December 1, 2016

Classic of the Month: A Christmas Carol


A Christmas Carol is a book often pulled out this time of year, so why not make it my classic of the month? This has always been my favorite Dickens' book, mostly because it's short and easy to read. But there are other reasons this a classic, which we'll see in a minute.

A Christmas Carol

Ebeneezer Scrooge is a grouchy, hording man who only cares about himself. On the night of Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his dead business partner, Marley. He says he is sending three ghosts to Scrooge, so he doesn't end up tormented like Marley. One by one, Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. Scrooge learns to change his heart and become a better person because of it.

What I Like About It

As I said, I find this one of Dickens easy books to read. You can get it done if a few days without too much trouble. Many of Dickens works are difficult to get through, so it can be refreshing to have something simpler.

Then, of course, there's the message, the thing A Christmas Carol is known for. How we should always have the Christmas spirit in our hearts, and care for other people. Dickens wrote books that opened people's eyes to the realities around them. Child labor, horrible working conditions, and that sort of thing. People being blind is still a problem today, which is why this book is a classic.

The story is excellent too. Dickens food descriptions are enough to make anyone salivate. He neatly weaves the story of Scrooge and the world around him in a way that everyone remembers.

Adaptations

A Christmas Carol has been made into many movies, plays, and other media. I'll just list some of the ones I'm familiar with.


Scrooge (1970)- This version is a musical and stars Albert Finney as Scrooge. He gives a great performance, and the musical numbers are quite catchy. I'd definitely suggest it if you're a fan of musicals.


Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)- A classic Disney movie, starring none other than Scrooge McDuck as Scrooge. It's hilarious, and is a great film to introduce kids to the story. The best part, though, has to be Goofy as Marley.


The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)- I haven't actually seen this one yet, but Muppets and A Christmas Carol? It's got to be good. I think it's on the list of movies to watch this year. Plus it has Michael Caine as Scrooge.


A Christmas Carol (2009)- This is a CG movie made using motion capture as well as animation. It stars Jim Carrey as Scrooge. I've never been a fan of Carrey, but as Scrooge, he's wonderful. (He made a great Count Olaf too.) Although this movie takes some liberties, it is pretty well done. Besides, it has Colin Firth as Fred.

A Christmas Carol (Focus on the Family)- Another marvelous audio drama by Focus on the Family. A great one for kids to listen to in the car or at home.

A Christmas Carol and other Favorites (Jim Weiss)- Jim Weiss is one of our favorite readers. He makes simplified versions of stories, and narrates them to you with voices and sound effects. This CD has A Christmas Carol, The Gift of the Magi, and Dick Spindler's Family Christmas.


And, for the geek, be sure to watch the Doctor Who episode, The Unquiet Dead. It has the 9th doctor and Rose, who help Charles Dickens get rid of some aliens that inspire his book.

I think I've covered them all. I suggest any and all of these for your Christmas season.

What do you like about A Christmas Carol? What adaptations do you like? Let me know in the comments.

November 25, 2016

Creative Corner


November's almost at its end. How can a month feel short and long at the same time? I love NaNoWriMo, but I'm looking forward to having my life back. Anyway, on to this month's creative endeavors.

This month, on November 18, Mickey Mouse turned 88. Can you believe in twelve years he'll be one hundred? In honor of his birthday, I drew Mickey. I may have stayed up half the night trying to get my word count done, but it was worth it.


And since I've just been trying to write 50,000 words, I haven't had a lot of time to be creative in other ways. So here are two previews of some things I'm working on.

My pastor said the phrase "You are not alone" in his sermon last Sunday. I liked so much I decided to illustrate it.


And this is going to be a steampunk 10th doctor and Martha. It's coming along, but it's certainly a more complicated drawing.


I need to work on my art photographing skills. Sorry these don't look that good. Anyway, I hoped you enjoyed this sneak peek.

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NaNoWriMo Update: It's a busy week for me. I had a media preview of the Christmas trains at the US Botanical Gardens Tuesday (which I need to do a post on), and of course yesterday was Thanksgiving. But I'm still going strong. Word count as of Thursday: 41,433 words.

What sort of creative things have you done this month (besides write a novel)? Do you like making fan art? Let me know in the comments.

November 21, 2016

The Character Karaoke Tag


I was tagged in the Character Karaoke tag by Melissa@Quill Pen Writer. It's a tag to talk about characters and music. I love both, so let's get started. I'll be doing this with my NaNoWriMo novel, Goggles, Corsets, and Cyborgs.

What song best describes the mood of your novel?

Tough one. "The Game is On" from Sherlock is certainly one. It has the excitement, danger, and edge that my story has.


But also Lindsey Stirling's "Shatter Me". That song captures my characters' want for freedom.



Pick a character and a song to describe them.

I choose Elle for this one. The song to describe her is "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten.


This describes Elle well because it's her personality to fight and not give up. The people around her doubt her, but she ignores them and keeps going.

One of your characters is at a karaoke night when- gasp! They've been chosen to get up and sing. What song do they choose an how do they perform it?

Let's go with Elle again. She'd perform "Somebody" from Lemonade Mouth. Her singing would be excellent, but hard to hear because she's afraid of performing.

Go to song for writing battle scenes?

Probably one of the songs from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. They're great and have lots of emotions. Or Pirates of the Caribbean. Those can get your blood pumping.

I tag anyone who wants to participate.

What's your favorite type of music? Do you have character theme songs? Let me know in the comments.

November 17, 2016

How to Read Books Fast


I'm a fast reader. I can get through at least two hundred books a year. But I know not everyone can read as fast as I can. Today I'm going to be sharing some ideas on how to get through books quickly.

1. Never leave home without a book

I always have book packed in my bag. You never know when you might have a minute to pull it out and read a few pages. Ideal times for reading are while waiting for your food at a restaurant, during a bus or Metro ride, when you're waiting for a movie to start, or any other time you have a down moment.

2. Read before you go to bed

Instead of checking your phone before bed, which doesn't help you sleep, why not try reading a book instead. It can help you relax, as long as it isn't a scary book. Then avoid reading it at all costs.

3. If a book's not interesting you, stop reading it

Some books aren't interesting to you, might not have been what you thought it was, or just might be horrible. If that's the case, put it down. You may want to finish it if just to see why you didn't like it, but you don't have to.

4. Take time to binge read

Weekends are great times to finish books. If you have a few empty hours on a Saturday or Sunday, find a cozy place and curl up with a book. Taking a while to read is nice and relaxing. Plus, if it's a really good book, you might even get the whole thing done.

5. Read at least two books at once

Having more than one book to read at once is a great way to get in more books. One fiction and one non-fiction is a good way to go. It may seem counterproductive to split your focus, but it isn't as bad you think. If you get bored of one book, you can switch to another one for a while or read whatever you're in the mood for.

Of course, these tips might not work for you. I personally am a fast reader and I read everywhere. People are always asking me what I'm reading. I may or may not also use books as excuses not to socialize. Figure out what reading habits work for you, and soon you'll be flying through books.

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NaNoWriMo Update: Still plugging away. So far I haven't hit any major road blocks. However, I think my novel is going to be more than 50k. That's not bad, but that means I'll probably be writing after November is over. I can't write any faster (since I'm writing by hand) and I don't have any more time to write either. It will be what it will be. Official count (as of the 16th): 28,636.

What's your tip to get through books fast? How many books do you read in a year? Let me know in the comments.

November 10, 2016

7 Things To Do To Raise Your Spirits


We all have those days where our spirits seem to be dragging in the dirt. I know I do. Anything can cause it. A rainy day. Something not going the way you planned. Bad news. Donald Trump being elected president.

It's also week 2 of NaNoWriMo, one of the hardest weeks. You've passed the beginning exhilaration, and you can't see the finish line yet. You might be feeling discouraged and want to give up.

So today I'm going to give you some ways to lift your spirits when you're feeling low. These are some of the things that help me, and I hope they help you too.


1. Listen to your favorite music

Music has the amazing ability to completely influence our mood. That's why a score is so important to a film. One of my favorite things to do when I'm feeling blue (oh look, I rhymed) is to turn on my favorite music. I like something with a beat. It might be Taylor Swift, Disney, or a musical. Singing and dancing along almost always makes me feel better.

2. If you're a musician, play something

If you play some sort of instrument, it's also a great way to deal with your feelings. Get out your instrument and play whatever you want. Your favorite songs. That piece you really love. I find playing music therapeutic.

3. Create something

Draw something. Write a poem. Craft. Sculpt. Whatever makes you happy to make, do it. Being creative is an excellent way to forget everything else that's going on.


4. Cook or bake

Making food can also be spirit lifting. There's nothing like eating something you made yourself, whether it's a bowl of soup or a cookie with gooey chocolate chips. It helps you feel better, and you end up with something tasty in the end. Or if you don't have time to make something, just eat some chocolate. That works too.

5. Watch a funny movie

Get out your favorite comedy, Disney movie, or whatever makes you laugh. Best done with a friend and some snacks. Laughter is the best medicine, right?


6. Memes and cat videos

Just search Pinterest for minion memes. You'll fall out of your chair with laughter. Look up cat videos and you'll feel better in no time. Who knew watching a cat could be so humorous?

7. Get moving

Go out to the mall and walk around. Explore a new museum or visit an old one. Exercise. Invite a friend and do a super hard workout video from someone like Blogilates. Go for a nature walk. Don't allow yourself to sit there having a pity party. Do something.

Those are my tips. I know things can be hard sometimes, but we need to remember to laugh and enjoy life. If none of these work for you, find your own ways to feel less blue. Smile!


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NaNoWriMo update: As of yesterday, I was around 16,000 words. This week's been going a little better than last week, but I'm still a bit frustrated about my Etsy shop. Still, I'm pretty happy with my progress.

What do you do when you're feeling down? What's your go to thing for laughs? Share in the comments.

November 4, 2016

Beautiful Books 2016- Novel Update


It's time for the next part of Beautiful Books, hosted by Paper Fury and Further Up Further In. I'm going to dive right in.

1. Overall, how is your metal state, and how is your novel going?

My metal state is middling. I've been a bit frustrated with my first few days of progress. Not that I haven't met my goals, I've exceeded them actually. But I haven't been able to get some of the other things done that I wanted to. Still, I'm working on being at peace with not always getting things done.

My novel is going well. I'm right on track. It's certainly not spectacular, but I'm having fun writing it.

2. What's your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Here it is, unedited:

Elle glared at the object in front of her. It was supposed to be a scale model of a city wide air purifier. However, the design was wrong. She pushed it away.

3. Who's your current favorite character in your novel?

I like both my hero and my villain. I haven't gotten to a lot of my other characters yet, but I'm look forward to it. Elle is fun because she's headstrong and follows her heart. And I like Whitlock because he has this sophisticated air to him.

4. What do you love about your novel so far?

My characters and my world. The upper class in my steampunk world lives lives close to the way real Victorians did, while the other classes live quite differently.

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Well, at one point I meant to write something would be a disaster, and accidentally wrote desire instead. And I keep accidentally forgetting to divide my chapters so I have to fix it when I type it up. 

6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end- and why?

Probably the end. I like bringing it all together into the epic climax.

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best?

I write on paper, then type it into the computer. As I've said before, I have a hard time thinking while looking at a screen. I write best in the morning or early afternoon. And I almost constantly have music playing.

8. How private are you about your novel while you're writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

My immediate family knows what I'm writing and they're super supportive during the process. I tell other people if they ask, but I don't readily offer that information. Too introverted, I guess.

9. What keeps you writing even when it's hard?

Sheer stubbornness? Once I've started a challenge, I'll probably complete it just because I don't want to lose. But also because I love writing, and I want to finish.

10. What are your top three pieces of writing advice?

1) Write what you're passionate about, now what you think publisher want. 2) Keep writing, even if it's horrible. First drafts will be first drafts. 3) Take breaks. It will help your creativity.

There you have it. If you want to read my first Beautiful Books, you can see it here.

How's your writing going? What music do you like to listen to while writing? Let me know in the comments.

November 3, 2016

Finding Character Names


Finding the right name for a character is as hard. It needs to be just the right, like Goldilocks and her porridge. But this post is not so about choosing a name (though I should do a post on that), it's about finding ideas for names. These are my own personal suggestions that I hope will help you in your search.

Baby Name Books and Websites

Baby name resources are great for characters as well. They can tell you the origin of the name, what it means, and how popular it is. You can find baby name books at any bookstore. Here links to a few of my favorite baby name sites. Warning: your browser might decide you are pregnant.

Belly Ballot (one of my personal favorites)
Girl Baby Names
Baby Names
Baby Name Guide
Behind the Name
Random Surname Generator (because last names are so hard)
Fantasy Name Generators- this site is a must bookmark for any fantasy or sci-fi writer. It can generate anything from names to shield emblems. Go check it out.

Obituaries and Cemeteries

It might seem morbid, but these two are excellent name sources. You can find the most interesting names from real people. They can also lead to great story ideas. I don't suggest taking a whole name from one, though. There's a likelihood that someone has the same name as your character, but you don't want to make it seem like you just took someone's name. These are especially good places to find last names.

Those are my top two sources for names. I suggest you keep a running list of names you like. You never know when they may come in handy. If you're looking for a certain type of name, like Victorian or Welsh, just Google it. You'll find all sorts of things.

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Now, NaNoWriMo. These first few days have been tough for me. I feel like I haven't been able to get anything done but write. That's bad since I have instruments to practice, an Etsy shop to work on, and I'd like to keep up my exercise. But I'm praying for grace and that things get better. 

If you want to know more about my NaNo novel, check back tomorrow for the next part of Beautiful Books.

My current word count: 5,973.

Where do you get names for your characters? How have your first few days of NaNoWriMo been? Let me know in the comments.