Monday, October 31, 2011

A Scary Story in time for Halloween!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

So, I wrote a short story a couple months back and it's not exactly scary but it's kinda creepy. I've decided to share it with you tonight, but you can also read it on Inkpop, here. And by the way, it's copyrighted, so don't get any ideas.

In A Tree by Sareh
Little Susie stared up at the dark grey tree, mirroring a lighter gray sky. Bloated, fat rain drops splattered on Susie's clothing in on her face. The teardrops from heaven drenched everything within sight. But Susie didn't care, she had more important things to think about. A small cry emitted from a bundle sitting among the leaveless branches. Susie frowned, she wished the baby would be quiet. Wanting to stop the child's warning, the six-year-old sang to calm her little brother.

As Susie started her treck home, twenty-two-year-old Claire Benningfords rode her bike in the central park. She did not notice a young girl exiting the park alone. Claire fought to control her bike, the wind sure was getting stronger. Normally in this weather, she would be curled up next to her husband-to-be drinking cocoa, but with the stress of their wedding tomorrow, Henry had made her get some exersice. So now as she rode her bike underneath a nondescript tree, she daydreamed of her perfect wedding.

But a strong gust of wind slammed into Claire and nearly knocked her over. As she screamed and fought to control her bike, something heavy, wet, and soft hit her head. The next thing she knew, a blanket of some sort was covering her head! She panicked as a feral cry sounded, and her bike hit something that resulted in a cracking sound. As Claire was thrown from her bike and into the bushes, she felt a sharp pain in her skull and knew no more.

Three days later. December 18th, 6: 32 pm. Thursday evening news. 
“Today this morning, a young mother and her baby were found dead in Central Park. The baby was found with his neck broken near a tree, while his mother was found a mile away drowned in the river. Invesitgators speculate that the mother killed her baby and then killed herself. If you have any information, please call the number at the bottom of your screen,” a pretty newsreporter said.
“In related news, a young woman by the name of Claire Benningfords was reported missing this morning after going for a bike ride and then having not returned. Her fiancee says that she may have ridden near the park or near the Starbucks on 6th Street. If you have any information please call the number here located at the bottom of your screen,” another young male reporter said.
Little Susie sat on the couch where her mother had been murdered months eailer. She grinned with happiness as she watched faze one of her plan come true. Now for the next part.
“Susie?” the voice of the annoying Social Worker came from the kitchen.
Susie scowled, why did he intrupt her now?
“Yes?” she answered.
“Have you seen your brother? It's time to go now,” the Social Worker asked as he held her suitcase.
Susie smiled innocently at him. “No I haven't. Why?” She turned back to the news and sang softly.
Rock a bye baby in a tree top
when the wind blows, a baby will drop

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book Review- Firelight


A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.
Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.
Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.
Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.
Another forbidden romance. Not that I don't love romances, but I seem to prefer it better when romance isn't the leading part in a story. In any case, I'll give the author a brownie point for coming up with some reason why our protagonist is so attracted to the human-ish love interest.

One reason that I picked up with book was because it had something to do with dragons. I'm pleased to have found something original in this book or at least I hope is- the draki. These are descendants from dragons whom their greatest secret is to transform into humans. The only thing I don't get about this is that what exactly does the draki look like when they are not in human form? I am confused about this...also how did the draki come about? Why aren't there dragons anymore? Did dragons mate with humans some how and eventually is polluted their bloodlines so much that they became the draki?
Another thing I was confused on was the way the draki was described. It was described was if it was another creature that lived inside the draki. So then, what exactly is it? Is it a feeling, are they really humans with special powers, or is it somekind of creature that really does live within them? 
As for the characters I'm not really sure how I feel about them. I thought that Jacinda was really selfish most of the time although you could tell she loved her family. I thought it was sad how Tamra never manifested and therefore was a longer in her pride and how the only place she could fit in was in the human world. As for her mother, you could clearly see how much she loved her daughters and even though somethings weren't all that great- like constantly trying to kill Jacinda's draki- she still was a good mother.
As for the plot, there isn't much to describe besides Jacinda trying to keep her draki alive, trying to not get involved with Will, seeing Cassian and dealing with her feelings for him, and how she really wants to go back to the pride. It was interesting but the book didn't keep my attention all that much. I'm not positive if I'll read the next one or not. 
But other than that it was a good book, not a favorite, but good. 
On Goodreads: Firelight
WebsiteSophie Jordan
Sincerely,
Sareh

Book Reviews- Across The Universe

Note: I'm actually going to post two reviews on Sundays and Thursdays to accommodate for the large number of books I'm reading. If I don't, I fear I won't review a book I read, say yesterday, till January. 


(From Goodreads) Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.



I've heard a lot about this book and I've been wanting to read it. It's exactly the kind of book I like to read. Anyways, when I found this at my library I knew I HAD to read it. So I did. 

And it is amazing! I loved the characters, they were all so good! Well actually I hated Eldest and Orion gave me the creeps. But Eldest was cute and I loved how he doesn't truly accept everything that Eldest tells him. For Amy, I thought Beth Revis did very well describing her emotions and making her seem real. Harley was cool, cute, and amusing and I was sad about what happened to him.  


I especially thought that the tense and the point of view did very well for the book, as did both povs. I love the idea of this story and I do think that it is very original. I haven't read many books that involves spaceships, not that many books do, so when I found out that it's set on a spaceship, I knew it would be interesting. 


The plot was interesting and I loved the mystery and the sense that time's running out. Plus the revelations about when the ship is suppose to actually get to the new planet! Oh poor people-stuck-on-the-ship! 

The only thing that really bugged me was how similar Elder and Eldest's names were. I get the idea of it, but it was confusing at times. The other thing that bugged me was the revaltion made by Eldest right at the end. For some reason it wasn't all that surprising and it's been done before. 



Oh, another thing that bugged me was how the mating season they have. It seemed really wrong and gross but then I understood why after it was explained. 

Anyways, the book was very, very good and I'll certainly read A Million Suns for sure. Oh! And the covers for both books are BEAUTIFUL.



On Goodreads: Across the Universe
Website: Beth Revis


So, have you read many novels that involve starships?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Is Fiction Getting too Easy?

I recently read an article where Jeanette Winterson is worried that today's books are "too easy" for readers today. Or at least, I think that was the point of the article, I didn't really understand what she was trying to get at.

She appears to be rambling about the books picked for this year's Booker awards list. She points out early in the article that there is nothing wrong with an enjoyable read that doesn't "tax the mind". But that that doesn't make it literature. Instead, she says that there is a simple test, "Does this writer's capacity for language expand my capacity to think and to feel?"


And while that is a wonderful little test, I do not think that it is justifiable for what is and what isn't literature. Why? Well, I've read tons of novels that do this. In fact, almost every novel I've read recently has at least several words I have to go look up in the dictionary. But just because a novel has a mass of huge and unknown words that doesn't make it literature. 


I don't see this row as one about dumbing down though. Rather, it is a misunderstanding about literature and its purpose. We are nervous about anything that seems elitist or inaccessible, and we apologise for the arts in a way that we never do for science.
Nobody blames maths for being difficult – and it isn't difficult – but it is different, and demands some time and effort. It is another kind of language. Literature is also another kind of language. I don't mean literature is obscure or rarefied or precious – that's no test of a book – rather it is operating on a different level to our everyday exchanges of information and conversation.
That's obvious in poetry and we welcome it. In fiction we seem to want a kind of printed television. Why?
I understand what she's saying here (after rereading several times because it didn't make sense at first), that we shouldn't apologize if books are harder for the person reading it and make the book easier. 

The thing that struck me about this article was the thought that are books getting too easy to read? I said before that I don't think so, but while books need to be challenging, they should also be easy to understand. Writers don't "dum down" their stories, we choose every word for a reason and hopefully, none of us will use a word that we don't know it's meaning and use it because we think it'll make us look smart. But we also might not use as many big and challenging words because, lets face it, not many people have a large vocabulary.
The best thing for the Booker prize would be to outline its aims – is it about literature or is it a division of easyBook? Should we include first novels? I think not. 
The thing that bugged me  about this part was the fact that this writer doesn't think that the awards should go to first novels. While I agree that most of the time our first novels won't be the greatest, but just because it's our first novel doesn't make it bad. Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, was her first and only novel. And today it's considered a classic and a great book. I've read it and enjoyed it. And guess what, it's her first novel.

Anyways, you can read the whole article, here, and see what you think. And so, what do you think about this?

Sincerely,
Sareh




Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In the News- Halloween Decoration goes over the top.

So, this might turn out to be a long post because I found lots of interesting news. Some of them may or may not be "news" but they're still interesting. So I'll try to keep things short tonight, but if you want to read the whole articles, you can always click on the links provided. 


House Lights up to Party Rock Anthem.
Now is it just me or do you agree that I think people may be taking Halloween decorations too far? While it's certainly cool, and it probably took forever to get just right, I think it's still kinda ridiculous.


Dog Walks on Front Two Legs




Isn't she cute? This story reminds me of another cute dog with a birth defect. Except while Trixie walks on her front two legs and actually has her back legs, Faith was born without her front two legs and walks/hops like a human.


Two Girls were Switched at Birth. 
Two 12 year old girls have discovered that they were switched at birth and have been living only a few miles away from each other in the eastern Russia town of Kopeisk in the Ural Mountains.
Their mothers gave birth in the same maternity ward just 15 minutes apart in 1999, and their infant daughters were inadvertently given the wrong name tags.
Their true identities were revealed after the ex-husband of Yuliya Belyaeva, one of the mothers, refused to pay for child care because his daughter, Irina, looked nothing like him. After conducting several DNA tests it emerged that neither adult was Irina's biological parent.
"The judge couldn't believe it," Belyaeva told the BBC. "She said she'd only seen cases like this on TV and didn't know what to advise us."
The DNA tests sent Belyaeva on a search for her own daughter. She remembered that when she was giving birth, another woman was also in labor in the same ward. She suspected that the maternity ward had mixed up their daughters.
 While both girls are happy to have found their real parents, both girls say that they wish to stay with the people who have raised them all their lives. Both families are getting to know each other better and are using the hospital for $160,000. You can read the whole article here.


Woman Gives Birth after Running Marathon
A woman from Chicago was in the Bank of American Chicago Marathon and then gave birth to her daughter. Amber Millar who was 39 weeks pregnant was told bu her doctor that it was okay to run in the race. Her husband followed her as she ran the first half and then walked the second half. Althouh she had contraxtions near the end of the race, she still crossed the finish lines. No one told her she couldn't run. 


While I think it was very brave of her to run a marathon so close to giving birth, I still think that's a little bit nuts. You can read the whole article here.


Supervolcano?

Uturuncu is a 29,000 foot high (6,000 meters) volcano in southwest Boilivia that is rapidly inflating. Researchers discovered about five years ago that the area below and around the volcano is streadily rising. Satellite data has revealed that the area is growing by 1 to 2 centimeters a year. And while that may not seem like a lot, it is. Especially when it had been doing this for 20 years. 
Scientists figured out from the inflation rate that the pocket of magma beneath the volcano was growing by about 27 cubic feet (1 cubic meter) per second.
"That's about 10 times faster than the standard rate of magma chamber growth you see for large volcanic systems," Perkins told OurAmazingPlanet. However, no need to flee just yet, the scientists said.
"It's not a volcano that we think is going to erupt at any moment, but it certainly is interesting, because the area was thought to be essentially dead," de Silva said. 
Supervolcanoes get their name because they erupt with such power that they typically spew out 1,000 times more material, in sheer volume, than a volcano like Mount St. Helens. Modern human civilization has never witnessed such an event. The planet's most recent supervolcanic eruption happened about 74,000 years ago in Indonesia.
"These eruptions are thought to have not only a local and regional impact, but potentially a global impact," de Silva said. Uturuncu itself is in the same class as Mount St. Helens in Washington state, but its aggressive rise could indicate that a new supervolcano is on the way. Or not.
Read the whole article here.

The US Most Powerful Bomb Disassembled
The nation's most powerful nuclear bomb is being disassembled nearly half a century after the Cold War. The bomb will be finally disassembled on Tuesday at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, the U.S's only nuclear weapon building factory. The bomb was put into service in 1962 at the height of the Cold War during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The B53 weighed 10,000 pounds and was the size of a minivan. It apparently is 600 more times powerful than the atomic bomb droped on Hiroshima. It was suppose to destory facilites deep underground and B-52 bombers would carry it. Read the article here.

So what do you think?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Historical Facts- Causes of the American Revolution

If you've live in the US long enough, I'm certain you've heard of the American Revolution at least once. If you don't live in the US you still may have heard of it. In any case, in short, the American Revolution was in the late 1700s (1750s -1780s, or around that time period) when the 13 Enligh Colonies rebelled against the British Government and formed the United States of America.

So today, since I'm studying this subject in school right now, I will share some causes of the American Revolution with you. If you already know these congratulations. You're getting a review of them. If you don't, well that's okay too.

General Causes

  • Taxes placed on the Colonists to pay war debts (Britain had had four wars by the time of the Revolution, mostly with France). 
  • Protests turned to rebellion.
  • Differences in Colonial governments (some were headed by elected people, other by people elected by the king, and others by companies).
  • Taxation without representation.
  • Enlightenment ideas (the Enlightenment was this time period of great learning and thinking). 
  • Patriot leaders emerged.
  • Committees of correspondences (basically, these committees that the colonies set up to help make choices that the king really wouldn't do since he was so far off). 
  • Coercive Acts
  • Intolerable Acts
  • Organized boycotts
Specific Causes
  • 1757- French Indian war (called the Seven Years war in Europe because even though the war in the colonies ended several years before, the actual war in Europe went on a couple years longer). Was the 4th war between France and Great Britain and raised Great Britain's national debt by twice.
  • 1763- Sugar Act, taxes placed on items.
  • 1765- Quartering Act- Colonists had to provide food and shelter to British troops. 
  • 1765- Stamp Act- Tax on all printed materials
  • 1765 (wow a lot happened this year!)- Sons of Liberty (a group of American Patriots)- Tore down offices of Stamp Act collectors.
  • 1767- Townshed Acts- Put new taxes on everyday items.
  • 1770- Boston Massacre- soldiers killed five colonists.
  • 1773- Boston Tea Party- Dressed as Indians (Native Americans), Patriot leaders dumped tea into the ocean. 
  • First Continental Congress- Delegates sent from most of the colonies who apposed Parliament. 
So there ya go. Have you learned a lot about the American Revolution? For those living in Great Britain, I want to know, what are you taught about the American Revolution (if you're taught about it at all, I think you would be, but one can never be too sure)? Does your people view it with bitterness or not? Obviously, American take pride in it, but how do the British feel about it?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In the News- The Latest Mummy?

Mummy- the Egyptian Way.
A former UK taxi driver has become the first man in over 3,000 years to be mummified in the way that the Egyptian Pharaohs were.  Alan Billis had been terminally ill with cancer when he volunteered to donate his body to the procedure. His wife backed him and his family is pleased with the results. He was sixty-one when he saw the ad in the paper for it and called and agreed to it. 

Dr Stephen Buckley, a chemist and research fellow at York University, has spent 19 years trying to uncover the preservation techniques which the Egyptians used during the 18th dynasty.
Alongside archaeologist Dr Jo Fletcher, Dr Buckley has studied mummified bodies, analysing tissue samples and finally putting his findings into practice by putting them to the test on Billis's body at Sheffield's Medico-Legal Centre.
When Alan's wife found out about the program, she was not surprised because this was "exactly thing kind of thing he would have done."

Dr Buckley has used specialist scientific equipment such as a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer to identify materials which were used by priests, including beeswax, oils and resins.
He went on to conduct a series of experiments using pigs' legs as a substitute for human flesh, rigging up makeshift desert conditions in his shed.
Billis's internal organs - including his lungs and intestines - were removed through an incision in his side, and the sterilised cavity was padded with linen, although the brain was left in place. Then the body's moisture content was removed using a caustic salt from the region, called natron which was described by Greek historian Herodotus in 450BC - 800 years after the 18th dynasty.
The scientists then immersed the corpse in a salt bath for more than a month to draw out the water. And to protect the skin from the harsh salt it was covered in a special protective layer of oils.
The body was then wrapped in linen - like the classic image of a mummy - protecting it from light and insects, and his wife made a visit, leaving favourite photographs and drawings by his grandchildren.

After three months of drying, the process was judged to be complete. 
The experiment was done because of research and scientific purposes.  

Your Trainer May be Not as Health as You think. 
Usually when people talk about weight loss, most of the time, these stories do not involve the people getting obese on purpose. But that's exactly what Drew Manning is doing. Since May he has gained 70 pounds. 
Drew is a personal trainer and has always been the “fit guy.” He’s now on a journey he calls Fit 2 Fat 2 Fitwhere he spends six months (he has about 4 weeks left) eating  unhealthy food and not exercising, then he will take six more months to get fit again. Why? To experience for himself what it’s like to be overweight, how tough it is to lose weight, and ultimately show others how to get fit.
The author of the article interviewed Mr. Manning and you can read the whole article and the interview, here.

As for my brother, who would never ever do this, I think it would be an eye opener for him to take a challenge like this. It might change his perspective some on some things. As for me, I think it's an interesting idea. I certainly wouldn't do it on purpose, and I have a hard enough time trying to gain weight that I might take longer than six months to actually get anywhere near obesity.

Give me a couple years and I might be able to do it. 

Bear Cub Decides He wants to be Human. 
The residents of Ketchikan, Alaska had a very furry surprise for them when they went to their local gorcery store Saterday evening. A bear cub was discovered milling in the produce section and was captured on camera by the assistant store manager, Joe Stoller. In a phone interview, Mr. Stoller said that the incident lasted only eight minutes, from the time the bear wandered into the store at 5:45 pm via the automatic doors, to the time it was escorted out of the store by a customer and placed outside. 

Apparently an announcment was heard over the speaker that a bear was in the produce aisle, but our camera man thought that the clerk speaking had said "bird." 

As for the cub, it was crying when picked up but didn't seem to be hungry and was simply looking for a place where he could be alone. Since Saturday, the bear as not been seen and hopefully found its mother.

To see the video of the cute and lost bear cub, click here.  

So, what do you think about all this news? Would you be willing to be mummified after death? Would you be willing to gain pounds? And what would you do if there was a wild animal in your grocery store?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Monday, October 17, 2011

Game Night!- Words!

Okay so here's a really simple and fun game.

Actually I'm putting it into two parts.

One, you have to say the first thing that comes to mind after reading the word. And the next person does the same.

Ex. Fried.
 Person #1: Chicken.
Person #2: cars.

It can be totally random. And this game can last forever.

The second part is where you look at the listed word and you write whatever you comes to mind when you see that word for a minute.

Ex. 2. Corn

Corn is really awesome. It's yellow and fun. It reminds me of sunshine. Corn can get annoying in the fall when it's really tall and you're trying to drive but you can't see around corners because the corn is so high. Or when they are harvesting the corn and deer pop out at you as you're driving. Deer are scary.

Now that you get the idea here's the word: Online. 


Have fun!
Sareh

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Got Writer's Block?


This is a repost of one of my first posts back in April. Enjoy. 

If you've been hit by Writer's Block, here are some ideas to try while you're waiting for your car to be repaired.

  • Get exercise! Run, take the dog for a walk, or finish cleaning the house! As long as you're not writing. Sometimes people spend too much time thinking about something and they fry their brain. Doing something else will get those juices flowing again.
  • Do nothing. Yeah, you read that right! Do nothing! Sit down, turn off the music, the TV, get away from whatever could distract you and just let your mind drift. Try to not think. Or you could just think about whatever. As long as you're not doing anything. And it doesn't have to be for long, five to ten minutes even.
  • Go read something! There's been times where I'm stuck on something and when I'm reading I'll suddenly get an idea.
  • Talk about it over with a friend. They may help you brainstorm new ideas you may have never thought of.
  • Do something really boring....like homework. (This is great for if you can't sleep too!)
  • Draw something! I love drawing maps for my stories, they help me plan things.
  • Get to know your characters better. Some stories are character driven. If you're having trouble thinking of a scene or something doesn't seem right, try filling out a character sheet. Character sheet are lists of things about your character (eye color, hair color, hobbies, relationships, dislikes/loves, etc).
  • Sleep on it. It's proven that sleep may help you overcome problems. A dream may help you find that jewel your Main Character (MC) is looking for, or it may introduce you to another character. Plus, not only will you be feeling better, you'll know what to do!
  • Tackle another problem that is bothering you. If you can't write and it's the night before that big test, studying for it may help. Not only will you do better on that test, but you won't have to worry about it when you wake up.
  • Just write! Turn off anything that distracts you and write for a certain amount of time or till you reach a certain word count. Don't stop to go through the spelling errors or grammar errors. Wait to get to those once you're done. And write about anything! Let it go in any direction. Even if you're rambling about your day, that's fine too!
  • Start at the end, middle, or beginning! Say you know how you want it to end, but you don't know how to begin a story. That's fine! Write that ending and try to come up with events leading to that ending.
  • Write a spin off. Have a favorite character besides the MC? Try writing a spin off about them! You never know will it will go and it may even give you new insight to your story.
  • Write in a Journal. Journals are extremely helpful because you can write in it whenever you want and you can write about anything you want. Plus no one has to see it. You can even put pictures in it, record conversations, draw, the possibilities are limitless. 
  • Learn about a new culture. Always wanted to learn about Ancient Egypt, well go ahead and do it! You never know, something from a new culture might give you inspiration and you'll learn new things. 
  • Travel! If you always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon, why not? And if you can't travel or take a vacation, look around your backyard or town. Talk to your neighbors. Explore the baseball park or even go see a game. 
  • Look at pictures. I've found several ideas for stories by looking at pictures. And if it helps, print out those pictures and put them wherever you write or keep them in a folder so you can pull them out whenever you want to. 
  • Write a different scene. Say you have an idea for another scene but it's further along in the story. That's okay, maybe if you work on that one you'll think of something. 
  • Clean. Seriously. I've thought of stuff while cleaning my room. 
  • Talk to people. Talking is very helpful. Especially is you have someone who will listen to you ramble or will let you bounce ideas off of them. 

So do you have any other tips for overcoming Writer's Block? If you feel like sharing, post a comment!

Sincerely,
Sareh

Friday, October 14, 2011

Random- When is it going too far?

Today when I walked into my bio class, I was surprised to see papers of all colors taped to pretty much every surface in the room. All the papers had "Get pumped for football!" (cause there's a football game tonight). It was funny an amusing, and people took pictures. Myself included.

Rumors floating around said that a couple of the volleyball girls had done it.

Around fourth period, lunch time, I heard rumors that my bio teacher (who also is the wood working teacher) had taken his wood shop class, gone into the girl's locker room, and taken all of our stuff and chairs and stacked them atop of the lockers.

And that was okay because it was funny.

It was a harmless prank.

But then, today when school let out, I was walking past several of the lockers and saw that all the volleyball girls who had helped with this morning's prank now had detention and wouldn't be allowed to their practice until they had scrubbed the boy's toilets. The detention was given by my bio teacher.

And I ask, "Why? It was a harmless prank."

Sure, it was annoying. But it was funny. No one was harmed during it. Getting a detention doesn't deserve this "crime" and having to clean the boy's toilets is uncalled for. I bet you five bucks that the wood working class won't get into trouble.

I remember my cousins (who used to go to my school a long time ago) telling me that they once brought three pigs to school, labeled them "1", "2", and "4" so that people would think there was a fourth pig. Then they released them into the school to wreck havoc.

Another time, a dove had flown into one of the windows and got knocked unconscious. As a joke, a couple of the boys put it into a girl's locker. And when the girl opened her locker later on, the bird flew out at her. Okay so it wasn't very humane towards the bird, but it was a joke.

And so the question I ask today is when is a prank or a joke taking it too far? When does something deserve punishment? And if so, what's the right punishment?

Is taking it too far when you pull a harmless prank that may annoy some people but otherwise isn't harmful? It is when you pick on the kid who can't defend him/herself? Is it calling names? It is stuffing confetti into your friend's locker so when they open it, all the confetti bursts out?

To me, a prank is taking it too far when it hurts someone else. Or when it causes pain to another person. But that's just me.

So, what do you think about all this?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review- Tiger's Curse


The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world.
But that’s exactly what happened.
Face-to-face with dark forces, spell- binding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.
Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.

Well I've been searching for this book for a while because one of best friends recommended it. Finally, when I went to visit her this summer, she was kind enough to let me barrow it. 

Anyways, I really enjoyed this book. The plot was interesting and I loved the descriptions. The plot was my favorite part of the story. Usually it's the characters, but in this case it was the plot.

At first I wasn't really thrilled by the writing. There was something about it I just wasn't used to. But as I read on, I liked it. As for the characters, I really liked the love interest, Ren. He was great and awesome. He has his faults and his good parts. And he was funny and cute. As for Kelsey, I really liked her but I wasn't thrilled with her choice in the end. In face I was disappointed in her, but I still like her. She's realistic and has sense. To a point. In the end I think her sense got warped some. 

One of the things I noticed about this book was how easily Kelsey's family let her go to India. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more struggle to go. And even if she didn't know the family close, I still would be hesitant to let her go. Although, she is, what? Seventeen? So in a way, I guess she's old enough to take care of herself. 

The plot was really interesting. I loved the myths put into this story and the curse itself. That was interesting. I loved seeing the characters grow and everything. 

Really short review tonight, but I'm busy. 

Overall it was really good book and I can't wait to read the next one!

On Goodreads: Tiger's Curse

Sincerely,
Sareh

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In the News- Columbia College Chicago : Young Authors


Columbia College Chicago : Young Authors:

Okay, so not really news, but I thought that some of you might be interested.

The college's fiction writing department has a writing competition every year. It began as a local contest in 1995 and grew to a national contest.

So if you're a 9th-12th grade student you can enter two manuscripts or WIPs in each of these three catagories: creative nonfiction, fiction, and/or short plays.

They are only accepting electonic submissions this year and the submission time is between Nov. 21, 2011 to Jan. 16, 2011. Submissions can't be accepted before or after those dates.

First place wins $200 dollars, second place wins $100, and third place wins $50. And the winning enteries will be published in Columbia's High School Institute anthology.

For more information, visit the link at the top. I know I'll be entering this year, will you? And if so, what will you be entering?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Monday, October 10, 2011

Writing Prompt #1

So I've decided to give you some writing prompts every Monday. In each session we'll look at pictures at help you visual settings and stuff, a vague description of a character, and some other stuff.

Setting/Description
Things to think about:

  • Where could this place be?
  • Why would our character(s) be there?
  • Describe this picture using your five senses.
Character help
Here I'll give you a description of two or more characters and you have to decide how they could fit into a story. 

Character #1: A woman with blonde hair with streaks of blue. Is wearing a pink top and a black skirt and wears suede boots. She comes from a family of six, has a dog, goes to college, works at a library. Has a secret. 

Character #2: A young man after his job as a cop goes every day into a bookstore and reads superhero books. When he gets home he eats whatever he has left in his fridge. Currently he is working on a case that he can't crack. He has black hair swept to the left and wears an empty promise ring. 

So using what I've given you about these characters and a setting, can you come up with a plot idea for this? Are the characters related somehow? Will they run into each other at some point and time? What is the woman's secret? Why does the man wear an empty promise ring?

Be creative and post and ideas or suggestions in the comments! (Aka, was this helpful at all?)

Sincerely,
Sareh

Game Night- If You Have Google Chrome...

So, if you have Google Chrome, here are some fun games you can get for free.

Canvas Defense- Defend your wall! Your opponents that look like little glowing bugs learn new things every round. I've never gotten past round three.

Chain Reaction- Try to see how many bubbles you can create!

Warnaa- It involves color...

Entanglement- Create the longest path.

Word Search- You should know what this is.

So do you have any favorite Chrome games? Do you use Chrome or something different?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Writing Tips- Point of View

When writing a book, one must consider on how the story is told. Besides considering how many narrators there is, who will tell the story (after all it doesn't always have to be the protagnoist telling the story), and finally, the point of view. We'll cover the last one today and then talk about the rest of them in the next couple of weeks.


Prepare for a very long post. Sorry about this...




This is the a very important way to tell a story. Some point of views will work for stories and other's won't. They can deepen the characterization and make the story more powerful, or make the story seem distant and hard to connect to. 


For some stories, you may want to have your readers be able to know what every character is thinking or only one. You may want to tell it from first person or third. Each has their strengths and disadvantages. 


Another thing to consider is that point of view can be either objective (also called Cinematic) or subjective. Objective point of view is like what it would be like if you were watching a video. There would be no senses used and no thoughts put out . Subjective is the most commonly used because it includes the full range of human perspective and interaction. 


First Person
First person would be the most subjective point of view writers can use because it resembles the most our experience of the world. 


Like I mentioned earlier, you can choose whatever point of view you'd like to use but keep in mind that some point of views won't work for certain stories. For example in my novel-in-progress, The Cursing, I have the point of view in first person and in a as-it-happens. I'll give you an example:
Minora nods. “Do you have something to tell me, sister?”
How does she do that? I think amazed by her ability to sense what I am thinking. Maybe it is something that happens between sisters? I do not know, and I probably never will.
I make my decision. “N-no. I don’t. What is it so important that you are risking your life to talk to me about? Why can’t you have just sent a messenger?”
 See? The story is being told as it happens to Tatiana. And we only know her thoughts. When I began writing this book I knew it had to be in first person because third person just wouldn't work. But then when I tried writing it in past tense, I realized the present tense would make the story even stronger. A story that uses this approach is the Sisters of the Prophecy series by Michelle Zink. I have the reviews for all the books up if you'd like to read them. Another approach to first person is the more commonly used one. Where it's like the character is telling you the story in past tense. Example (From another work in progress, The Prophecy):
"You've been losing sleep again over them, haven't you? We're not blind Aaron. Why didn't you tell us yourself?" she asked sitting on the edge of my green and blue comforter, smoothing it distractedly with her hand. 
I leaned against my pillows. "Because they're not that big of a deal, they're just dreams, Mom."
"Yes, but they bother you, and they shouldn't bother you that much if you're loosing sleep over them," my sensable mother pointed out.
Positive: 

  • Using this point of view, keeping in mind, that this is the most direct one to the character's thoughts and feelings. 
  • Some readers find this point of view easier because they can connect to the character better. 
  • First person is the "natural" voice of storytelling. For example, if you were going to tell someone about this great story you wouldn't tell them "the other day Peony went to the store and you won't believe who was there!" No, you'd probably tell it like this, "the other day I went to the store and you won't believe who was there!"

Negative:

  •  Some readers may find the intensity of this point of view tiresome. 
  • In first person you cannot know anyone else's thoughts unless you have a good reason, like if your character can mind read, or the other characters make their thoughts known. 
  • Because your narrator is telling the story, your readers will assume that the character will make it through till the end. This makes it a bit harder to kill the character off. Unless of course, your character is already dead. But if so, you'd better tell us soon. 
  • It's harder to describe your characters. A common mistake writers often make when using this point of view is having the character describe him or herself (and often using a mirror to get away with this). While it's fine to do this, you'll probably want to reveal the character through action or dialogue. 

Second Person
Most writers rarely, if ever, use this point of view. Why? Well because it refers to you. You did this, you said that. I've seen short stories written in this form but it was mostly in a letter to someone as if that someone was reading it. 


In any case, it may bug people because when they read this, they know they didn't do it yet you're still referring to them. Although keep in mind that this is not to get confused with dialogue because dialogue has no point of view. (Though you could say it's first person). 


Third Person Point of Views
Omniscient (All-seeing)
When using this point of view, it's like you're "God" in the story because you know everything that is, has, and will happen. Things in distant lands and inside many character's heads. Unlike first person which offers the "least" freedom, omniscient offers the most "freedom". But while it sounds easy, it isn't and often requires some skill to use effectively. 


Positive:

  •  You  can write from any character's point of view. 
  • This point of view allows you to do the most "stuff" inside books when considering point of view. 

Negative:

  • While using this point of view, you may sacrifice character depth and development.
  • There might be the temptation to tell your readers too much.
  • If you choose this point of view, you'll have to stick to it the whole story. 
"Over the shoulder" (commonly known as just third person)
When you think of third person, you'll probably think of this one. The narration focuses on one character but uses "he", "she", "they", etc. Similar to first person because it generally focuses on one character, but different from omniscient because the character generally doesn't know what's happening inside other character's heads. 

Third person could be described as being between first person (being restrictive and intense) and omniscient (being somewhat distant and "boundary-less"). It's also one of the most common view points in fiction today. Here's an example of third person, past tense from another work in progress, Night Lies: 

Someone was out to kill them.  
The last two racers ahead of him, Luke and another racer he didn’t know looked back to see what had happened. When they realized what had, they sped up as fast as they could. Xander copied them. 
A beeping noise in his helmet confirmed yet a third rocket’s fast coming. Xander barrel-rolled to elude it. The red racer in front of him was unlucky; the rocket blasted into him. Xander swerved, as pieces of the racer’s bike flew past him. 
It now fully occurred to the young racer that this was no longer a race for his future, but a race for his life. If he didn’t win this race, Xander was dead. 
Positives:
  • The tight focus on a character allows for more development and control of the suspense than omniscient. 
  • It's effective in novels where everything else revolves around a character.
Negatives:
  • Third person can sacrifice intensity of a story. 
  • It can make a character and what's happening seem distant.
  • Readers may have trouble connecting with the character. 

Multiple point of views
While keeping to one character's point of view throughout a book is most common, there are more and more books that are using multiple point of view. Most writing books you'll read when they talk about this will suggest that if you do this, you have to do it in third person. But I disagree. You can have multiple point of view in first person too. In Across the Universe by Beth Revis, she uses multiple point of view in first person. In The Prophecy, I also have multiple point of views in first person as it switches from Aaron to Anastasia. 


While you should make sure that your readers can tell the difference between each character (which is especially important when doing this) there are other ways to get around this. Some books will have the title of the chapter be the character's name so that you know who is speaking this time (ex. 11, Susie: I decided that day I was going to die), others (especially in third person) will start off the chapter will the character's name (for example: Chapter 1: Susie decided she was going to die that day).


One of the reasons I like this one so much is because I think it allows for further world building and character development- especially if your characters come from two different species or backgrounds. You get to see how Jack's alien world seems so odd to Susie while it seems so normal to Jack. Of course you can do that with using just one point of view, but I enjoy this method the most. 


Mixed point of view
This is probably the most difficult method of narration to use. Beginner writers are usually not advised to try this until you've developed using other point of views. What do I mean by mixed? I mean, that when you, for example, use first person for your protagonist, but third person for any other character who may get a speaking point. 


Keep in mind that whenever you switch viewpoints, it's jarring to the reader. Even if it's switch between chapters. You get comfortable reading by Susie's viewpoint and suddenly, you're reading from Jack's. 


Tenses
I feel as if I can't write a post on point of view and not mention tense. When you're choosing between point of view, keep in mind that you can also choose to write the narration as it is happening (present tense), or as it did happen (past tense). Rarely, very rarely, will a novel be written in future tense because the writer risks giving away so much. 


Resources
A Writer's Guide to Fiction by Elizabeth Lyon
The Everything Guide to Writing a Novel by Joyce and Jim Lavene
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing a Novel by Tom Monteleone


So, what's your favorite point of view? Do you ever mix viewpoints or use multiple? 


Sincerely,
Sareh

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Interesting Facts- An Introduction into Taxonomy.

I hope you all can see that. Anyways, here's a really bad drawing I did just now on Paint for you. Below is what the numbered parts of a leaf/branch/whatever it's called.

  1. Stem
  2. Gland
  3. Bud
  4. Petiole
  5. Compound Leaf
  6. Leaflets
  7. Veins
  8. Leaflet Margin
  9. Apex
Terms You should know because my school forced me to learn them. 
  • Taxonomy- The Study of living things. 
  • Taxonomist- Someone who studies living things.
  • Linnaeus- Credited for starting taxonomy, the "Father of Taxonomy".
  • Binomial Nomenclature- Two names, genus species 
The 5 Kingdoms
  1. Monerans- Microscopic incomplete cells, no nucleus (prokaryptic). Split into two newer kingdoms-  Archaebactria and Eubacteria. (Ex. virus, bacteria)
  2. Protist- Most microscopic single cells, have a nucleus, Eukaryotic, plant, like an animal
  3. Fungi- Most multicellular, no photosynthesis, produce spores, decomposers, (Ex. mushrooms, mildew, mold, etc)
  4. Plants- Most multicellular, photosynthetic
  5. Animals- Most multicellular, no photosynthesis, no cell walls, consumers. 
The 7 Levels of Classification (from largest to smallest)
  1. Kingdom
  2. Phylum
  3. Class
  4. Order
  5. Family
  6. genus
  7. Species
The 8 Levels of Organization (From largest to smallest)
  1. Organisms
  2. Systems
  3. Organs
  4. Tissues
  5. Cells
  6. Organelles
  7. Molecules
  8. Atoms
Why Latin?
There are three reasons why latin is used to name organisms. 
  1. It's a dead language- No one really uses it anymore, that means, it doesn't change.
  2. It's universal- In a way. Because it doesn't change and because a lot of our words have it as root words, people in different cultures can use latin and other people will understand them. 
  3. It doesn't change- yep. 
Resources
My biology notes and book

So, did you learn taxonomy yet? Or did you learn anything from this? 

Sincerely,
Sareh

P.S If you need an explanation on anything, feel free to ask!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Game Night!- Fun Games from Around the Web.

I meant to post this last night but I had to work at the snack stand at school for a volleyball game all night.

Dragon Mahjong
http://games.yahoo.com/game/dragon-mahjong
Basically it's just usual mahjong but the tiles are set in different ways.

Neon Rider
http://games.yahoo.com/game/neon-rider
You have less than sixty seconds to race a bike across colored lines. The game actually explains it as you play so yeah. But it's fun! I got to the last level and I still haven't beaten it yet.

Picma Squared
http://games.yahoo.com/game/picma-squared
This is a number game where you get clues from numbers and make a picture. I've played it on Nancy Drew PC games before and it's fun but challenging. And confusing until you get the hang of it.

So, do you have any fun game suggestions?

Sincerely,
Sareh

In the News- Cat has Two Faces and "The Simpsons" at risk.

Okay so neither is really news but I thought that they were interesting.

Actually, I don't care about the Simpsons, because I don't ever watch it and I think it's stupid, but I thought that  some of you might care. Apparently everyone but me and two of my friends watch it. According to "everybody" whoever that is.

Anyways...
Mass. Cat with 2 Faces Lives 12 Years and Sets New Record
According to this Yahoo! post, a cat named Frank and Louie was born with two faces, two mouthsm two noses, and three eyes twelve years ago. The amazing cat has just become a part of the 2012 version of the Guinness World Records for the longest-surviving member of a cat group called Janus after the Roman god with two faces.

The vat was meant to be euthanized when he was a day old but his owner offered to take him home despite that he may not live wrong. Clearly, he proved them wrong.

Janus cats almost never survive, and most have congenital defects, including a cleft palate that makes it difficult for them to nurse and often causes them to slowly starve or get milk in their lungs and die of pneumonia. The condition is the result of a genetic defect that triggers excessive production of a certain kind of protein.
But Frank and Louie did not suffer from most of the common Janus problems. Stevens used feeding tubes to nourish him for three months, hoping that would also save him from the danger of choking on food going down two mouths.
It turned out she didn't have to worry about him choking, because Frank and Louie used just one of his mouths to eat.
"The condition itself is very rare, and I think that the fact that this cat became an adult, a healthy adult, is remarkable," said Dr. Armelle deLaforcade, an associate professor at Cummings and head of the emergency services section.
Frank and Louie's two faces both have interesting features, both noses work but because only one mouth doesn't have a lower jaw and isn't connected to his esophagus, he has too eat with one mouth. He can only see out of two of three years, and the middle one doesn't blink. So, the cat might appear somewhat creepy. But despite all the odds and his interesting condition, the cat has a nice personality.

The breed is known for its soft and silky fur, docile temperament and penchant for relaxing in a person's arms like a rag doll.

He is "very, very laid back, not afraid of people, very friendly and he's actually more of a dog than a cat," Stevens (the owner) said. "He walks on a leash, he goes right in the car; he loves car rides." 


The Simpsons may not make it to 2012.
As I said before, I don't really care about this show, but some of you might. According to another Yahoo! article, the longest running prime-time, scripted in TV history, may not air anymore due to financial cuts to the voice actor's salaries. Instead of their 8 million dollar salaries, the voice actors would be expected to be payed only 4 million.

 Apparently, they don't think 4 million is enough to get by on.

They might just have to work at McDonalds to make extra cash and sell their privately owed beach house.

Actually, I'm kidding about that, I have no idea if they have a private beach house or not, but you get the point. I'd love to get 4 million, it's better than nothing.

At least they have a job.

Resources
Cat with 2 faces

So, what do you think about these two articles?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Historical Facts- Baptists

So for my comparative religions class, we have to give a presentation on a assigned christian demonation (we can't do Lutherism because that's what my school [and I] are) and I was assigned Baptists. For my research besides looking up what they believe, interviewing a pastor, attending a service, looking at websites for churches, we had to summarize the history. I have to give my presentation next week. So here's what I got, feel free to tell me if something needs to be changed or whatever, buy in any case, enjoy! I have more information on Baptists for this project but since it's Historical Facts Sunday, I'm just giving you the history. 


My Historical Reserach on Baptists Summerized for your enjoyment (and what I'm going to put into my powerpoint):

  • There is no agreement on where the first baptists started.
  • Some say that John the Baptist started it. Others say it started in 1609 with John Symth. 
  • A group of thirty-six formed the first baptist church in Holland.
  • Around 1611, the first baptist church was formed on Enligsh soil. 
  • Roger Willams established America's first baptist in 1639 in Providence, Rhode Island.
  • In 1707, the first "Association" was in Philadelphia. 
  • During the Great Awakening in 1739, Baptists became two groups, Regular (Arminian) and Separate (Calvinist).
  • In 1800, Baptists was one of the largest Christian faiths in America. 
  • In 1840, Baptists split into Northern and Southern Baptists over the issue of slavery.
  • Southern Baptists make up the largest Baptist group, numbering around 14 million.
  • Blacks soon after formed their own group, the National Baptists.
  • In the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr and other peoples formed the Progressive Baptists.
  • The Northern Baptists became the American Baptists after WWII. 
  • In the 1990s a new group was formed, the American Baptist Evangelicals, over issues such as homosexuality. 
My whole essay on Baptist History


There is no agreement on when the Baptist church first started. Some sources say that it began with John the Baptist while others say that it started with John Symth in 1609. 


John is thought to have been born in 1570 and was a student at the university of Cambirdge. In 1593, he took his master's degree. In September 27, 1600, he was appointed preacher of the city of Lincoln. In 1606, after about nine months of hard thinking, studying the New Testament, John was convinced that infant baptism and other practices of the Church of England, and of the Roman Catholic church, was not biblical. So he left the church as their preacher and joined a group of Separatists. During this time, James I of England begand to persecute them and they fled to Amesterdam in Holland. 

So the group of thirty six, formed the first Baptist curch and stood for the baptism of believers only. He believed that the only real truth was based on the New Testament only and not on "outward ordianes and visible organiztion" (such as the Church of England). He thought that the only way to fix the problem was to form a new church, based solely on the Bible. Afterwards he first baptised himself, and was called the "Se-Baptist", (meaning that he baptised himself). He later on issued a Confession of Faith and that the church should inculde only baptiszed believers. 

Later on, Symth thought that what he had done was wrong and with others, left to apply to a Mennonite church. By now the church had been reduced to only ten members and soon disappeared all together after Symth's death in 1612. Sometime later, probably around 1611, Thomas Helwys, John Murton, and others returned to England to form the first Anabaptist church on English soil. These churches soon became known as General Baptists. 

By the year 1626 there were five such churches in England, though all were small, and in the aggregate contained about one hundred and fifty members. In 1644 they had increased to forty-seven churches.

Roger Williams established America's first baptist in 1639 in Providence, Rhode Island after being perscuted in Boston. John Clarke established a church nearby and helped spread the baptist's faith to Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Obadiah Holmes was perscuted in Boston for promoting Anabaptism. In 1707, the first "Association" was in Philadelphia. During the Great Awakening in 1739, Baptists became two groups, Regular (Arminian) and Separate (Calvinist). Both groups gained many members, especially among the lower classes. In 1800, Baptists was one of the largest Christian faiths in America. 

In 1840, Baptists split into Northern and Southern Baptists over the issue of slavery. After WWII the Southern Baptists moved into northern places and built a large missionary overseas. Southern Baptists make up the largest Baptist group, numbering around 14 million. Black Baptists formed their own churches after leaving white churches, they soon formed their own denomination, the National Baptists. 

In the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr and other peoples formed the Progressive Baptists. Most conservative churches became totally independant after breaking off in the 1930's from the General Association of Regular Baptists. The Northern Baptists became the American Baptists after WWII. In the 1990s a new group was formed, the American Baptist Evangelicals, over issues such as homosexulaity. 


My Experience with Baptists (and not just for this project):
Yes, I'm a Lutheran. But my dad and his side of the family are Baptists. So I've been to Baptist services before and I even got to see someone get baptized by Immersion. 


Resources
Baptist History
A Short History of the Baptists
A History of the Baptists


So, if you're Christian, what denomination are you? If you're not a Christian, what religion are you? Or do you not have a religion?


Sincerely,
Sareh

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