my breath. The first place winner of the poetry contest not only received admiration from the rest of their peers, but also got an automatic A that counted for twenty percent of their overall English grade.

          "You're so going to win!" Kaitlyn whispers from my left.

          "There's zero competition," Amber says from my right. "Our poems sucked!"

          The whole classroom sounds like a beehive. The buzz and whispers of the classmates wishing each other good luck surrounds me with such ferocity, my stomach feels like its closing in on itself. My heart is pounding two times faster and harder than usual. Amber and Kaitlyn squeeze my arms.

          Mrs. Meyers clears her throat. It's loud, but not loud enough. She does it again, but everyone ignores her. My hands are shaking.

          "Class dismissed!" she finally shouts. Everyone stops talking and looks up, confused.

          "I know how hard it is for you all to refrain from chit-chatting," she says. "But we need to get on with this."

          An eerie silence falls over the classroom. Someone drops a pencil. No one laughs, like everyone usually does.

          Mrs. Meyers clears her throat one more time and looks down at the list of winners.

          "Third place goes to Payton Hayes."

          The class applauds as Payton gets up from his desk to receive his printed and framed poem. He tries hard to hide his smile as he hangs his poem up on the wall. It's titled "Homeless Man" and is about a man he saw on the streets of New York, which is only two or three hours away from Willow High in Pennsylvania. Payton's buddies slap him on the back and congratulate him as he sits back down.

          "Second place goes to Olivia Carmen."

          Emily's squeal is so high-pitched, we can hear it over the smattering of applause. Olivia leaps up from her desk as if she sat on a pin. Her face is paper white but she grinning from ear to ear. Mrs. Meyers whispers a congratulation and hands Olivia her poem. Olivia hangs it up next to Payton's. Her poem is called "Tiger." Emily had been right, it was about Olivia's cat's death. I see a tear trickle down Olivia's cheek. She wipes it away hurriedly. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed.

          "Told you!" Kaitlyn hisses. I shush her.

          "We don't know I won yet!"

          "First place goes to . . ." Mrs. Meyers pauses with a smile for dramatic affect. Kaitlyn and Amber grab my hands as if they're watching a scary movie and need someone to hold on to.

          "Indie Snow!"

          "Now we know!" Amber says as I get up slowly from my desk. The applause makes my ears ring. Mrs. Meyers hands me my poem and says, "Congratulations. Your poem was spectacular!" My hands are still shaking and for a minute I'm scared I'm going to drop the frame. I hang the poem up next to Olivia's and stare at it. The title is "The Meadow" and is about Sprout running through a meadow filled with flowers.



The  Meadow

by Indie Snow



Floppy brown ears,

Eyes filled with joy.

There's nothing more he'd rather do

Than play with his toy.

Sunflowers,

Tulips,

And dandelions yellow.

My big scary guard dog is happy and mellow.

Frolicking through the meadow so green,

Makes me forget about people so mean.

I grab his favorite ball and it's hurled.

Sprout runs through the grass without a care in the world.

We roll around under the midday sun.

We are happy and content.

My work here is done.



          I beam with pride and spend the rest of the day walking on cloud nine.

Thoughts? Leave a comment! :D

Liebster Blog Award

Thank you, Cait and Mime!

Cait and Mime from "The Notebook Sisters" tagged me for the Liebster Blog Award. Here are the rules:

Rules

1. Each nominee must answer 11 questions.
2. Create 11 questions for the next nominees to answer.
3. Link back to who nominated them.
4. Choose 11 people and link them to your post.
5. Go to their page and tell them.
6. No tag backs!

Cait and Mime's Questions:

1. Favourite character in your work-in-progress?

Probably Anya Perriwinkle from The Sorceress. I finished the first draft, but I'm still editing it, so technically it's a WIP. ;) The best explanation I can think up for her is that she's a cross between Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series and Alanna of Trebond from The Song of the Lioness series with some additions from me, of course. I also like Indie Snow, who is one of the main character's in the book I'm writing with my best friend, Kirsten, and her sister, Avery. It's called Can You Keep A Secret?

2. Does music influence your writing? What's a song that's inspired you?


Absolutely. As I've mentioned HERE, I love to listen to music when I'm writing my books (or blog posts!) as much as possible. One song that's inspired me is "Safe and Sound" by Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars. I talk about it HERE. Of course, there are more songs that have inspired me, but the list would be really long if I mentioned them all. ;)



3. Do you prefer writing in present tense or past tense? Why?


It's hard to say, but I think I prefer writing in the past tense. Though it could just be because ever time I try to write in the present tense I end up writing in the past tense again. I think the present tense is cool, though, because it makes the reader feel like you're there right as everything is happening.



4. Name a random fact a book taught you.


I found these two facts (I couldn't choose one) from The Perfectly Useless Books of Useless Information by Don Voorhees.

1. The average American home contains $90 in loose change.
2. It is illegal to use the American flag in advertising.


5. Favourite foods to snack on while reading/writing.


Chocolate of any kind (but preferably in the form of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or Peanut Butter M&M's), hot chocolate, and/or popcorn. Though I know it's a popular choice among writers (along with chocolate), I absolutely can't stand the taste of coffee. I'll have to get my caffeine elsewhere.

6. Name 3 books you can't wait until are released.


1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth. (The third book in the Divergent series).
2. The Soul by Stephenie Meyer. (The second book in The Host series).
3. The Seeker by Stephenie Meyer. (The third book in The Host series).

7. Name a sequel that outshone it's predecessor.


I've been reading a lot of post-apocalyptic books recently, and I think they all follow a similar pattern. The first book sets everything up and shows how everyone is in danger because of an evil president/government/evil species. The second book show the main character starting some sort of rebellion along with her friends. The third book wraps up the series by showing the rebellion succeeding and the government getting destroyed. Most of the time the first book is the best in these series (such as The Hunger Games, Matched, and Delirium).

I'm reading the Darkness Rising series by Kelley Armstrong and I've almost finished the second book in the series: The Calling. I'm not sure if I like The Calling better than The Gathering or not, yet, but they're both pretty close in quality (which is awesome). I think Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets outshone Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, though.

8. Best side-kick/secondary-character you've read this year?


This year? I haven't read a lot of awesome secondary characters this year (except for Harry Potter characters), but I'd have to go with Four from the Divergent series and Daniel, Rafe, Annie, Sam, Corey, and Hayley from the Darkness Rising series. They all have such great personalities without outshining the main character.

9. Favourite quote!


These are my two absolute favorite friendship quotes (EVER!!!!). I think they describe my friendship with my best friend, Kirsten.

"What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies." -- Aristotle

"If you're alone, I'll be your shadow. If you want to cry, I'll be your shoulder. If you want a hug, I'll be your pillow. If you need to be happy, I'll be your smile. But anytime you need a friend, I'll just be me."-- Anonymous

10. Do you have any reading goals for 2013? Are you on track?!


Nope. I don't set reading goals for myself. I do the summer reading program for our local library each year, and this is the first year I can do the teen program, but other than that I just read whenever I feel like it. Oh, and I'm in two book clubs.



11. If you were a superhero would you wear a cape?


No way! I'd probably trip over it! ;P

Some writing/book related questions:

1. What is your least favorite book and why?
2. Have you ever read anything that made you laugh so hard people stared? What did you read?
3. Who is your favorite villain and why? (He doesn't have to be likable for him to be your favorite).
4. What is your favorite movie that was based on a book and why?
5. What is your least favorite movie that was based on a book and why?
6. Which of your book characters is most like you?
7. Have you ever based any of your characters after people you know? (Have you ever based any villains after people you know)?
8. Which book has inspired you in your writing the most?
9. When do you feel most inspired? Morning, night, Saturdays? Why?
10. Do you write more description or dialogue in your stories?
11. What annoys you most in books? How about in your books?

11 People I Will Tag:

1. Kirsten at "Tacos, Dolphins, and Friends."
2. Rich at "X Marks the Spot."
3. My dad at "Sushi and Pizza."
4. My mom at "Sushi and Pizza."
5. My brother at "I Don't Eat My Drumsticks."
6. nevillegirl at "Musings From Neville's Navel."
7. Cici at "Meredith and Callixta."
8. Miriam at "Miriam Joy Writes."
9. Whoever wishes to do this tag at "Get Well Jake."
10. Whoever wishes to do this tag at "The Book Chewers."
11. Carla at "Redpunzel."

Monday, May 6, 2013

Two Books I'm Reading and One Book I'm Writing (Or the Post Where I Talk About Williamsburg Before Even Getting to the Other Things That I'm Supposed to Be Writing About)

Writing and reading. Reading and writing. I bet you're thinking, "Is there anything else this girl does?"

Actually, I do do other things besides reading and writing . . . just maybe not as often. I get together with friends, I eat food, I go on field trips . . .

But how about rolling all of those things into one fantastical trip?!?!

Just yesterday, our family--as well as a few other families from our homeschool group--got back from a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia!!!! And, yes, our family ate quite a lot of food.

We're all about the food.

When we first got to Williamsburg, it was pretty late and we checked into our hotel . . . only to leave that same night and switch hotels.

Why? Well, I'm pretty sure my mom is going to do a post all about that, and I wouldn't want to give everything away. You're just going to have to wait. Don't worry. I won't torture you with hints about that disastrous night. (Hyperbole? Nope).

(Did I mention my brother and I were dripping wet when we left)?

We spent the first two days at Colonial Williamsburg. Some of my favorite things there were listening to Martha Washington talk about her life (and hearing my mom talk about her afterwards and accidentally calling her "Martha Stewart"), seeing everyone in character, and seeing a jail and hearing about all sorts of means of torture they used that gave me some ideas for my books. Yes, we were pretty gruesome back then. Some torture methods I heard about:

1. Cutting off feet or toes
2. Branding their hands (though they used this to let people know that they were criminals)
3. My personal favorite: Sticking a nail in their ear, leaving it there for four hours, then cutting their ear off

No joke.

The third day, we went to Yorktown Battlefield where we could drive around and look at the different places where the Revolutionary War was fought. This was really nice, because it was freezing cold that day and we could look out the windows of our heated car while a warm puppy sat on my blanketed lap. After Yorktown Battlefield, we went to Jamestown Settlement. This was one of my absolute favorites because we got to learn about the different people living there. I especially loved the Native American part of it, because I took a lot of the skills they used and fit it into a book I'm writing (more about that later). An interesting fact about the English that settled there: when the English were starving and couldn't leave because of the Native Americans surrounding them, they ate all sorts of things, including:

1. Dogs
2. Chickens
3. Horses
4. Their leather shoes
5. Dead bodies

Yes, there was cannibalism in Jamestown. After someone died, the others would eat their body for the protein. Well, not the ones who dug their own grave and let themselves starve to death in it. They weren't as desperate.

The fourth (and final) day, we started driving home, but stopped at Monticello (the cello part is pronounced like the musical instrument) to visit Thomas Jefferson's house. Our tour guide was excellent and told all sorts of interesting stories about the rooms we were in. Did you know that back then everyone made appointments on the hour rather than, say, two thirty or three forty-five? No one kept track of the minutes (except for Jefferson, apparently), so if you made an appointment for one o'clock and you got there at one thirty, you weren't late! You were still on time! That sounds like a much better system than what we're doing right now.

So now that I've rambled on about our trip, let me talk to you about the books I'm reading.

Unless you follow "Adventures In YA and Children's Publishing," you wouldn't know that I won a book giveaway! Two, actually. The second one I won is called Quintana of Charyn, but the one that I'm reading now is the first book in the Darkness Rising trilogy by Kelley Armstrong. It's called The Gathering.


 
A blurry and poorly taken picture that I was forced to take with my iPod rather than my camera due to lack of battery.


Admittedly, I didn't think I'd like this series very much. When I entered the giveaway, I was hoping to win one of the other bundles. This series sounded very much like one of those paranormal YA romance books that has crappy writing but everyone loves because two characters kiss and there's this love triangle that really doesn't even exist.

But the author surprised me. The writing is actually pretty decent compared to some other stuff I've read recently, the characters are likeable, the romance is minimal and hardly even matters in the story, there's no love triangle, and I read two thirds of the book on the way back from Williamsburg because I couldn't put it down! It's not post-apocalyptic, though the author could have made it that way if she wanted to, and it's a nice break from the post-apocalyptic books I've been reading. Books of that genre are all pretty predictable at this point, and I'm enjoying having no idea where this book is going.

Oh, and it's set in Canada! That's also a nice change of scenery, considering most of the books I've been reading are set in America.

Here's the book description:

Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can’t find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students–for every grade from kindergarten to twelve.
Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya’s determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya’s home, and they won’t go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts experiencing “bad vibes” about certain people and things. It does’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret…and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy: Her paw-print birthmark.

Another book I'm reading is called Wonder by R. J. Palacio. I'm reading this with my whole family, and we all love it. It's very easy to get into, it's funny, it's sad, and there are very few characters I don't like. We've laughed and cried too many times to count. Wonder is simple, but extremely enjoyable. The author makes the characters so alive, you're surprised to find out that they're fictional.

Here's the book description:

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Now for the book I'm writing.

I wasn't planning to start another book . . . not yet, anyway. But after completing a writing prompt to create a new character, the character sort of . . . took over. She forced me to open a new document and start writing a new book that--for now--is titled Perfect. I only have 3,400 words typed up, so I'm no where near finished with it. I do, however, have a book description:

Raven doesn't have a last name. Why? Because she has no idea who her parents are. Her father is most certainly dead, The Survivors informed her of that, but her mother is no where to be found. Raven doesn't know if she is alive or dead.

The Survivors are a group of homeless people driven out into the Wilderness. They aren't allowed a home because they are imperfect. The president is striving for perfection, and if you are imperfect you must be executed. The few that managed to escape formed The Survivors. The president and his Patrollers--or policemen--are hunting them down. Between trying to survive and keeping everyone else alive, Raven is trying to figure out her past.

Stay strong, stick together, and survive. The three S's of The Survivors and the rules Raven must follow. It's harder than it looks.

Questions? Suggestions? Comments? Concerns? Leave a comment! :D