Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Wrap-Up

As you can probably tell from my lack of posting, this month was a little nuts. Lots of homework for my classes, grandparents visiting for Thanksgiving, and trying to get as much writing in as I can. So good nuts, but still crazy! I hope you all had a more productive NaNoWriMo than I did. For the first time in eight years, I didn't finish my word goal. I got 20,000 words total written. It's not a total loss since I still wrote a bunch, and some of it might be worth salvaging, but it does feel weird not to be celebrating at this point in the month.

Books I Read

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo


I always like Kate DiCamillo's books, and this one wasn't an exception. This plot was by far the simplest of any of her stories I've read, but I didn't mind it too much. I like character-driven stories. It wasn't boring at all, it was just a sleepy kind of feel, like a lazy summer read, which I found enjoyable. Beverly's character made me laugh and Louisiana was delightfully quirky. The only character I didn't really connect with was Raymie. The other two girls had very distinct personalities, but I felt like Raymie was distant the whole time, which isn't really what you want with a protagonist.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll


What a drug trip. Alice is a bit of a dingbat throughout the whole story. For example, when in the company of several mice, she chooses her cat aka an expert mouse hunter as an appropriate topic of conversation, then proceeds to wonder why the mice are offended. ?????? The plot felt disjointed, and the story rambled at parts, particularly with his specific writing style. But it was very imaginative.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor


HOLY CREATIVITY. I have to admit, I spent almost the entire book thinking this would be a four-star read, and then the ending hit! I was intrigued from the very beginning and really loved Karou as a protagonist (and Zuzana as a side character) and her whole secret life with her "monsters." Plus, it's set somewhere other than the US and England! I love interesting settings and we don't see enough of them in YA. Parts of the story really lagged because I still wasn't quite sure what the whole plot was supposed to be, hence why it was only going to be four stars. There's was too much mystery for too long of a time, which is a big turnoff for me. But then, BUT THEN, Laini Taylor pulls out a whopping plot twist that made my eyes bulge. I devoured the last hundred pages in a day. WOW. I can't wait to read the sequels.

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi


I've learned more about Iran and its culture from this one graphic novel than any article or piece of history I've read. It was really neat getting to see it from the perspective of a young girl growing up in it. The first part of the book was pretty confusing, because the politics seemed to be explained, but then something a character said would contradict what I thought I knew. I couldn't keep it all straight. The rest of it was much more enjoyable, though.

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash


AHHH, how cute was this?! The imperfect illustration style was the perfect way to carry out this story. I loved it. It was simple and raw and humorous and heart-wrenching at times. I would've easily given this a five-star review if it hadn't been for the ending. I don't mind open-ended, especially when it comes to a memoir like this since the author clearly has lived beyond this snapshot into her teenage years, but this felt very abrupt. A gradual slow down would've fit better, I think.

Movies I Watched

"Kate and Leopold"


Super fun and cute. It was an interesting take on time travel, and I always love getting to watch a person from the past try to assimilate to the future. The ending was a little unrealistic, but I guess that's what you get with a rom com and time travel. ;)

"Doctor Strange"


Benedict Cumberbatch. Do I need to say more?

Okay, fine, I will. This felt like a Marvel movie and also totally didn't feel like a Marvel movie. There was way more fantasy than science-fiction involved, which I loved. The special effects were super cool and Strange was both annoying and endearing somehow. Maybe it's the humor. I'm curious to see how he and Tony Stark would interact with each other. Benedict Cumberbatch also successfully succeeded in making his American accent believable, unlike many British actors.

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" 


Ohhhhh myyyyy Goooooood, I loved it. Newt Scamander is totally adorable and exactly the kind of Hufflepuff I'd hoped to see in this movie. And all of the side characters were great. Every single one. I loved seeing what the wizarding world was like in America (though I was kind of hoping for a glimpse into Ilvermorny, too, though I wonder if we'll get that in future movies?). I now want a Niffler, because they're SO CUTE. But there are a couple questions I need to get answered and I don't want to wait another two years for the next movie to figure it out!

"Noises Off" 


Hilarious. I felt exhausted after watching what the characters put themselves through for the play. Half the script had hardly any dialogue at all, it was just the actors running around backstage, passing props back and forth and mouthing things to each other (and I promise, it's a lot more interesting than I make it sound). It's a super fun movie for anyone into theater.

Quotes I Wrote

It might sound goofy, but one of my favorite things about what little of my NaNo novel I wrote was the cast of characters list I put at the beginning. Since there's a strong theater theme throughout the story, I thought it'd be fun to introduce the characters that way. You can see it in the picture below.

I got into screenwriting again! I was struggling with an idea of what to do until I remembered that I already had a perfectly fleshed out story: "Writer's Camp." It's dramatic and hysterical and written as if the author was sleep-deprived, much like writer's camp actually is. And the best part is 95% of it is true. And the campers I still keep in touch with love the idea, which means I can freely write their characters without worry. Here's the intro:

A black screen. Pitch black.

Most people have a clear idea of what a writer's camp looks like.


A dozen or so students scribble fervently in their notebooks, or type like the wind at their laptops. A very professorial TEACHER smiles at the students as he paces back and forth.

He checks the clock, and as soon as it hits eleven, he claps his hands.

Great writing, campers. Now let's return to our analysis of Dickinson's poem, Hope Is the Thing With Feathers.


All of the campers sit at one long table, eating and talking quietly. Someone laughs once in a while.

Do you mind looking over my first chapter? It's only a fourth draft, but I want it to be totally polished.

The CAMPER passes around their notebook. SAM, a fourteen-year-old girl with a bright smile and a funky fedora takes the notebook and scans the first few lines.

This version is much better than the last, really. Much more showing, a little less telling.

The Camper beams. SCENE FREEZES.

This idea is false.


A tall girl with glasses and a geeky t-shirt of some kind, KATE, sprints down the hall, laughing almost maniacally. She's followed by a much shorter girl with short hair and glasses, DANA, who is also laughing, but a little more nervously. They're both clutching at least half a dozen bags of gummy frogs. They both haven't slept for more than five hours in days. They've become different people in the course of this short camp. SCENE FREEZES.

This is what camp looks like.

Picture of the Month 

This month my dad took me to my first ever "Supernatural" convention in New Jersey! It was so much fun and I'll probably end up posting more about it soon, but here are a couple pictures from it. My grandparents also took my family to see "Something Rotten" on Broadway, which was hysterical.

Mark Sheppard doing whatever he pleases.
Misha Collins sighting in the hallway!
I fought my way through the crowd to get an autograph from Adam Pascal (aka the original Roger from "Rent") who played Shakespeare!

How was your November?

Friday, November 4, 2016

I Love Fall Tag

I was tagged by Engie from "Musings From Neville's Navel" for the "I love fall" tag. Which is perfect, because I'm enjoying some great fall weather and awesome leaf colors right now. :)

The obligatory "look-at-how-cute-my-dog-is-in-the-fall-leaves" picture.
What is your favorite fall month?

If we're talking in terms of weather, September is usually pretty good, usually later in the month. I love mostly sunny weather with a slight breeze so it's cool enough to still wear a t-shirt, but not hot enough to start sweating.

Otherwise, obviously November because NaNoWriMo!

What music do you like to listen to in fall?

Depends on my mood, but I usually transition from things like pop songs, which are totally summer songs, to more Indie/alternative music. (Of course this year I'm listening to a lot of musicals right now, because I've been really into that.) I tend to gravitate towards artists like Melanie Martinez, Sleeping At Last, Louden Swain, The Civil Wars, etc.

What is your favorite fall outfit?

A cute t-shirt, jeans, and a plaid flannel.

What is your favorite fall scent?

Coffee, campfires, cinnamon. Apparently just things that start with "c."

What books get you in the mood for fall?

I know it's obvious, but the Harry Potter series. School starts on September 1st, they always have a Halloween feast, and every book has a part that's just creepy enough to feel like a fall story. The whole series is cozy.

Do you enjoy fall weather?

Absolutely! I prefer crisp and cool weather to sweltering hot days.

What is your favorite fall food?

I don't know if I have a favorite, but warm drinks, Thanksgiving pies, and apples in some kind of caramel/chocolate/peanut butter dips are all excellent. Also our "pumpkin pasties," which are pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips.

Apple pie or pumpkin pie?


Hot chocolate or warm apple cider?


Do you like pumpkin spice lattes?

Yes! It was one of the first coffee drinks I had that made me realize how much I liked coffee.

Tea or coffee?

It depends on the time of day and my mood. Usually I like coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon while I'm writing. Sometimes decaf coffee at night with a cookie or biscotti is really nice.

Do you like candy corn?

Eh? It's been a while since I had it. I wouldn't seek it out or anything, but it's okay.

What is your favorite past Halloween costume?

Ooh, that's tricky. My Luna Lovegood costume when I was eleven was pretty awesome. I had a homemade Quibbler and everything. I also went as Hermione when I was ten. But I also love the costumes I had the past couple years, like the Tenth Doctor and my steampunk angel creation.

My 10-year-old self as Hermione, next to my little brother who's a ninja here.
Luna Lovegood!
My genderbent 10th Doctor.

Who/what did you dress as for Halloween last year?

A steampunk angel! :) I loved the wings so much, I made a couple excuses to put on the costume for other events, like Time Traveler's Day at the Renaissance Faire.

Steampunk angel!
You can see the wings better here. I was going for a coppery look to match the steampunk theme.

What is your favorite Halloween candy?

Reese's peanut butter cups, of course. I also like Kit-Kats, Twix, Three Musketeers . . . basically anything that's chocolate.

Do you enjoy carving jack-o’-lanterns?

It depends on my  mood each years, but most of the time I do!

Do you like to visit creepy graveyards?

Not as a hobby or anything, but walking through them is always kind of cool. I love to get name ideas there and read the epitaphs. The really faded ones that you can hardly read always look like something that belongs in a story.

Cats or bats?

Cats, even though I'm allergic. They're just so darn cute.

What is your favorite scary movie?

I've never gotten into scary movies, but I really enjoyed "The Sixth Sense," if that counts?

Halloween or Thanksgiving?

Halloween for the candy and Thanksgiving for the pie. Because food.

What is your least favorite thing about fall?

Everything seems crazy busy when fall starts. There's a lot less time alone to read and write because even though we're doing TONS of super fun activities, they're all in a row without a lot of breathing room.

What is the best thing about your town during fall?

Seeing cute pumpkin/fall decorations in our small town, corn mazes, coffee shops, etc.

What is your favorite fall memory?

I can't pick out a singular memory, but I have vivid memories from every NaNoWriMo season of writing a certain story. They're still some of my favorites.

What is one thing you’d like to try during fall, but haven’t?

I can't think of any fall specific activities. But what are your favorite things to do during the fall?

In one sentence, why do you love fall?

I love fall because of the weather, the atmosphere, the creativity, and the feeling that comes from it.

Tag, you're it! "Steal" this tag for your own blog, or answer some of the questions in the comments. :) Have fun!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October Wrap-Up

Books I Read

Doctor Who: The Stone Rose by Jacqueline Rayner


Oh, Tenrose, I've missed you so! The author of this book did a really excellent job capturing the voices of both the Doctor and Rose. However, you should definitely read this for the story alone and not so much the writing. That part was a little overly simplistic. The plot was compelling (though it did get a little dragged out and wonky toward the end, almost to the point where I skimmed a bit because I was too confused) and I loved getting to revisit my favorite characters from the show. There was a sense of nostalgia to it.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck


God, that was depressing. I can't say I was bored, and the end took me by surprise, but it wasn't my favorite classic. I have a hard time reading or watching anything where an animal gets hurt, so I didn't exactly love this one. But I'm glad I read it, because it is a classic, and now I'll get way more pop culture references.

Movies I Watched

"Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life"


This was fun to take my little brother and our friends to with my movie theater employee discount. The whole thing felt like a Disney channel special.. It was fun, but not a work of art or anything like that. It had a nice plot twist toward the end of the movie, and good messages about public school education, but everything was very heavy-handed.

"Hamilton's America"


I LOVE LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA. It was so cool getting to see the process of the whole musical and the history behind it. My family ate a yummy brunch while watching it and quietly cried at a few parts into our cups of coffee. It was inspirational and a must-see for any "Hamilton" fan.



My dad and I saw the taped production with Benedict Cumberbatch, and I'm completely convinced he can do anything. Not only was his acting fantastic (as usual), but the contortions he put himself through for the first ten minutes of the play was INSANE. Even the way he spoke throughout the entire thing must have taken so much practice and energy. It was dark, creepy, and perfect for Halloween.

Quotes I Wrote

She cleaned up the blood, but nothing more. Staring at her pink skin, gaunt face, raccoon eyes, in the mirror, at the stranger who stared back, the gash fit. It would leave a silvery scar for sure, just like the others, except this one would be visible. This one she could catch in the reflection of a car window or bathroom mirror. This one could serve as a reminder.
    For what, though, Melody couldn't say. She also couldn’t say why she chose to use her wrinkled fingertips to grip the blade tighter and hack away at her hair until all that was left was a jagged bob, but she sliced through it like it was nothing, like nothing mattered.
The fresh cut on her cheek, her mangled hair, maybe they both served as reminders that she was not the same Melody who stumbled into Sterling just months ago. She entered a runaway and left an omen.
    All would learn to fear the sight of her, the girl heartbreak befriended and followed all across the country.
-'Til the Last Star Dies

“What’s going on, Amy?”
    Melody’s hostility shrank back into something resembling resignation. She felt several inches shorter. “I just need a place to start over.”
    “So what are you hiding from?” For all of Cal’s gruff southern accent, his tone was kind.
    He snorted a little. “Don’t tell me you’re that cliché.”
-'Til the Last Star Dies

The war was far from over, but defeat had to start somewhere.
    Lila sank to her knees in the mud and covered her face with her hands as she breathed through her mouth to minimize the stench of smoke in the air.
    She could go home tonight.
-'Til the Last Star Dies

Melody wanted to say something. No, she wanted to say everything. But she couldn't find the voice or the words that could explain away her actions or what she'd said. There was too much and it was impossible to describe exactly how Melody felt at this moment. Joy, anxiety, grief, anger, ecstasy, they all jumbled and blended and formed a new emotion Melody had yet to name.
    Maybe it was love. Maybe love was everything all at once, just in high definition, at full volume, until it consumed you whole.
-'Til the Last Star Dies

Have you ever tried to read something upside down? It looks like language, but you can't tell what any of it says. It's probably English, but you don't understand it.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm upside down. Sometimes I wonder if people know I'm there, that I'm human, but they just can't read me. So they give up reading and I'm left alone again.
You can turn writing right side up. You can't turn people.
-What's Easily Missed

Obsessions I Acquired

"The Good Place" - Kristen Bell takes quite the change from Veronica Mars, but she's so great in this show. It's quirky, unique, funny, and surprising all at once. The characters are all great for different reasons. I love the character Janet, who's a twist on the classic AI sort of Siri type. The show just makes you happy.

Picture of the Month 

I dressed up as Benedict Cumberbatch's version of Sherlock Holmes for Halloween, and my little brother was Mabel from "Gravity Falls." Genderbending, FTW!

How was your October?