Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest!

Our Christmas tree isn't uniform or color coded like the fancy trees in the stores. It isn't perfect and is a little crowded. (It's also fake because I'm allergic to pine!)

There are things Sister and I have made,


There is stuff mom made,


There are decorations that mark times in our lives. Like the ornament I got for my first Christmas, (that makes it twenty years old!)


We even have two stars! (Second star to the right and straight on till morning!)


Our tree is full of us. In my opinion, that makes it better than perfect. 


My favorite grouping of holiday decorations (every available surface in the living room is covered with stuff!) is my mom's village made entirely of the Baileys collectible houses (that only come out at Christmas!).


My favorite holiday dessert is Grandma's Sugar Cookies. If you're interested in the recipe, let me know and I'll email you. All you get for now is this year's icing was made with icing sugar, food coloring, and Bailey's. They taste amazing!



My favorite holiday drink is Peppermint Hot Chocolate. For every 5 ounces of hot chocolate, add 1 ounce of peppermint schnapps (and a little extra if you're like mom and I!). Make sure to dust the rim with sugar. Add a cinnamon stick or peppermint candy cane as a garnish and you're good to go!


Thanks for stopping by and for joining in on this blog fest! Sharing Christmas with my blogger family is a brilliant beginning to an epic holiday season. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

PS. After I finish visiting everyone for the blog fest, I will be taking a hiatus from blogging over the holiday season - my baby sister is coming home tomorrow and I want to spend as much time with family as possible. I'll see you in January!

Please try and stop by as many other blogs as you can and share the holiday spirit, we have so many awesome participants and Jen and I are absolutely amazed at the turn out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baking with Grandma...

...is a lot like writing

There are traditions, things that need to be done a certain way. Even if Grandma isn't exactly sure why things need to be done that way anymore.

There is a tried and true recipe. There's a reason everyone raves about Grandma's cookies.

That being said, if you learn the traditions, if you learn the recipes, if you know them as well as Grandma....then you can start substituting. You can play because you understand the fundamentals.

I mean, not even Grandma's going to bemoan you for swapping the milk in the icing for Bailey's. It's still creamy, still does the job of wetting the icing. But everyone likes a kick of alcohol (even as infinitesimal as in a bit of icing) on Christmas when dealing with family.*

* To clarify, I don't need to get drunk in order to deal with my family. I like them. I'm just...stereotyping.

Also, my Grandma isn't as rigid as this may make her sound. She's cool. And I have high standards, in case you're wondering. If you met my Grandparents, you'd love them. Everyone does.

Are you ready to start playing with the rules of writing? Do you?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crazy Holiday Blogfest

Christine Danek is hosting the Crazy Holiday Blogfest. The only real prerequisite is that it needs to be about the holidays. Which is good because I didn't have time to write a snippet, instead, I'm going to tell you about my families Christmas tradition.

Christmas with my family is all about bartering, trading and negotiations.

Confused?

That's understandable. Most families traditions are about a big dinner and exchanging gifts and, while we have that too, it's not the main event. We do something called the pie-pull.

How it works is each household (there's five: Grandparents, Uncle B, Uncle S, Uncle D and Mom) all buy a bunch of small gifts, well to be more accurate we'll buy bigger gifts and break them down into smaller pieces. For example, if someone bought Monopoly they'd separate the game into about six or seven pieces and wrap them individually. Once the presents are wrapped (generally in Newspaper and before we all meet) we attach strings to the gifts and fill a basket with as many presents as will fit. We drape the strings over the edge and then cover the top with a blanket.

We take turns calling out names for people to pick their string. Your draw is entirely up to chance. You unwrap your present which is sometimes already whole and sometimes just a piece of a set.

After there's been several pulls and we all see what everyone else has - including other pieces we need for sets we want to complete - we start bartering and trading with each other. You have to convince other people to trade with you so you can get what you want - and some people in my family drive very hard bargains!

You have to use every tactic at your disposal. Beg! Charm! Flatter! Guilt!

Last year my Cousin M and I were both trying to complete the same set (that was broken into like 15 pieces) and competition like that makes for a very interesting evening. (In case you're wondering, I ended up with most of it but realized he wanted the set more than I did and gave it to him - for everything else he had. Yeah, I only seem nice.)

Anyways, it's pretty much the funnest thing ever and every Christmas Eve (it's a Swedish thing) is full of awesome.

To check out more entries, go here.

Do you have any holiday traditions?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Harry Potter Christmas Blogfest

Today is Michael's Harry Potter Blogfest! We had to write a scene during the holiday season featuring any of the Harry Potter characters we wanted. I picked James and Lily and is exactly 500 words.

Enjoy.

James Potter tucks his golden snitch into his pocket and grabs a present with flying broomstick wrapping paper from the table. Lily Evans just walked through the portrait hole. “Oy Evans!”

Lily twirls her willow wand, “No need to shout Potter. I’m not deaf.”

“I know. I’m just making sure you can’t use your ‘I didn’t hear you’ excuse today.” James runs a hand through his hair and thrusts the package towards Lily, “I got you something. For Christmas.”

Lily’s green eyes narrow and she pokes her wand at the sloppy bow atop the present. It flops in a rather pathetic matter. “Is it going to explode?”

“I’d never-” James sees the girls face twist in rage and back pedals, “Oh come off it Evans, that was once in first year!”

She glares and her foot taps to the beat of a condemning metronome.

“Okay fine, maybe it was thirteen times but I’ve evolved since then.”

“Have you?” Lily taps her wand against her shoulder. “Will it turn my hair green and silver?”

“It won’t even add gold highlights. I like your hair far too much.”

Lily looks a tad worried, “Is it chocolates filled with love potion then?”

Sirius Black snorts from the red armchair closest to the fire, “He didn’t think of that one, no.”

She must decide James hasn’t the potions skills for she moves on, “Will I get a nose bleed?”

“I’d never harm you.”

“Will I contract Dragon Pox and end up in St. Mungo’s so you can sit at my bedside and act like some knight in Quidditch clad armour?”

James rolls his shoulders and pushes the present under her nose, “I just said it’s not going to hurt you.”

“It won’t dismember, mar, or taint me in anyway? I won’t be angry?”

“I swear on my overly inflated head and Quidditch Captainship.” James holds his hand to his heart.

Lily waits for him to burst into laughter and say it’s all a joke. When he doesn’t, she says “Okay then-”

He grins, “Merry Christmas Evans.”

“Can I finish? I was going to say, if it’s perfectly harmless you won’t mind keeping it.” And with that, Lily Evans turns on her heel and stomps up the girl’s staircase.

Sirius laughs, “Better luck next time mate.”

James chucks the present at his head. “She likes me.”

“Yes and next year you’ll be Head Boy and Girl, she’ll realize she was terribly wrong about you, you’ll fall madly in love, get married and have a kid. People will never forget the beautiful love story of Lily and James Potter.”

James pulls the snitch from his pocket and its wings graze the tips of his fingers. “Our son will be a Quidditch star! There’ll be photos of him all over the Daily Prophet and he’ll be mentioned in books! He’ll be famous. You just wait and see Padfoot. Everybody in the Wizarding world will know his name.”

Sirius palms his face and sighs melodramatically, “I was kidding.”

To check out the other entries, go here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Protected characters means decreased reader interest

This September, my baby sister went to a University in a Alberta. (For those unfamiliar with Canadian geography or have forgotten where I, myself, live I'll simplify: she moved to a different Province.)

This past weekend, something awful happened to her. (I won' bore you with details.) I had so many solutions, so many ways for her to avoid it. When it was clear avoidance was impossible, the distance between us stretched to ridiculous proportions (at least in my head it did). If I was there, I could've accompanied her, eased the tension and given her support.

I came to an awful realization: I couldn't protect her.

The sad truth is we can't always protect the people we love. Even when it kills us not to be there. And, sometimes, protecting them is really just sheltering them and we're, in a round about way, only hurting them. When something huge happens and they have to deal with it themselves, the lack of small successes over the years, really shows. 

It's the same in our books. No matter how much you love your characters, you can't protect them. If you do, you're only hurting your story. You are actually doing a disservice - no one wants to read about characters when their problems are too easy and it is obvious the author is coddling them.

As awful as this sounds: it's good that my heart breaks and I want to cry when I think of all the stuff my characters must survive during my trilogy.

Twisted? Maybe. True? Undoubtedly.

Do you struggle with hurting your characters? Or is it easy? 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Anticipating 2011

I've never been a goal-setter. To be candid, I've never seen the point and never done a good job at actually keeping the goals that I say I'm going to do.

That's why I'm, honestly, a bit surprised that I succeeded with NaNo. Say what you will about it being too short a time to write so many words, but what NaNo really gave me was a goal and a group of like-minded people with that same goal. Their was a sense of accountability - if I did my normal routine of getting bored and stopping, people were going to know.

With the success of NaNo in mind, I've decided that 2011 is going to be a year of goals and I'm immortalizing these goals on my blog so that I can't back out. If I don't accomplish them, I'll have to answer to all of you.

I know it's a little early to post my new year's goals (as in a month early) but I figure with the holidays and all it will be easier to get it out there now. (Also I can't back out and change my mind in the next month if I do it now!)

Goals for 2011 (That I'll start in January)


*Finish the edits on my recently completed MS

*Start sending out queries by November

*Exercise for at least half an hour every day (it's way too easy during the school months and spending a lot of my free time writing not to do anything - and that's no good!)

*Get a regular blogging schedule: Monday, Wednesday and Friday

*Read 110 books in 12 months (Cause if I flip 110 it's 2011 minus the two!). I feel like too often, as writers, we focus too much on our own journey - we say we don't have time to read because we're writing. And that's crap. There isn't an excuse not to read and be a part of this community if I expect to be a part of it and have other people read my books one day. I've let my reading slip and there's no valid excuse for it.

Besides, reading makes you a better writer. Period. (Why wouldn't you want this? See? No excuse cause in the end, it's helping you and your journey too.)

I'll probably mostly read fantasy and paranormal (cause it's my favorite) but I'm branching out to read all genres because, well, why not? I'm even planning to read a few leadership and business books at Mom's insistence (it may help me promote and sell my book one day!).

Do you think I'm insane for wanting to do all of this in 2011 while being a full-time student and getting (hopefully) a job?


Have you made any goals lately? How do you feel about making goals? 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Make a splash!

Now that I've officially finished all final school projects I can move onto exams - which is a lot less work! 


The Christmas lights are going up on city streets, businesses are decorating and holiday cheer is everywhere. At the end of the week, I get to make sugar cookies with Grandma and mom. I know it's almost Christmas when my family makes cookies together. 


You'll get to see pictures during Jen and mine Be Jolly by Golly Blogfest. Don't forget to sign up if you haven't yet.


Since today is December 1st, it means it's time for Talli Roland to take over Amazon and you (yes you!) can help.



Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.


No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more. (I did!)

About THE HATING GAME:

When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Friday, November 19, 2010

The wait is over

Don't let the magic end with this post, go check out these awesome girls. Seriously, the magic of Potter compels you! LaurelLisaRenaeColene and Jen.

Today, three generations of Wideen's will be watching the matinĂ©e of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Just like we have for every other movie in this epic series. (Yeah, my mom totally pulled me out of school to go watch a movie. You know you're jealous.)

One of the most magical things about Harry Potter is the way in which it brings people of all ages together.

For me, Harry Potter is so much more than a book or a movie, a world or characters. Harry Potter was an escape when I needed one, and a hope when I had none.

Harry potter saved the wizarding world but even more amazing and incredible is that he changed ours. The impact of this one idea is insane. There really is no other word for it besides magical.

(And in case you were wondering, yes, I attended the midnight showing. No, I won't spoil it for anyone.)

Did Harry Potter change you personally? Any other books change you? 


My amazingly talented friend Ramona edited these pictures for me! Check her out

Thursday, November 18, 2010

House elves do more than just clean


Don't forget to visit my fellow magic bringers!
ColeneRenae, LaurelJen and Lisa.

Dobby the house elf's mental list to protect a Mister Harry Potter sir from a GREAT EVIL at Hogwarts this year!

1. Forge letters from Harry Potter's friends telling him he shouldn't go back because he isn't Hogwarts material. Learn to write first!

2. Steal Harry Potter's letters from his friends so he feels alone and unloved and wants to stay home. Destroy confidence!

3. Steal all of Harry Potter's socks. No one goes anywhere without their socks!

4. Block the entrance to platform 9 3/4 so Harry Potter  thinks the school hates him so much it doesn't want him back.

5. Curse a bludger to attack Harry Potter. With broken bones he'll be unable to defend himself, get scared and leave.

6. Iron hands. Bang head against wall. Punish self for thinking of protecting Harry Potter. (Maybe he feel sorry for Dobby and go home?)

7. Break Harry Potter's wand so its like Mr. Wheezy's and backfires. Puking slugs and other nasty things will happen. Harry Potter will think he's loosing his magic.

8. Iron Harry Potter's head so he sleeps for a long time and Dobby can take him back to the Dursleys.

9. Frame Harry Potter for a serious crime of Master's. Harry Potter will be sent to Azkaban and the Dementors will protect him there!

~~~

Oh, Dobby, you meant well I'm sure.

Ever done anything crazy to protect someone? What else would you add to this list?


PS. Farewell to Dobby on the soundtrack makes me want to cry!  Alexandre Desplat has managed to capture death in a song. So powerful.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sifted through and Sorted

Make sure you check out my fellow friends bringing the magic of Hogwarts to the internet.

I'm breaking down the Hogwarts Houses for you. No allegiances and no mercies. Be prepared.



Gryffindor

Pro: Daring to go where no man has gone before. The girls staircase for example. 

Con: Tendency to find themselves charging recklessly towards death for reasons distressingly unknown to them. 


Ravenclaw

Pro: Can do it better, faster and with less time in between. No one writes papers quite like they do.

Con: No, your significant other really doesn't want to know how they make Bertie botts beans taste like boogers.

Hufflepuff

Pro: Everyone wants to read an open book. 

Con: Being known for loyalty means in a war, their on the front lines. And Gryffindor already has the market covered on heroism. (Poor Cedric!)

Slytherin

Pro: With forked tongues talking their way out of any situation is easy.

Con: Ambition often leads to siding with the crazy person with the big ideas who is mentally and emotionally unhinged (not to mention soulless).

In all seriousness though, I don't think any of the houses are either inherently good or bad. I mean, Pettigrew was a Gryffindor and he betrayed his friends and was rather cowardly. And the supposedly cold-hearted Slytherin's? They have Snape who loved fiercely and showed tremendous loyalty.

No one is black and white and neither are the houses. They all have strengths and weaknesses.

All that house rivalry stuff? I'd like to point out that Colene and Renae are Gryffindors, Lisa and Laurel are Ravenclaws, Jen is a Hufflepuff and I'm a Slytherin and we all teamed together to bring you this week of awesome. (I also like all of them.) If the houses banded together like the sorting hat suggested - well, I guess it would've ruined JK Rowling's plot so I can actually understand why she didn't go there. 

If you're curious about the house you'd be in, this is the best test I've found so far: GET SORTED.              


What House are you in? Your stance on house rivalry?


PS. If you don't already know, I'm a huge music person. HUGE. Like, music is even more important to me than books (though I at least have some vague talent with writing so I can actually go  somewhere with it. Maybe). Anyway, the point is, the scores for the Harry Potter movies are always good. I didn't think it would be possible to ever top Half-Blood Prince though.... I can't believe I'm saying it but the Deathly Hallows soundtrack trumps the other soundtracks. All of them. I'm a little in shock myself. I only hope this is a reflection of how the movie is going to be! If you like movie scores, or music that is so powerful it inspires emotions without words then I highly recommend getting yourself a copy (and Half-Blood prince too). Obliviate, Lovegood, Ron's Speech, Rescuing Hermione, and Detonators are, as of tonight, my personal favorites.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mythical creatures....aren't so mythical?

Don't forget to visit Jen, Colene, LaurelLisa and Renae for more Harry Potter themed magic! (Seriously, I'd like you to open their blogs in a separate window so you don't forget.)

If you are anything close to an avid fan like me, you've probably thought to yourself on more than one occassion, "I wish the Wizarding World was real." I have news for you guys, it is! (And no, I'm not talking about the theme park.) The mythical creatures that JK Rowling uses are around us everyday.

They are disguised as people in our everyday lives:

Dementors: The people who drain you until you're left with nothing. Sometimes, it can be so subtle and gradual you don't notice until after it's over. They leave you feeling cold and empty.

Thestrals: The people we don't see or acknowledge but they are their supporting life, helping us continue our way of existence. They generally provide valuable service that we take for granted. It usually takes a cataclysmic event in one's life for them to acknowledge these types of people.

Hippogriff: Seems reluctant to embark on new friendships, so much so that they may come off as arrogant. You wouldn't think of turning to them in a time of need yet surprisingly they are their to back you up, loyal and true until the end. 

Basilisk (snakes in general): Will blindly follow the only person who seems to understand them. Wherever that may take them.

Centaurs: The wise and knowledgeable people who are, unfortunately, rather unhelpful because they believe that we all must come to our own answers in our own time. 

Acromantula: Only focused on their own needs, selfish and uncaring until the end.

House elves: So ingrained in their ways and wanting to keep with the status quo that even when freedom is presented to them, they won't take it. They don't like change. At all. 

Unicorns: Are the innocents, they are pure and full of light. It takes a truly awful person to try and steal any of that away.

Werewolves: The people who are truly, unfortunately, and sadly misunderstood.  

Phoenix: It doesn't matter how horribly life affects them, their entire world could erupt in a flash of fire and they'd still get up. They gather the wreckage about them, acknowledge it and stand - stronger and wiser than ever before. (We should all strive to be like this.)

What sort of mythical creatures do you see around you? Anything else to add to my list? How do you see yourself?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Potions, the unused solution

This week five awesome bloggers teamed together to fill the next five days with magic to celebrate the anticipated release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. Yes, I am one of the awesome bloggers. (No, that isn't very humble but just look at the gals doing this with me.) Make sure to stop by and revel in the awesome with Jen, Renae, Colene and Lisa.

Harry Potter and potions class never got on very well (sixth book aside). Here are a few of the ways the Death Eaters and Voldemort (if they had been using their Slytherin cunning) could have ended the battles with little to no effort.

Amortentia: Because an utterly infatuated person is googly eyed, empty headed and thinks of little beside their own love. When your obsessed, you have little time to think of other things - like a Dark Lord set to kill you.

Beffudlement draught: Induces the effects of a severely intoxicated person. Your opponents become so reckless they run straight into your curses. 
Forgetfulness potion: A first year's potion that makes the drinker forgetful. Make your opponent forget you were opponents in the first place. See? It's first year logic too. 

Shrinking solution: Fairly straightforward - shrink your problems too.

Polyjuice Potion: Turn yourself into one of Harry Potter's friends, wait till he turns his back and say two little words with a flick of your wrist. He'd never see it coming.

 Felix Felicis: Hello? Succeed in your every endeavor? Harry Potter and the entire Order would be dead in less than an hour. 

Do you have any other ways you would have won the war sooner (from either side)? Do you have any cunning solutions to problems in your own life?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly

Christmas cookies and happy hearts, this is how the holiday starts!

Jen and I teamed up to create an awesome, candy cane infused, blog fest because we think all of you are fantastic and want to spread the holiday cheer. 

We bring to you:


Be Jolly By Golly


We want to know how you celebrate. 

Before you get your tinsel in a tangle, here are the rules:

1. Post your blog sometime on December 20th.

2. We want pictures of your decorations, holiday lights and Christmas tree.

3. Share your favorite holiday treat (Feel free to share the recipe so we can all share in the yummy).

4. Share your favorite holiday drink (Either alcoholic or non, share your recipe if you please - you're all going to want to drink mine so I'd like some options to steal too).

5. Don't forget to visit everyone else, share in the holiday spirit and spread the cheer. 

Basically, this blogfest is Christmas dinner with your blogger family, you don't want to miss out on the fun. Also, our badge is AWESOME. You should join just so you can nab it.

Please note: If you don't celebrate Christmas, we want you anyways. Share your holiday traditions with us, whatever they may be.

To segue into an entirely different topic without any warning, I have another announcement to make. 

Two years ago, mid November I started writing my book. I wrote like crazy and was two chapters away from finishing when my computer crashed. I lost everything.

After a while, I started writing again. I got about halfway through when I decided I was writing in the wrong tense. I started again. I got halfway through (again) before one of my characters decided he didn't like the way the plot/storyline was working out for him and he dramatically changed the sequence of events in the first book. (It's a trilogy.)

I started over.

I had a third of it done by the end of summer but school started and excuses piled up. As you know, my goal with NaNo was to finish my book. I gave NaNo 122% (according to how many words I wrote) and finished my first draft yesterday at noon.

I am so overwhelmed and happy (especially because I have crazy amazing family members like Cousin K and Little Sister who changed their Facebook statuses to celebrate with me).

How's your writing? Any accomplishments lately? Are you stoked on this blog fest or what??

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Writerly skills and Writerly chills.

Mom and I went to the liquor store (because where else do you go on the weekend (I don't care that I sound like an alcoholic, I know I'm not. I just appreciate a good drink after a long week of writing.)) and the grocery store.

We go back to the car only to realize we parked in a Reserved parking space for Rogers (a video store) customers only.

Mom was all, it's a good thing no one noticed we didn't go in the store.

And I immediately replied, "It doesn't matter, I'm a Rogers customer twenty four seven. If they try and say otherwise, I'll show them my phone bill." (Rogers is also a phone company.)

Mom laughs, clearly amazed by my unstoppable wit and genius (and modesty).

"Don't even worry mom, I build worlds, I think I can find my way out of anything now."

Now, normally I'd segue into some helpful writing advice like: the tools we learn and use in our writing can be beneficially applied to our lives. Through journeying with our characters, we learn their lessons and in turn, become stronger characters ourselves.

But, I don't want to elaborate on that.

You see, I've been writing some pretty horrific stuff. It was brief but the taint of it lingers on my MC, saturates her as she goes into the final three chapters of my book. It's all a jumbled mess in her head.

Which means, unfortunately, it (I wish I could explain but it would ruin my book!) is haunting me as well. I feel sick and unsteady and like my world could crumble if I take one misstep.

I can't sleep because horrific events and scenes loop in my mind, unforgiving and terrifying.

And I need to know,

Do you ever write something that horrifies you? Something so terrible you can't believe you thought of it? Do you ever make yourself sick because of events in your book?

Maybe, when people read it, they won't react like I have. I don't expect them too. My characters are a part of me, they mean more to me then I can possibly express, and they gave me hope when I had none (that's another blog post entirely) and I have a hard time knowing that my subconscious is so cruel to them in return.

I'd like to think I'm not alone.

Hope NaNo (or your other endeavors) is going well for you guys. I'm done! Except not because November was less about winning NaNo and more about finishing my book. But I'm close to that too.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Support systems are crucial

I was telling Ramona about my characters (if you think I can think about anything besides my book when I'm writing this much a day, you are sorely mistaken).

I was speaking and I didn't think she was getting the point so I said, "They're real people, you know."

She replies, "I know."

I squeeze her knee, "Awe, I love you."

"Yeah, I don't even think your crazy for that." (Hearing voices in my head.) "Your crazy for other things."

Best friend status? Reaffirmed.

Writers need people who accept our psychotic tendencies. I am lucky enough to have an amazing family who support me in this crazy endeavor - going so far as to offer themselves as the crash test dummies for my novel. I have friends who care - both offline and on. And I have you, the people who stop by and read my drivel.

So when your slaving over your novel, when you feel like dying cause the pressure is too much turn to your support system. They won't let you down and they may surprise you by cheering you in the most unexpected ways. (I mean, who enjoys being called crazy?)

Who do you turn to?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursdays Tomfoolery #4

If a picture is worth a thousand words and I gave you two, I guess that means I lied to you two thousand times. I feel awful and guilty. 

The truth is, my room is only this neat for about a week and a half every three months. I cleaned my room early because 1. November is going to be hellish enough already and 2. I agreed to let over a hundred people see it by signing up for a blogfest. Normally my room looks like this:
Okay, so that is a lie as well. But I figured if I gave you two extremes you could come to your own conclusions and you wouldn't know how bad/good my room really is ninety percent of the time. 

Now that I have alleviated my conscious, on to today's tomfoolery. 

Today, we are playing the alliteration game. We're going to be a little strange and talk about ourselves in third person and make up a phrase (as serious or ridiculous as you please) about ourselves using only the first letter of your name. 

Me first:

Melissa's mellifluous monkeying mistakenly mapped mother's mediocre mansion.

(I just want to point out that I tried to say this out loud to Mom and tripped over the sentence several times to get it right. There's no way I could say that sentence three times fast.)

Okay friends, your turn! Please, alliterate in the comments. (Make my day!)

NaNo is going well, am almost at 15K. How are you guys doing?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Show Your Space

Summer is hosting a Show Your Space blogfest to launch off NaNoWriMo so we can all creep on each other and know exactly where we are as we kill ourselves in order to pound out 50,000 in 30 days.

So here's my writing space!


And, because I know everyone secretly wants a close up:

When I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter I totally bought a Marauders Map and then, I framed it - like any good Harry Potter fan would - this is just the section I chose to immortalize behind glass. There's way more to this magical map. 

Oh? You guys wanted my real writing space, didn't you? I'll be honest, I almost never sit at my desk. I do most of my writing here:
That's right. I do most of my writing in bed because I like my pyjamas, fluffy blankets and being comfortable. I know your jealous of my polka dot bedspread. It's a party every night down here (in the basement which moonlights as my room). 

You may notice the little dots on the wall and ceiling. Those are glow in the dark stars. (And yeah, I'm such a nerd I arranged them like real constellations.) If you look carefully you'll see Leo (for me), Draco (because) and Aries, Libra and Cancer (for my three best friends).

Today is the first day of NaNo so Good Luck to all you other insane people out there and for those of you not participating, enjoy your sanity. 

My blogging is going to be sketchy this month, but I promise to make at least one stop to each of your blogs every week. 

Go HERE for more entries in this blogfest. (Look in the sidebar!)

Friday, October 29, 2010

The best thing about October?

Pumpkin Guts!
I love the way a pumpkin's insides feel and being a tactile person, well, it just doesn't feel like Halloween without a pumpkin. I'm pretty sure when I was younger, putting on grandpa's shirts and pushing up the sleeves to get my hands dirty was all I wanted to do. I didn't want to carve, it got boring, and eventually I'd pass the task off to either mom or grandpa. 

It actually got to the point where mom gave me an ultimatum, "If you can't finish the carving on your own, you don't get a pumpkin."

My skills and patience have improved with time. This year, I carved two pumpkins. 

I give you the Dark Mark. (Gasp! Scream!) Yeah, Voldemort's been to my house this year. Run away little kids! (And leave me all the candy!)
If a death inside my house isn't enough to scare you off, I've got a werewolf who is willing to bite you! (Go away silly fangirls - it isn't Jacob Black!) Professor Lupin will apologize come November, he isn't himself at the moment.
The wolf was a lot easier because I didn't have to make up my own pattern. I also hollowed it out better so I didn't break two carving tools like I did with Voldemort's dark mark.

Here's a picture with my pumpkins and the two Ramona did as well. What a happy pumpkin family.



Now, as for yesterday:

Technically, both the facts I gave you were truths... (so that was a little bit of a hidden trick) but only one was my truth ----

T(1): I'm obviously good enough to eat because I've been stabbed with both a fork and a knife. --- Yup, kitchen utensils just can't seem to keep their pointed ends off of me! I must be a treat.

T(2): I can't tell the difference between wood and flesh because I almost chopped my finger off with an Axe (had to go to the hospital and everything!). ------ this happened to mom - fear not, friends, her finger was saved and she still has all ten digits!

Thanks again for playing!

Have you carved any pumpkins? What's your favorite part of Halloween?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursdays Tomfoolery #3

Halloween is in the air! (well, technically it isn't in the air but since it's everywhere I look, I imagine there's little flakes of Halloween floating about in the air too.)

So, in honor of Halloween today's tomfoolery has two parts!

Part 1:

Most memorable Halloween moment?


The last year I went Trick or Treating (I was thirteen) three friends and I walked around the neighborhood ringing doorbells.....to sing Christmas carols. We did this for five hours. The look on people's faces were hilarious. I think we really messed with them, we were full of tricks and got rewarded for it- or maybe they just heard my caterwauling and threw candy at us in hopes I'd Shut Up!


Part 2:


Trick or Treat?

I'm going to give you two statements, one is a treat (because you get to know more about me!) and the other is a trick (blatant lie!) you have to guess which is which and I'll reveal the answer on Friday.

T(1): I'm obviously good enough to eat because I've been stabbed with both a fork and a knife.

T(2): I can't tell the difference between wood and flesh because I almost chopped my finger off with an Axe (had to go to the hospital and everything!).

Your turn! First, make your guesses, share your most memorable Halloween moment and if you are so inclined, share your own Trick/Treat statements in the comments below and I'll email you back with my guesses!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All I want is everything

Today I carved pumpkins. It was so much fun I wanted to be a sculptor.

In a creative mood but unwilling to start the paintings for my sister's Christmas present, I went to the craft store. There, I varied between wanting to design T-Shirts, make jewelry and decorate cakes.

When I got back home, I hung out with my friend Ramona and, bored, I decided to do her makeup. I wanted to be a makeup artist and do this: (Makeup inspired by the Cheshire Cat)

And this: (Strawberry and leaves)
Everyday. 

This is everything I wanted to be - today. 

Sometimes, I want to be everything.

And you know what? That's what I love about storytelling and writing, it can take me places and live lives I never could have on my own. I can be anything my imagination conjures. If it doesn't work out, I can set that life aside for a rainy day and move on to the next. 

No strings. No years of schooling. Nothing to hold me back except the limitations I set upon myself. 

Now that, my friends, is freedom. 

What's one thing you love about writing? Your passion? Ever have any wild dreams besides being a writer/whatever you are now?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Organic Means It's Better For You!

Mom threw her back out (by sneezing!) and was in a lot of pain so I suggested she not go to work. Unfortunately she's already used all her sick days this year and if she used another, she'd lose pay.

I remembered something she'd said before, that she still had family sick days left. (Meaning she can take time off to care for my sister and I.) I used logic and since she won't lie (she teaches me good ethics though considering I want to make stories up for a living, which is basically glorified lying, I'm not sure it's working) I explained what I thought she should do: take a family sick day because if you lose pay it'll negatively affect your family, so if you say you need a family sick day your actually being entirely honest.

Mom didn't say anything for a moment and then replied, "You are devious."

She didn't take me up on my logic but she certainly made me think. To me, my statement seemed logical, a way to navigate the situation to keep the words truthful but still get what I want/what's best for my mom. To her, it was devious.

Now I'm not going to claim that I'm completely unaware of my own cunning nature but it really isn't something I think about.

Our characters don't either.

They can be aware of their own personality traits and major flaws but it can still sneak up on them. They can still be surprised when something that makes perfect sense to them seems wrong or strange to others - this makes for some great organic conflict between characters.

Their own flaws and nature can also be used to naturally land them in unsavory situations that they'll have to slog to get out of. For example, my main character can be insatiably curious when she wants answers, she'll do whatever she can do get them, even if she knows it could get her killed. (Yeah, I don't think it's that brilliant either.) But she's not thinking about how curious she is and how badly she wants those answers because of that, to her, it's logic - she wants to understand what's happening and the best way to do that is to press any advantage she can find.

To our characters, all of their actions are logical - even the seemingly illogical ones. They may confound others but to them they are only doing what makes sense. And events that unfold organically because of our characters are so much more fun than blatant, glaring plot devices.

Are you using your characters traits, good and bad, to their full advantage? Any thoughts?

Also, do you love my title or what? Personally, I think it's a stroke of genius.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursdays Tomfoolery #2

Behold the comic (near death!) events* of Monday's chemistry lab - told in three panels and a handful of words.


Melissa shakes the flint viciously, complaining all the while how horribly it's defected. Failing to remember the gas is still running.........




The epic fail of an explosion preceding Melissa's success at lighting her bunzen burner only adds to the sweetness of victory.

Any epic fails you're planning to turn into successes? 

*While the flames really did erupt to caress my face and arms and there was the smell of burning hair, I am perfectly fine for the whole affair was over in seconds.....and I'm just so indescribably hot that the fire saw me as kin and left me be. No, I'm not crazy. I just like fire. 



*Also, this counts as tomfoolery because, while it isn't a game, it's still fun because I drew you a comic!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Flash Fiction

The Killer Chicks are having a contest of Epicness! There are three ways to win, and a total of $100 at amazon up for grabs. (See what I mean when I say total Epicness?)

Go HERE to enter. You have into Halloween.

Anyways, one of the ways to win is to write a flashfiction entry. I've never tried to write one before and it was actually really fun. Nice and quick. You have to include the words Killers, Chicks, and Halloween. It isn't necessary to post your entry on your blog but I felt like sharing:


Killers, it’s such an ugly word. We’re just three chicks doing what we can to better our community. We help people. There are far too many people who lie, cheat and steal their way through life. They don’t appreciate what they have.

We watch them; see how cavalier they are about the blessings in their lives. And then, we help them. They don’t ever want the help, but we give it to them anyway. That’s what good Samaritans are supposed to do, isn't it?

Once they learn their lesson, realize the error of their ways and pray for life with fervour, we release them. Set them free from this plane of existence before their neighbours can lure them back into the vortex of carelessness that haunts so many these days.

Why do we love Halloween? Nobody notices a few extra screams. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Surprises

I read a book the other week and it's been haunting me ever since. Not in the can't-get-it-out-it-was-so-great kind of way, either. No, it was more something the author did.

Halfway through the book after the MC makes a terrible mistake (almost killing the boy she's in love with) she starts talking about her supernatural abilities, how all the popular kids at school and her parents are like her too. She explains everything and her abilities become a natural part of her thought process for the second half.

I think the author was going for suspense and intrigue, a sort of mystery of why the school was so strange. But the entire first half I was wondering if the MC could seriously be that oblivious. Then surprise she isn't an idiot she's just kept her thoughts empty of the situation so the reader wouldn't know what was happening.

Seriously, what the hell?

If you're writing a first person novel and there's something huge like: I'm a fairy; I'm a wizard; I'm a werewolf (you get the idea) how can the MC never think about it?

I felt like I'd been cheated. Like, the author couldn't create real suspense on her own without her cheap manipulation of the MC's thoughts.

There's a difference between shocking your reader but offering them chances to figure it out through subtle hints and foreshadowing and intentionally lying to them in order to shock them. At least, I think there is.

So I'm curious, how much surprise do you think is okay? Where do you draw the line when keeping facts to create suspense? As a reader, as a writer?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Five Things

I wanted to do this post last Monday because it was Thanksgiving day in Canada but I was sick with the stomach flu (all better now!) all week and was about as productive as a sloth - actually, I was probably less productive.

Five things I'm thankful for (in no particular order).

1. That I actually love family dinners. My aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents are absolutely hilarious. The teasing never gets old and the all around insanity makes every meal novel worthy. I'm so happy I don't have to dread family affairs.

2. That my cat is so attuned to me that when she saw me loosing my guts in the toilet, she did the same beside me. It may be gross subject matter but you just don't find bonds like that every day.

3. That technology can keep us close to those we love even when they are far away.

4. That Jen gave me the final shove I needed to get over my excuses (University! Books! TV! Friends! Homework!) and sign up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those of you unaware). I've figured it all out and I need just over fifty thousand words to finish my book.

5. That my own moral ambiguity is such that it has allowed me to justify finishing my own novel during NaNoWriMo instead of coming up with a new idea. (I mean, come on fifty thousand words in thirty days? This kind of real pressure is exactly what I need.)

What are you Thankful for? Anyone joining NaNoWriMo? If you are, add me as a writing buddy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursdays Tomfoolery

I ended up looking to Mom to help me pick the new title of Thursdays because there was several that I really liked. Thank you everyone who offered suggestions! Mom and I agreed on Thursday's Tomfoolery (with another commenter Lisa seconding the title) so congratulations Melanie!

Melanie, please enjoy your immortality (you will now never age and never die unlike the stars! Tell us how great it is, all right?).

On to today's tomfoolery. (I need to use this word more often, it feels good under my fingers!)

Today is all about sharing the weirdest, silliest, oddest or worst assumptions we've ever made.

I'll call it the Assumption, Gumption game because it sounds cool.

I'll use an anecdote to explain my silliest (absolutely no foundation at all) assumption:

All my life, I avoided anything with artichokes. No matter how many times my friends told me eat it, I refused. Adamantly (and, many times quite meanly).

In grade eleven, my friend L, annoyed with my adamant refusal when I'd never tried spinach and artichoke dip told me she'd buy me my dinner at a nicer restaurant if I would eat a quarter of the appetizer. I weighed my options and decided to swallow past the rising bile in my throat and agree.

Tentatively I dipped a salted chip into the steaming dip then threw it into my mouth. My brow furrowed in contemplation, "This doesn't taste like fish at all."

"Fish? Why would it taste like fish?"

I stared at L wondering just how stupid she was, "Artichokes are fish."

She laughed in my face. (It's a good thing I don't get embarrassed easily. Just saying) "It's a vegetable. Who told you it was a fish?)

No one. I have no idea why I thought it was a fish. I knew anchovies weren't artichokes but somewhere in my mind, one day, I simply decided it was fish too - for no reason.

I wasted so much time! Artichoke is great in dips.

As a human race our strangest assumptions?

The world is flat.

The sun orbits around the earth.

Artichokes are fish. (Okay, that's just me......)

So what are some of your assumptions?

Let the Assumption, Gumption begin!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Themes and Glee!

 So over the weekend my friend had a Glee themed birthday party. 


At first, I was... reluctant. 


I didn't want to dress up. I wasn't feeling the theme. To be brutally honest, I thought the whole idea was stupid. So to spite the whole thing, I figured: why don't I make my own theme?


I planned it all, I would wear a skirt and white blouse, pin my slytherin crest on, wear my tie lanyard and finish the look with my scarf. My excuse? Glee could totally have a Hogwarts episode. They'd sing about cauldrons and witchcraft and Wingardium Leviosa-ing themselves on a magic carpet ride through the sky with the love of their life (after they'd glamored themselves to be a prince).


And then I stopped being a jerk (even though I still somewhat liked my idea). In the end, I went all out. 


Once I started, I actually had a lot of fun putting together the costume and getting ready. 


I went as Tina. 
The idea of the theme freaked me out, I guess, but sucking it up and doing it was actually a really enjoyable experience. (Also, I got a red velvet cupcake at the party so any and all pain of trying to figure out how to make my fishnets a shirt was totally forgiven.) 


It's the same with writing though. When I think, actually think, about the themes that are entwined with the core ideas of my book I don't think I can pull it off. I mean, there's just so many: family, love, friendship, betrayal, hate, believing in yourself, death... The list is longer and is more specific but I can't really explain any of it without ruining the book. 


Sometimes, I get so worked up with thinking about what I'm trying to achieve that I don't do anything. It's too big and too much and I can't possibly pull everything together into a seamless whole, into something I can be proud of. 


But, I'm trying to think of it like my costume. If I just sit down and write and stop thinking about what I'm trying to do, it'll be a lot funner then I gave it credit for.


And who knows, maybe I'll even surprise myself with how awesome it turns out. (I can dream.)


Are there any themes in your writing? Do you plan them or do they just happen?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Help!

Last Thursday we played the If game. I read and reread all your comments and laughed and smiled and it was such a success I've decided to make Thursday's a regular feature on my blog. It'll be a day for random games (whatever I come up with) and all around silliness. Because it's fun. And who can't do with a little more fun in their life?

So, after I decided this:

I bounce ideas off what to name my Thursday of epic gaiety with my friend Ramona.

I ask, "Too fun Thursday?"

She shakes her head.

So I try, "Too loose Thursday?" Another no, "No but don't you get it? Everyone will loosen up and stuff."

Still, no. Actually, I'm pretty sure the no solidified.

"Two bit Thursday?"

"Stop with the Too's." She says.

A little desperately, I say, "Two pence Thursday?"

Ramona, tired of my lame offers (I'm not being very original for a supposedly creative person,  I know. I blame it on school. University steals my soul!) comes up with, "Tyrannosaurus Rex Thursday."

I stare at her for a moment, then laughing add a slogan, "We'll bite your head off."

As we're lost to giggling fits like every other mature adult she offers, "Tranny Thursday!"

I exclaim, "We've got it all!"

Obviously, all pretense went out the window and our immaturity got the better of us as we laughed until my eyes watered and Ramona couldn't breathe.

But obviously, all ours suck. So, yet again, I find myself looking to you. Come up with a name for my Thursday games and all around silliness in the comments and I will pick my favorite and it will be immortalized forever! And if paranormal trends are anything to go by, immortality is in.

Thanks in advance. Also, I encourage you to read each others comments because you are all brilliant!

Friday, October 1, 2010

History is Relevant

Why are clocks circular when we see time in a linear fashion (there was a beginning and there will be an end)? Why are circles 360 degrees? Why does February only have 28 days?

Maybe you've thought about these questions or maybe you haven't. I mean, really, why do you need to think about it? Clocks have always been circles and a circle is 360 degrees and February has always been the shortest month. But if we do think about why, and look to our past we can find that there are actual answers.

Clocks are circular because the Mesopotamians saw the passage of time as a cycle: winter, spring, summer, fall, winter, spring....(you get the idea, I'm sure).

Circles are 360 degrees because the Mesopotamians divided their cycle of time into 360 days. They just picked it, for no real reason, other than their best guess. The circle being 360 degrees is fundamental to our understanding of all geometry and figuring out the values of other shapes.

February being the shortest month takes a little more explanation. Julius Caesar liked the Egyptian calendar so he rearranged time - telling all the romans that their former calender system was no longer valid. In adopting the Egyptian calender, Caesar picked one of the nicer months of the year and named it after himself (July). (Talk about having power, right?) After his unfortunate end, his grand nephew Augustus took over. Augustus didn't want to have less then his great uncle so he picked another month with gorgeous weather to name after himself (August, obviously). The only problem? August was shorter than July. How did he solve the problem? Augustus stole the days from February. Seriously.

The decisions of these ancient civilizations have a profound impact on our society today. So much so that we don't even question any of it. Everything they did was relevant. I could go on and on and on about the sort of innovations ancient civilizations had and how much they changed the course of history. I won't bore you.

My point to this history lesson? When you are writing a novel, history is important.

Your History is shaping and influencing the novel you're working on.

Your characters act the way they do because of their history.

History also serves as the foundation for world-building. Whether you've fabricated your own world or are using an already established location, you need to know the little historical details. The more you know, the richer your setting will be. The more real your world will become.

You don't need to tell the readers why February is the shortest month or why clocks are circles but you do need to recognize that history shapes everything.

My advice? Don't overlook history, in any aspect of your novel.

As an aside, I want to thank all of you wonderful people who participated in my game yesterday! It was so much fun and I loved your contributions even more than I thought I would (meaning: they were more amazing than I thought they could be).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

If, If, If

I want to play a game today. 

Well, it's not really a game but I'm drowning in schoolwork and want to be entertained. So, of course, I thought of you. (Cause you've  never let me down. Now you feel obligated to participate, don't you?)

We're going to play the IF game. Your if can be anything you want, I won't discriminate or hate on them. I will love each and every single one. Promise. 

I'll start.


If I were a stand-up comedian, I'd be in for a whole lot of awkward because I'd be the only one laughing.


If the voices in my head ever stop talking, I'd be very lonely. I'd also never finish my book (and I have enough problems with that already - family, why do you encourage post-secondary education?).


If I were a character in a novel, I'd be the villain. Everyone knows they have more fun. Until the hero gets lucky and kills them....


If I wrote books based on my dreams, instead of producing a bestseller like Twilight, I'd produce something as nonsensical as Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass (minus the hidden meaning and general awesomeness). Readers would think I took too many hallucinogenic drugs and in my stupor decided to write a novel.


Okay, your turn. Any if you can think of will do. Also, I promise I'll have a real post on Friday. 


I feel like I'm making you a lot of promises today. Oh well.