Liebster Tag! 11 Questions and Random Fact about Yours Truly

The amazing Meghan nominated me for the Liebster award so now you get to learn all kinds of new things about me. exciting, yes?

1. What was the WORST story you’ve ever written?

Oh god, so many…. Um… any first draft? There was a story I once wrote about a girl who grew a garden and then TWIST AT THE END. She’s blind. It was awful. I was also 7.

2. If you could cast anyone to be your favorite main character, who would you choose?

My instinct is Tom Hiddleston, but he’s already Loki so that doesn’t work out…….I really want to see Gina Torres as Wonder Woman!!

3. If you could no longer write in your favorite genre, which genre would you switch to?

Romance easy. In fact I do write in it too so that doesn’t really count… I write in a lot of genres already so this is a challenge. I suppose if I could no longer write genre fiction I’d switch to poetry again.

4. Do you ever act out scenes to make sure you get them just right?

All the time. I regularly flail around my room trying to make sense of what my characters are doing.

5. Have you ever been caught talking out loud to a character?

Absolutely. I mutter under my breath and tend to work in the living room so my roomies have often asked, “What are you doing?”

6. Which character was the toughest for you to write and why?

I struggled with the creation of The Bone Queen character because it was the first time I really got to go on and write a full villain origin story. I wanted her to own her choice, not be brought into it because someone hurt her. I wanted her to have agency over her own life, and her decisions.

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7. What are your top five songs for you current book?

Well I actually have a playlist you can listen to for that.

8. What would you do if you could hang out with any of your characters?

I would totally hang out with Aramis, the Pulptress, and Jackson! They’re entertaining. I bet Aramis could really help with my french langauge skulls too.

9. Which non-standard word do you use most often?

Oh god, I’m so bad at this. I like using sounds as verbs so people ‘THUNK’ downwards.

10. What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to research for a book?

So many options… I guess probably looking at how exactly Black Plague victim bodies were dealt with and studying that time period.

11. Based on your search history, would you potentially be arrested?

Oh yes.

Alright so now we come to 11 facts about me.

  1. Two cats have recently adopted me and turned my world upside down.
  2. I am a vegeterian and have been for almost as long as I have been eating.
  3. I LOVE video games and wrote my thesis about them.
  4. I’ve been going to conventions regularly for over 10 years.
  5. Welcome to NightVale is probably one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.
  6. I use star stickers to mark my calendar with what I’ve done that day.
  7. I hate driving. I really want to live car free but my area isn’t friendly to that lifestyle.
  8. I’ve only recently gotten into comic books and I’m in love with them.
  9. Cooking, baking and cleaning are how I procrastinate.
  10. I’m a morning person and would much rather get up early than sleep in.
  11. Dark chocolate is my true weakness.

I don’t actually know a lot of people who blog so… here are the few I know.

Sean Taylor

M.B. Weston

Selah Janel

And anyone reading this who has a blog and wants to do this. YES YOU RIGHT THERE LOOKING AT THIS ON A SCREEN.

And my 11 questions for you:

  1. Plotter or Pantser? Why?
  2. Do you write every day or in one great marathon?
  3. What’s the best writing advice you were given?
  4. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve been given?
  5. Do you have a writing ritual? What’s involved?
  6. Favorite author?
  7. Who is your favorite character from your own work?
  8. What’s your next project?
  9. Favorite inspirational quote.
  10. Where do you do most of your writing? Why?
  11. What’s your favorite recipe? (Seriously, I need some new ones)

Fandom First: I ship it!

When people talk about fandom, one of the first things that pop into their heads is about fanfiction, and fanart. While some of these works are more general adventure stories a large amount of fan work is based on a ship or a romantic pairing of characters. (Ship is shortened from relationship).

Shipping first reached documented ‘mainstream’ with Kirk and Spock in the 1960s though the term shipping was first used by fans of the X-files wanting Mulder and Scully to finally get together. The advent and rise of the internet spread shipping as now fans were able to better find others to talk about their pairings, and a better space to share their works with wider audiences.

Many ships come up with their own name, usually a portmanteau of the two characters name, such as Drarry (Draco and Harry from Harry Potter), Korrasami (Korra and Asami from Legend of Korra), and Sherlolly (Sherlock and Molly from the BBC’s Sherlock). This also happens with celebrity couples in Hollywood gossip magazines like Bennifer (Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck) and Kimye (Kim Kardashian and Kanye West) are just a few examples.

However, some ship names aren’t quite so obvious like frostiron (Loki and Tony Stark from the Marvel Cinematic Universe) where it’s the combination of Iron Man and Loki being a frost giant; JavaJunkie (Luke and Lorelai from Gilmore Girls) which is based on their mutual coffee obsessions and coffee shop meet ups. These names come from idiosyncrasies within the shows that fans know. This naming can make many ship names appear to be nonsensical to non-fans. These names help fans organize, tag, and find new work. Many of these tags become their own community of fans who share fanworks, thoughts, and personal information.

Many pairings use multiple names and there can be discord within the community of shippers about which name is the correct name. To avoid confusion, some also label fanwork “Character A X Character B” to let others know exactly who the pairing is without relaying on a ship name.

The terms, OTP, BrOTP, OT3, and OT4 (and probably onwards to infinity) come up frequently in ships. OTP is a ‘One True Pairing’ while a BrOTP is a portmanteau of ‘Bromance’ (a friendship between two people) and OTP to mean a best friendship while OT3 and OT4 are for three or four characters involved with one another.

So why do people ship?

The reasons range widely from person to person. For some, it’s a safe way to explore relationships and sexuality, for others it’s wish fulfillment, for others it’s a way to bring lgbtqia representation to their media. For some it’s a social activity and a way to complete creative works and have a built in audience.

Regardless of the whys behind shipping, it’s clear that relationships are here to stay as an important and vibrant part of the fandom community.

Fandom First: What is Fandom?

One of my 2015 Resolutions is to spend more time on the things I’m passionate about, so I’m starting the year off with a post about one of the topics that fascinates me the most: fandom. I’m going to post about fandom on the first Monday of every month in this series I’m calling, Fandom First.

Because Fandom is such a multi-modal space, I don’t want to just use this as a blog to write about fandom, but to show and explore in fun ways. So, enjoy this prezi about Fandom and what it is.

If the above embedded presentation doesn’t work, you can go straight to the presentation here.

Horror isn’t about the blood

Let’s play a word association game. I say something and you tell me the first thing that pops into your head.

Horror.

This is what pops into Google’s mind first.

Most people first think of a monster, or of a violent, gruesome, possibly totally unrealistic death. But that isn’t what makes horror, horror.

The moment that the character is stabbed is not the moment horror is born. Horror walks the line of supsense keeping the entire world of the story contain within a tightly coiled spring. The moment the monster appears, attacks, maims, etc. that’s the moment the spring comes undone and then (if it’s not the climax) the spring begins to coil back down, ready to spring again.

The scare doesn’t come from violence. The scare comes from a delicate rhythm of tension, and release, of the unknown threat, or unseen danger finally being realized. In horror, sometimes the most powerful jolts are based on the things you don’t see, or don’t expect. It’s jarring.

But that jolt alone does not a horror story make. The best analogy I heard is that one spark does not start a fire unless there’s something surrounding it to catch flame. A single moment won’t set the way for a horror story unless you’ve done the work and set the rest of the scene. For example:

Bill and Ted were having coffee. It was Tuesday and a good day.

Stan walked over to Bill and stabbed him, ripping his belly button open and pulling out his insides.

Shocking? Maybe. Horror? Eh…..

The scene doesn’t set up anything. So rather than tension being released, you instead get a blank stare of ‘…wait, what?’ it lends itself more to confusion than to fear. There is no build-up, no tension, no fear, just blood. This is like a lighter going off in a vaccum. There’s nothing to set fire so nothing can spread.

For horror, the devil is in the details. You can’t have a scary story without tension. Think of the oldest horror cliche in the world. The woman alone in a dark house with a killer. Why is it scary? Because you know something is going to happen. You see it everywhere. Something runs down the hall? Here he comes… oh, just her dog. Phew. Wait? Her dog’s bleeding! And so it continues onwards until the tension finally snaps into action.

So, here’s a challenge for you. Write your own revised version of Ted, Bill and Stan’s Tuesday morning and share it with me!

New York, New York: The Dark Crystal Day

It’s 3:00 A.M. in the empty LaGaurdia airport as I type this. There’s only one bench availble in this area, and two other people are already asleep on it so I’ve claimed the corner by the vending machine as my own personal little cave.

Friday still feels entirely like three lifetimes rolled into a dream, but I have pictures, business cards and new friends to tell me that it actually happened.

To rewind, several months ago, a friend (thanks Chris!) sent me information about the Jim Hensom Company hosting a contest inviting anyone to submit a 10,000 word story prequel set in the world of The Dark Crystal. Growing up, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth were two of my favorite movies so I knew I wanted to participate. I spent hours researching, plotting, writing and rewriting, and finally turned in my story just before the deadline.

They received over 500 entries and when the announcement of winners came, I was sad to not be continuing, but excited that there was such excitement about The Dark Crystal. It actually wasn’t until a few days later that I realized that even though I hadn’t won, I’d been named one of the 20 Editors Choices. Thrilled, I printed out that screen shot and hung it above my computer and went back to work writing.

Last month I received an invitation to come to New York City to join the winner and other finalists for a tour of the puppet workshop, screening of The Dark Crystal and then a private reception on Friday October the 24th. After a whole lot of debate, I decided I had to do it and managed to sort the details with a bith of difficulty. It worked out that I would be in NYC for 20 hours, just for Friday.

So now here I am sitting in an empty airport waiting for a 6am flight to go home after a whirlwind dream of a day.

I landed in JFK at 10:30 A.M. on Friday, and then was trapped in the airport for about an hour after I climbed onto the wrong train and just went in a circle around the terminals. I finally found my way to the first stop of my trip, The Jim Henson Company Workshop.

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Now we couldn’t take pictures in the actual workshop, but it was amazing. We got to see how the various puppets are put together, and just all the work involved in them. There are towers and towers of foam, fur and other supplies all over the place. It was awesome.

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After that, I got some help navigating my way to Union Square to have some NYC pizza. It was INCREDIBLE. I ate until I was pretty close to bursting then I just wandered around the area before hopping on another train and heading to BAM for the screening of the Dark Crystal and then the reception for the finalists.

 

Before the movie we got to hear from Cheryl Henson, Brian and Wendy Froud, and Toby Froud presented his short film, Lessons Learned, which was gorgeous and a joy to watch! We then got to hear J.M. Lee, winner of the Author Quest read an excerpt, and I loved it. I cannot wait to read the full thing. The Dark Crystal was beautiful on the big screen and it was great seeing how much everyone enjoyed it. The theather was sold out.

Afterwards, the finalists went upstairs to a reception with some of the other special guests. I had a blast talking to so many incredible people, and I’m thrilled to know I’ve got some incredible new friends out of the trip. After we closed down the party around midnight, we wandered around New York to get back to one of my new friend’s hotels, and hung out at the bar just talking for a while.

Then finally, it was time to say goodbye to my new friends, and hop in a cab.

And now here I am, half asleep, but too uncomfortable (and paranoid) to sleep, so I’m writing down what happened, trying to process what an incredible opportunity this was. It still feels like a dream and I can’t get the smile off of my face.

Thank you to everyone who helped get me here, and who has believed in me, and stuck with me over the years.

 

 

Friday Review: The Book of Life

This week I’m going to review a movie rather than a book so, let’s hear it all about….BOOK OF LIFE!

Book of Life poster

BOOK OF LIFE

Full disclosure, I have been excited about this movie since I first saw a trailer for it. I love Guillermo del Toro’s work.

So I was able to go to a screening Thursday night and let me tell you, you are in for a treat if you go see this movie. It’s a great story that really paints the culture of the day of the dead in a beautiful light.

The story is, at its heart, a classic tale of one girl with two boys, best friends, who both love her. Only this time, the stakes are much higher as two immortal creatures make a wager over which boy she will ultimately wed. Maria is spirited and spunky, and causes far too much trouble at a young age so she is sent off to a private school much to the sadness of her two best friends, and future suitors, Manolo and Joaquin.

Now the whole woman as the prize issue is the main problem I had with the movie, and while Maria comments on it a few times, she never really challenges much, and for most intents serves as a background character. She’s a decent female character but she doesn’t stand out as an example of a great female character.

Manolo, on the other hand, I really loved. He is compassionate, and sticks to that compassion even in moments when it would be far easier to fall into violence and abandon his morals, but he actually sticks to them and finds a way to make them work.

One of my favorite parts is that almost no one is all bad in the movie, even the character who is at first painted as the ultimate villain comes around and is forgiven and allowed to be redeemed. And the rivalry for the hand of Maria doesn’t destroy the friendship between the two boys which is so great to see.

The music is a lot of fun (though The Apology Song was without a doubt my favorite and if you’re an animal person you’ll probably love it too) and plays an important part to the movie because Manolo so loves his music.

The message in the movie is hammered home pretty clearly towards the end: that you can write your own story no matter what is expected of you.

While there are some parts that might be a little scary for very young children (nothing any worse than your average Disney flick), I think it will be a great movie to see with (or without) kids. I went with my roommates and we all had a blast. It’s funny, sweet, and an entertaining story that will keep you wondering what’s going to happen next.

Setting A Project Aside

I am 100% for finishing what you start and powering through to the end. However, recently I had to put a project I was very excited about into a drawer and now, I’m just letting it simmer.

I wrote the first draft of a YA novel that I think has some great potential. The plan was for me to let it sit for a few weeks and then get back to work on rewrites. When that day came, I stared at the first draft and realized that I still had no clue what to do with it.

I had huge plot problems where I couldn’t decide between two very different story lines, and I still didn’t know where the story was going. The excitement had vanished, and all that I had left was a whole lot of frustration and no action.

So I’ve decided to put the project aside and work on another project that I’ve had in my mind for a while, but it still burns to not be working straight through to finish my YA novel.

Hopefully in next few months, ideas will click back into place and I’ll be on that train once again!

What do you do when a project needs to be set aside?

Apps I Love

I just got home from an amazing time at Imaginarium where I had several conversations with writers and readers comparing their favorite apps to write with or just for general use. So I thought I’d share some of the apps I love!

I like to hyper organize so here is my writing folder of apps:

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Of the ones in here,  I use Index Card and Coffitivity the most. The others are cool, but they aren’t something I use on a regular basis.

Here’s what Index Card looks like when you open it up:

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It lets you create digital index cards to lay out your work however you want. You can shuffle them around, color code them and most importantly, sync with drop box and import them into Scrivener. Fair warning, this one is not free.

Coffitivty- Take a coffee shop with you!

Coffitivty- Take a coffee shop with you!

Coffitivty is great! It lets you get the ambient noise of a coffee shop without the expense of buying coffee at these little shops. I use it all the time when I’m writing in public or just to block out some distracting noise.

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I use the items in my document section regularly, but my favorite is Documents. It lets me sync with dropbox and edit my texts. I can create a new document and type my little heart away without having to have a connection to wi-fi.   Documents

Last but not least is a to-do list app called Wunderlist. It lets me sort my to-do lists into easy to organize areas. I use it to track what I have to do at work, at home, and with writing. I even use it for long term goals, bucket list items, books, movies, and writing ideas. It syncs across multiple devices so I can add something at midnight on my phone and see it on my desktop in the morning.

Wunderlist- My favorite to-do list app!

Wunderlist- My favorite to-do list app!

So those are my favorite apps, what ones do you recommend?

Weekly Review: Servants of the Storm

Sorry about missing last week, but this week I am back to review Delilah S. Dawson’s new YA novel, Servants of the Storm. 

Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson cover

Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

Dovey lost her best friend Carly when Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah and left disaster in her wake. A year later, and Dovey sees Carly in one of their favorite coffee shops. Needing to know the truth, Dovey stops taking the strange white pills that leave her in a fog, and begins to see what’s really happening in Savannah. Demons are running rampant. To save Carly, Dovey will have to find her way through the hellish scape of her home to free her friend. 

Enlisting the help of Baker, her childhood friend, and Issac, a mysterious young man who knows more than he lets on, pulls Dovey into new nooks and crannies where she starts to learn just what the cost of saving Carly really is. 

I adored this book. It’s dark, and creepy with southern gothic all over. Dovey’s love for Carly reminds me so much of me and my friends at that age where we would do anything for one another and nothing would stop that bond. In Dovey and Carly’s case, not even death can sever their friendship. 

The world of Savannah is rich and vibrant without it feeling like you have to really know Savannah to understand the story. The flavor of the city is there, the old, haunting area that the tourists don’t generally get to see. It’s a great testament to the southern gothic feel for a story. 

Dovey is brave, and relentless, and she pushes the story forward past the point that she should have given up. I really found myself rooting for her, and worried about her well being. With people questioning if she’s just crazy or if she really is seeing things, Dovey has to convince herself, and her friends that Carly is out there and she needs help. 

I really recommend Servants of the Storm to anyone who likes their stories dark and twisted. A great read with a really unique concept that looks at what happens when storms are more than just a simple force of nature. 

 

You can buy Servants of the Storm on AmazonBarnes and Noble or order it through your local Indie bookstore. 

 

Introducing: Kamala

So about three weeks ago, a lovely little kitty cat showed up in front of my door and (literally) demanded to be adopted. I’ve spent the last several weeks trying to find her owners, but now, pretty much a month later, Kamala the cat is here for the long run.

I’ve wanted a cat for some time but various reasons have led to me putting it off, but apparently the universe decided to just give me an amazing, sweet cat. She’s mellow, doesn’t like jumping on things, and is happiest when she is being pet, or when she’s napping on her carpet scratching pad. She’s been a doll so far, curling up beside me and sleeping most of the night, and occasionally getting into wrestling matches with a stuffed duck.

So, I just decided to post her on up her and introduce her to the world.

So this is Kamala, named after the new Ms. Marvel, because she’s got a little lightning bolt on her tummy.

 

Tummy bolt!

Tummy bolt!

Watching me write.

Watching me write.

Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.

Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.

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Napping on my Marvel bag.

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