Quote of the Week

Welcome to this week’s quote! It comes from Jeanne Cavelos, the author of The Science of Star Wars. Even though this quote is directed towards horror writers, I think it applies to any genre. I know I’ve gathered a lot of inspiration for characters and plots from books I’ve read. My inspiration behind God Save the Queen, my NaNo novelcame from a scene in a book I read a few months ago, called The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen. In the book, the one girl pretends to be the Queen of England to trick the sheriff into freeing her friend. If I’d never read the book, I would never have been inspired to write a book about a girl pretending to be Queen.

To be a creative, innovative horror writer, you must read a lot of everything, and a lot of that everything must be horror. You may be thinking, ‘How can I be creative and original with all those other authors’ ideas floating around in my head?’ But this is critical: The sheer amount of material floating around in your head will prevent you from copying any one author. Instead you will find a tiny piece of character from this book, a tiny piece of plot from that book, a certain stylistic technique from that other, which you will combine into something totally new. It is the writer who reads only Stephen King who will turn out stories that sound like Stephen King – on a very, very bad day.” – Jeanne Cavelos

 

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What I’ve Read This Month + Book Giveaway

Every month, I read at least four books and share them on my blog. This month, I’ve actually surpassed my goal and read nine books! Plus, I have a giveaway for any interested readers. Information about that is at the end of the post!

The books I read this month

The books I read this month

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

This is the second book in The Lunar Chronicles series. In this story, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing, and she will do anything to find her again. Together with a mysterious boy named Wolf, she tries to find her grandmother. Meanwhile, Cinder (from the first novel) has escaped from prison and is on the run, trying to avoid the Queen of Luna. I loved Cinder, the first book in the series, but I didn’t enjoy Scarlet nearly as much. I couldn’t decide if I liked Scarlet and Wolf. Many times I just found them annoying. I really disliked another character named Thorne. However, I did think the idea behind the book and the way the author adapted the Red Riding Hood story to fit the dystopian world she created was brilliant. I just wasn’t crazy about the execution of that idea.

Theodore Boone: The Activist by John Grisham

In this latest installment of the Theodore Boone series, Theodore is accused of theft and vandalism. He also becomes involved in fighting against a new law being passed that will wipe out one of his friend’s family’s home. I really enjoyed this Theo book, and I’m hoping that Mr. Grisham will write another shortly!

Rebel Fire (AKA Red Leech) by Andrew Lane

In the second book of the Young Sherlock Holmes series, Sherlock travels to America to help Amyus Crowe track down the killer of Abraham Lincoln. I was really looking forward to this book as it’s set in the USA, and I was curious to see how Mr. Lane, a British writer, wrote about America. I thought he did a good job! Mr. Lane also has a knack for creating villians that make you want to go, “EWW!!!” and this latest one was no exception to the rule. *shivers*

Fire Storm by Andrew Lane

This is the fourth and latest book of the Young Sherlock Holmes series, and it ended on a cliffhanger. I cannot wait to find out what happens! Sherlock’s tutor Amyus Crowe and Crowe’s daughter Virginia disappear, and Sherlock goes after them. It turns out, Crowe is on the run, hiding from a bloodthirsty villain. There’s a little bit of romance in this latest book, but I did enjoy it as I like both characters involved, and I kind of figured it was coming for a while now.

Crossed by Ally Condie

This is the second book in the Matched triology and another second book I wasn’t so crazy about. In this book, Cassia is dermined to find Ky again. When she’s sent to the outer provinces, she runs with another girl named Indie in order to find Ky and hopefully join the Rising, the rebellion against the Society. In the first book, I really enjoyed reading about the Society and their way of life (probably because I’m a dystopian writer myself) almost more than the characters’ stories. With less of the Society in this book, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. I also didn’t like how the point of view was switched back and forth from Ky to Cassia all through the book.

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

While on a walking holiday, Dr. Elwin Ransom is kidnapped by two men, Weston and Dick Devine. He is taken to a space ship and flown to the planet of “Malacandra.” There, Dr. Ransom guesses he is some sort of sacrifice and runs for it, meeting the creatures that live on that planet. I really enjoyed this book. C.S. Lewis is a good writer in any genre!

Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

The play is the story of a French hero who is witty and charming, with one flaw: his enormous nose. He has fallen in love with his cousin, Roxane, but she is in love with the handsome cadet Christian de Neuvillette. The only problem is that Christian lacks the wit to woo Roxane, so Cyrano comes up with the plan to combine their strengths to create one perfect hero, one with Cyrano’s wit and Christian’s good looks. I read this play for school and really enjoyed it! It was a classic tale of love and honor. I also watched a movie version of it and did a review which you can find here: https://concerningwriting.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/book-to-movie-cyrano-de-bergerac/

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

This was another school reading assignment. The Importance of Being Earnest is the story of a man name Jack Worthing. Jack claims to have an unprincipled younger brother named Ernest who lives in town. Because of his unprincipled and immoral ways, Jack must visit his brother all the time to try and straighten out the messes he creates. However, when Jack is in town, he actually becomes Ernest Worthing, so that he can do what he wants to do and no one will know about it in the country. The play gets more complicated than this with romantic entanglements and long lost relatives, turning it into a crazy and laugh-out-loud Victorian comedy! This was definitely one of my favorite classics that I read this year.

Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World edited by C. J. Mahaney

We read this book out loud as a family in the evenings. The book is about living in the world as Christians, but not becoming worldly, and staying Christ-centered. And this is where the giveaway comes in. Worldiness is the book I’m giving away. This is an pretty informal giveaway, as I’m not sure if this is the type of book any of my readers enjoy. If you’d like the book and are in the U.S. (sorry to my non-U.S. friends), comment below and tell me that you would. If I end up having more than one comment, I’ll use a random number generator and choose a winner that way. If you are the winner, I’ll shoot you an email to let you know and mail it out to you. The winner will be announced on the blog on Friday. All right, if you’d like the book (I’d recommend it!), comment below!

The giveaway book

Worldliness – The book I’m giving away

Have you read any of these books? If so, which ones? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to comment for the giveaway.

~ Kayla

Trolls! – Part 6

It’s all well and good until the ponies get taken, you’re sent out to find them, and end up being captured with your friends by a bunch of trolls. Just ruins the week, doesn’t it? That’s exactly the situation my Hobbit OC Nerissa finds herself in. Right now, she and her friends, the Company of Thorin Oakenshield, are tied up on the ground and about to become a troll dinner. Read on to find out what happens!

The fire blazed brightly beside us. Two long pieces of wood shaped liked “y”s flanked either side of it, and a huge log was laid across them, creating a spit. And on that spit were five of my friends, being roasted by three hungry trolls. The rest of us were tied up in sacks on the ground. Though it was hardly the time to be worrying about such things, I couldn’t help but notice the sacks smelled worse than the trolls. I was doing my best to breathe through my mouth. When I said I wanted an adventure, I didn’t imagine I’d be tied up on the ground about to be eaten.

“Don’t bother cooking them. Let’s just sit on them and squash them into jelly,” the troll called Bill said.

“They should be sautéed and grilled with a sprinkle of sage,” countered Bert.

My stomach, already sick from fear and the foul smelling sacks, rebelled at the thought of the dwarves being eaten. I rolled over on my side in time to vomit into the dirt. I lay there for a moment, weak and dizzy, and then felt a kick in my back. I lifted my head and turned towards the direction the kick had come from.

It was Thorin. The trolls had thrown me next to him when we were piled up. “See if you can get the weapons,” he hissed to me. I nodded my head to let him know I’d heard.

I twisted around, looking for where the weapons had been piled. At my feet were Bilbo and Balin, and then just slightly beyond them lay the weapons. I tried wriggling my shoulders, attempting to loosen the bag and make space to bring my hands up. I had just managed to work my one shoulder free when I froze, seeing the troll turn his eyes back to his prisoners.

“Never mind the seasoning; we ain’t got all night! Dawn ain’t far away, so let’s get a move on. I don’t fancy being turned to stone,” said Tom the troll. He turned back to the fire.

I began to wriggle my other shoulder free. It wasn’t easy, since the bag was pretty tight against me. I twisted, turned, and squirmed until finally the bag was loose, and I could poke one hand out of the hole at the top. I was really making progress, until Bilbo called out, “Wait! You are making a terrible mistake.” The trolls’ attention turned back to us. I heard Thorin groan. What was Bilbo doing?

“Uh, I meant with the, uh, with, uh, with the seasoning,” Bilbo called out, standing up.

“What about the seasoning?” Bert asked.

“Well have you smelt them? You’re going to need something stronger than sage before you plate this lot up!”

At that, all the dwarves kicked and screamed at Bilbo for the insult. Even though I agreed with Bilbo about the dwarves’ odor, I still was irritated at him for ruining Thorin’s plan.

“What do you know about cooking dwarf?” the one troll protested.

“Shut up, and let the, uh, flurgaburburrahobbit talk,” Bert told his friend, leaning closer to Bilbo.

Hopping forward a bit more, Bilbo kept up his patter. “Uh, th-the secret to cooking dwarf is um,” he stuttered. “It’s uh—”

“Tell us the secret!” Bert pressed Bilbo.

“Ye-yes, I’m telling you, the secret is…to skin them first!” As he said it, Bilbo winced slightly.

At that, my skin crawled and my heart pounded. Instead of making things better, Bilbo had just made things a whole lot worse.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: April 18 – 24

Welcome to my Weekly Writing Wrap-Up for this week!

Total Word Count for the Week: 12,270

Top Writing Day: My top writing day was Friday with 1901 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, God Save the Queen.

The Good News: I made my goal everyday, caught up on my NaNo novel, and am actually almost finished! 😀

The Bad News: I wasn’t planning on the book being quite so funny. It’s a slight change of plans, but I’m liking it better this way I think.

Lesson Learned: I read an article from Go Teen Writers about different plot types. I never thought about a different type of plot other than the basic three-act plot. I’d really like to try something different one day especially the multiple personality plot and the existential plot. Here’s the blog post: http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/2014/04/is-there-more-than-one-plot-type.html

Goal for Next Week: My goal for next week is 1447 words each day.

If you’d like to share your weekly wrap-up, go ahead and post it in the comments below!

~ Kayla

Grammar Rule – Beside vs Besides: A Romantic Tale

In my grammar book’s units, there is always a lesson concerning those pesky little words that people tend to get confused. Now, I like being grammatically correct, but those are killers. Well, this unit’s words are “beside” and “besides.” Ugh. I still can’t remember the difference between the two. Not only are the words almost exactly alike, they also can be used as the same part of speech. I’m hoping by writing this short romantic tale, I’ll be able to help myself (and maybe a few of you) remember how to use these words correctly.

Disclaimer: Despite the content in this post, I absolutely do NOT approve of the Tauriel/Kili relationship. In fact, I hate the whole thing and cannot listen to their theme in the Desolation of Smaug soundtrack without disgust. However, since no one asked my opinion when they made the movie, I am forced to live with it. Besides, it makes for some interesting sentences. 🙂

At the Elven feast, Kili wanted to sit beside Tauriel.

Beside is all about location and means “next to” or “close to.” Since Kili wanted to sit next to Tauriel, you’d leave off the S.

Fili also wanted to sit beside Tauriel, but Kili discouraged him with a dirty look.

In this case, Fili wanted to sit next to Tauriel as well, so again you’d leave off the S.

Besides Kili and Fili, Legolas also wanted to claim the seat next to Tauriel.

“Besides” means “in addition to” or “apart from.” Since I’m saying  in addition to Kili and Fili, Legolas wanted to sit with Tauriel, the one with the S would be correct.

Legolas told Tauriel, “I cannot believe you would sit next to that dwarf. He smells horribly, his hair is unkempt, and besides, he is so short!”

Tauriel replied, “Well, at least he doesn’t spend hours and hours gazing at himself in front of the mirror! Besides, he’s quite tall for a dwarf.” 

“Besides” in this conversation is used as an adverb and means “furthermore.” This one is easy to identify because it’s set off by itself with a comma.

In the end, none of them sat beside Tauriel. She chose to sit next to Dwalin, because she liked bald men, or should I say, bald dwarves.

Here’s a link to a website that I found helpful writing this post. It even has a test down at the bottom for you to take to see if you really do know how to use beside/besides!

http://www.grammar-monster.com/easily_confused/beside_besides.htm

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

 

Quote of the Week

Hope you’re having a good “Quote of the Week” day! Today’s quote comes from Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird.

“Over and over I feel as if my characters know who they are, and what happens to them, and where they have been, and where they will go, and what they are capable of doing, but they need me to write it down for them because their handwriting is so bad.” – Anne Lamott

I can testify this is true! So many times it feels like my characters know the story, and I’m just along for the ride as their personal biographer!

~ Kayla

 

Book to Movie – Cyrano de Bergerac

“One thing is left … my Panache.” With these dramatic words, the famous play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand ends. After waiting all year, I was finally able to read the last assignment in my literature course. It was just as good as I had anticipated. How could I not love the classic romantic tale of a French swashbuckling hero named Cyrano who is witty, intelligent, and, of course, full of panache. He has only one flaw – his enormous nose. He has fallen in love with his cousin, Roxane, but she loves the handsome Christian de Neuvillette. Christian loves her back, but unfortunately he lacks the wit and charm to woo Roxane. Cyrano comes up with the idea of “combining” Christian’s good looks and Cyrano’s wit to make one perfect hero to charm Roxane so that she and Christian can be happy together.

Now any time I read a book/play that I love, I want to find a movie version of it to enjoy! I already knew which one I wanted to watch because back in September 2013 AnnaEstelle left me a comment recommending the 1990 French version starring Gérard Depardieu. Taking her advice, I watched it, and it was fantastic! The movie is in French, and if you don’t speak French fluently enough, there are English subtitles down at the bottom. This was the first movie I’d ever watched in another language, so it was an interesting experience that took some getting used to. In the end though, I enjoyed the opportunity to hear the play in the original language in which Rostand wrote it. The movie followed very closely to the play, and I recognized a lot of lines which was great. One big change was when Roxane visited Christian on the battlefield. In the play, she managed to ride through the Spanish lines without coming to any harm. The movie showed her being attacked, but I enjoyed the additional action sequence and thought it helped to bring out Christian’s bravery. The casting was quite well done as the characters looked pretty much exactly as I’d imagined them while reading. Gérard Depardieu did an especially terrific job as Cyrano and really brought the character alive for me.

Here’s the trailer for the movie:

I would definitely recommend this film version of Cyrano de Bergerac. Thanks to AnnaEstelle for recommending it! 🙂 Do you have any favorite film versions of this play? Have you seen this version? Comment below and let me know!

~ Kayla

 

Trolls! – Part 5

Imagine you were on an adventure with a bunch of dwarves, and you stopped overnight at an old abandoned farmhouse. When you went to take dinner to two of the dwarves guarding the ponies, they told you that some of the ponies were missing. Together with a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, you’re pushed towards the trolls’ camp, and now both you and Bilbo are captured and held firmly in the grip of the trolls’ hands. Now, one of the dwarves has attacked the trolls and demanded they let you go. Well, that’s exactly the situation my Hobbit OC Nerissa finds herself in, in this part of my OC Hobbit fanfiction. Read on to find out what happens to her next!

I had never been so happy to see anyone in all my life. I forgot the fact that Kili had left us to the mercy of the trolls. It didn’t matter. If I hadn’t been in the grip of the troll and ten feet off the ground, I probably would have hugged him.

“You what?” asked the troll.

“I said,” Kili challenged, twirling his sword, “drop them.”

The troll holding Bilbo tossed him straight at Kili, knocking him down as Kili tried to catch him.

I felt myself start to swing and suddenly realized how the troll was planning to release me. I cried out, “Wait a minute! I can walk, you know. Perhaps we can think about-” I didn’t have a chance to protest any further, because I found myself flung through the air and then landing on something, or should I have said someone.

I opened my eyes and realized I’d knocked Bilbo back down on top of Kili. I was momentarily stunned from my fall, but then realizing my awkward position, I scrambled up. Kili and Bilbo stood up as well.

“Are you two all right?” he asked, tossing my bow and arrows in front of me. I was so thankful to see them, I promised myself never to let them go again.

“We’re fine,” Bilbo answered. That was good enough for Kili, who dashed into the middle of the full-fledged troll battle going on now.

Bilbo and I looked at each other. Now that we had backup, we could finally rescue those ponies! “Whoever reaches the ponies first without getting stomped on by a troll wins,” challenged Bilbo.

I nodded, and dashed into the fray. I never expected a battle to be so loud. The shouts of the injured trolls, the clash of the swords, and the fierce cries of the dwarves filled my ears and made me almost disoriented. I ducked through the legs of a troll, and narrowly missed being chopped in two by Dwalin’s ax.

“Watch where you’re going, missy!” he growled.

“Sorry!” I said, bumping into another fighting dwarf. This time it was Ori. I threw off his slingshot’s aim, causing him to hit right below the troll’s eye.

“Hey! Look out,” Ori protested, fishing for another stone.

“Sorry!” I shouted back at him. Ducking behind a barrel, I tried my best to stay out of the way until I could figure out the best method for reaching the ponies. That’s when I caught sight of Bilbo, holding the troll’s knife. I guess he got to the ponies first.

Seeing that Bilbo had the pony rescue under control, I notched an arrow to my bow string, wanting to be helpful in some way. Perhaps I could hit a troll in the eye and be heralded as a heroine. Of course, it was easier said than done when my hands were shaking so badly I could barely hold my bow steady. From the corner of my eye, I saw one of the trolls reach down and grab Balin, lifting him high up into the air. Without even stopping to think, I aimed the point of my arrow at the troll’s arm and fired. The next thing I heard was a shriek and thud as Balin dropped back down to the ground. I did it! I saved Balin. I wanted to try shooting one of the trolls again, saving another one of the dwarves, perhaps even Thorin Oakenshield himself, but suddenly, I was knocked towards the side of the camp by a giant troll hand. The rest of the dwarves were gathered there as well, and looking at something above my head. I stood, brushed off my skirt, and looked up. There, in the hands of the trolls was –

“Bilbo!” shouted Kili, rushing forward to save him, sword in hand. Thorin put a hand across his chest, stopping him.

“Lay down your arms,” threatened the troll, “or we’ll rip his off!”

We all looked over at Thorin for direction. Slowly, he lowered his sword, and stuck it point first into the dirt. Kili looked a bit shocked at his uncle’s submission. I glanced over at Ori on the other side of me, wondering if the other dwarves were following Thorin’s lead. I heard the clatter of swords against each other as the company dropped their weapons on the ground. Kili flung his sword down, and Ori threw his slingshot with an angry shout. I dropped my bow on the ground already breaking my promise to myself. I crossed my arms trying to stop the shivers that had started. We were now weaponless and at the mercy of three, big, mean trolls.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

 

Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: April 11 – 17

Welcome to my Weekly Writing Wrap-Up for this week!

Total Word Count for the Week: 3420

Top Writing Day: My top writing day was Wednesday with 1734 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, God Save the Queen.

The Good News: I’m back to writing after a few days of recovering due to my knee surgery. (Hence the small word count for this week!)

The Bad News: I’ve fallen behind because I was out longer than I anticipated.

Lesson Learned: Knee surgeries aren’t exactly good for staying on target with Camp NaNo! I’m trying not to panic or tell myself there’s no way I’ll win now. My “lesson learned” is I’m not always going to be able to meet my daily word count with NaNo and that’s okay. I will catch up! Camp NaNo sent out of a great pep talk on this subject which encouraged me a lot.

Goal for Next Week: My goal for next week is 1447 words each day (to make up for the days I missed).

If you’d like to share your weekly wrap-up, go ahead and post it in the comments below!

~ Kayla

Monthly Link Share – How to Find Your Characters

Welcome to April’s link share! I don’t really have a theme for this link share, other than these are some pages that I’ve found helpful this month. So let’s get started!

The first link is actually a Pinterest board I follow from Melanie Wozniak. She has a Character Inspiration board where she pins pictures of people to inspire new characters. I’ve always wanted to find pictures of my characters, but wasn’t sure how to begin and slightly concerned of what the results would be in a search like that. Through her board, I’ve been able to put faces to many of my characters. I’ve found having a picture helps me visualize them in a scene better and have a better grasp of their character.

The next article is not so much about writing as it is about blogging. You may notice that I don’t post a lot of images on my blog, and that’s because I’m never sure about the copyright laws. Can I post that picture I found from Google or that gif from Pinterest? Well, this article from Go Teen Writers helped clear up some of my confusion, so I thought I’d share it with my fellow bloggers!

http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/2014/04/images-animated-gifs-and-copyright-law.html

This is a post I found about what to do if you end up hating your novel half-way through. I’ve been struggling with going from loving to hating my Camp NaNo novel, and I found this article to be really helpful and encouraging.

http://storyfix.com/what-to-do-if-you-hate-your-novel-a-guest-post

One of the hobbies I enjoy (other than writing!) is painting my nails. It works out great, because I’ve learned I can type while my nails are drying. Makes for some great multitasking! 😉 Anyway, I follow several nail blogs and Oooh, Shinies is my favorite! She’s got some great tutorials on stamping, gradients, and more. Also, she loves cats and provides a foster home for some adorable kittens which she is gracious enough to post pictures of on occasion! So, if you’re looking for a great nail blog to follow, check her out! 🙂

http://www.ooohshinies.com/

Thanks for reading (or should I say clicking? XD )

~ Kayla