September 29, 2016

My Writing: A Quick Look at My Novels So Far


Being the introvert that I am, I've never shared my novels with anyone other than my sister. Most people don't even know I'm a writer. It's not that I hide it, I just don't mention it a lot. But now that I have this blog, I'm going to be a big brave girl and share a little bit about my novels. Here I go.


Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog

I don't have official covers or blurbs for any of these, so I'm just going to share a bit about them. This one is my first full length novel. I wrote it with only a single page outline to help me on my way. It turned into a 50,000 some word novel that worked surprisingly well. Here's a sort of blurb (which I really need to work on).

Kay never asked to be sent to another world with a quest thrust upon him. But when his best friend Jeremiah accidentally gets turned into a bullfrog, that's what happens. Kay ends up in a country called Zilmannio where there are elves, trolls, and talking animals.

As he journeys across the land in search for a way to restore his friend to normal, he's joined by a human, an elf, a troll, a dragon, and a mouse. He discovers the only way to change Jeremiah back is to be kissed by a princess, who is missing. While trying to rescue the princess, Kay must prove that he is a leader in spite of his fears.

This book is the first in either a duology or a trilogy, I'm not sure yet. It's in the editing stage right now.


Return to Wonderland

I have two books written in this trilogy so far. The first is called Return to Wonderland and the second is called Back Down the Rabbit Hole, though both of these might be changed. They're both a bit short, a common problem with my novels, so they need plenty of work.

This series is about Celia, a distant relation of the original Alice. She gets called back to Wonderland to help defeat a group called the Destroyers, who want to make Wonderland like our world. Loads of lovely plot twists in this series.


Pirate Attack

This is a stand-alone historical fiction novel set in France. As with most of my earlier books, it needs plenty of work. Like a better title. Way more accurate facts. A better name for one of the main characters. That sort of thing.

Arlene lives a normal life as the daughter of a lord. At least until a pirate fleet is spotted off the shore of their coastal stronghold. The pirates attack the city and trap the people. Arlene and Luke, her friend, must help defend the city and defeat the pirates before they can take over the city and kill everyone.


The Magic Tree

This is a more recent novel. It's kind of a modern fantasy with all sorts of fantasy creatures. It's the first book in a duology. Originally it was one book but it came out too long for one book, so yeah, now it's two.

When Amy went to the capital of Demera for summer vacation, she didn't expect to get accused of stealing the magical tree that keeps all the magic balanced. Now she and her friends must track it down before her country falls to pieces. She learns that a dark elf named Renee has stolen the tree. Amy has to journey outside of her country and make great sacrifices to save everyone.


The Girl With the Sword

This is last years NaNoWriMo novel. It's a stand-alone, though I may place more novels in the same universe. It's a superhero novel, a highly under-written genre. It's also being editing and I'm working on finding a better title.

Hana used to be a a shy girl. On a family trip to Japan, she discovers a a sword that grants her magical powers. The sword's guardian takes her away for training. When Hana returns, she decided to turn into a superhero. A super villain shows up and threatens all of LA, she has to decide whether to pursue justice or friendship.


* * *

That's at least a taste of my writing. I've got a few other novels and novellas but these are some of my best ones. I know that's quiet a few but what can I say? I can't stop writing. Soon I plan on adding a page to my blog for my novels.

What are you writing? Do you have too many novels going at once? Let me know in the comments.

September 27, 2016

National Book Festival Trip


I know this post isn't a normal post. But I want to start a new thing. I want to start doing picture posts documenting places I go. This will both give you a look at the things I get to see, and work on my photography skills.

Today's topic is the National Book Festival, held in DC. If you are ever nearby or want to travel to see it, I highly suggest it. There are over a 120 authors of almost every genre. You can buy books in the book store they set up, get authors to sign your books, and listen to their words of wisdom. This is one of my top things to see each year.



This is the layout of one of the speaking rooms. There are a bunch of chairs in rows with a stage in front. The National Book Festival used to be held on the National Mall. There were beautiful white tents, tons of dust, and plenty of sun. Now they hold it inside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which is so big it feels like it could have more than one zip code.


The area with the book signings, kids activities, and book sales. See how huge it is?

With all those authors, there's sure to be at least one you know. This year, the authors included Stephen King (who you had to get tickets for), Lois Lowery, Shannon Hale, Patrick Ness, and Katherine Patterson. We were able to see three of those talk.

First up was Lois Lowery. You may know her as the author of the Giver quartet. Did you know she's published a book every year for almost four decades? She's amazing, and she was funnier than I though she'd be.


Lois Lowery, first from the left

Things I learned from her talk. 1) When she wrote The Giver, she meant the ending to be open, so you could decided what happened. The she wrote more books in the seires, and that changed. 2) Put in enough details so the reader can form an image, but no more. You just need to let their imaginations take over, which you can do best if you give only a little description. 3) If she could live in any of her dystopian worlds, she would live in the village from Son.

The second session we were able to attend was the Books to Movies panel featuring Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls, Chaos Walking series) and Katherine Patterson (The Bridge to Terabithia, The Great Gilly Hopkins). This was certainly my favorite of the two sessions, though it was a close call.


Patrick Ness, second from the left, and Katherine Patterson, to his right
At the Books to Movies panel, we were able to watch trailers and clips from both authors upcoming films, A Monster Calls and The Great Gilly Hopkins respectively, as well as hear from the authors. It was interesting and fun, though I wish it was longer.

A few things I learned from the Books to Movies panel. 1) Don't judge a movie by it's trailer. The Bridge to Terabithia trailer turned off a lot of fans, even though the movie was quite close to the book. So, please don't judge a movie just by it's trailer. 2) Everyone is a filmmaker in their own head. When you read a book, you kind of make your own movie, so filmmakers have a difficult job. 3) Books and movies are different and people need to realize that. Books are personal, movies are shared. Each medium has different requirements.

On to the authors. Here are some things I learned from Katherine Patterson. 1) She likes to see what other people do with her book. She likes them to evolve and change. 2) The Terabithia in the movie wasn't the way she imagined it.

It was nice to hear from those other people, but Patrick Ness was easily my favorite speaker there. He didn't mind telling you his opinion, and he didn't apologize for it. I like people like that. His accent was also awesome. Besides that, he had really good advice.

First, he calls movies a remix of a book, which I think is a great way to look at it. Second, he said he considers all books fantasy. They all are made up stories and made up characters. To him, fantasy and realism have a blurred line, and sometimes one leaks into the other, which is what he does in his books. And he also repeated one of my favorite pieces of writing advice. Write the book you want to read, not the story you think people want. Write what makes you passionate.

Each year as we go to the National Book Festival, it increases my determination to be invited there someday. One day, I want that to be me on the stage, talking about my books to all those people who love them.

Have you ever gone to a book festival? What's your favorite piece of writing advice? Let me know in the comments.

September 26, 2016

Book of the Month: A Conspiracy of Alchemists


A Conspiracy of Alchemists
by Liesel Schwarz

Cover Review: The cover is one of the things that originally caught my attention. The bright pink letters, the intriguing girl, and, of course, the Eiffel Tower with a dirigible flying by. The font is a little hard to read and the author's name blends in a bit, but otherwise I like the framing. Everything's well placed.

The blurb: LEAVE IT TO CHANCE.

Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—a high-flying dirigible pilot with a taste for adventure and the heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural.

Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret.

But when they come after Elle, they get more than they bargained for. This enterprising young woman, the daughter of a scientific genius, has reserves of bravery and determination that even she scarcely suspects. Now she is about to meet her match in more ways than one: a handsome yet infuriating Warlock named Hugh Marsh, whose agenda is as suspect as his charms are annoyingly irresistible.


My Thoughts
I didn't like this book. The blurb sounded exciting and I was eager to read it. However, once I started I couldn't get into it at all.

First, Elle was boring. The blurb made her sound daring and exciting. She was daring, but she fell flat. She would repeat things she already said, which is annoying. Makes you want to say get on with it. Most of the other characters, except her father, were more interesting than her.

Second, the plot was confusing. There are Nightcrawlers, which are basically vampires, and pirates and alchemists and warlocks. I think there were too many elements and not enough cohesiveness. I wasn't even sure what happened in the climax.

And most of the plot was predictable. Elle starts off hating Marsh and they end up kissing. It's not that I mind that, but it felt cliche. Her father is a mad scientist type of guy. Elle turns out to be the person with special powers the warlocks are looking for, obviously. Even the plot twists didn't surprise me.

If you don't mind reading a slightly confusing plot with distant characters, there are some cool elements. The absinthe fairy for one thing. If you like steampunk and paranormal, this book is for you.

My rating:





Have you read this book? Do you like steampunk? Let me know in the comments.

September 22, 2016

NaNoWriMo Part 2: Setting and Outline


Welcome to part two of my NaNoWriMo series. In this post we're going over creating your setting and outline. Let's begin.

Setting

Choosing a setting is important. In good novels it can become a character in it's own right. You need to choose a setting carefully, making sure it works with your story. The wrong one can wreck a perfectly good story, while the right one makes the whole story shine.

The first consideration is what time you want it to take place. Modern day California? The future? Settings can be in one place or several, especially if it's a quest. Next, figure out where you want it to be. Don't forget to think outside the box. Try not to be cliche in your choices. Can you change the setting to give your story a different feel?

Once you've figured out the setting, you need to learn as much about it as you can (if it's real) or worldbuild (if it's fictional). Take notes, watch videos, whatever you need. A good setting is not exactly unnoticeable, but it does need to keep your reader in the story. If you make a big mistake, your reader will be jerked out of the world you've worked so hard on. That's why in editing you should always check your facts.

Outline

Your outline is a map to your story, at least if you're a planner. If you're a pantster, it may seem more of a box to trap you. But I can't function without knowing at least a little bit about where my story's going. When I've tried to write without an outline, it turns into a befuddled mess and I have to write one anyway.

Before you work on the outline, you need to have some things decided. POV, audience, and possibly theme. These will all aid you in your outline creation. I always get to know my characters before I write the outline as well. I can't work on the plot without knowing how my characters will react in such and such situation.

There are many ways to plot your story. You can make a bullet list, an essay type outline, a synopsis, a chapter by chapter outline, and more. This article from Now Novel gives a good overview of the different types. But you don't have to follow just one. I personally use a mixture of approaches. Make your outline work for you.

That's all for today. If you missed it, here's part one. I'll see you in two weeks with part three.

How do you outline your novels? What do you think about setting? Let me know in the comments.

September 19, 2016

Color Theory for Beginners



Don't even think about skipping over this post. I know you thought about it (or if you didn't, good for you). Color theory is something I think everyone should know, whether or not you create art. It can be used for so much more than that. Color theory is also useful for writers, jewelry makers, and so much more. Don't be intimidated, it isn't as hard as it sounds. Ready? Let's dive in.

What and Why

What exactly is color theory, you may ask? It is basically a guide to colors and how to mix and combine them. That's not so bad, right?

The second question you're probably asking is why you should know anything about color theory. One, because it's a useful skill for anybody, in my humble opinion. Two, if you ever plan to do anything with color, whether it's designing a book cover, making some art, coloring in one of those awesome adult coloring pages, or even picking your clothes, color theory is helpful.

The color wheel

In color theory, the color wheel is your best friend. It has all the colors laid out in relation to each other. Here it is.

The color wheel has three basic types of colors on it. First are the primary colors, which you probably learned about in school. Red, yellow, and blue. Every other color, except black and white, are made from these three colors. Below is an illustration pointing out the primary colors.


Next are the secondary colors. These are made by mixing primary colors. Orange, green, and purple are secondary colors, as you can see below.


Last are the tertiary colors. These come from mixing the primary and secondary colors. See how they all work with each other? Isn't it cool? Tertiary colors include red-violet, yellow-orange, blue-green, yellow-green, blue-violet, and red-orange.



But what about black and white? They aren't part of the color wheel. Black and white are used in color theory, as you'll see in a moment, but there's a lot of debate about whether they are actually colors.

Combination

We already talked about how the color wheel is made by combining colors with each other. Now we're going to discuss shades, tones, and tints. Each of these are used to make more versions of one color.

A shade is when you add black to a color, thus darkening it while maintaining its original hue. (A hue just means color. But doesn't it sound fancy?) You don't need to add a lot of black to a color to quickly darken and intensify it.

A tone is when you add grey, or back and white, to a hue. Depending on how you combine the colors, it may get brighter or lighter than the normal hue.

And finally, a tint is when you add white to a hue. This makes a pale color that often is referred to as pastel. Tints are light and airy.

Using Color

Now for the most important part of color theory. Actually using what you've learned. There are many ways to use color, and most of us just slap things together and hope it looks good. After this, you'll be much more refined.

When choosing colors for anything, you want to choose things that go together and look good. (Unless you want to have something clash, which you might.) The color wheel is extremely useful in finding colors that go together. Here are some of the ways to find.

Choose a color, let's say green, and go straight across from it. In this case that would be red. Those two colors are called complimentary colors. Use these when you want something to pop.



Monochrome colors are different hues of the same color. So brick red, red, and red-orange would be monochrome colors.



Analogous colors are three colors next to each other on a color wheel. In the image below that's blue-violet, violet, and red-violet. These types of colors are very harmonious.



If you put a triangle on the color wheel, the colors at each point would be a triadic color. It will probably be all three primary, secondary, or tertiary colors. In our example, it's the secondaries.



I know that's a lot of information but congratulations on making it this far. I still have so much I want to discuss about color and how to use it, I'm going to have to do another post next month, so stay tuned. Now you have a basic grasp on color theory and the first step on the road to using color well.

Did you learn something in this post? What color is your favorite? (Mine's red.) Let me know in the comments.

September 15, 2016

Transforming Your Outfit



We all have those times when we need to make a wardrobe change, whether it be from work to a night out, or church to a day trip. Maybe you don't want to carry a whole extra bag of clothes. I certainly don't. But what can you do? Cue drum-roll. . . transform your outfit!


Of course, we don't have fairy godmothers that can turn our rags to ballgowns with a wave of her wand and a bibbidi-bobbidi-boo. We have to do it ourselves. I'm going to show you how to take an outfit and transform it using only a few pieces of clothing or accessories that you could carry in your bag.

The Outfit

I'm going to start with a simple outfit that will be used as our base for all the transformations. You can use whatever outfit you're planning to wear that day. I'm going to use a black skirt and a black top. (Which I meant to take a picture of, then forgot, so just imagine there's a picture there.)

Transformation One

First, we're going to pretend you were just at church. You have on a scarf, several bracelets, and ballet flats. But afterwards you're going to visit some museums. You don't want to wear all that fancy stuff. What can you do?


Bring a pair of tennis shoes and socks, the best option for anywhere you're planning to walk a lot. Then, switch out your scarf for a necklace and/or belt. Voila, you're ready to brave the museum crowds.


Transformation Two

This time, let's go the other way. You've been out and about all day, and now you have to go to a nice event without stopping by home. All you're wearing with your outfit is a jacket. How do you change this one?


Start with the hair and make-up. Both are easy to do in the car and can quickly take you from busy to glamorous. Exchange your walking shoes for flats or heels. Add a sweater and some nice jewelry, and you're ready for your party.


Other Ideas

All situations won't match the ones I wrote about above. So here are some other ideas for changing your outfit up.

A shirt is always an easy switch. You can pop one in your bag and change it quickly in the bathroom. But be careful if it's a button up shirt. It may wrinkle. You can also add a sweater, vest, or jacket.


Shoes can be changed as well. Tennis shoes, sandals, pumps, heels, all these can add to your outfit.


And then there's accessories. Scarves, belts, and jewelry can all be used to turn an outfit from work to formal, or visa versa. Layer them up or go simple, whatever works. Don't forget hair and make-up. They can help as well.


What's your favorite way to transform an outfit? What sort of quick switches have you pulled? Let me know in the comments.

September 12, 2016

Classic of the Month: Dracula


This year I decided to read Dracula and Frankenstein. To be honest, I found Frankenstein disappointing. I thought it would be cooler and more scary than it was. Maybe that's just me. But Dracula delivered, and delivered well. Nothing like a classic that terrifies you.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The story is told in epistolary form, which means it's not told by a narrator, but through diaries, letters, and other forms of writings. Basically, this is the story of how Count Dracula attempts to move to England to find new blood to drink and people to turn into vampires. It starts when a man named Jonathan comes to Transylvania to help him obtain property in England. He discovers his vampire nature. Dracula comes to England and begins his conquest. He starts by hunting a woman named Lucy. In the end she turns into a vampire and must be killed. Several men, including Jonathan, hunt down Dracula and eventually kill him.

What I Like About It

This book was so creepy. I couldn't read it after dark and I loved it. Bram Stoker is said to have defined the modern vampire, and I agree.

I also enjoyed the epistolary form. It's rare to find books written this way and he did a good job at it. The shifts are fairly easy to navigate. At times, the plot was hard to follow, but I think that comes from being an older book. I may not have paid enough attention either.

Adaptations

There is no way I can list all of the Dracula films here. There have been so many movies and books based on or including Dracula, I could never name them all. They estimate that 217 films feature Dracula in a major role, though not all of them are based off this novel. From Christopher Lee to Adam Sandler, many actors have lent their face or voice to this iconic character.

However, if you want a film kids can watch that's full of classic monsters, I'd suggest Hotel Transylvania. It's about Dracula, but in this film he has a daughter and started a hotel for monsters. It's great fun.

Have you read Dracula? What's your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments.