Monthly Archives: March 2012

I Have Been Tagged

I have been tagged by the ever-amazing Liam, Head Phil. I’m not sure whether to consider this an award or just something that happens, but either way, thank you!

The Rules

~You must post the rules
~Post eleven facts about yourself on the blog post
~Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
~Tag eleven bloggers, however, you can break the rules and tag fewer  people if you want. Make sure you hyperlink their names/blogs.
~Let them know you’ve tagged them!
~Have fun!

All righty. Here are the eleven facts about yours truly.

  1. My favorite type of weather is fog.
  2. Every six months or so I get obsessed with a new fandom. Currently, that fandom is Homestuck.
  3. To that effect, I am currently wearing a Homestuck hoodie. It has a red gear on it and it is very comfortable.
  4. Right now, I should either be working on an English project or cleaning my room–probably both.
  5. I love braids. My hair is just getting long enough to be able to braid again, much to my delight.
  6. My most prized possession is a pair of vintage welding goggles which I bought in an antique shop in Idaho.
  7. My favorite font at the moment is Courier New.
  8. It’s raining outside my secret lair (aka my bedroom).
  9. At my high school, we’re allowed to eat lunch wherever we want. My friends and I eat in the combination math/music room every day.
  10. My favorite color is black. My least favorite color is bubble-gum pink.
  11. I enjoy going for walks alone, particularly to the library or cemetery.

Now, here are the questions set out for me.

  1. Pirates, ninjas, knights, or dragon riders? Dragon riders.
  2. If you could live in any time period (in the past) other than your own, what would it be? The Victorian era, preferably in England.
  3. Do you like reading or writing prose or poetry best? Prose, definitely, though I am partial to the Romantic poets.
  4. Pepsi or Coke? Bleugh–neither! Soda makes me gag.
  5. Where do most of your ideas (good or bad) for writing come from? I get loads of good ideas during history class.
  6. What’s your favorite mood? (To be in, or to write about, or anything.) My favorite mood to be in is happy for no apparent reason. My favorite mood to write about is melancholy, or maybe ennui.
  7. Grey or gray? I use the two interchangeably. I think I usually write it with an “e,” though.
  8. What makes you happy? New music, my friends, Tumblr, chocolate, and waking up in the morning and realizing it’s Saturday.
  9. If you could have a big red button for anything from ordering pizza to turning on your TV to instant world domination, what would it be for? As much as I would like to say “world peace” or something to that effect, if given the option to have such a button, I would make it bring to life whatever fictional character was in my head at the moment. Hopefully it could be used multiple times.
  10. Cats, dogs, or aardvarks? Aardvarks.
  11. If you could shorten or lengthen the list of questions and things about yourself for this tagging thing, how many things would you want? Seven. Seven is a good number.

Now, here are my questions:

  1. Say you had to move to another country and stay there for the rest of your life. Where would you go?
  2. What’s your favorite song right now? Was it the same yesterday?
  3. What posters do you have on your wall, if any?
  4. Pens or pencils?
  5. Do you believe in astrology?
  6. What’s your life motto?
  7. If you died tomorrow, what would the title of your biography be?
  8. What’s the last movie you saw?
  9. Paper books or ebooks?
  10. Coffee or tea?
  11. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Now, I hereby tag:

A Farewell to Sanity

Kirsten Writes!

Novel Journeys

The Word Asylum

The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer


Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Miscellaneous


Guest Post by a Ghost Squirrel

Kids these days are so ungrateful.

So I, the honorable, tortured ghost of Gary Capusquirrel, appeared before a certain juvenile human female named Allegra, who happens to live near the feuding grounds of we the Capusquirrels and the vile Montacrows, this afternoon after she returned to her dwelling place after hours of absence. She was not impressed by the fact that in my death I had gained the power of speech. She was not disgusted by my gruesome visage. She was not awed at the resurrection of my squirrel-ly soul. She did not tremble before me. All she said was this:

“Oh good, someone who’s not busy. Can you post to my blog for me today? Here’s the password.”

So here I am, typing away at this laptop with my ghostly paws, as Allegra sits nearby translating a lengthy piece of French. She is, in fact, ignoring me completely–she’s blasting some ruckus she considers music in her ears. She did not deem to inform me about the nature of this blog, and I will not waste my time surveying the previous entries. Therefore I am going to relate a tale of woe and misery: the tale of the long duel with Ella Montacrow that resulted in my death.

The Capusquirrels and the Montacrows have been engaged for countless years in a battle for control of the bird feeder. The humans of Allegra’s clan often supply the peasant songbirds with food during the winter without a thought towards those of us of more noble blood. The Capusquirrels and the Montacrows vie day after day for complete dominion over the feeding area. There has been no friendly discourse between the two families since that shameful week two years ago when one of our young women fell in love–despite species boundaries–with a dashing Montacrow. The shunned pair committed double suicide by stepping into the road together.

But I digress. Ella Montacrow and I have had a special rivalry since our youth. The Montacrows led by Ella had taken complete control of the suet hanger, a favorable asset to the main feeding area. Seeing that Montacrow dame cawing on about her victory set my teeth on edge. I felt the driving need to sabotage the suet hanger and stop her gloating.

I observed that daily, at the hour of 6:09 PM, the human patriarch steers an immense vehicle by our feuding grounds. I have witnessed many a stick get crushed into bits under the juggernaut’s tires. I so designed a plan to destroy the suet hanger. When all of the Montacrows on guard were all the way across the yard, otherwise occupied, I dashed to the suet hanger and removed it from its branch with outstanding agility, if I do say so myself. As my fellow Capusquirrels cheered, I dragged the suet hanger into the driveway, left it in a strategic position in the typical path of the humans’ vehicle, and dashed back to the Capusquirrel tree.

Before long, the vehicle came along and crushed the doomed suet hanger beneath its wheels. The Montacrows, sensing something was amiss, flew back to our land of feud, cawing at such volumes as I have never before heard in my life or death. Ella Montacrow, seeing her precious suet hanger destroyed on the ground, cried that she would have revenge on the perpetrator. Montacrow had never before gone back on her word. I trembled.

I suspect that Montacrow, determined to find the correct one of us to punish, bribed the peasant songbirds to report on our activities. She soon discovered that it was indeed I who had arranged the death of the suet hanger.     From my conjecture, she rallied her fellows about her and me ambushed while I was away from my kin. The Montacrows, led by Ella herself, swept up in a vengeful fury, forced me to run away from our feuding grounds and towards the road. O, road, that dreaded site of so many deaths, belonging to both rival families! The Montacrow dame swooped down as I raced toward the road and forced me to either leap on to the pavement or be speared upon her beak and claws.

As my chance of survival was greater, I chose to enter the road. Alas, the stars were against me, for I was struck with an almighty force and was aware of a last horrible second of crushing pain. When my consciousness aroused again, I was weightless: I looked down upon my ruined body. My fellow Capusquirrels mourned my death as the triumphant Montacrows stood by.

Disgusted by our petty mortal debates, I decided to wander in my new-found state. I first visited the humans’ home and rested for a while in Allegra’s room. The story from there has already been told.

Ah. Allegra has just informed me that nearly 800 words is quite sufficient for a standard blog post. I shall now bid you all adieu. I’m off to my next adventure.


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Holding Off On “The Hunger Games”

March 23, the long-awaited release day of the much-hyped film adaptation of The Hunger Games, has come and gone. Midnight premieres have been attended, and many more fans have since seen the film. I’m a fan of the books and have been anticipating the movie, as well–I’ve jabbering about the upcoming release in real life and online for a while. But I haven’t seen the film yet, and I probably won’t for at least a week.

I do want to see it, but I’m not much for crowds and lines, and I figure I can somewhat avoid them by not going to the theater on the opening weekend. (That’s not the real reason I’m waiting. In reality, the person I promised to see it with is away for the weekend. But that’s a different story.) Of course, by waiting to see it, I run the risk of the film being spoiled by those who have.

It’s kind of hard to spoil a movie based on a book one has already read, though. Unless the script writers, who include The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, made some major changes to the plot, I know exactly what’s going to happen. At the same time, there’s something about seeing stills of a scene you wanted to witness in the theater or hearing exactly how an aspect was handled that detracts from the experience of anticipation.

Eventually I will see the film and there will be a belated review. Until then, I’m living like it’s March 22.

What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptations, and spoilage thereof?


Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Movies and TV


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Books Waiting in the Wings

One of the worst parts of slogging through a long, somewhat boring text (coughInheritancecough) for me is looking at all the books you have around that I have yet to read. Here are some of the books that I’ll be reading after Inheritance.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark

Even if this book weren’t an international bestseller and Book of the Year, the premise would be enough to get me interested in reading. I’m starting to venture into the realm of “regular” (i.e., adult) fiction, and this looks like a good book to start off with.

Escape from Verona by David Gray

This one was a gift from a friend. I love Romeo and Juliet and tear up every time I see an adaptation on stage or screen. Mercutio’s death really gets me. Anyway–I admit the premise is of this book is somewhat cheesy (Romeo and Juliet faking their deaths in the tomb and escaping), but I’m willing to overlook it.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Jane Austen plus zombies is an instant win for me. What more can I say? I can’t wait to read this one.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I’ve heard nothing but good about this book, from book blogs, professional reviews, and friends. The story sounds quite original and just the sort of thing I’d like. I highly look forward to reading this one, as well.

Have you read any of my books waiting in the wings? What did you think? What do you think I should read first? Tell me in the comments!


Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Book Rambles


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A Supporting Character Speaks Up

This post is for the March Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. The prompt for the month was:

“Choose your favorite of any of your own characters. Conduct a ten-question interview with him or her.”

Let’s welcome a certain young lady by the name of Jennet to the blog! Jennet isn’t my protagonist–in fact, she only appears in two chapters of my novel. However, she is by far one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever created, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her before a captive audience. (Someone did remember to lock the exits, right?)

Allegra: Well, I’m happy to have you here, Jennet! Why don’t you say hello to everyone?

Jennet: You seem nice enough, for your complete strangeness. You all talk like you’re from the north or something. So hello. But, the important thing here is, what in gods’ names am I doing here?

A: I’d just like you to answer some questions. Nothing too personal or political. Why don’t you start by describing yourself?

J: If you insist. I’m a dwarf and I’m fifteen years old. I’m from a cesspool of a village along the tunnel systems. I’m not really into politics, mostly I just try to get along and not break my neck, but if you wanted to know, I’m a royalist. I had a real close tangle with a bunch of rebels and some young folks from the capital a few months ago. That was the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in a while.

A: What was your impression of these “young folks”?

J: Oh, they were lunatics. *laughs* Well, one of ‘em was a dwarf, maybe half-blood. The other two were humans–tall as trees and pale as milk. All about my age. The dwarf girl, see, she was wanted by the rebels or something, so she had her face plastered like it was burned, as a disguise. The humans were dressed like street performers, I’m not sure why. All three of ‘em were damn shifty. Not bad folks, really, just trying to lie low. The human boy was attractive.

A: Speaking of that. What do you look for in a man?

J: Just that: a man. Someone who can do work, and who’s capable of defending himself. I can’t stand boys who soil their trousers at the thought of a fight. But if he thinks that I need defending, he’d better think again. I need respect, too. *pauses*  I do rather like cocky, rakish sorts.

A: What’s your main goal in life?

J: First, to get out of my village. Once my younger brothers are settled and all…I’d like to see some other countries. The crowned heads. I’m handy enough with a dagger that I’ve thought of becoming a mercenary. There’s money to be had in crime. My ma would pitch some fit, though.

A: I can see why. How is your relationship with your mother?

J: It can be a bit difficult. She just wants me to help her around our house–my dad ran off when I was just a little bit–but I’m always going off doing this-and-that. But most of the time she’s just looking out for me, I think. And I…look, do we have to talk about this?

A: Um, no. Moving right along. Has anyone ever compared you to an animal?

J: *rolls eyes* Yes. It’s always a crow. Jennet, you’re such a crow. Are you sure you’re not a shapeshifter, Jennet? Oh, you must be a crow the gods punished to become a dwarf. On and on. It’s because my laugh is all harsh and I have this beak of a nose. Also, I really enjoy shiny things.

A: I wouldn’t mind being compared to a crow. What’s wrong with it?

J: It’s damn tiring. You wouldn’t know about that, Miss-Fair-Skinned-Silver-Tongue. And I don’t see a single shiny thing on you. Oh, wait. Pierced ears. Bah.

A: Well, what’s your favorite thing about yourself?

J: Definitely my street smarts. There’s no city I’d want to avoid, and no scum I wouldn’t take on. If I can’t fight ‘em, I can outwit ‘em or outrun ‘em.

A: Impressive. How about your flaws?

J: Over-confidence. So maybe forget about what I just said, eh? Also insensitivity. My looks could stand a polish, too.

A: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?

J: This. Right now. Who are you, what am I doing sitting in this room, and what is that glow-y contraption you’re tapping on?

A: Never mind that. Uh, thanks for coming, Jennet! Any parting words?

J: I didn’t have much choice in coming, did I? No parting words. Except, don’t call me Crow Girl, don’t insinuate I’m from the north, and never make me change a baby’s napkin. Now can you please unlock those exits?

That’s all for now, folks! Any questions you may have for Jennet, she will happily  answer.

Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day

March 5 — — Kirsten Writes!

March 6 — – Struggles Of A (Maybe) Teen Author

March 7 — –This Page Intentionally Left Blank

March 8 — – The Dreamers Adventures

March 9 — — Lily’s Notes in the Margins

March 10 — – A Box of Letters and a Cup of English Tea

March 11– –From My Head

March 12 — –The Word Asylum

March 13 — –Oh Yeah, Write!

March 14 — – A Farewell To Sanity

March 15 — — Novel Journeys

March 16 — — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish

March 17 — – Oops Was That Loud?

March 18 — — Here’s To Us

March 19 —— The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

March 20 — –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)


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Four Books, Five Movies and a Collectible Action Figure Set

Book-to-movie-to-Newbury Comics merchandise franchises seem to be increasingly common these days. T-shirts bearing the logos of franchises based on books are popping all over the place, and the buzz of an upcoming movie adaptation might launch a book to must-read status, so that half your school is walking around with a paperback copy. In order to analyze these phenomena, I’m going to take a look at the rise to fame of a book series that doesn’t exist: The Vampire Dragon Chronicles by Gertrude Fantastic.

Ms. Fantastic was a blue-collar writer doing freelance work for the odd home and garden magazine when she realized on a taxi ride through her native New York City that she was being untrue to her creative integrity and invented a character on the spot: 17-year-old honor student Mary Smith. Mary receives a mysterious letter carried by a crow, falls through the mirror in her closet, and finds herself in a mystical land. She meets and falls in love with a vampire-human hybrid, hatches a dragon, and discovers that her memory has been partially erased. She is forced to fight for her life for the sadistic entertainment of the evil emperor she is fighting against, and finally manages to overthrow him by embracing her heritage as the daughter of Zeus. All of this takes place over the course of a four-book series.

It took Ms. Fantastic, a mother of two, three years to write the first book. Never dreaming of publication, she gave the manuscript to several of her friends and relatives. All of them raved about the story and encouraged her to send it to some agents. Ms. Fantastic had to endure the rejections of fifteen agents before she was finally asked to send in her complete manuscript. This forward-thinking agent, Maximilian Fabulous, took Ms. Fantastic on. Random House eventually bought the manuscript. Thanks to a brilliant social networking-driven marketing scheme, Book One, The Beginning, made it to the bestseller list a week before its release. Warner Bros. purchased the movie rights.

The Beginning was quickly followed with The HatchingThe Fighting, and The Triumphing. All of them topped bestseller lists for weeks on end. Just as fans’ euphoria from the release of the epic conclusion, The Triumphing, was wearing off, the release date of the movie adaptation of The Beginning was announced. Merchandise bearing the images of mirrors, dragons, vampires, deadly arenas, and Zeus flooded stores. Fan sites abounded, and the buzz from the trailer had the media talking for weeks.

The blockbuster films were fairly true to the books, although they did spend most of their time focusing on the romance between Mary and her half-vampire boyfriend, or, as Ms. Fantastic puts it, “irrevocably unconditional soul mate.” The films were populated with attractive 20-something-year-old actors trying to pull off teenagers and slick soundtracks featuring the work of popular artists. The final film was split into two parts, as is traditional these days–producers said the split was purely to do justice to The Triumphing, although critics claim it was intended only to increase revenues.

Ms. Fantastic is now a multimillionaire and has legions of devoted fans who own every t-shirt and action figure the mall can offer. Theories as to what made the franchise so successful are varied. Some say it was marketing, while others say it was the star-powered films that truly launched the Vampire Dragon Chronicles to fame. Some even acknowledge that good writing might have had something to do with it, even if popular devices were somewhat overused.


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Originally posted on Raising My Rainbow:

Dear unborn children of the 100 homophobes who tweeted that they would murder you if you are gay,*

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you got shitty parents.  Unfortunately it happens sometimes, though in a perfect world it wouldn’t.

I’m worried about you and so are a lot of other people.  While your future parents are thinking about killing you, we’re thinking about loving you.  Please always remember that.  You deserve to be loved, no matter what, no questions asked, unconditionally, whole-heartedly, not dependent on anything else.

I’m especially worried about the two to four percent of you who, statistically speaking, are homosexual.  I can’t sugarcoat it, you’re in for one hell of a ride.  Hold on tight and keep yourself safe.

Your parents are stupid enough to believe that sexuality is a choice and don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re.”  Never let them help you with your homework.

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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


Getting Inspired

I’m caught in a sort of plateau with my writing life currently. I have a horror short sitting stale and unfinished on my computer and a partially edited fantasy novel on my hands. I think about my writing quite a lot, but it’s difficult to just sit down and write. I’m a go-with-the-flow type of person– I can’t write well on command. The inspiration needs to be there. I’m always getting in and out of writing funks, and so I’m always looking for strategies for getting back on track.

There’s the practical way, sure: sitting down with a pen and paper and planning where you’re going to take the story next. You can brainstorm plot ideas, make character profiles, focus on worldbuilding… It must work well for a great deal of people, and sometimes it works for me, too. I could have novels mapped out in detail on the desk in front of me, but I’d still be missing that spark to get started. I’m on a quest to find out where that comes from.

Music helps me a lot. I love putting together playlists of songs that remind me of a character, or a certain scene in the story. Listening to these songs repeatedly often charges me up and gets me excited to start writing. It adds another dimension to the story, in a way, and makes it feel more real.

Another thing that gets me fired up to write is reading and watching books and films that have nothing to do with my stories. It’s kind of strange. Reveling in the genius of other creative people inspires me to take up my own work; I view it as a challenge, if you will. Gormenghast? Doctor Who? The Mortal Instruments? None of these are related to the things I usually write, but they still inspire me.

But what helps me most of all is becoming my own fan. Drawing my characters and writing out little side scenes that aren’t in the story but still popped into my head get me excited about the story again. Sometimes I need to just let my narcissistic side come out, read something I’ve already written, like my one published masterwork, and let myself think, Hey, this isn’t actually that bad.  I can be a pretty harsh critic, and I think it bogs me down sometimes. Self-doubt is definitely not productive in the writing field, especially in the drafting.

So, readers, have you got any particular strategies for getting yourself inspired to write? Would you be inclined to share them? As always, happy writing!


Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Writing


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Inheritance: A Progress Report

My current reading situation is one that I am entirely new to. Going back into my January archives, you’ll find references to my failed attempts to read Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance at a somewhat decent pace. Any reasonable person would assume that by now I have either given up or finished and forgotten to write a review.

I am still reading it, and just approaching the halfway point. This may well be considered an abomination to reader-kind, an act of blasphemy against the reputation of a bibliophile. I must assure you that I have conquered books just as formidable as Paolini’s work in a much shorter time. What is it about Inheritance that is making it so difficult to read?

My first theory is that it has been such a long time since I read the first three books in the Inheritance Cycle that I have ceased to care about the characters or the story. Correct me if I’m wrong–actually, don’t, because even as slow as this reading process is going, I don’t want spoilers–but I have a sneaking suspicion that our hero, Eragon, will triumph, and I’m just following him on his arduous journey to success. As I continue reading, though, I’m getting more and more intrigued as to how this is all going to turn out. Nevertheless, I don’t have the deeply personal interest in the characters’ well-being as I did a few years ago.

Secondly, the plot has taken a good deal of time in building and laying out a framework for how the rest of the novel is going to go. The action is really starting to take off now and I find myself reading more and more every day. Maybe this long, foot-dragging reading experience will end now and I can finish off Inheritance within the week.

Either way, my preliminary assessment of the book so far is overall good–not fantastic, but good. Readers looking for a rollicking thriller from page one may want to avoid it. There have been lots of plot elements left hanging that need to be finalized, and I’m curious to see how Paolini does it.


Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Book Rambles


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A New Regime

There are going to be some changes around here.

This blog has changed so much since its birth about three years ago that I feel obligated to explain to the readership exactly what this place is even about. Quite a few of you found me through Freshly Pressed and are expecting humor columns; many of you landed here through book blog directories and are wondering where to find the reviews and giveaways. Still more of you came here from Teens Can Write Too! and want nice, well-constructed essays about the writing process.

I can’t please everyone all the time, but I can try my best. This is how things are going to work now.

  1. The posts you will find here will be about books and writing. Less often you’ll come across a post on nerd-friendly television or cinema, or perhaps a how-to here and there. Most of the things I write will be (intended to be, anyway) humorous or at least mildly entertaining, with the exception of book reviews. I have to take some things seriously.
  2. Unless there’s a major interference, like midterms or me falling off the edge of the Grand Canyon, there will be posts twice a week, on Tuesday and Saturday, starting this Saturday. Exceptions will be made for events such as the Teens Can Write Too! blog chain or taking part in an Internet movement or protest of some sort (the SOPA/PIPA blackout, for example, or Cover the Night for Kony 2012).
  3. Reader interaction is now encouraged! Instead of being high-and-mighty and ignoring comments, I’ll make an effort to reply from now on. Both old email addresses for this blog are now closed, but you can contact me through the magic of commenting or on Twitter. I’m not really that scary, so come on out and say “Salve!”

This information will be transferred to a new page to explain to new readers what precisely is going on around here. Not that I’m always entirely sure myself.


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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Thoughts and Announcements


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