Thursday, November 11, 2010

Time Machine

We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they're called memories. Some take us forward, they're called dreams. -Jeremy Irons
One of my favorite quotes. Mostly because he has an amazing voice, and I can just hear him say it every time. Actually I just wanted to post a new song I wrote. :-) Yes, it's country, don't judge me!

Time Machine

My heart ain't broken
It's just a little cracked
But it'll mend in a little while
And I'll be stronger

If I could turn back the hands of time tonight
There are somethings I may be takin' back
But lovin you ain't one of 'em
No, it ain't one of 'em.

If I could relive my life tonight
There might be some things I wouldn't say
But "I love you" with you ain't one of 'em
No it ain't one of 'em

My life isn't over
Not even almost
I'm moving on in a little while
And I'll love deeper.

Somethings aren't meant to last
But that doesn't mean they weren't meant to be.
I still love you, but I'm not in love with you
And it's better that way
Yeah, it's better this way

If I could turn back the hands of time tonight
There are somethings I may be takin' back....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dear Characters,




Here is a lovely character drill for you. Write a letter to your characters. One at a time, or all of them as a whole. Here are my NaNoWriMo Characters:


Dear all not-Xan characters,

WARNING: Melodramatic, rhetorical comments to Xan that are meant to draw compliments and/or participation in your personal pity party will result in dry (and most likely hurtful) sarcasm. Don't do it, she is mean... and rude... and doesn't care about you. She's in it for the money. So stop being a bunch of whiners and she'll stop being mean. That is all.



Dear Xan,
Don't tell the others, but I secretly love your sarcasm. It's hilarious, and I wish I could use it on some of my friends. However, I really need you to be nice to Kaloc, or he is not going to side with you when Teia tries to kill you. I really want him to side with you, because if he doesn't, Raidin will have to kill him and this whole thing will get messy really quickly. We all know Kal is secretly in love with you, so stop tearing his poor little heart to pieces. (Don't give me that look! You're the one who made me bring it up!) Plus, if you guys are on opposite sides, his sister will have to choose between you two, and you really don't wan to put her in that position. Then again she is also going to be brainwashed, so she wont really get to choose, but that's not the point!



Also, would you just figure out whether you trust your cousin or hate her. I don't really care which one, but you can't keep going back and forth. Yes she's gonna try to kill you in the end, but you don't know that yet, so pick one already!




Dear Kaloc,
Xan is not for you. Sorry. And if you keep being so adorable, and so in love with her, I will be forced to kill you so no one is sad when she doesn't love you back. It's not my fault you waited ten years to decide to show that you love her. You should have said something earlier. No, I don't have anyone else for you at the moment, but if you really are desperate you can fall in love with Teia... but she will use you and probably try to kill you. So either way you die. I don't want to kill you so stop being in love and we're all good! No! I can't kill Raidin, I need him. Killing Raidin will not make Xan love you, and if you keep talking like that He will hear you. And he's bigger than you. Sorry, kid, facts of life.




Dear Teia,
You're evil, I like you, and evil people always have the best theme music. That is all.




Dear Mihail,
So.. I know you're supposed to be the wise, lovable prophet and everything, but... WHY ARE YOU MUTE? You are a TERRIBLE prophet! Prophecy is meant to be SAID... ugh! you are useless to me! The Whole Point of you being here was that you were a prophet, but now you are just a half-blind old man who looks all pensive that I'm obligated to mention so no one forgets that you're there. AND you're slow... we're being chased by humanoid snakes, that is VERY BAD, I can't have you limping down the mountainside. Do you at least light fires, or fight Balrogs, or something? ... Okay... I'm done now...


PS. You're probably getting replaced with Shade in the edits, sorry, I like him better... and it will tie this book to Jewel's story, which is necessary. This is why you have no depth, I promise to stop blaming you.





Dear Shade,

Hooray! you finally get to be in a real story, and not an RPG. I told you this day was coming didn't I? I know I'm kind of dropping you in in the middle of Chapter six, but I'll write you in the other chapters later. See the thing is, I originally put this prophet guy in, but he turned out to be Mute. I mean, I'm sure he's a great guy and he had a really cool name, but he's not as awesomesauce as you. So you have to promise to not tick Xan off TOO much (just a little is okay, she deserves it), and promise not to snitch on the fact that Teia is evil before I say. If you do that, I promise not to kill you again, and not write any of your puphood in. THAT is how much I love you!





Sincerly, Tammi (Soni will be here in a moment to make the rest of you feel better, she actually likes you. And, yes I know we're the same person... details...)

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It's the most wonderful time of the year
(Most wonderful time)
When the giants win the world series
And everyone telling you
Write with good cheer
It's the most wonderful time of the year
(Wonderful time)

It's the hap-happiest season of all (wonderful time)
With those leaves turning crimson
And great happy write-ins
Where plots come to call
It's the hap-happiest season of all

There'll be novels for boasting
Writers for roasting
And Giants vict'ry parade (vict'ry parade)
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories
Of NaNoWriMos long, long ago

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There will be much turkey eating
And hearts will be glowing
When characters are near
It's the most wonderful time of the year, ooh ah

Woah, There'll be novels for boasting
Writers for roasting
And Giants vict'ry parade (vict'ry parade)
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories
Of NaNoWriMos long, long ago

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There will be much turkey eating
And hearts will be glowing
When characters are near (Characters are near)
It's the most wonderful time of the year,
It's the most wonderful time (wonderful time)
It's the most wonderful time of the year

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Know your Stuff

Or just lie convincingly...

Recently I was reading a book on the year 2012, what that year means, ect. I was actually just getting interested in what the author had to say when she wrote: "Over two millennia After the Death of Christ." I get it, really I do: you're trying to figure out a more creative way to say the year. Why not write out AD? However, AD is “Latin for Year of our Lord Jesus Christ,” not After Death. It's a common mistake that people make all the time. Had this been a high school paper, or a random post on the internet, I might have just moved past it. This book was written by a supposed historian. Shouldn't a historian know what AD means? With this "small mistake," She discredited herself, and made me wonder if any of her facts were accurately researched.

This is a just a brief example of "knowing your stuff." If you don't know something, research it.... or cheat. Cheat? you ask. I know you've been taught not to cheat, but I don't mean that kind of cheating. A cheat would be working the story around so it’s not obvious that you don’t know a certain piece of information.

Example: She loaded an arrow into the crossbow, and took aim.

I feel like playing "what's wrong with this sentence, fantasy style." ;) The sentence itself is perfectly fine. Except, Crossbows don't fire arrows, they fire bolts or, occasionally, quarrels. So you could easily fix this sentence with:

She loaded a bolt into the crossbow, and took aim.

What's wrong with this sentence? Nothing, but as a writer you want to make sure your reader is completely immersed in the story. Unless you have explained what a bolt is, which could be superfluous in a story, it might be best just to cheat the sentence. How would that work?

She loaded the crossbow, and took aim.

Completely eliminating the name of the projectile, the author avoids looking stupid if they use ‘arrow,’ and the reader doesn't get confused if s/he doesn't know what a bolt is.

This is a pretty simple example, but you can see how a cheat would make it much simpler. All this to say, don't assume your audience doesn't know anything. If you do explain what a bolt is, don't do it blatantly. To sit and narrate an explanation could easily sound patronizing. We will talk about how to avoid this later.

The point is, in any story, you are going to have things you don't know. That's where research comes in. Research can look like many things.

Creative Research

My favorite kind of research involves watching tv, reading books, and even playing around on wikipedia. Through these outlets you find the jargon you need for your book, inspiration, and things to avoid. If you're writing a civil war book, watch civil war movies or go to a history museum. If you're writing fantasy, well, I consider playing Rappelz to be research, but I think that's just me procrastinating. In a couple weeks, I'm going to be going to the Extreme Mammals exhibit in San Francisco. I consider that creative research. Why? Because I write mostly speculative. Strange creatures are a part of that. Field trips like this are great for getting ideas, and learning random facts you might need later on.

Real Research


This can be the not-so-fun research, but it can double as schoolwork. The last three research papers I wrote, I chose something I could use later. I was writing about a girls with PTSD, Post-traumatic Stress, so when I had to pick my research paper for health class, that's what I chose. When I had to write a research paper centered on food, I wrote about how authors use food in fiction. Not only will you be interested in your paper, but you will glean information you will need later.

Read medical papers. Watch documentaries. Read local newspapers about a town your story is set in. Sure, the town may only have 2,000 people, but that's 2,000 people who will love your book because it portrays their town accurately. If it's incorrect, they will be annoyed with the inconsistencies.

Most of these are long, preplanned research, sometimes you are in the middle of a sentence, and you have no idea what something is called. Use your best guess, change the font to another color so you don't forget, and keep writing. If you're in the middle of a creative flow, don't stop! If you hop on the internet right then and there, you could get distracted and stop writing. Friends are great for this kind of thing too. Know your friends areas of knowledge, shoot them and email, text, or remember to ask them about it next time you see them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Home Alone...this could be Bad...

"I need to write, but my Muse went on Holiday."

"On Holiday? Don't you mean vacation?"

"No, he lives in England. He doesn't take vacation, he goes off on holiday"

"How can your muse live in England? Don't you need him here?"

"No, I need him in England because I live in England."

"No you don't!"

"In my mind I do."

"You're insane."

"If I wasn't insane, I wouldn't be talking to myself right now. Therefore, you wouldn't exist."

"Excellent point."

The End

This has been Home Alone with Soni, she understands if you back away slowly and/or buy a straight jacket and will not take it personally.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Insomnia

1.. 2.. 3.. I lay as still as possible, enveloped in the thick flannel sheets. The events of the day drift through my thoughts in random order. None of them stick. 13… 14… 15… In… 17… Out… 19… Each breath paced, slowing gradually. The same process ever night. Maybe tonight I will sleep. 34… 35… 36… Soft music drifts from the iPod next to my head, keeping my mind occupied with song, with perpetual counting. 57… 58… 59… I’m floating as my body shuts down. I can’t feel the sheets on my skin. I can’t feel the cool breeze I know comes through the window, rattling the blinds. 70… 71... 72… My senses start to fade further into unconsciousness. My limbs are heavy. 81... 82… 93… Or was I at 83? I don’t remember, I must be almost there. 104… 105… 106… Where is my body? I can’t feel anything. My brain searches for my right arm but feels nothing. 120… 121... 122… The number become slow, labored, where was I? Did I skip one? 143… 145… 146… I can’t tell if I’m breathing. I must be. I have to be. Right? 158… 159… 160… Am I still awake? I feel like I’m going insane. Insane people think they are sane, right? I must not be crazy. 180… 191… 183… I start to feel something. A sharp pain tries to nudge its way into my head. 205... 206... 207… I will not move. I will not move. I will not move. 212… 213…. 214… A nail of pain pierces into my hip, taunting me. 237…238… 239… I will not move. 259… 260… Can’t take much more of this. 272… My body wakes itself up as I try to readjust. I find a position I think I could stay in all night.





1… 2... 3…

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gimme Some Space



Not that kind of Space! I usually don't go into grammar, but here are a few guidelines next time your words need a little elbow room.

A Lot or Alot?

Easiest question ever: A lot. It's always "a lot," seeing as "alot" is not an actual word. wink.gif



Already or All Ready?

Already means it's already done.
I already ate dinner.

All ready means completely ready.
We are all ready for dinner.



Can not or Cannot?

This is a very common question, with a very easy answer: Both. However, personal preference should be consistent in a particular piece. The 'Find' feature in your word processor will help you. Using cannot and can not in one piece will throw off your reader. (This rule applies also to the word Seatbelt and seat belt. even though some spell checks will tell you cannot and seatbelt are incorrect).



Every body or everybody?

Every body is used to reference physical bodies.
Every body of water is blue.
Every body needs water daily.

Everybody is in reference to every person.
Everybody wants to be a Cat.
(These rules also apply to anybody and any body)



Into or In to?

This is the hardest one for me.

Into relates to direction.
We are going into the city

Other times the sentence just lends to in and to being together.
We walked in to see the baby climbing the stairs.


Inbetween or In between?

Much like alot, inbetween is not a word. Erase it from your fingertips. In between, however, is perfectly acceptable. Usually the 'in' is superfluous. (hehe, I used superfluous, Miss Terry will be so proud!)
E.g.:
I sat in between my mom and dad.

A sentence that can also be written:
I sat between my mom and dad.

Upon or Up on

This really is the same thing as into. Upon implies being on something, and is usually a stationary word.
He sat upon the stool, watching the festivities. (If you used up on here, it would imply posture, not placement)

Up on usually implies actions.
He sat up on the bed to look out the window. (as in he was laying down, but then sat up).
or
He climbed up on the ladder.
Upon can be used in both these sentences, changing the sentence slightly.

I hope that helps you!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

If I Ate These Words

I would die of Poison.

So maybe that's a little extreme, but there are two words, when said together, that make me cringe. Writer's Block? No. Writer's cramp? no... "Chritistian Fiction." I'm not joking. I have huge issues with the words Christian Fiction. Before you get mad at me, let me explain. I was raised both at home and at church to have a "spirit of excellence" (Dan. 6:3). Granted, my mom never called it that, but the principle was still there. Calling a book Christian Fiction is like asking it to be cheesy or poorly written. But, hey, as long as it has a "powerful" conversion at the end, then we don't care if there are grammatical errors every two pages. I'm not saying all Christian Fiction is lame, but, if you go to a christian bookstore, good books are hard to find. In fact, the only really good books I found in a christian bookstore were either Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or Francine Rivers. My favorite book could be characterized as Christian Fantasy... or is it Sci-Fi? Either way, it's not even in print anymore!

If you look at all these "Christian" books, you'll notice something: Most of them can't be found in a normal bookstore. What can you find at five locations near you (me)? those Fantasy, Scifi, and Francine Rivers books. Because they are actually good, and people like them. They are memorable, and non-Christians love them! (Also interesting is how many Christians reject the idea of Christian fantasy, and Francine Rivers because of how descriptive she is, yet those are the books that are taking the 'secular market' by storm!)

In my last post I interviewed Heidi Wright. What I didn't post was a conversation we had in later emails about her books in the Christian market. She told me "
...my books arent 'Christian' in the sense like [some other authors]. My Christian worldview comes through and I incorporate koine Greek, but that's about it." I wanted to give her a big hug, but she lives several hours away. Her books may not be Christian, but because they are written by a Christian, it comes through. It's not blatant, but it's there. The books are clean, the characters follow an unspoken moral code, there is a strong distinction between right and wrong.

As a Christian, your writing shouldn't have to be forced into a box that preaches Christianity on every page. The bad guy doesn't have to be converted and turn good; he can actually die! Really! Just like a Christian businessman doesn't announce to everyone he's a Christian, yet still practices honesty and work ethic. He doesn't make sure his clients are all Christian. He doesn't advertise as "A Christian Company." In & Out doesn't open stores inside churches. A writer who is Christian should be able to maintain their testimony without making it painfully obvious. "What about C.S. Lewis?" Lewis didn't publish in the Christian market, neither did Tolkien. "But I'm witnessing!" How many Non-Christians do you know that go to the Christian section of Borders for a good book? I don't know any.

A last example, is one you will all lecture me on. Since, after all, Christians should read Christian books. You may not know this name, but Orson Scott Card is a leading Sci-Fi novelist of today. His Ender books are phenomenal (personal favorite: Ender's Shadow). He's not an Atheist like so many people are inclined to believe. He is Mormon. A very devout Mormon actually. Just like secular authors who are Christians, his belief system shows through in his work. For the first half of the first book I read, I couldn't decide if he was Christian or not. When I found out he was Mormon, that made sense. He didn't have a Mormon hero, but his personal beliefs were laced tastefully through his book. Would an atheist catch it? Without a religious background, probably not. He writes some amazing books, but I didn't have to go to a "Mormon Bookstore" to find them. Why should I have to go to a Christian bookstore to find Christian fiction?

"A Spirit of Excellence" is about being the best. Not in a super cheesy, or self-centered way. We are supposed to give our all and strive to be excellent. So if, as writers, our work is done with that spirit of excellence, we don't have to force our beliefs in, and it should be good enough to stand against to a secular book and hold it's own. Most Christian books can't do that. Once the preaching is gone, there's not much story left. You should not have to sacrifice quality because you're trying to force feed the reader some all important moral. A mother bird drops the food into the baby's mouth, she doesn't jam it down their throat. Food is good, Christian values are great, but good things forced on someone lead to gagging (in case you missed the metaphor there).

Anyways, that's my three cents :-) There's a lot to be said on the difference between a Christian book and a book written by a Christian. Which one do you write?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Not All Mythology is Myth



An Interview with Heidi Joelle Wright

Hello my darling, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal... Sorry it's been stuck in my head for weeks! Moving on...While most of us "twenty-somethings" are struggling to finish the first hundred pages of our soon-to-be-novels Heidi Joelle Wright has written and self-published two novels. No, she didn't cheat and write the Shortest Book Ever(!). Her first novel , World's Collide, came to an end at 701 pages long... Yes... Seven hundred and one! The sequel, Lost and Found, came in as a close second at six hundred. Not too shabby, eh? (wow, suddenly I'm Canadian... okay then)

I met Heidi... nope... I can't do it... I met Joelle (her screen name) on a Narnia forum way back when I was just starting to take writing seriously. She was just finishing up World's Collide, a
nd was an inspiration to us little fledgling writers. So, after reading Lost and Found and becoming exceedingly more jealous than is probably healthy, I was prepared to beg for an interview. Of course, she didn't make me beg, but that's not the point. Without further ado (hehe, I did it again), here is an exclusive interview with Heidi Joelle Wright.


When did you start writing seriously?

March 2006. A friend had died and I needed something to keep my mind from obsessing over that fact. I don’t remember why I decided to try once again to write, but when I stopped writing that first time after I had sat down, I saw thirty pages worth of work.


That first writing session of new inspiration is always so exhilarating! Is this a family thing, or are you and your sister they only ones who write?

My dad has had a story laid out in his mind for decades, but he hasn’t written it out yet.


Are you kind of exclusive to fantasy, or are their other genres you enjoy?

Your question answers a question that I often ask people who’ve read my Fairy Tales! It is a divided opinion of whether my books are science fiction or fantasy. So, to answer your question, I prefer science fiction and fantasy. In recent years I’ve gained an appreciation for historical fiction, but I doubt I’ll ever write it.


Are you working right now? Going to school?

At this very moment I am in the biggest in-between of my life. I’ve recently moved and am looking for work. I did graduate with my AA degree; I plan to go back to school to get my bachelors in the future.


How do you balance your time between writing and the rest of you life?

HAHA. Ahem…. I have to be honest, not well. Especially with Worlds Collide, I was more than a bit obsessive. I’m the type of person who once they start a project, it is very difficult for me to focus on anything else until I finish. It was purely out of mercy that I passed Greek class, because I spent more time plotting and pondering story ideas than studying.


Trying to put this next question without sounding condescending, or like the weird aunt that coos over you at every family function like you're still three, but it didn't work... You are so young, is there a “when I grow up”?

First, thank you. Second, that’s a very good question. I think there is, but I have yet to figure it out. My motto for 2010 has been ‘I am so glad God is in control, because I have no idea what is going to happen!’.


Now you’ve self-published two substantial novels, what made you decide to self-publish?

When I heard about lulu.com, and that I could self-publish for free, and receive my novel in a book that I could display next to my traditionally published books and no one could tell which was self-published and which was “officially” published that decided it for me. I would have thought it was too good to be true if I hadn’t known someone who had used lulu for years and had had good experiences through it.


It is fun to see it in print! Do you ever plan to publish “Traditionally”?

Another good question. Maybe when I grow up? The biggest hindrance I have right now with getting Worlds Collide traditionally published (other than my fear of rejection) is most of the publishers or agents I’ve looked into won’t even consider a book over 200 thousand words, which it is.


Tell me about Worlds Collide, why first person?

First person is the only way I know how to write successfully. By successfully, I mean, more than ten pages.


And why so many perspectives?

Because I wanted to show the readers different sides of the same story and to be able to get into more than one character’s head. Such a big part of the story is how the characters interact; it wouldn’t be complete without more than one character’s perspective.


I have to say, one of the things that impressed me the most was how unique each voice was. It was easy to see their personalities through it. How did you keep each characters’ voice separate?

Thank you!

What’s the best way to answer this…before I wrote most of my characters, I had had their voices in my head for a long time. Some, a very long time. It came natural that when I wrote them down, they came out as individual voices.


So glad I'm not the only one who "hears voices." Did it every get confusing for you to keep it all straight?

The only thing that got confusing was the spellings of the names and places. I had a stack of little square pieces of paper that were my cheat sheets/security blanket! I’d take them with me whenever I’d write to make sure I spelled Kurios correctly, or that I had indeed changed the spelling of ‘Emily’ to ‘Emilee’.


I have to be honest, the editor in me was looking for 'Emily' to pop up somewhere. Do you have a favorite character to write for?

Dra or Emilee. Dra because she’s the most comfortable to write and Emilee because she can get away with what I never could.


I love Emilee! She was my favorite female character. Why two really long books instead of four "normal" size books?

I get this question a lot, especially for Worlds Collide. Short answer is, I view them as two stories. Lost and Found is Caleus’ story. Worlds Collide is its own entity; I have never felt comfortable breaking it up as I don’t feel any of the parts (well, maybe Part Three) stand well on their own.


I never intended on either book to be a 'tome'! In fact, I tried very hard not to drag any part of the story out.



That was very evident in your writing. So many people assume 700 pages means long drawn out descriptions, but it's very well paced. Now that you’ve finished your second book, what have you learned? And would you have changed anything from Worlds Collide?

Wow, it’s been three years since I finished Lost and Found, seems like a long time. I think I learned my strengths and weaknesses. Worlds Collide flowed so fast that my fingers couldn’t keep up with my brain, Lost and Found was harder and I had to work at it.


For your second question the answer is yes. Nothing big though, I’m very content with how it turned out. Lost and Found is the one I’d be more likely to change bits of!


A little more technical. You and I talked a very long time ago about your editing process. Can you take us through what happens to your work from when it gets written until it is published?

My work goes through three filters before I consider it done. First, I give it over to the Midget [her sister] and she edits for story structure. Her specialty is making sure I didn’t think I had written something explaining something and really hadn’t. Once it’s given the Midget Stamp of Approval, I hand it over to my mom. She edits it for grammatical and spelling errors. Once both of them have finished going through it I reread it through myself.


Has that process changed between World Collide and Lost and Found?

Very little. For Worlds Collide, I gave my mom and the midget a whole Part at a time to go through. For Lost and Found, I would give them whatever I had finished at the time!


What advice do you have for aspire writers?

Never give up. Not everyone can produce inspiration on demand, maybe today you may feel completely stuck, it may take some time for your ideas to ‘cook’ before they’re ready to be on paper. Don't give up on your story just because you feel stuck, even stuck for a long time!


Choose your audience before you starting writing. Before ’06, whenever I’d try to write I’d find myself asking ‘what would so and so think?’, and this was holding me back. It’s intimidating and overwhelming to be writing for the approval of the world! And, for me at least, when I’m intimidated and overwhelmed it’s much harder for me to go on without second-guessing myself. It’s much easier for me to write with the mindset that this is just a story for the midget.


Read! Watch movies! Tuck away bits you learn/hear/see from your friends, school, church, you cannot write from a ‘blank slate’, feed your imagination wherever you go.


Some great advice. Finally, what everyone really wants to know: What’s next? Are you working on anything, and can you tell us about it? Will we be seeing more Dunami? (okay, so I kinda snuck four questions in there… )

After Lost and Found my imagination felt sucked dry. It’s just this year that I feel I’ve filled my ‘inspiration bank’ enough up to write some more. I have a fully developed new character, and new ‘dunami race, and a few more new faces. I’m planning on incorporating some more of the mythology hinted in the end of the last book. Right now I’m working on how to tie it all together!


Thank you again, Joelle, it was fun! If you want to know more about these amazing "psuedofiction" novels, you can find them on her website, The Lonely Isle.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chapter by Chapter

I've been approached several times in the last couple weeks by both parents and kids asking for some good books to read for teens and younger. I haven't really researched any newer material, but I thought I would give you a couple that I loved as a kid! I tore through books, so I loved series more than anything. In fact, they're really the only ones I remember. So, without further ado (okay I just wanted to say ado), here are some of my favorite Chapter Books.

Historical
Believe it or not, I didn't always hate historical fiction. Children's Historical Fiction is a lot broader in scope than adult.

Little House
(Laura Ingalls Wilder 8-10)
Don't even act surprised, you knew I was going to go there. I don't really have to say much about these, you all know what they are. Primarily girl's books, they focus on family environment and are great for young readers.

Christian H
eritage Series
(Nancy N. Rue 8-12)
I read the first of these books as a school assignment. By the time we were supposed to be done with the first set (of six), I was done with all three (now there are 5). Each set is set in a critical time of American history. Starting in Puritan Salem, leading up to Santa Fe in World War II. These are great books for boys! (finally!) Every book in led by a strong male lead, a wonderful alternative to the Little House Books.

Dear America
(Multiple Authors 8-12)
The Dear America books are written as Diaries of girls (sorry boys) in different periods of america. Colonial, froniter, war times, ect. There's even a girl on the Titanic. I have to say as interesting as the subject matter is, they can get kind of monotonous after awhile. the good thing is, they are stand alone books so you can just read whichever one you want without missing anything.

Bonnets and Bugles
(Gilbert Morris-10-13)
You're going to see a lot of Gilbert Morris. He wrote three ten book series. The first I have here is a Historical Fiction that takes place during the Civil War. These books follow neighbors who are on opposite sides of the Civil War. Sisters, Leah and Sarah, are helping their father who
is a Sutler for the union army. Whereas, Jeff and Tom, are serving the confederate army as a drummer boy and soldier. These books are a little less about family and more about friendship while still sticking to what you believe. Geared towards an older age, these books do have some romance.

Mystery
Because who doesn't like a good mystery?

Boxcar Children
(Gertrude Chandler Warner 8-12)
Boxcar Children... let's try this again... BOXCAR CHILDREN! I love these books more than I care to elaborate on. The first book is definitely the best, because they are actually living in the boxcar. The rest are mystery books where the kids track down rare coin collections, hidden rooms, and "singing ghosts."

Encyclopedia Brown
(Donald J Sobol 8-10)
You know you love him! The kid genius who knows everything and solves mysteries like it's a game of pic-up-stix. These books are all about details and logic, and really make a child think!

Nancy Drew
(Carolyne Keene all ages?)
Okay, so I know it's not technically all ages, but they are just so good! Nancy Drew is a teen detective, eighteen to be precise, which is funny since the book is clearly not written for eighteen year olds. Anyways, the originals (not that lame paperback stuff), are great mysteries that center around Nancy Drew, her close friends, and her lawyer father. And what is Nancy Drew without...

Hardy Boys
(Franklin W. Dixon 8-12)
I know I was supposed to read Nancy Drew, but I couldn't get enough of Frank and Joe Hardy. Ironically, possibly intentionally, both Hardy Boys' The Tower Treasure and Nancy Drew's The Secret of the Old Clock open with the teens driving to deliver legal paper to their fathers. Hardy Boys was originally published in the 1920s, and is still a wide spread favorite, that's got to mean something!

(Side note: The Nancy Drew books were rewritten in the 1950s, the orginals can be purchased from Applewood books. In the originals Nancy Drew is sixteen, and quite a bit more independent and strong willed. In fact, she is not above carrying a pistol as her younger, more reckless
self. They are also longer, which is a plus.)

Whimsy
I wouldn't consider these books exactly fantasy, but they are definitely not reality.

Magic Treehouse
(Mary Pope Osborne 8-10)
Not a christian series, but still a great read for any kid with imagination. These books tell the stories of a brother and sister duo (Jack and Annie), who find a treehouse full of books. Each book sends them into a new adventure, starting with Dinosaurs Before Dark and ending (1-8) with Midnight on the Moon. I haven't read all of these books, only the first eight were out when I read them. I love these books because of the relationship between Jack and Annie. Anyone who has been lost in a book can
relate to the way Jack and Annie are whisked away into adventure.

Animal Ark
(Ben M Baglio)
Animal Ark is, well not my first choice of books. The series is based around Mandy, daughter of Vets. The first book, Kittens in the Kitchen, kind of says it all. They are cute and light, but not much substance. They were a good read when a lighthearted read is needed.

The Littles
(John Peterson 8-10)
I cannot tell you how much I loved these books. The Littles are a family of six inch tall people with... TAILS! The two Little children (who live with their family in Mr Bigg's House) have all kids of adventures that include taming the Bigg's cat, and getting locked in the refrigerator. SO much fun!

Fantasy
Okay, this is the part I like, this is the fun stuff!

Chronicles of Narnia
(C.S.Lewis)
Oh, come on, did you really think I could talk about books and not mention Narnia? I don't think I really need to tell you what these books are about. Read them, the end.

Seven Sleepers Chronicles
(Gilbert Morris 10-13)
I loved these books. They are Fantasy, but essentially they are Post Apocalyptic. The story starts in modern times, with Josh and Sarah. Josh's scientist parents construct sleeping... coffins? and at the outbreak of nuclear war, seven teens (only two of which know eachother) are put to sleep in these protective... I'm really n
ot sure what they are, but they remind me of Snow White in her glass coffin. Basically, when Josh wakes up, the entire world has changed. Deserts are jungles, and oceans are deserts. There are evil serpent people, and the Sanhedrin out to quench the move of Goe'l (If you can't figure this one out, read your Bible). These ten books each center on one of the teens individual struggle and climax at the last book which is called.... The Final Kingdom. Not exactly Narnia, but if you're a Lewis/Tolkien fan, you can pat yourself on the back every time you catch the LotR tribute. Or just get really indignant that he "stole" from them, either way.

Inkheart
(Cornelia Funke... stay tuned)
I struggled with this book. Not reading it, but whether or not to put it on here. Not because it wasn't amazing. It is very well written, while still understandable to children. It deals with Meggie's feelings of abandonment towards her mother, as well as her coming into her own person. If you've seen the movie and thought it was "okay" then read the book. Everything makes so much more sense, the characters really come to life, and there are huge inconsistencies that just work so much better in the book. The reason I didn't want to put this on here: Amazon will tell you the books are for children 8-12, however, there is at least one "bad word" in the second book. I can't remember if there are any in the first. So just be aware of that if that's not something you want your child to read. The subject matter is definitely "children's," but I would definitely give these a PG-13.

DragonKeeper Chronicles
(Donita K. Paul 10-14)
Because every fantasy series has to be a Chronicle ;-). I read the first of these books when I was 16, and I loved it even though I was "older." These are great books centered around Dragon Keeper, Kale, who has just been freed from slavery to go into the service of Paladin. (And this is the last one I"m writing, and I'm about to fall asleep so get on Amazon and read about it! They are Amazing!)

Science Fiction
To infinity... and Beyond!

Mars Diaries
(Sigmund Brouwer 9-12)
Mars Diaries are diaries of Mars? Yes! You win! Haha! Mars Diaries are the electronic musings of Tyce Sanders, the only kid on the Martian Colony. He is writing to the kids on Earth to give them a real perspective of what life on Mars is really like. There's just one thing: Tyce is in a wheelchair. Born on Mars, his spin was injured at birth due to lack of medical supplies. The cool part: He gets to control a robot! Yes, a robot. Even at fourteen, Tyce is an important part of the Mars Team. His diaries tell how he saves everyone on Mars, and solves the mystery of the Martians.

Daystar Voyages
(Gilbert Morris 10-13)
Once again, I love Gilbert Morris' series. This is his space series. It follows six Christian teens, who all have an extraordinary gift, through the galaxy. Which, of course, pairs my love for space travel, and super powers. Jerusha knows everything there is to know about spacecraft, and can read people almost to the point of a telepath. Ringo (don't you just love these names), works wonders with computers and has heightened senses. Each of the teens had been kicked o
ut of Space Academy and recruited by Captain Edge (my favorite) to man The Daystar on some, not-so-legal missions. Could this get any better? Well... did I mention there was a space dog? No joke! Jerusha brings her German Shepard along too.

And the Weird
I had nowhere else to put this stuff. Mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, none of it seemed to fit. These are what I like to call Spiritual Thrillers.


The Cooper Kids
(Frank Peretti 9-12)
Oh... My... Goodness. Frank Peretti is amazing. These are his only kids books, that I know of, but they are phenomenal. These are the books that got me hooked on Frank Peretti. These are suspenseful, intriguing, and at some point hilarious. Honesty check: I read Door in the Dragon's Throat when I was eight, and couldn't read the others for another year because they freaked me out. Once you get past that, they are amazing (Door in the Dragon's Throat is now my favorite). It combines Hardy Boys and Indiana Jones, then throws in spiritual warfare. Just don't read them at night, or you wont be able to put it down until the end!

Forbidden Doors
(Bill Meyers 9-12)
The difference between these and The Cooper Kids has to be noted. While Jay and Lila Cooper battle the spirit realm in archeological digs around the world, Becka and Scott face a very real enemy in High School. These books may not be as "out there" as Peretti's but that may make the plot line even spookier. Having just returned from Brazil, Becka and Scott are not new to spiritual warfare. When they enter public school for the first time, they soon discover they didn't leave the occult behind them. In The Society, Becka and Scott come against the club where Ouija boards and charms are "just games" that lead to more than just a good time. Honestly, some of the spiritual stuff is a little cliche and lame, but as a kid, I didn't think so.


What are some of your favorite childhood Chapter books?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In Other News

Write everyday. It doesn't matter what or how useful it is, just write.


I mentioned a couple days ago, I'm doing a 365 challenge. Basically trying to write Something everyday. So far I'm on day... eeep, math... six, no, seven. So I was just giving a quick update. Some of it I may post on here, some I won't. Like stuff for my book, I probably won't post much. Also, I'm editing somethings that I won't post on here either.

Which reminds me, I could use someone to read over about ten pages of prose. It's contemporary fiction if anyone is interested in giving some honest feedback, I could really use it.

So that's what I'm up to, that's my little "update" on how The Challenge is going. I love random non-descriptive titles. Like in books and movies, when people want an ominous thing. "The Organization." "The Test." "The Center." Dundundun... haha! Okay I'm done now... The Ring... He will try to take the Ring. The Fat One wants it.... okay, really I'm done now.

PS Just figured out how to do delayed posts... LOVE

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Little Tolkienism


Many have thought about reading Lord of the Rings, some have tried, few have succeeded. I succeeded, but only once.
-Anonymous.... okay, me

It's no secret, I LOVE Tolkien. Now, I never read Lord of the Rings in school like some of the older generation did. Though, I did get to read Count of Monte Cristo which is still one of my favorite books. I was only a few pages into Fellowship of the Ring when the movie came out. In my defense, my dad stole it before I could read it, and I had just gotten it back. Translation: He bought it, I took it, and he stole it back... details. Regardless of it being before or after the movie, I was hooked. Since then I've read every Tolkien book I can get my hands on. One particular (not Middle Earth related) favorite being Farmer Giles of Ham. The year Fellowship came out- well, the year after since it came out in December- I read the the entire trilogy. It took some work, and some patience considering he spends a page describing a random tree which has no prevalence to the story. I'm just saying, it's not an important tree, not even an odd looking tree. It's just there. Back on topic, I enjoyed it thoroughly (minus the tree thing), and recommend everyone to read it because it's beautifully written. However, I never read it again. I tried, honestly I tried. The furthest I got was halfway through Two Towers, or to the end of "book three," if you've read it and know it was written in six parts. I'm sure I will someday get through the books again, but so far I haven't been able to.

All this to say, nothing I have read compares to the joy I get when I read The Hobbit. I absolutely love this book. It's charming, funny, suspenseful, mysterious, and a bag of chips (Bag of Chips sold separately). Most books, I'll read once, then never pick up again. Not because I didn't enjoy them, but because I don't forget what I read very easily. I remember the Little House books vividly, and I read them when I was five. The Hobbit, however, I have read three times and am currently reading a fourth time. Keep in mind these were each at least a year apart. I laugh every time I read his little descriptions.

"You would have laughed (from a safe distance), if you had seen the dwarves sitting up in the trees with their beard dangling down, like old gentlemen gone cracked and playing at being boys."
He just has this style about him, C.S. Lewis did it to, where he interrupts himself in the middle of the story. He speaks directly to the reader. This is something I've been told not to do, by many authors. They tell you never to bring the reader out of the story, but I just find it so charming. It has a feel of sitting with Tolkien, and just listening to him tell a story in front of the fire place on a cold night. In my mind, he sits in a dark green armchair, while I lay-with ankles crossed and chin in hands-on a soft rug. It's personable writing. Engaging writing. Writing that doesn't really exist anymore. Many writing nowadays is from a third party view with no personality. That's why I love to read The Hobbit or even The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Though I've read them many, many times, it's refreshing to be able to read something that feels so personal. Like it was written for you. Personally, I think we could all use a little Tolkienism in our writing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Wear a Turtle Necklace

Today, as part of my "write everyday" project, I wrote an essay I've been mulling over for awhile. It's a very personal essay, and I hope you enjoy it.



Some relationships shape you, some break you, and others define you. The change is invisible, and sometimes undetectable. Occasionally we can look back and see what has happened to us. Many times it takes some backtracking to figure out where the change happened. I remember when I first realized I had a problem with people touching my nails. It took me looking back thirteen years, past my mom trying to pain my nails, past friends playing with my fingers, until I remembered my piano teacher obsessing about the clicking of my nails on the keys. He clipped them himself, and I haven’t let people touch my nails since. It's silly, and I know it's silly.


We are each a collage of memories and events that have pieced together through the years to make a unique person. These memories and events are littered with people. There is no memory without a person in it, even if the only person is you.


I don’t like my nails touched, and I wear a turtle necklace.


I don’t remember the first time my dad told us the story of Flash and Pokey. I don’t remember him telling us any other stories, though I’m sure he did. Like the slide that seems so much bigger as a child, in my mind he sat with us after dinner every night to tell us a story. I know now it couldn’t have been anywhere near every night. He was rarely home for dinner. Those nights he was, he would pull my brother close to him, and we would beg him to tell us the story of Flash and Pokey. Sometimes he would feign annoyance, but he never said no.


It always started the same. Flash was the fastest in the whole ocean, he would tell us. Flash was a dolphin. Pokey, on the other hand was a poor little turtle who could never keep up. Flash was mean. Pokey never fought back. It may not be all that original of a story, sort of a “Tortoise and the Hare” in the ocean, but we listened with rapt ears every time. We felt for Pokey when the speedy dolphin would call him names. We rooted for him when Flash challenged him to a race. We shook our heads in disbelief, when Flash got distracted by his other dolphin friends doing flips and spins. We rolled our eyes when Flash left the racetrack to chase some fish for lunch. We were saddened when he would Zoom in front of Pokey, who never let up. Every time Flash would poke fun at Pokey (no pun intended), he would respond with a slow sure voice: “I may be slow, but I’m doing the best that I can.”


Flash could have won easily, we knew that, and sometimes he did. Sometimes he won at the last second as he heard the cheers go up for the turtle, who was almost to the finish line. Other times he was no where to be seen after the race. We cheered for Pokey when he won. We were angry at Flash when he won. It never mattered to Pokey. Win or loose, he always had the last word. He always answered the critiques and the praise with: “Well, I just did the best that I could.”


We could tell that story forwards and backwards. So much so, that he stopped telling it as we got older. We never forgot it, though. It impacted no one more than my brother. I didn’t know how much until we were celebrating his birthday one year. My brother, who has Cerebral Palsy, only has the use of one hand, but that never stopped him from playing video games with the boys. That year he was really into a wrestling game. He had his own character. He called himself Nathan the Ninja. He and the boys were going at it for hours. Sometimes he won. Well, usually he won. We were wrapping up the party when he lost the last round. I’ll never forget the look on his face. He has the biggest smile in the world, and tonight was no exception. He received a high five from his competitor, and said to all who were watching.


“Well, I didn’t win, but I just did the best that I could.”


My heart broke. I’m not a sentimental person, but my eyes filled up with tears. Why can’t I do that? I asked myself. Why do I give up when I can’t do as good as someone else? My whole life I had looked up to my other brother. He was, in my eyes, perfect. An athlete, a good student, a musical ear, and charismatic, I wished I could be like him my whole life. No matter how I practiced, I couldn’t play piano like him, and he didn’t even try. So I quit. We played the same sports, but he always got the trophies. So I quit. He had friends around him constantly. I followed him around, afraid of my own awkwardness. I gave up. I had stopped trying because I would never be as good as my brother. Until that night. I realized I was looking up at the wrong brother.


The next day I put on a turtle necklace. It wasn’t anything fancy. It wasn’t expensive. I think I bought it for five dollars. I kept that necklace with me everyday for two years. Sometimes I hung it from a belt loop. Sometimes I wore it. Once I even wrapped it around my ponytail. I cried the day it broke. It was silly, but I felt like I was betraying my brother when I put different necklace on a week later. My turtle hangs from my rearview mirror now, right next to my parking permit. When I’m in my car I hold the turtle, now missing its shell, in my hand, and hear my brother’s voice. He reminds me everyday. It doesn’t matter if I’m the best at something. It doesn’t matter if I ‘win.’ The real victory is knowing that I did the best that I could.


I don’t like my nails touched, and today I bought a new turtle necklace.


Nathan has shaped the way I think. He has broken my cycle of giving up. In no small way, he has defined who I am.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'm Not Fine

Days and months and years have past
Since I heard your voice
I try to tell myself I’m fine
I can do this on my own

Every days’ a struggle,
Every nights’ a fight
Thought life would be easier when you weren’t there
But now I am seeing the truth

I’m not fine,
I’m not all right
I need you
I can’t work this out
I can’t go on
I need you

Why do we always wait for the worst,
Before we decide to change?
Lying to yourself only works
As long as you still believe it.


Every days’ a struggle,
Every nights’ a fight
Waited for change to happen
But wasn’t willing to try.

I’m not fine,
I’m not alright,
I need you
I don’t have hopes
I’ve lost my dreams
I need you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Darling, My Muse

O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.
-William Shakespeare



Many writers have a "Muse." Whether that muse is real or fictional is entirely dependent on the writer. A muse is a source of inspiration. People experiencing writer's block often say things like "My muse isn't speaking today." To me, a muse is something you can write about no matter what the circumstances. Even when the imagination well is dry, I can write about my muse. I love him, he is my "darling." Though he would hate me calling him that. He is the first male POV (Point of View) I ever wrote from (the second was a character in my first squabble on Cleanplace*, won first place, but I'm not bragging or anything!).

Tonight I've been thinking a lot about my muse, so, I thought I would introduce you to him. Several years ago I joined the above mentioned online writing group. Soon after, I decided to join the upcoming Forum RPG**. Browsing through some pictures, I find one of a white fox with long white wings. Shayde. Oh, Shayde. The obstinate, know-it-all flying fox, who got on everyone's case, for everything. Shayde, despite the fact that he is a winged fox, is probably the most real character to me. I wrote for him in this RPG for, well, probably well over a year. After that I wrote some with a friend through email, emails I sadly don't have anymore. Anyways. Shayde is that Muse I can always write for, no matter what. Want to get to know Shayde better. Here's a little passage about him as a pup (I liked writing this because Shayde is all serious and would hate for people to read this :-P)

Shayde bounded on his small white paws across the sweet green grass, jumping ever so slightly at the purple butterfly above him. The object of his fancy landed gracefully on a dandelion, waving her wings as if to taunt him. He crouched low and sprung, jaws snapping. He stopped in shock and tried to shake the dandelion out of his mouth as the butterfly fluttered hauntingly over his head in triumph.

A deep baritone laugh turned the indignant pup's head back toward the house. The Prophet stood in the doorway with laughter in his eyes as he motioned his apprentice towards him. Shayde threw one last glare at the pesky sprite above him and raced back to the house, stumbling a bit on the incline. Shayde ran around the Prophet's feet playfully, nipping at his ankles. The man laughed and picked the Fias up by the scruff to look him in the eye. Shayde batted at the man's face, but his paws came up short. The Prophet laughed again.

"You know, you're supposed to be more intelligent than a regular fox pup, but you still act like one."

Shadye let his paws fall, and glared at his mentor. "I can speak."

He chuckled, placing Shayde on a bench. "Yes you can, and sometimes too much."

"But I also know how to hold my tongue, unlike dogs," he said with a bit of annoyance in his voice.

"I beg to differ, and stop putting your paws on the table, they're dirty!" The Prophet continued to help their maid, Melina, set the table.

Shayde looked down at his browned paws, slightly embarrassed, and hopped down to go wash them.

"You do have wings," The Prophet reminded him, not for the first time. "You can use them."

Shayde glanced back, with unexpected maturity in his eyes. "I fly because I can, I walk because I enjoy it."



So that's Shayde... He's fun! Well, fun to write, he's not a very fun Fias... Melina is a friend's character, not mine. Though we decided her and Shayde grew up together.

Okay, I kind of lied earlier. I actually have two muses, the other is a real person. She is my pastor's daughter. Though I don't think I've actually told her mom I've written about her ::oops::. Of course, now she will because she is probably going to read this, but oh well. Here is a little school assignment written with this girl.


I’ve heard it said that all babies look a little funny when they’re first born. I’ve never seen a newly born baby in person, but I can’t imagine [her] ever being “funny looking.” The impish young girl reaches up on her tiptoes to grab a bowl of hard candy on top of the rosewood piano. Her long blonde hair falls into perfect waves, while a neat braid pulls to one side. She pushes one delicate hand on the shorter ledge, and strains further. Her purple shoes barely touch the ground. Her small round face is scrunched in deep concentration, and her blue eyes focus on her lofty goal. Only an inch taller and she might have reached it. Feeling a slight pity, a man hands her a piece. The toddler’s beaming face brightens the small room as she sticks the wrapped candy in her smiling mouth. Taking the candy out with a confused pout, she unwraps the treasure and wipes her red stained fingers on her white jumper, unaware of her mother’s grimace. She pops the strawberry candy back in her mouth, and rolls it around. The sound of her prize hitting her pearl white teeth can be heard through her chubby cheeks. The triumphant girl stands next to the upright piano as if in her own world, simply enjoying her somewhat hard earned victory.


So there it is. My two muses. Do you have a muse? Is there something you can always write about?

*An online teen writing forum. A squabble is a weekly scene challenge centering around specific requirements.
**which is basically a bunch of people each having a character, or several characters, and writing a story together

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Writerly Gadgets and Gizmos:


There's an App for that!




It's inevitable. It's unavoidable. No matter what your blog is about you can always find a list of iPod and iPhone apps that are the "best" for you. So I figured, why fight it? People don't carry around notebooks and pens like they used to. There are a few, it's true, but if you ask ten people for a pen, you might have one person hand you one. On the other hand, if you ask to use someone's iPhone, or even just a phone, everyone has one. You use your phone for everything else so why not use it for writing?

Here are a few of my personal favorite Apps perfect for writers.

Notebooks

I love notebooks. It's Notes on steroids. Notes with superpowers! Instead of seeing a full list of all your notes, it breaks your writing into "books." I have a book for church notes, for school, and my creative writing. I've written two school papers entirely on Notebooks. Technically you can sync your Notebooks app with your computer through Bonjour and SyncDocs. However, I have never used this feature because I find it more convenient to email my current note to myself. both email and SyncDocs require internet access so that is not a factor in which feature you make use of. A great feature I personally love is being able to lock specific notes and books. This may seem silly and you may think, why would you want some locked? Personally I don't like having to type in a passcode if I'm in church and going between notebooks and my iPhone bible. However, there are certain things I prefer to lock, like when I was working on something for my brother's wedding, I didn't want him to get a hold of my phone and find it. (Yes, my 22 year old brother still looks through me phone).
The downside? No spell check. Not that big of a deal if you're eventually going to have it somewhere with spell check available. A bit pricey at $5.99, it is a program I recommend reading into before purchasing. Read a Review by appadvice.

My Writing Nook

Who doesn't like the word Nook? One of my personal favorites (along with umbrella). My Writing Nook App is an extension of the website. The only requirement for this App is a google account. Though you can use the actual writing feature without it, you cannot sync it with the website without an account. I actually prefer the cleaner type of My Writing Nook compared to Notebooks, though as far as organizing goes it's not quite as effective. However, it does make it much easier to keep track of current files. My Writing Nook automatically syncs with the web to keep all of your documents current. It also has a built in Dictionary and thesaurus (my cheat spell check when I can't find a word). It's a much simpler program to use for those of us who don't want to take time to learn another. This google powered App is $1.99.

Wikipedia
It's pretty safe to say that writers know full well the amazingness of Wikipedia. This App is Wikipedia in all it's glory. If you try to get on Wikipedia via your bowser, it doesn't always turn out so amazing. I love the Wikipedia App because, well, it's free! who doesn't love free stuff? It's free, easy to use, and familiar. That is the great thing about it, we already know how to use Wikipedia!

Word Twiddle

Confession: I've never actually used this for writing. It's really just fun to me. I love it. It's like a random idea generator. You select what you're looking for ( up to three columns) and it spins out a result. Today I have it on Adjectives, Animals, and Superpowers (my favorite topic). It gave me: tender, manatee, superhuman intelligence. Now that isn't going to work in ANY story I have, but it could be a way to flex your writing muscles. Actually, that would be a rather fun story to write. Now I have it on Adjectives and occupation. It gave me Mundane and Needleworker. Usually the two and three column options don't help much. But if you just need an occupation, or a name, or a pet, it could be very useful. I say could because, like I said, I just use it to entertain myself. You can lock certain words, while spinning the others. You can save the twiddles you like, or just scroll through the library of words. I liken this to flipping open a dictionary and choosing a word, just with fun graphics! This fun App is $.99 (try the lite version for free!)

NameShake

So I love, love, love, LOVE this App! I use it all the time. It's really very similar to word twiddle, but just names. You can select gender, first letter, and origin of the name. You can get one random result, or view a list of names. I use it for both contemporary and speculative writing (usually this means changing the names slightly). Example: For my nanowrimo, I needed I girls name that sounded strange, it is a fantasy book after all. I selected girl, mythological, and let the letter stand free. I got the name Xantho. Awkward name, but I shortened it to Xan, viola! Instant heroine! In fact, I used NameShake to name all my Nanowrimo characters, and I'm very satisfied with all of their names, especially Xan and Raidin! This App, which includes definitions, is $2.99.

These are a few of my favorites, I hope it helps you in your quest to write more efficiently! Don't forget to take advantage of Apps already on your iPhone, like notes and Voice Memos!

Am I missing an App you simply can't live without? Or write without I suppose? Please enlighten me!

Monday, January 4, 2010

There is nothing more discouraging...

Than finding 160 typed pages of a book you know you have to rewrite... BUT my amazing youth pastor said to say no to discouragement! (and drugs)... So I threw my old binder in a deep dark corner of my room. Actually, into a box to take to my NEW room because I just moved out of my parents house! I also found a collection of my writing from 1993 up to 2000, which is actually pretty hilarious to read. One thing I have learned over the years is to never throw old writing away. Not because it could secretly be amazing, but because there may be an idea you had when you were fifteen, that is still a good idea. Just because the writing was bad doesn't mean the idea was. Also, it's good to laugh at yourself sometimes, and old writing is a great way to just have some fun!

Moving right along (hehe, The Muppet Movie). Last post I talked about writing in your "zone". Today, I thought I'd talk about something else I've learned recently. A lot of times we don't use tools we have readily available to us. I don't mean tools like a hammer, or even a dictionary. I'm talking about tools we already have in our brains. No, I'm not crazy! Somethings we take for granted, and kind of deprive our characters of them. Case and point: food. Everyone eats, but many times we don't allow our characters to enjoy a meal.

Food may seem like such a little thing, but it can be used for big things. A sit down meal is a perfect place for a conversation, or to get to know your characters. Last month I embarked on a literary journey to discover the many uses of food in fiction (this is making me hungry!!). This research paper (which I got an A on by the way)is what took up all my Nanowrimo time, but I had fun doing. Actually, it was the most entertaining research paper ever. What other topic allows you to use Green Eggs and Ham as a resource? Anyways, for the full paper: click on the link titled "Interesting School Paper" in the sidebar for all my fun projects last quarter. For just that paper click here

One more thing. Awhile ago I posted here about looking your best even if you aren't going anywhere. On that note, a friend of mine at Bachman's Sparrow took me out to the mall to find the perfect jeans. Click to find the complete Great Denim Adventure (and see my new hair cut!!).
 
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