Archive for February, 2012

My dad brought me up on classic rock. My favorite band has got to be Queen. My favorite song? “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Okay, it might not be the most original choice, but there’s a reason why this song is so great.

Want to know what else is awesome? The guy below. His name is Richie Castellano and he is playing and singing every part of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” (Talk about talented…) My dad is a stickler for the original tune, so if he likes him, I’m sure you guys will, too. Check it out!

I’ve been very, very lucky to receive two awards recently. When I started this blog, I never thought in a million years anyone would be interested in hearing what I have to say. Color me surprised when I found out not only were they interested, but they cared, too. It’s funny how close you become to the people that you meet online, isn’t it? I am so thankful to live in this day and age when we aren’t as held back by silly things like money and borders and cultural differences. For all the internet has done to make life more complicated, there is one thing it has definitely done right: it has brought people together who never, ever would have had the chance to meet in the first place.

My first shout out goes to Jessica O’Neal. I doubt she realizes this, but I owe this girl a lot of thanks. She’s the one that first put this idea in my head to start a blog in order to build my brand as a writer. (Which, of course, falls back on the WANA ideals and the awesome Kristen Lamb.) She was the first person to follow me on Twitter, and the first person to subscribe and comment on my blog. AND she gave me my first award! Thank you SO much, Jessica. You rock!

“Liebster” is the German word for “dearest” and this award is given to new bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Jess gave this to me on December 30th. (Wow, has it been that long?) There are a couple of rules for accepting the award:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded it to you in the first place. Done!
  2. Pass it on to 5 more bloggers and let them know. See my list below!

Then, on January 29th, Debra Kristi awarded me the Versatile Blogger award. Awesome! Debra has been another person who has really influenced me since we started chatting. She first pulled me in with her Immortal Monday series, then she let me guest post for her! She also encouraged me to get my name and face out into the world. I took her advice and that’s why I changed my Twitter handle and added a more professional picture of myself. She’s been instrumental in maintaining my confidence as a blogger and a writer. No compliment goes unnoticed by me, Debra. THANK YOU!!

For this award, I’m supposed to:

  1. Thank and link the person who gave it to me. Done and done!
  2. List seven interesting things about myself. See list below.
  3. Pass the award on to 15 more bloggers. See list below.

Here are 7 interesting facts about me:

  1. I’m an only child.
  2. I’ve been to 8 foreign countries over in Europe. (Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, Ireland, and France. And, technically, the Vatican City is its own country. Plus, I was in Germany for an hour as we switched planes. Those count, right?)
  3. I am obsessed with Greek mythology.
  4. My favorite animal is the cheetah.
  5. My goal in life is to prove to my high school classmates that they made a huge mistake when they didn’t vote for me as, “Most likely to write a novel.” The person they did vote for is now a nurse and most likely will not write a novel.
  6. I graduated with a minor in Spanish, and I’ve also dabbled in Italian, Latin, and Egyptian hieroglyphics.
  7. My top three worst fears (in no particular order, because I honestly can’t decide which is scarier): birds, grasshoppers, and large bodies of water.

So, about those people I’m passing my awards onto… Well, it turns out that I follow (and am followed by) some pretty awesome people. You all pretty much already have these awards! So, instead of handing them out, I’m just going to detail my favorite bloggers and beg the rest of you to go follow them. They’re some pretty fabulous people.

Note: If you don’t have either the Liebster blog award or the Versatile Blogger award, feel free to treat this as me giving it to you. If you do already have one or both of them, you can always just claim it again. It means you’re super awesome!

In no particular order:

1. Belle DiMonté is my Latin buddy, a poetess extraordinaire, and one heck of a beta reader. We have had some really awesome conversations, and I’m convinced that we connect somewhere on the ethereal plane. (Also, don’t miss out on her new ezine Into the Willows, which is accepting submissions for everything that has to do with high fantasy – music, poetry, fiction, and art!) She’s also launching a fantasy write-a-long soon, so be sure to check that out here.

2. Chris Stocking and I have a lot of shared interests, and his blog posts often reflect what has been bouncing around in my mind days prior to his postings. (Do you have a mind reading machine, Chris???) He’s also got Luthor the Potato who helps him with his word count. You should check him out!

3. Jessica O’Neal and I have a shared nerdiness gene. We both love Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, Glee, and, apparently, kick ass female heroines. She is also featured on Hypale’s Glee Chat podcast, hosts Hypable’s Smash Chat podcast, and is one of the vloggers for the Around the World Chat. (If you have a time turner, Jess, you NEED to share the love.)

4. Debra Kristi and I share a passion for the immortal. We bonded over Greek myths, but she’s got a whole lot of awesome content that falls under this category.

5. Natalie Hartford is one awesome lady. She has a way of making everyone feel like they’re a million bucks. She’s also got a way of making everyone who reads her blog ROFL. Her and her hubby would be great on reality TV.

6. Kristen Lamb needs no introduction, but I’ll give her one anyway: awesome, talented, and hilarious. Her blog is incredibly helpful, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that her WANA program has opened my eyes and made me a better writer. I can’t thank you enough, Kristen!

7. Fabio Bueno is ALWAYS passing out great compliments. He’s got a lot of neat stories to share, my favorite ones are here and here.

8. MJ Wright is one heck of a writer, and one heck of a person. His blog is always full of useful information for writers, funny asides, or intriguing questions. I always look forward to seeing what he’s going to write next.

9. Ddog is one of my newest finds. He shares my passion for movies and superheroes (just not my love for the Captain America movie :P ). His blog is FULL of great content centering around films, games, and books.

10. Jenny Hansen has saved my butt more than once. She introduced me to ROW80 (which has quickly become my favorite writing challenge) and Triberr. She is my Triberr guru. Go check out her posts on it.

11. Kaitlin Nichols from the Athele Series blog is another lover of Greek mythos. She’s got some really helpful posts on writing, and some random ones that will make you laugh. She teaches English while living in South Korea, which provides for some pretty great content.

12. Myndi Shafer is the Queen of Funny in my book. She somehow balances hilarity and inspiration to bring awesome blog content to us multiple times a week. And just when you thought the week was going to literally eat you alive, she posts little gems she calls Quick Giggles.

13. Jessica Salyer is a writing superhero, disguised as a nurse/wife/mom. (No, I didn’t get that backwards.) She’s just trying to follow her dream, and it’s nice to see her blog her way to achieving it. Thanks for the constant inspiration, Jess!

14. Alexandra Hoenig is my Art History buddy from college. Her main passion isn’t writing, but art and design. She is one amazing person, though, and I hope you guys check out her (newly formed) blog. Her current project? Creating a mannequin from scratch and making clothes out of recycled materials. You’ve GOT to check it out.

15. Coriander Shea Detwiler is another college friend. She’s a Renaissance woman – fantasy artist, actress, singer, writer, and entrepreneur. How’s THAT for awesome? Check out some of her art here, but be sure to look through the rest of her site, too!.

There you have it! Please pass this around so that these people get the attention and credit they deserve. Each and every one of you is so incredibly talented that I’m happy just to share the same cyber-space. A HUGE thanks to you all!

ROW80 – R1C9

Posted: February 26, 2012 in ROW80
Tags: , , , , , , ,

You guys will be happy to hear that this week turned out much, much better than last week. The new goals I set up are doing their job: making me get stuff done without stressing me out (too much).  Let’s see what I accomplished this week, then I have a question for you all. So, make sure you check that out at the very bottom.

  1. Go on WritersMarket.com at least three times a week. Incomplete. I did this only once this week. Between forgetting about it and feeling anxious every time I thought about doing it, I put it off each day until I got to it on Friday. I made my way through some of their introductory e-mails and started familiarizing myself with the site. It was actually pretty fun, and I hope to do some more today. I’ve long since stopped trying to figure out why certain things trigger my anxiety. Now, I just try to work past it. This site seems fun and is just teeming with great information, so I hope I’ll be able to dive right into the middle of it soon.
  2. Write at least four days a week. Done. I had a little trouble conjuring the muse this week, but I tried to really push past that and write anyway. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I definitely need to look into the backgrounds of some of my new characters and figure out their dynamics with the each other. Once I get that written out, I think the story will begin to unfold. (On a side note, my first complete novel will be code-named D1. The second one, which I’m working on right now, will be D2. The *other* completed novel will be L1. That way you guys have a better idea of what the heck I’m referencing when I’m talking about them.) I’ve also started a new short story series about the Greek gods. I’ve had this one planned for a while, but recently I’ve been surrounded by other people’s stories about them and it’s done wonders for my inspiration. I’ve written 2,470 words for my novel this week, plus 763 for my short story. That’s a total of 3,233 for the week, and 38,637 since the beginning of the year.
  3. Exercise five days a week. Incomplete. I managed to exercise twice this week, which is much better than last week. Monday begins a whole new chance to do better, so I’m looking forward to that.
  4. Read every day. Done. This goal is the easiest one to complete. I finished Eon, which was a pretty good book. If you like Chinese/Japanese culture, political books, or dragons, then I suggest this one for you. I’m excited for the sequel because I think things are really going to take off. I’m now reading Tiger’s Voyage, which is the third book in the Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck. These books have their faults, but they’re pretty good anyway. I’m definitely enjoying this one so far. I also want to get back into reading the novels that I promised other people I’d critique for them. I also realized that I am ten times happier when I’m reading a novel than when I’m not. It’s amazing to me that it has such an effect on my mood, but I’m not complaining. It at least gives me an excuse to sit down and read each day.
  5. Blog at least three times a week, not including my ROW80 updates. Done! This is still one of my favorite things to do, and there’s no way I would miss out on it. We had a pretty fun week last week, and I’ve got some more great stuff planned for this coming week. Also, be sure to pop back in on Monday, as I have a nice little surprise for many of you!

And here’s my question: I have a short story collection that it almost complete. Beta readers have all come back with high praise for it. I’d like to publish it and see how it does, but I’m worried about how that will affect my “image” and possible reading audience. The short stories are horror (and they’re *quite* disturbing), which is not by any means what I usually write. Okay, so that wasn’t actually a question. Here’s the real question:

Do I publish these before or after I publish my first novel (which is my usual writing style and genre)?

If I publish them before, do you think it will draw in certain people that wouldn’t appreciate or like my usual style once I publish my novels? Or won’t it matter? If I decide to publish them after, I may be sitting on them for a while. Is it better to just get “stuff” out there, or do I need to be aware of what I put out there and how it will affect my image?

(I realize that was a lot more than just one question, but I had trouble getting out exactly what I wanted to say. I can clarify anything in the comments if you’re still unsure about what I’m asking. Any thoughts would really, really be appreciated. Also, I’m going to stop rambling now…)

You guys want to go to France this week? Yeah? Me too! Let’s go. :)

France was one of the most intimidating places I have ever been. We were told all sorts of scary stories about how the French hate Americans, how you have to say bonjour and au revoir as you enter and exit every shop, and how you can’t look any of them directly in the eyes.

Okay, I made that last one up. It was just the irrational fear talking.

Actually, you’ll be quite happy to know that the French were pretty awesome. Yes, there were some that were a little stiff – but isn’t it like that in every country? Some were positively delighted to share their wealth of knowledge with us youngsters (most of us on the trip were college-age) and genuinely wanted us to have a good time while we were in their country. As strange as this sounds, I felt less out of place in France than I did in some of the other countries that I have visited. Being in Paris sort of felt like being in New York City.

So, with that in mind, take a step off the plane with confidence and know that you’re with friends! We’re in Paris now, right outside the Louvre.

You may recognize this if you’ve seen The Da Vinci Code, as Robert Langdon (played by the amazing Tom Hanks) spends a fair amount of time in and around the museum during his trip to France. It’s pretty awesome to see in person, even if the Parisians aren’t all too thrilled with it yet. And even better is the view just across the way:

This is not in any way the best place to view the Eiffel Tower, but it definitely got me excited to see it up close!

Anyway, let’s move on, shall we? We’re inside the Louvre now, wandering the halls and grand galleries. This place houses some of my all time favorite pieces of art. The amount of history found in this single building literally gets my heart racing. [WARNING: Nerd Moment Detected] If I had to choose just one single piece to see (as hard as that may sound) it would be the one below.

May I proudly introduce Nike of Samothrace. She’s beautiful, isn’t she? Nike is the Greek goddess of Victory and is often associated with past victories as well as hope for new ones. This particular statue was on a pedestal that was supposed to represent the prow of a ship, indicating the hope for a naval victory. Pretty awesome, right? And I’m sure I know your number one question right now:

Um, where’s her head?

Oh, you noticed that, huh? Well, it’s missing. (Thank you, Captain Obvious!) We’re not really sure what happened to it (or her arms, for that matter…), other than it probably was broken or destroyed in some way or another. Even without a head or a face, though, the beauty of this statue is undeniable. This is from Ancient Greece, so it’s well before the masterpiece we saw last time, yet it seems just as beautifully carved and lifelike.

Let get to the good stuff now.

Interpretations:

- The base of the pedestal was a part of a two-tiered fountain. The splashing water added an auditory experience to the visual one and reminded viewers of the ocean and its splashing waves. Opposite of this statue sat another fountain that looked like jagged rocks, making it seem like Nike was guiding the ship to safety.

- The wind that blows her dress and the surrounding ocean are metaphors for struggle of any kind, but particularly those found in battle.

- It also suggests that the battle will be won if the soldiers believe in the gods and trust in them to help.

Cool Facts:

- This is from the 2nd century BC, which means that it is well over TWO THOUSAND YEARS OLD.

- This is considered one of the most prized possessions of the Louvre.

- Her hand and some fingers were discovered separately and are now reunited – they sit in a case near the statue.

- This is a break from earlier statues where the figures were ideal and self contained. Nike interacts with her environment and looks like she will come to life at any moment.

- This was originally set on a cliff, which would just add to the display as the viewers heard the ocean and felt the strong wind blowing.

Why I Love It:

I have to admit that it probably wouldn’t matter what this statue actually looked like, because I’d still love it. I love the idea of it. The fact that some ancient Greek carved this with his bare hands. The fact that it depicts my favorite subject: mythology. The fact that it has survived for so long, against all odds.

There are other more technical reasons, too. The use of wet drapery (that’s what we call the style where the clothes seems to cling to the body) is incredible. The shape of the body and the folds in the fabric are so natural. The realism in general is just incredible. Just think that this was done with a hammer, a chisel, and a lot of hard work – well before the invention of any modern technology. This took pure and raw talent to create.  And lastly, I love that even though the statue is utterly still and made of solid rock, you can just about feel the wind blowing against her gown and see her landing on that boat with her hands raised in victory.

What do YOU guys think? Does the lack of a head really throw you off, or do you overlook it in order to focus on the beauty that the rest of the statue holds? We’ll be heading somewhere else next week (and I’ll make sure we talk about something other than a statue), so get your passports ready!

 

Bottom Line:

Don’t watch it.

Details:

I loved Dane Cook from the moment that I heard his Burger King skit. He’s so loud and full of energy, and he’s always jumping around the stage. He doesn’t hold anything back, either. He can be pretty explicit, but he is such a funny guy. I was also surprised by how well he was in Employee of the Month. (I thought that movie was going to bomb, but it was actually…not bad!)

(Here’s the BK skit. I love this animated version. You can find a different live version on YouTube, if you’re interested in watching that instead. We’re entering potty mouth territory up ahead, so make sure to clear the kids from the room.)

 

So, Rough around the Edges. I didn’t like it. It’s obviously not because I’m not a Dane Cook fan – I am! He’s definitely in my top five favorite stand-up comedians of all time. But this special just wasn’t all that funny to me. There were a couple of parts that I laughed at, but the majority of it just fell flat. He got even more overt in this one, and I think that’s part of the reason why I didn’t enjoy it. You can only listen to someone talk about the same topic (ie. sex and masturbation) so many times before it just isn’t funny anymore. Sorry, Dane. Hope you have better luck next time.

As an added bonus, here’s another clip that I find particularly funny. My friends had a good laugh (at my expense) when I discovered this one…

I just got done watching The Voice and Smash, so I’m in a music-y mood right now. Here’s an awesome video of a family of three young boys (ages 9, 12, and 14) playing a banjo, fiddle, and guitar to Ralph Stanley’s “How Mountain Girls Can Love”

[WARNING: This video will make you feel inadequate, untalented, and just downright useless. BE STRONG, MY FRIEND.]

ROW80 – R1C8

Posted: February 19, 2012 in ROW80
Tags: , , , , , ,

If you’re here for some inspiration or happy updates, I’d politely suggest moving on. This is going to get messy…

This past week I’ve pretty much done nothing. I’ve felt overwhelmed and under-inspired, and it has really taken a toll on me. You see…I’m a perfectionist. I hate getting behind, I hate not getting things done, and I hate letting myself down. It’s hard, but I’m going to wipe the slate clean and start from square one again. It isn’t what I want to do, but I think it’s the only thing that will keep me from going crazy. (The bad kind of crazy, not the good crazy that comes with being a writer.)

So, let me tell you what I have done this week.

I wrote once, on Sunday, and haven’t written more than a single paragraph since then. I have edited the first five chapters of the second novel in my series that I’m currently working on. I usually don’t edit until the story is finished, but I realized that I had left out some important details, so I wanted to go back and add them in before I forgot about them.

I’ve also blogged all this week. Like I mentioned before, blogging is becoming one of the things I most look forward to. I had the guest post for Debra on Monday, my own post on Wednesday, and a guest post from Jess on Friday. It was a light week for me because of the guest posts (which was nice considering my mood). I’ve already written up several more posts, and now I just have to decide what order I want them to appear in.

I’ve also picked up a physical novel and started reading it. (It’s called Eon and it’s pretty good so far.) I think this is what has been missing from my life recently. Reading a book brings me such happiness, yet I’ve been too busy to do it lately. I’ve read other books, but I’ve also been critiquing them. Don’t get me wrong – I love critiquing, but it is a lot of work. It’s nice to just escape into a world so completely that you can forget where you actually are.

Also, for you guys who are keeping up, you’ll be happy to hear I did find another beta reader. Whoo!

I’m forgetting about how “behind” I am on my goals and I’m just starting over. Below you can find my new goals. They’re more general and they’re going to leave me more room to do what I feel like doing, rather than feeling like I have to do something. I still consider writing my second job, but I also still want it to be fun. I’m just going to give myself a little more leeway so that it remains fun.

  1. Go on WritersMarket.com at least three times a week. I’ve paid for a subscription, and I need to start using it. I’m not limiting myself to a certain time frame because it makes me feel overwhelmed and anxious. (The same kind of feelings that I felt when I was trying to find grad schools to go to. It doesn’t bring back good memories.) I’m going to work on this when I can, to the best of my ability. The more and more I’ve been looking around, the more and more I’m being drawn toward self-publishing. I still want to give this site (and the idea of an agent/publisher) a chance, though.
  2. Write at least four days a week. Again, I’m not going to tell myself it has to be for a certain amount of time – although I probably will still do some one hour writing sprints, since they seem to work pretty well. My WIP is my main focus, but I’ve been feeling some poems and short stories blossoming inside me, too. They’re a good break from a complicated novel, and I want to give them a chance to be written.
  3. Exercise five days a week. I’m giving myself weekends off. Exercising every day is great and all, but I’m growing to hate it and I don’t want that to happen. I’m also not weighing myself every day. (I weigh myself on the Wii Fit Plus game, which likes you to check in every day.) I’ve never cared about my weight all that much, and I’ve been starting to worry and get consumed by the idea of having to lose weight. It’s not something I want to control me. So, I’ll check in once a week instead, on Sundays.
  4. Read every day. This can include blogs, novels, and manuscripts that I’m critiquing. There’s no limit to how little or how much, or what I end up getting done in a single day. My primary focus is going to be on the books that are here on my shelves, but I do want to read other things, too. If I only end up getting to the blogs that I like to read, then I’m telling myself that’s okay.
  5. Blog at least three times a week, not including my ROW80 updates. This one isn’t changing, because even when I wanted to do nothing else, I wanted to blog and interact with you guys. :)

(Also, this is my 50th blog post. Cool!)