July 28, 2016

Book of the Month: Rose Daughter


Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

First, a look at the cover. It's a beautiful blue and rather plain, but with good symmetry. I don't like that McKinley's name is more prominent than the title, but that seems to be a thing when you become a big author. Overall, the cover is enticing.

Rose Daughter is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. In some ways it's similar to the original. Beauty's father stumbles across the Beast's house and take a rose for his daughter. The Beast says he will let him go if the man sends his daughter to him. Beauty goes to the Beast and slowly falls in love with him. But it's also different. The reason Beast wants Beauty is to grown his roses again. There are unicorns and greenwitches and magic. In the end, it's up to Beauty to save the Beast through love.

My Thoughts

Many people don't like this book because they read her first retelling of the same fairy tale, Beauty, first. They're apparently very different books. Because I've never read that one, I love this book. It's one of my favorites.

While at times the writing can be a bit hard to understand, I love the prose. She has a way of describing things that makes them easy to see. You can almost feel the maliciousness of the house and the tranquility of the glass house.

It's also nice that Beauty and her sisters are great friends. In some versions they're jerks. In this one they're sisters bonded through hardship. It gives Beauty more toughness than other versions.

As for plot, it's well conceived. A bit tricky to follow at times and a little slow, but this isn't exactly a high action tale. McKinley's worldbuilding is great, giving you tastes of a fantasy world that you never get to see but wish you could explore.

Have you read Rose Daughter? What did you think of it? Tell me in the comments.

July 25, 2016

Making Pinterest Storyboards


One of my favorite ways to use Pinterest is to storyboard my novels. Pinterest is a treasure trove of inspiration. It can be time consuming because one thing leads to another and then you've spent an hour on it. (It's a great way to procrastinate, in other words.) But its value of it is amazing.

What is storyboarding?

The word storyboarding technically has two uses. In film, it's a series of pictures that give an early idea of the movie. It's a way for directors to figure out how they want to frame shots and all that.

In writing, however, it is more of an inspiration for your story. A storyboard is a collection of images and information pertaining to your current story. Another name for it is an inspiration board.

Before Pinterest, these had to be made by hand. You'd have a folder or bulletin board full of images that inspired you. With Pinterest, all that has been digitized. You can now find almost anything you need and save it all on your board. It's so much easier than printing everything out.

How to do it

The first step is to create a board for your story on Pinterest. All you have to do is hit "Create a Board" right at the top and name it after your novel.



Once it's created, you can pin images or articles onto it from anywhere on the web, as long as it has a picture. You can even put pictures you've taken on it by uploading them from your computer.

The hard part is actually finding the pictures that inspire you. Ideas include things like characters, animals, places, furniture, and more. Each of those can be even further divided.

Knowing what you're looking for is necessary. I like to start with my main characters. I look for their eye and hair color, hair style, clothing style, and things they like. Then I move on to other things. When you're done, if ever, you'll have a board full of many of pictures that help you visualize your story.

Using Pinterest for storyboarding is super fun. But it doesn't count as writing! That's why I often like to do the majority of my storyboarding during the pre-writing or editing stage. It's less distracting that way.

Just searching fantasy or sci-fi brings up hundreds of cool images that might inspire you later. That's why it's nice to have a board just of inspiring pins. I have one that I use to keep pictures of anything that inspires me for writing or drawing.

Do you have Pinterest storyboards? What do you think of them? Let me know in the comments.

July 21, 2016

5 Series for Sherlock Holmes Fans


Sherlock Holmes is my all time favorite detective. He's fascinating and unique. I've read a lot of his stories (I haven't made it through all of them yet) and I've see the movies with Robert Downy Jr. and the TV show with Benedict Cumberbatch. Benedict was especially good in the role, as was Martin Freeman, who played Watson.

Over time I've read several book series based off these famous mysteries. I've even had an idea for one that I'd like to write. I decided to round up all my favorites in this post. I'll give an overview of each series, no spoilers, and then talk about why I like it. Sound good?

Young Sherlock Holmes by Andrew Lane

This series is one of my favorites. I only came across it recently and read through the first five, I think.

Young Sherlock Holmes books are about Sherlock when he was a teenager, learning to become the detective he is later. In each book there is a complex mystery that I never figure out, and Sherlock obviously solves it. He learns a lot from his brother Mycroft as well as a fictional character called Crowe.

There are multiple reasons I like this one. For one, it's nice to Sherlock actually act like a normal human being for once. It's also interesting to see him progress towards the detective we know.

The whole series was very well written. It's even endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate. Andrew Lane put a lot of time and research into each book. In the back he gives you a list of resources and facts about the things he included. I give this series four, of four, magnifying glasses. Seems appropriate, right?

The Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer

This is a series of five books about the fictional sister of Sherlock Holmes, named Enola. Although, Sherlock is a fictional character, so can he actually have a fictional sister?

When Mrs. Holmes disappears, Enola's brothers want to send her to boarding school where she would be taught to be a lady. Enola doesn't want that, since she is as smart as her brothers and knows that they aren't healthy places. She runs away and sets up her own secret identity as a detective. Over the course of the series she solves several cases while evading her brothers.

A sister of Sherlock Holmes, who's just as smart and capable. I love that idea. Enola is a great character, especially that she's able to evade Sherlock and even solve his cases. It also gives an excellent view of Victorian life, especially for girls. This was a great series for any fan of Sherlock Holmes who might want to see a female try her hand successfully at detective work. Another four magnifying glasses.

The Sherlock Files by Tracy Barrett

The Sherlock Files is a great series to introduce kids to Sherlock Holmes in modern setting with kids their own age.

Our protagonists are Xena and Xander Holmes. They discover that they are related to the famous detective, and also find a casebook, full of mysteries he never solved. As this series progress, the siblings solve the mysteries with the help of technology and resources that Sherlock didn't have.

This is a fun series meant for kids around ten, though older ones would enjoy it too. I liked it because it's aimed at kids as well as being placed in a time they can understand. Xena and Xander are fun children trained to play the Game, which is basically deducting. You learn a lot in this series. Three magnifying glasses.



Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars by Tracy Mack

The four books in the series are all about an often overlooked part of the Sherlock Holmes stories- the Baker Street Irregulars. For those of you who don't know or remember, the irregulars are a bunch of street kids that help Sherlock.

Throughout the series, the boys, and one girl, help Sherlock solve mysteries. Because they're from the streets, they're overlooked and can see and hear everything. Sherlock does his best to keep them out of danger and rarely succeeds.

I like this one because it was about the street kids. They're not often thought of when you think about the great detective, but they were important. These books would also be great for kids who like mysteries. Three magnifying glasses.




Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty

This is the most unusual one of the bunch (book 2 isn't out yet.) It not only is set in the modern day, the main character is Moriarty. And she's a girl.

Mori meets Sherlock by accident and quickly becomes caught up in his love for mysteries. When a person is murdered in the park near her house, they decided to each try to solve the mystery. Only they must share every clue with each other. But as Mori discovers more about the crimes, she can't tell Lock what she's found without risking everything.

I like this book first off because Mori was a girl and every bit as smart as Lock. I also like it because it's an interesting story with emotional ties. The realization of the villain is epic. The one thing that brought it down in my opinion is that Mycroft is portrayed as gay. Insert throwing up in my mouth here. This is certainly a book only for teenagers who are mature enough to handle it. Two and a half magnifying glasses.

So, what do you think of these books? Have you read any of them? Are there others you like? Let me know in the comments.

July 18, 2016

DIY Glitter Flip-Flops


One of the things I love most about summer is flip-flops. I have six or so pairs in my collection. They're nice because they're so versatile. Normal rubber ones can be worn to the pool or out and about. Nicer ones can even work for fancy occasions. Not a wedding probably, but a party, sure.

In this post I'm going to show you how to take a pair of average flip-flops and turn them into a sparkly wonders, sort of. Let's get started.


Supplies-

A pair of flip-flops, new or old
Glitter
Gloss Mod Podge
A paintbrush
Newspaper


1. Lay out the newspaper on a table. This will protect the table and help you keep your house from being glitterized. It may anyway. If you're like me, glitter will be everywhere when you're done.


2. Choose your glitter. You can either use the same color as your flip-flops, or choose a contrasting color. I chose silver for mine.


3. Using the paintbrush, put a layer of Mod Podge on the strap of your flip-flops. Don't make it too thin or it will dry before you can put the glitter.


4. Glitter the straps generously. Don't worry about wasting glitter, just dump. You may have to turn the shoe sideways to get glitter on the whole strap.


5. Shake the excess glitter onto the newspaper. Mine had extra glitter stuck to it, so I just wiped it off with a damp paper towel. Holding the sides of the newspaper to make a crease, put the left over glitter back in the jar.


6. Let the Mod Podge dry for several hours. When they're completely dry, brush another coat on top of the glitter to seal it and add a shiny look to the straps. It will dry clear, so don't worry.


7. Let that dry and you're done!


Wear your new and improved flip-flops out and about, sparkling all the way. Note: try not to get them wet or dirty.

Do you like flip-flops? What cool ideas have you seen to decorate them? Let me know in the comments.

July 15, 2016

The Blood Stained Search Bar Tag


Surprise! You get an extra post this week. Here's why.

Melissa@Quill Pen Writer tagged me in this interesting writer tag. (Thanks for that, Melissa.) I don't like my schedule messed up, so I just decided to an extra post.

Here are the rules-

1) Dig deep into your computer history and list five of your most recent and interesting searches for writing research; how to murder someone, is the sky blue, anything! And if you please, share a little about what you learned from these searches.

2) Thank and link to whoever tagged you. Also if I didn't tag you, if you could link to the creator (me), that would be awesome. 

3) Tag at least three other bloggers!

4) Have fun ;)

Here are five of my recent searches. The  results might be a bit mixed, since I'm working on a few things right now.

Golden eagle
 
One of my characters has a golden eagle as a companion. I looked it up to make sure I was close to accurate in my description. It is a talking eagle, so I decided it was okay to flub a little. Interesting fact: golden eagles do not screech. They are actually quiet birds. Golden eagles also will attack larger creatures to protect their young, which I might use in my story, except the eagle protects the girl.

How to carry a spear
 
The same character who has the eagle also fights with a spear, and I was curious if there was a way for her to carry it on her back. The answer is no. They wouldn't be able to draw it. She'll just have to carry it. She's a tough girl, she'll be fine.

Pink fish
 
In a different story, a mother and her daughter were going to the aquarium. Jasmine, the little girl, wanted to see pink fish. I had no idea if there were any, thus this search. There really isn't any, the kind you would see in an aquarium at least.

Choosing a sword
 
My main character, Kay, was getting a sword for his journey. I wanted to see if there was a way a person chose a sword. It was hard to find any information about that, except for collectors and reenactors.

5 year olds
 
Jasmine is five and it's been a while since I've been around a five year old. I wanted to make sure she was behaving properly for her age. It was quite interesting to read about how five year olds act.

There you have my searches. I don't know anyone to tag yet, so I'm skipping that part.

What sort of searches have you made? Are they weird?

July 14, 2016

A Guide to Bracelets


Today I bring you another one of my jewelry guides. So far we've covered earrings and necklaces. This is the third and final part- bracelets! Who doesn't love a bracelet? They're fun, simple, and everyone can wear them. Let's get started.

Bracelet Guide


Bangles are a popular bracelet that can range from thin to thick. They are an unbroken circle normally made of metal. Bangles are a timeless piece that are great for any wardrobe. You can also layer them for a cool effect.


Beaded bracelets are usually a single strand of beads, though they can have more. Some have clasps and others are made of elastic. They come in a variety of styles for whatever taste you may have. They are great for layering. These are easy to make at home too.


A cuff is similar to the bangle, but with an opening to slip around your wrist. They sit on your wrist and don't move. These also range from trendy to classic.


Chain bracelets are obviously made of chain. You can get them thin or chunky, with gemstones, or more classic. Chain is a popular style for anyone.


Charm bracelets are chain bracelets with charms hanging from it. They've been popular forever, whether you want one to show your interest, travels, or children. They come in a wide range of prices, or you can make one yourself.


Friendship bracelets are the occupation of many little girls. You probably had one, you may still have one. They're made from embroidery thread knotted together in special patterns.


Tennis bracelets are made with gemstones and best for formal wear. They are beautiful, but rather expensive.

I hope this post helps you. Which one is your favorite bracelet? Which do you own? Tell me in the comments, I'd love to know.

July 11, 2016

How (Not) To Write A Story Like The Fantastic Four


I love Marvel films. I've seen almost all of them. Then came The Fantastic Four, the 2015 reboot. To say I was skeptic would be an understatement. I love the Fantastic Four movies made in 2005 and 2007 with Ioan Gruffund, Jessica Alba, Chris Evens, and Michael Chiklis. Those were good.

But I told myself I'd reserve judgement until I watched it, even after reading the film reviews, which weren't good. This movie is easily one of the worst I've ever seen. It was littered with problems. I decided to put together this post on how not to write a story like this one. Warning: Spoilers if you haven't watched the movie.

1) Don't make the reader not care about the characters

Even though I love the Fantastic Four, I didn't feel any connection to these characters. They didn't make me laugh or love them at all. They felt 2-D and fake. In the old Fantastic Four, I loved the characters. They felt alive.

Always give the reader a reason to root for the character. In this movie, they start with Reed and Grimm's childhood friendship. Cute, but nothing about it made me care. Even worse, the rest of the main characters aren't introduced until about half an hour into the movie.

All main characters should be introduced before a third of the way into the plot. Your characters need to have real feeling emotions and care about each other (see point four). And they need to make me care about them.

2) Do keep the pace moving

In the 2005 Fantastic Four, ten minutes into the film they were already in space. In this version, it was over halfway through the film. There was basically no tension or suspense leading up to the climax, if I can even call it that, and the conflict was non-existent. Plus, look at the picture at the top of the post. See the city in the background? It's not even part of the story.

First, they were trying to make a teleporter, then they're being experimented on when it's discovered they have powers, then Doom shows up and wants to destroy the earth. There is no main conflict running through the movie. At the end they decide to make a team called the Fantastic Four, but why I don't know because they can't stand each other.

You need to keep the plot moving forward towards the climax from the first chapter. It may not be apparent, but it needs to be there. The hero or heroes also need a goal that ignites the conflict.

3) Don't make a lame villain

This Doctor Doom was lamer than some villains in kids movies, and that's saying something. He had no motivation and no point in being part of the story other than the fact he's Dr. Doom. And when the villain's the only character I actually felt had a hint of personality, you've got problems.

Doom is asked to join the teleporter project because he had the original idea. He teleports to the other world with the others and gets left behind, presumed dead. Then later Doom shows back up, kills some people, and tries to destroy Earth. Why? No clue. He just did. And the only powers he had was throwing rocks at people. What sort of villain is that?

If you don't have a good villain, your whole story collapses. That's one of the reasons this film flopped. His plans may not always be clear at first, but he needs to be actively opposing the protagonist.

4) Do have good connections between the characters

Another reason I didn't like this film is because there was no connection between the characters. Reed and Sue had almost no romance. Johnny wasn't funny enough. Ben hated Reed. They took the iconic characters and wrecked them. Even when Johnny and Sue's father died, I didn't feel anything.

Characters need to connect to other characters. If they're supposed to be a team, they need to learn to act like one. In the old Fantastic Four, they were already called that about forty-five minutes in, while in this one, they don't even say the name until the end.

Have you see this movie? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

July 7, 2016

Classic of the Month


The BFG is a beloved children's book. I finally got around to reading it (which took about a day) and since the movie just came out in theaters, I decided it would be perfect for our classic of the month. Without further ado, on to the BFG.

The BFG

The story starts when an orphan named Sophie sees something out the window. And not just any something- a giant. The giant spots Sophie as well and steals her. He takes Sophie to giant country, where he and nine other giants live. The only difference is that the other giants eat human beans, or people, while the BFG catches dreams. He and Sophie quickly become friends, though he says he can't take her back because she might tell about him. When Sophie learns that the other giants eat people, she hatches a plan to stop them involving dream mixing, the queen of England, and her own self. They catch the giants and lock them up with nothing snozzcumbers to eat.

What I Like About It

What's not to like? For starters, the BFG is so sweet. The way he talks and his odd personality which makes the other giants hate him, all adds up to make him a relatable character. In the end he even learns to talk properly and writes a book.

Sophie is also great. She may be frightened, but she doesn't let that stop her from being brave. I also like that she wears glasses. As a glasses wearer myself, I wish more characters had them.

Plus there's the delightful writing style of Roald Dahl. He has a distinct style that I've never seen anyone else use. He keeps things moving and gives the giants exactly what they deserve.

Film Adaptions

There have been two films made from the BFG. The first was made in 1989 for television. I've never seen this version personally.

Then there is the film that came out Friday. Made by Steven Spielberg and staring Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill, this looks like a fun film. They say it's not quite up to other Spielberg films, but I still want to see it.

Have you read The BFG? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments.

July 4, 2016

5 DCOMs to Watch This Summer


First off, happy forth of July! I hope you have a good day. Last night, my family saw fireworks down in North Beach. It was fun. Now on to the post.

Summer is here. Time to wear your flip-flops, go to the pool, and relax. It's also a great time to watch movies. If you're looking for something to watch, why not try one of these summer themed DCOMs (or Disney Channel Original Movies for the uneducated).


Camp Rock


What's It About?
Mitchie is an aspiring musician who wants to go to pricey Camp Rock. Her mother manages to get her in by working as a cook. But once she's there, everyone seems to come from famous families. Mitchie lies about hers to get in with the cool girls. Teaching at camp this summer is Shane Gray, a member of Connect Three. He hears someone singing at the beginning of the movie and tries to discover who it is, while becoming friends with Mitchie. When she is caught in her lie and framed for stealing, she is excluded from the final jam. Mitchie must choose to overcome her fears and perform anyway.

Who's In It?
Demi Lovato as Mitchie, Joe Jonas as Shane, Nick and Kevin Jonas as the other members of Connect Three, Meaghan Martin as Tess, and Alyson Stoner as Caitlyn, Mitchie's real friend.

Why You Should Watch It
Camp Rock is all about being yourself. At first Mitchie is a suck-up to the cool girls, but later she realizes she's much happier being herself. It's also about a love of music and dance. And Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas singing together. Need I say more?


Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam


What's It About?
The next summer, Mitchie and the gang return to Camp Rock to find that a new camp, Camp Star, has opened across the lake. It's stealing all their students and counselors. The only way Camp Rock can stay open that summer is because the older students volunteer to teach. The camp challenges their rivals to a competition on live television. While preparing for the show, Shane and Mitchie have problems with their relationship and Nate, one of the Gray brothers, is secretly visiting a girl from the other camp. The competition arrives and Camp Star cheats to win. But in the end everyone comes to Camp Rock.

Who's In It?
The same cast as before, plus the addition of Chloe Bridges as Dana, the girl Nate's crushing on and Frankie Jonas as a camper.

Why You Should Watch It
In the first movie, Mitchie and Shane have just gotten together. In this one you get to see them working on their relationship and singing awesome duets. The other Gray brothers also get more screen time. There is a two year gap between the films, so people change in looks a bit, but it's still a great summer movie with a dash of romance.


Teen Beach Movie


What's It About?
Brady and Mack are surfing sweethearts, until Mack's aunt comes to take her away to a fancy school. Determined to catch one last wave, the two of them are accidentally pulled into Brady's favorite movie, Wet Side Story. They completely mess up the romance between Lela and Tanner, which in turn means they messed up the movie. The two have to figure out how to fix it and get back to their own world so Mack can leave. By the time they get back, she doesn't want to leave anymore.

Who's In It?
Ross Lynch of R5 as Brady, Maia Mitchell as Mack, Grace Phipps as Lela, and Garrett Clayton as Tanner.

Why You Should Watch It
Need I say it again. Ross Lynch. Okay, there are more reasons to watch it than that. It's a great comedy full of old fashioned slapstick. It also has the theme of being who you want, not who everyone says you should be. The music is done in a sixties style, so even your mom might like to watch it with you.


Teen Beach 2



What's It About?
Brady and Mack are starting school but having issues with their relationship due to their different personalities and busy schedules. Back in the movie world, Lela and Tanner are having problems too. Lela wants to try new things, while Tanner wants everything to stay the same. This time, it's the movie characters that are dragged to our world. It seems like a dream come true at first. But they have to get back to the movie before the movie disappears. Lela changes the movie and gives the real movie a surprising twist ending.

Who's In It?
The same crew, as well as Piper Curda as Mack's friend Alyssa, and Raymond Cham Jr. as Brady's friend Devon.

Why You Should Watch It
For starts, it's a fun continuation after the first one. Putting characters from the sixties in the modern world is a barrel of laughs. There's more cool music, still kind of sixties-ish with a modern twist. It also continues the theme of being who you want to be. It's even got a great song called Gotta Be Me. Click the link and check it out.


High School Musical 2



What's It About?
Troy, Gabriella, and the gang are preparing to have a great summer. They've all got jobs at the same place. Only that place happens to belong to Ryan and Sharpay's parents. Sharpay makes it her summer job to steal Troy. She ruins the summer for everyone, but in the end they manage to turn it around and have fun anyway.

Who's In It?
Zac Efron as Troy, Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella, Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay, Lucas Gabeel as Ryan, and Corbin Bleu as Chad.

Why You Should Watch It
One, because it's High School Musical. Two, because every piece of music in it is awesome. And three, just because it's a fun summer movie. My family watches it every summer. The High School Musicals are some of our favorite Disney channel movies.

So, which one of these is your favorite? Do you have a go-to summer movie? Tell me in the comments.