Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top Ten Books That I'd Like for Christmas

It has been FOREVER since I have done a Top Ten Tuesday.

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books I’d Love For Santa To Leave For Me Under the Tree


Made You Up by Francesca Zappa
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Landline, Fangirl, and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood
A Thousand Mornings: Poems by Mary Oliver
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen


Monday, December 21, 2015

In honor of the Winter Solstice...

I have paused my end-of-semester grading to talk to you about Winter by Marissa Meyer because today is the 2015 Winter Solstice and it just seems right.


I finished reading listening to the gigantic novel last night and oh. my. goodness. It was such a rollercoaster ride.

Things I liked:
- Scarlet and Wolf grew on me. Scarlet was my least favorite book in the series, and I previously didn't really like her and Wolf, but that changed in this novel. Somehow, they became my new Cinder and Kai.

- But Cress and Thorne will always be my OTP. I love those two, and as much as it pains me, I love the tension between them because nobody will say what they want to say.

- The story flowed together nicely. Even though the characters were doing their separate things through most of it, and each chapter focused on someone new, it never seemed choppy. Things went really smoothly.

- It was surprising. I kept trying to make predictions and none of them came true, which is good. I was surprised by almost every plot point, and it had me on the edge of my seat.

- It was funny. There might have been a line about putting a bag of rice in Cinder's head. I died.

Things I had problems with:
- Iko seemed like a trump card in a lot of scenes. I can't really explain this without getting into spoilers, and I'm glad that Iko was really present, but yeah. Trump card.

- It was so long. The audiobook is nearly 24 hours! I think Winter should have had her own book, and then the finale should have been separate.

- But, on that note, I didn't really care for Winter's story. I like the inclusion of her character, but I liked it when she was just a side character, like how Iko resembles the story of The Little Mermaid without being as fully developed as the other fairytale-inspired characters. Winter as her own story didn't quite click. It seemed a little too forced in a novel with an already busy plot.

- And I hated her relationship with Jacin. I hated Jacin's character on his own, and I hated his character as a love interest for Winter. He was so controlling and overprotective. And they were both selfish, unwilling to help others for the sake of each other. It drove me mad (no pun intended). I did not feel any chemistry there, and I did not see the point of there having to be another relationship. I would have much rather have seen Jacin be a female and act as Winter's best friend. I think it would have been more dynamic and a better twist on the original story.

- It was very similar to Mockingjay. Maybe it's because Mockingjay - Part 2 recently came out, but most of this book seemed strangely familiar.

- This story made me sob. I actually started sobbing, and it was at something that wasn't even sad.

- I'm confused why the Lunars didn't recognize Cinder. The book talks about how much she looked like her mother, yet nobody recognized her except for Levana.

- On that note, WHO IS CINDER'S FATHER? I thought for sure we would find this out, but it was never mentioned. There is either a plot hole there or something that Marissa Meyer is keeping tucked away. I hope it's included in Stars Above.

- Look at this beautiful fanart! (Not from me, but from Tumblr.) I had a hard time imagining what Winter looked like but this is so captivating.

My overall thought was that Winter was an excellent conclusion, but it wasn't completely perfect. I'm still sad it's over, and I'm aching for Stars Above. And a film adaptation. Please let there be a film adaptation.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

currently listening to: The Wolves by Bon Iver

Saturday, December 19, 2015

thoughts while watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Deacon and I decided to go see The Force Awakens last night. I LOVED it. Here's my stream-of-consciousness while watching.

There may be some mild spoilers, but I've tried not to give away anything big.

  • Hehe, all of these commercials are Star-Wars related. I wonder how much that cost? Was it kind of like the Super Bowl commercials?
  • I've seen the Fantastic Beasts trailer already BUT SO MANY FEELS 
  • That opening shot is so cool
  • Blood on the helmet is kind of grim? Wait, oh...it's so we can tell him apart from all the other stormtroopers. Got it.
  • Whoa that guy is powerful. Is that Andy Serkis' character? I can't tell.
  • I thought BB-8 would be the next Jar-Jar, and he certainly had big shoes to fill since everyone loves R2, but gosh he is adorable.
    Related image
  • I didn't expect that to be Rey. She's so cool.
  • Sand sled!
  • These weird creatures in the background are just like the kind George Lucas added in the later editions that everyone hated and I love it.
  • So...who is Rey working for? Is she is a slave? How old is she? Who are her parents? Not much information here.
  • Is that captain a woman? HECK YES. Also "Captain Phasma" is an awesome name. I approve.
    Image result for captain phasma still
  • I didn't think I'd like Poe but he is amazing.
  • If Rey is force sensitive, please let her fight with a double-bladed lightsaber because she's so awesome with that staff already.
  • lakdjs;lkajsdf;lkuewaotlj ;
  • Eh, this dialogue is clunky 
  • Okay, so what are they doing here? What is this big monster chasing them? How does this further the plot?
  • I love the use of puppets over CGI.
  • That girl looks like Cara Delevingne
  • Ew, CGI.
  • That's...not what I expected Maz Kanata to look like.
  • Is she some sort of off-brand Yoda? I'm not convinced.
  • Her statue reminds me of Toph. In fact, her character just kind of reminds me of Toph.
  • how did SHE get THAT? Please don't let this be a plot hole. Please explain this at some point.
  • Wow. Intense mind-reading scene is intense. And kind of rapey.
  • He is not Andy Serkis.
  • That is not what I expected Kylo Ren minus helmet to look like.
  • Rey continues to be awesome with a side of hilarity.
  • I'm not sure about this plan. I have a bad feeling about this.
  • I think I ship Finn and Poe.
  • I'm not sure why that's his real name. It doesn't really make sense.
  • Wait, that thing is a hologram?
  • You know, I bet his fancy crossblade lightsaber does help prevent severed limb syndrome. But it doesn't seem very aerodynamic.
  • That's not at all how I expected this scene to go. Kudos to trailer for not giving anything away.
  • Who decided that these two characters go on this mission? Was there a vote? Shouldn't --someone else-- have been the one to go?
  • Wow, that didn't take long to find.
  • Major Korra vibes from her new outfit, which I can't find a good picture of.
  • I'm not sure what I should be feeling right now but I'm still sobbing because of R2's appearance.
  • I hope Rey doesn't gradually become sexualized like Leia and Padme.
  • Well, that felt more like a reboot than a sequel, but I'm not complaining.
currently listening to: Blindsided by Bon Iver

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Beautiful Books #3: The Editing Process

Click the button for more information about the Beautiful Books linkup! 

On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?

Um, 4? It's still not complete, the writing is crap, and there are little inconsistencies scattered everywhere. BRING ON THE EDITING. The ideas are solid, though. I think. I had about 3,000 plot holes to work through along the way.

Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)

I hate comparative titles. I HATE THEM! No book should be marketed as being like another book. I feel like it's cheating, especially if it's coming from the author. (Sorry for the rant--I saw an author do this recently and it made my blood boil.) That said, my plot is a little hard to understand, so I always compare it to I Am Legend to help people get it:

But if I had to do a comparative title, it would be something like I Am Legend meets Never Let Me Go and James Cameron's Avatar. With some Legend of Korra thrown in. Basically, it's a little bit of everything I love.

Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?

I can't function without a deadline, which is part of the reason why I love NaNo. The writing is never very good, but bad writing is better than no writing.

How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.

I...never get that far. *hangs head in shame* My current WIP, even though it's not complete yet, is nearly there. I've edited Part One a little bit, which mainly consisted of printing it out and marking things in red. But I've never really been taught how to properly edit a novel. Any suggestions?

What aspect of your story needs the most work?

I'm terrible at description, to the point that I kind of skip over most of it.  It's a serious problem. Why can't the readers just see exactly what is in my head? That would be so helpful.

What aspect of your story did you love the most?

I loved learning more about Elayer, probably because it was so unexpected. It was not in my plot at all, but it just came and I spent a lot of time finding out his backstory and it was a great time. I knew he had been Center's son, but his older brother came completely out of nowhere, but it really helped make his character dynamic. And to see how Center treated Elayer as a child really contrasts with the way the MC sees her.

And I love E's slow realization that Arcadians are not what she once believed them to be.

Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they'll need changes in edits?

E - my MC. I think her personality is the one I'm struggling with the most. She has a temper and one moment she'll be brash and angry and cursing, and the next she's timid and rule-abiding. I know there's a balance there, but I'm not sure I've found it yet.
Elayer - The guy that E meets in the woods and starts traveling with. His personality has fallen a bit flat since we were first introduced to him. He's supposed to be all condescending and intelligent, but I didn't have a lot of time to write his dialogue exactly how he would say it, so he'll need more work.
Ava - E's best friend. I love her. She's perfect.
Center - Elayer's mother and one of the most respected members of their community. She's kind of evil, but I'm trying not to make her seem like the villain. I'm not sure if I've succeeded.
Rolla - E's leopard, who is sassy and impatient and lovable. She wasn't in many scenes in Part Two, but I think she's turning out fine.

minor characters I added:
Braymer - Elayer's older brother. I love the way he turned out, but I think I'll have to tweak it a little. He's not in many scenes, so I need to make sure the few scenes that he is in capture his personality.
Delta, Hayti, Joplin, Levasy - a group of female warriors that E joins after the invasion. I liked their story, but it doesn't really add to the plot, which is already gigantic, so I think it will be cut and turned into a separate short story.

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? 
Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

I guess it depends on how satisfied I am with it. I love the story, but it's getting so big that I'm scared of the editing process. I'm afraid it's going to take me years to get to where I want it. And after all that work, will people even want to read it? I'm not sure. I would love to publish it, if it turns out the way I want it to, but I'm afraid of spending all that time and effort on a story that nobody cares about.

Share a favourite snippet!

My favorite scene that I wrote this year was Braymer's graduation. He was Center's son and the hardest working student in his class, so everyone thought he was destined for success. For the graduation, the boys have to design their own unique rings, and present their ring to Hume, their deity. If there is a flash of light, a connection is made, and the boy becomes part of the community. If not, they are exiled.

What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?

Finishing Part Three! I am determined

currently listening to: I Hate Christmas Parties by Relient K

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Kyle & Jenna // 2015 Couple Portraits, Part One


I have been meaning to share these pictures forever. I took them at the end of August, when Kyle and Jenna came to visit us in Rolla for the weekend. I took so many pictures that day--these are just the beginning. Expect to see a few more posts in the upcoming weeks.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Early-December Updates

I haven't done updates in forever, I know. This post started in October, and then went through November, and now we're a week into December and it still hasn't been posted. GAHH.

- I have finally decided to get back into playing Pokemon. I'm getting a 3DS for Christmas and will jump into playing SoulSilver. I only ever played first gen on my Gameboy growing up, so I'll have a lot of things to get used to, but I'm so excited!

-Rex got injured. While we were staying with my family during Thanksgiving, Rex hurt himself jumping off the couch and we had to rush him to the vet. Luckily, nothing was broken. But we found out that he has arthritis in his front legs for sure. He was on pain medication for ten days and is just starting to feel like himself again.


- I finished NaNoWriMo. For the third year! Thank you to everyone who supported me. This year was so tough, and I'm kind of amazed that I actually made it.

- We have a Christmas tree! This is me and Deacon's second Christmas as a married couple, but we didn't decorate last year because our apartment was so small. But now that we are renting a house, we have room for a tree. The problem was that we could not decide on what kind of tree. I wanted white, Deacon wanted green. I wanted plain lights, Deacon wanted multi-color. ETC. But last weekend, I went out of town, and I came back to THIS.
(Best husband ever, you guys.)

He even bought a stocking for Rex.

- School is starting to wind down. Next week is finals week, but I don't have any finals! I have a proposal due on the 18th and grades due on the 22nd, but other than that, the semester is pretty much over. Only one more semester until I graduate in May!

- Why is the password into Moria in Elvish? Am I missing something?
Someone please help I've been wondering this for years.

- Pizza rolls are so much better in the oven than in the microwave

- "Every conversation you have is relevant." I heard this quote while watching an ASMR video and it really stuck with me.

- I'm both surprised and glad that an annual tradition of bringing trees into your home (real or synthetic) to celebrate a holiday is still going strong. Seems like something that would have died out a long time ago. 

tv shows
Downton Abbey, seasons 4 and 5

youtube channels
AceTrainer Liam
Super Carlin Brothers
(funny story - I tried subscribing to his gaming channel to watch his Pokemon play through. I watched him battle the last gym in Johto and was so frustrated at his technique that I had to unsubscribe. I was literally yelling at the computer screen. My dog came to check on me.)

The Martian (liked it)
Area 51 (hated it)
Big Eyes (liked it)
Jurassic World (rewatch, liked it)
Psycho (rewatch, love it)
It Follows (loved the camerawork, but the plot was lacking)
The Babadook (meh.)
2001: A Space Odyssey (didn't finish because husband and dog fell asleep Update 12/10: I finished it last night and it was gorgeous and terrifying and weird.)
Mockingjay, Part Two (not bad)
Cinderella (liked it)


Currently reading: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell and Winter by Marissa Meyer


Tell me how your December is going! Are you excited for the holidays? Any plans? Am I the only person who had never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Three Reasons Why I Didn't Name My Narrator

If you've been hanging around my blog during my NaNoWriMo talks, you'll probably know by now that the name of my main character has never been revealed.

She does have a name, and I know what the name is, but it never felt right to include it in the story. Halfway through the novel, Elayer finally asks her what her name is, she tells him Eminence (hence the working title), which is actually what she had planned to name her sailboat before it got destroyed in the invasion.

Elayer thinks the name Eminence is ridiculous and proceeds to call her "Em," but I feel weird calling her "Em" because my own name is Emily, so I sometimes call her E here on the blog.

Her true name, though, is never stated, so I thought I'd share my three reasons why:

1) Her name didn't naturally fit into the story.

The story follows a first-person, present-tense narration. My MC doesn't have any human interaction until almost halfway through the novel, except what is shown in flashbacks. A lot of the story is her interpretation of the things around her and the things that she remembers. By the time I got to a place to naturally introduce her name, it seemed irrelevant. By that point, the reader was already familiar with her voice and character without a name, and I liked that. Throwing a name in after eight chapters seemed clunky, so I chose to leave it out instead of forcing it.

2) Her name is tied to the way things were before the invasion.

It's a novel about change. There are really two stories going on: what's happening to her in the present, and what events in the past led to the present circumstances. After the invasion, her country is completely destroyed. Hundreds are killed, and the rest either lose their memories or are turned into monsters. Everything about their way of life is lost, and she must learn how to live in the present world. On top of that, she begins to uncover secrets about Arcadia that completely change her perception of it. As a result, the person who she is in the present timeline is much different from the person she was in the past, so the change of name seemed appropriate.

3) I didn't want her to be another "chosen one."

You've seen it before. So-and-so holds the key. Only she has the power to save the world.

I didn't want this story to be like that. Even though she is the only Arcadian with her memories intact, and even though she discovers that she has the power to bring back the memories of others, she is not the chosen one. This isn't a story of destiny. She represents any Arcadian; it could have happened to any of them. Any one of them could have been the cause for change, it just happens to have fallen on my MC. Because I wanted to stress this point, I didn't even reveal the names of her family members. Her mother, father, and siblings are all blank slates. They represent average Arcadians, not special members chosen by fate.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Have you ever had a narrator/main character that you left unnamed? How do you usually choose your names? Have you ever read or watched something that left the main character unnamed? HOW DID IT MAKE YOU FEEL?


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 // Complete

*collapses into keyboard*

It's over. It's done. I've won NaNoWriMo (for the third year in a row!) and finished Part Two of my WIP...but I still have to write Part Three!

I would very much like to not put off Part Three until NaNo 2016, but next semester is going to be intense, so I'm not sure when I'll have time to sneak in writing.

It feels weird that NaNo is over. I didn't have that big moment this year--the moment that you finish and sign with relief and your heart swells in triumph. I was just like, Cool. Time to do homework. It was a little...underwhelming.

My plot did not go as I had planned this year. I had all these different places that I wanted my characters to go to, but they really only got to three of them. The rest was just backstory, which probably won't even make the final cut of the novel. But it helped me learn a lot about my characters, so it was good. I think I might cut one subplot, expand it later on, and make it a little spin-off story. But that's wayyy in the future.

I'm kind of sad that I didn't even touch Part Three, but not surprised. Right now, the story stands at just over 100,000 words, which is crazy. But I think I have at least another 30,000 words before I reach the end.

And then I get to go at it with a chainsaw, cutting and sculpting and making it resemble something that someone might want to read someday.

This year was really difficult for me. Week three almost broke me. Just after I reached 40,000 words, I had a bit of a panic attack because of all of the other things I needed to work on, and resolved to stop writing there. But the next morning, I sat down and wrote another 2,000 words, then decided to focus an hour each day on writing. And it worked.

I love NaNoWriMo. I love everyone who encourages me, and I love to see that word count climb. But I'm always relieved when it is over. I never want to abandon my characters, but I'm ready for a break.
Laundry needs washed. Dishes need washed. Papers need graded. Reports need written.

I'll try to post more about what's been happening lately, and more details about my WIP, but for right now, I must get back to work. Love you all.