Just another reminder to all my followers here that I have indeed permanently moved blogs and that you should come follow me here if you wish to continue receiving notification of new posts…

All I Need Is A Keyboard

I’m writing this in the last fifteen minutes or so before I have to leave for a local Homestuck cosplay convention, so please forgive my brevity and potential typing errors. Ah, nerd life.

I’m still recovering from the Great Blog Migration of earlier this week. It’s so…different. And I need to round up all my followers back at Here’s To Us. Despite the trials and tribulations, I’m overall glad I made the move. I just felt that “Here’s To Us” wasn’t fitting anymore–the blog’s premise changed over time, and eventually the title and matching URL just weren’t fitting anymore. Not to mention that it was entirely unoriginal.

It seemed a lucky strike that my name was still available as a WordPress URL. I figured that I might as well grab it while I can, stake my claim. I suppose you could say that, in my Slytherin way, I’m preparing for…

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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


Important: “Here’s To Us” is moving!

It’s taken a good deal of thought, but I have decided that this blog address, title, etc. is no longer suitable for me and my goals in blogging. So, I’m moving to a new home here on WordPress…All I Need Is A Keyboard. I’ve imported all of my content from this blog, so all the familiar posts  and conversations will be there. The posting schedule and topics will remain much the same, so the only thing that’s really changed is the environment. I’m still working on pulling everything together, so bear with me a while, but be sure to come follow me there in order to continue getting notification of my posts. Besides, it’s kind of cold and lonely over there.

Thanks for sticking with me all this time. I really appreciate each and every one of my followers.Writerly fist bumps go out to all of you!

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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


The Writing Glasses and Other Habits of Mine

This post is for the April Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

“What are your writers’ habits and eccentricities?”

As far as young writers go, I’d say I’m pretty normal. There are very few things I do that most other writers don’t. There are some things that might make me seem a tad eccentric, though–and here they are.

I have a pair of clear-lens, non-prescription glasses that I like to have on when I’m writing. I originally bought them for cosplay purposes, and I’ve gotten rather attached. I put them on whenever I need to focus; it’s as if an alternate frame of mind goes along with putting them on. Wearing my glasses basically tells me, “Enough with the distractions. It’s time to get to work.” I put these Writing Glasses on for my fiction, for schoolwork, for blog posts–I’m wearing them at the moment.

I strongly prefer music to silence when I’m writing. For some reason, listening to music curbs my need for further distractions. If I don’t listen to music while I’m writing, without fail, I will jump online and waste about an hour, starting checking my email and ending up watching kitten videos. Music helps me live inside my head a little more, which is somewhat contradictory, since music is yet another layer of information coming into my mind from the outside. Logic aside, this is extremely helpful to me when writing fiction. I sometimes put together little “soundtracks” for whatever piece I happen to be working on, and this helps to keep the ideas flowing.

When working on my novel, I have to give myself little pep talks on what I’m going to write about. I mutter to myself as I open the Word document, select the proper music, and don the Writing Glasses. “OK, Allegra. She’s going to go into the library now and discover the book on the creation of the monarchy. She has to be really interested but morally disgusted by her findings. Don’t leave out those mood-setting details. All right. Deep breath. Remember to make the text sound archaic.” I often have to pause for these little soliloquies in the middle of writing, as well. It’s not the best for when other people are in the room, so sometimes I just assume a meditative air and address these issues internally.

I often spend my hours lying awake at night constructing “trailers” in my mind for my various planned and in-progress works. I try not to make the “actors” (all of my own invention) look exactly like my characters–usually they’re a bit older, since nowadays it seems that 20-somethings are playing teenagers more often than actual teens. I pick the action-y scenes, a humorous line or two, and of course the all-important romantic moment, and mash them together into an artistic montage. Then I pick some soundtrack music and play it back to myself a few times. At the end, that really fast voice says “comingsoonratedPG13.” I suppose all of this is just a product of my own over-active imagination and unrealistic hopes and dreams.

That’s about it for anything that be considered strange about my writing life and habits. Why don’t you see how eccentric everyone else is now?

April 5––Comfy Sweaters, Writing, and Fish

April 6– — The Leaning Tower of Plot

April 7––Lily’s Notes in the Margins

April 8–– From My Head

April 9––This Page Intentionally Left Blank

April 10––The Word Asylum

April 11––Rachel’s Book Reviews

April 12––Novel Journeys

April 13––A Farewell to Sanity

April 14––Sword of Ink

April 15––The Dreamers Adventures

April 16––The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

April 17––Here’s To Us

April 18––Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)


Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Writing


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“If a body catch a body coming through the rye”

J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye offered something to me that had never happened before in the entirety of my reading life. Well, actually, it offered several things along those lines, but one stood out to me particularly. After reading only the first three or four chapters, I decided it was one of my favorite books.

I didn’t care how the plot turned out; I didn’t care how Holden Caulfield’s character developed. I didn’t care whether Holden stayed in New York City or went home or ran off to join the circus. I immediately fell in love with the narrative style, the vivid supporting characters, the vintage-yet-timeless atmosphere of the setting, and above all, Holden himself and all that he symbolizes. The fact that this was a classic I was being forced to read for school completely fell by the wayside. I read it as an extraordinary social commentary–not to mention an enjoyable, if somewhat depressing, story.

What is it about The Catcher in the Rye that appeals to me so much, besides the aforementioned basics? What launches it from simply an excellent book to an absolute favorite? As I’ve said to many, “Holden Caulfield is my spirit animal.” He and I see eye to eye on a lot. Given, we have vastly different outer selves–I doubt Holden would associate himself with such a nerd–but I saw many reflections. I’ll admit that The Catcher in the Rye‘s frequenting of banned books lists caters to my rebellious side. I love the idea that such a controversial book could attain such towering literary status.

Finally, I’m fascinated by the book’s central theme of death and how our society in general views it. I’m interested in the way these views effect those in mourning. What I take away from The Catcher and the Rye, at the heart of all the other commentary, is that the way we try to act as if death does not exist makes it impossible to properly grieve and move on, and that this is essentially what caused Holden’s depression and descent into mental instability. “If a body catch a body coming through the rye”: Holden wants to be able to save all the children from going over the cliff. After the deaths of his brother Allie and his classmate James Castle were swept aside, Holden was unable to move on and accept death for what it is. His is an eternal sort of character: stuck on a worn-down carousel of a life, read over and over again.


Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Book Rambles


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Review: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (Inheritance Cycle #4)

November 2011, Random House Children’s Books

Young Adult fantasy

Not so very long ago, Eragon—Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider—was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.

Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chances.

The Rider and his dragon have come further than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaësia? And if so, at what cost?

This is the much-anticipated, astonishing conclusion to the worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle.

What a long journey the Inheritance Cycle has been! From the first book about a poor 15-year-old farm boy to this final volume about a mighty Dragon Rider, the series has undeniably developed and matured along with its protagonist. I’ve been reading this series since I was about eleven years old, and I felt an acute sense of nostalgia as old characters and locations were revisited. The nostalgia wasn’t always entirely welcome, however: the long, arduous descriptions found throughout the series haven’t lessened in Inheritance, and neither have the meticulous political arrangements that are unlikely to fascinate the average reader.

Christopher Paolini is an excellent writer. For the majority of the book, though, I felt this talent was a bit overused. For the first six hundred pages or so, the vivid descriptions of people, landscapes, mental states, weather conditions, and nearly everything else were an inescapable impediment to the action and flow of the story. This, in turn, made me a thoroughly disengaged reader for the majority of the book, and was in part why it took me several months to plow my way through the novel. The overuse of description and slightly heavy-handed plot set-up are my only real complaints about Inheritance.

Once the action really gets going, as the plot nears its climax, Inheritance improves immensely. The heart-pounding action and suspense really kept the pages turning for me as the final confrontation grew near. Paolini’s characters are, as always, delightfully varied and skillfully painted, from the haunting witch child Elva to the despicable King Galbatorix himself. The world of Alagaësia is enthralling, and it’s clear that Paolini put much time and effort into its development. It’s world-building at its best, and the sort that I aspire to.

Most fans of the Inheritance Cycle have probably already readInheritance and are “tsk-tsk”-ing behind their computer screens at my slowness. Fans of high fantasy who haven’t started this series yet should definitely try it. It’s a difficult-at-times but rewarding reading experience.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars


Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Book Reviews


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A Character By Any Other Name

Charles Dickens was very good at naming characters: Ebenezer Scrooge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Seth Pecksniff…While the rest of us can never hope to compete with such a great character-namer as Dickens, we can make an earnest attempt to not be overly bad at it. Names need not be overly creative to have a good ring to them. Harry Potter, for example, is a perfectly ordinary moniker, but it has ingrained itself in the imagination of the populous so much that hearing either part on its own calls to mind the whole. Or maybe that’s just me being an obsessive nerd. Either way, coming up with a good name, whether it’s completely pedestrian or totally out-there, is an important part of character development.

Sometimes names just hit you–for instance, the two ghosts in “Ravenfeather” (the ‘published masterwork’ I keep talking about, for you newbies) just had to be Samuel and Charlotte. Such a moment of serendipity has not occurred again for me; naming takes a bit of work. Since I tend to write stories set in far-away or nonexistent places and times, most of my names are of my own invention, but I don’t like to pull them out of thin air. I often raid the shelves of history and legend for inspiration, or plain old loot. Jennet from my novel is named for the heroine in the Scottish legend “Tam Lin.” (Fun fact to that effect: Hrothgar, the original dwarf king in the Inheritance Cycle, is also the name of a human king in “Beowulf.”)

One of my favorite other resources for names is Behind the Name. You can search by meaning, country of origin, even starting and ending letters. There’s also loads of fun stuff like name days and random name generators. Behind the Name is especially useful if you have a certain kind of name in mind and want to see if such a name exists. A simple Google search can yield a lot, as well. I’m working on a concept for a Poe-ish universe that could become the setting for some short stories, a novel, or maybe even a comic, and a search for dark-sounding names yielded this list, and this one too.

What do you find most important about a character’s name, or do you not think it really matters? How do you come up with names for your characters? Tell me about it in the comments!


Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Writing


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Review: The Hunger Games, the Movie

I really need to come up with a standard review format for films. I have it for books. What do people put in movie reviews? The director? The actors? The rating? Well, here’s a pretty picture, then I’ll get on with it.

The book is always better than the movie. This saying, common among us reader-types, holds true for The Hunger Games. The book was very good and made an important, needed commentary on our society and how it regards youth. The film did a commendable job as an adaptation of the book, and, as just a movie, was excellent. With the months of hype leading up to the actual release, we had very high hopes. No movie could possibly live up to the expectations of the hard-core fans, so there was bound to be some disappointment. I was much less disappointed than I thought I was going to be.

For the most part, I agreed with the casting. Jennifer Lawrence, who fills the main role as Katniss Everdeen, is an extremely talented actress and conveyed Katniss perfectly. My only argument with Lawrence is her physical appearance: obviously older than the heroine’s supposed age of sixteen and lacking the malnourished edge fans of the book would expect. Josh Hutcherson portrays Peeta well, and Liam Hemsworth, though we hardly get to see him, is outstanding as Gale. The vast majority of the supporting actors are quite suited to their roles.

I felt that, up until the Hunger Games themselves started, the film was fast-paced to the point of rushed. We hardly got to meet the other tributes to the Games and got little sense of Katniss’s life back home in District Twelve. The movie gets the main points across, however: District Twelve is poor, the Capital is decadent and wealthy, there’s a range of ability among the Tributes, and the Capital somehow refuses to see how brutal the killing game is and is only entertained.

Once Katniss and Peeta are thrust into the arena with the twenty-two other teenage tributes, the action starts and hardly lets up. My heart hammered through the fighting, and it was hard to remind myself that I knew the outcome. The “Cave Scene,” somewhat infamous among fans, is one of the only lulls, and was handled masterfully by Lawrence and Hutcherson.

Overall, this is a film worth seeing even if you haven’t read the books. It might be slightly hard to get into if you’re not familiar with the story, though, so I do recommend reading at least Book One in advance.

Overall Rating: 4 stars


Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Movies and TV


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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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