Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In the News- In the Future of Cars, Irag's New Culture, and Catholics are Facing a New Dilemma.

What has our military done to Irag?

Finally the American military is leaving after more than eight years in Irag, leaving behind not only a new democracy and bitter memories of war, but a new culture for the country's youth. Eight million, a quarter of the population, (and about one million people born each year if my math is right if we've been in Irag for eight years) has been born since 2003 and nearly half the country is under 19. Many youngsters have adopted hip-hop styles:
Calling themselves "punky," or "hustlers," many are donning hoodie sweat shirts, listening to 50 Cent or Eminem and watching "Twilight" vampire movies. They eat hamburgers and pizza and do death-defying Rollerblade runs through speeding traffic. Teens spike their hair or shave it Marine-style. The "Iraq Rap" page on Facebook has 1,480 fans.
To many of their fellow Iraqis, the habits appear weird, if not downright offensive. But to the youths, it is a vital part of their pursuit of the American dream as they imagine it to be.

Another youth,  Mohammed Adnan, 15, says that nobody minds the "U.S gangsta" look in his neighborhood. In fact, they get invite to weddings or other celebrations to preform break dancing.
It all adds up to a taste of the wide world for a society which lived for decades under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship that deprived them of satellite TV, cell phones and the Internet, and then through invasion, terrorism and sectarian killing.
But not all Iragis are accepting of our (American) culture. One sociologist says that many of the youths are adopting the negative aspects of American culture such as rejecting school uniforms (okay really, since when do any kids willing accept those?), engage in forbidden love affairs (Um, hello? Kids are going to and have been doing that for centuries.), and rebeling against their elders (like that hasn't happened before).
Like many Iraqis, high school student Maytham Karim wants to learn English. But the English he hears most often from his peers — and mostly those who listen to American music — is laden with profanity. "The F- and the 'mother' words are used a lot, which is a very negative thing," Karim said.
Apparently the only thing these youth seem to have gotten out of "American culture" are the negative aspects. What about the good things? Why are those being reported on? To see the whole article click here.

New Mass Translations for Catholics. 
Yes, I'm Christian, but these changes do not affect me. I am a Lutheran and although we've never had our services in Latin before, we used to have them in German in the past because where I live most people come from a German heritage. Actually one church that I know of still offers services everyonce in a while in German. Anyways:
The Mass itself — the central ritual of the Catholic faith — hasn't changed, but the English translation has, in the largest shakeup to the everyday faith of believers since the upheavals that followed the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. A years-long process of revision and negotiation led to an updated version of the Roman Missal, the text of prayers and instructions for celebrating Mass, which originally was written in Latin. The new translation was rolled out across the English-speaking Catholic world on Sunday after months of preparation.
And what exactly are these changes? Well apparently the English translations are now closer to Latin. Most things haven't been changed, just a few words or pharses here and there, but it's enough to make some people dislike them. So much that some people fear that it may make people distance themselves from the church. Here's what some people have said:
Maribeth Lynch, 51, a publisher from the Milwaukee suburb of Elm Grove, said she was "distraught" over the changes and would refuse to "learn the *beeep*  prayers."
"It's ridiculous. I've been a Catholic for 50 years, and why would they make such stupid changes? They're word changes. They're semantics," she said.
"It's confusion. All it's doing is causing confusion," she said. "You want to go to church and be confused?"
Kathleen McCormack, a church volunteer and former school teacher, said she didn't like the new translation and didn't understand why the church needed a translation closer to Latin.
"Consubstantial? What is that word?" McCormack said, referring to a term in the retranslated Nicene Creed that replaces language calling Jesus "one in being with the Father." 
"It's more British in some ways," said Monsignor Michael Clay, pastor of St. Ann. "But this is the first time that every English-speaking country in the world will be using the same translation of the Mass." 
 (Why it's more "British in some ways" I don't get. Isn't it suppose to be more like Latin?) For the most part, what the priest says has been changed the most. But its not like this was thrown out all of the sudden.
Parishes and dioceses around the country have spent months trying to prepare Catholics for the change. Descriptions of the new translation have been printed in weekly bulletins, seminars have been held and, since Labor Day, many parishes have been gradually introducing the new translation piece by piece, starting with the parts of the liturgy that are sung.
 Apparently this choice was made by Vatican officials in 2001. To read the whole article, click here.
*The Beeep is a swear word and I won't put those in this blog.

Toyota unveils the ulitmate car ever.
One of Toyota's latest concept cars is the Fun-Vii, probably the most futuristic and coolest car idea I've seen yet besides hovering vechices. "Vii" standing for Vechicle, interactive, internet certainly shows one of the most interactive cars that could certainly put the "fun" back into automoblies. The wedge-shaped car is designed as a personal display space with both the interior and the exterior doubling as display screens. On the outside, the driver can change the car's color and design plus the car's color also changes depending on mood. And the car works like a personal computer with users able to connect to the internet wirelessly and to the roads around it, letting the car access future technologies like smart grids.

According to one news article:
And it's not just the outside of the Fun-Vii that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, the interior is just as futuristic. Making generous use of augmented reality technology, the Fun-Vii will plot a virtual path for you right on your windshield, and even offer a virtual guide to help you on your way. Of course, many of these touches still reside firmly in the realm of fantasy, but the fact that a major car company is looking so far ahead gives us hope for a very tech-friendly future.
She looks like a flight attendant!
If you ask me, while being able to change the outside of your car is cool, I could see it causing a lot of distractions while driving. Especially if you change the outside of your car while your driving.

To see the whole pictures and articles click here and here.

But to let you get an idea of how awesome this car looks, I've provided pictures.
If you're having trouble seeing these, just click on them to make them bigger.
One company showing off
The cool interior. Only three people though.

Happy Birthday!

If you ask me, its actually an ugly shape for a car,.

Those little squares you see are interactive. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Writing Prompt- Survival Skills

Your character is lost in the woods running from an assassin. Your character also knows that there is wild and dangerous animals about. It has been dry recently in the area and there is dark clouds on the horizon. There could be a potential wild fire started by lightning.

Write a short story about how your character would survive in the woods, escape/defeat/out smart the assassin, and get home. Or the opposite. How your character doesn't accomplish any of these goals or only a few of them. Be creative and feel free to add more to this scene(s).

Think about why your character is in this situation, what means and knowledge your character has to survive, and describe this scene(s) in as much detail as possible using all of your senses.

For ideas on how to survive: WikiHow Survival Kit

Post what happens in the comments, I'd love to know!

Game Night! Eye Spy!

So how this will work.

I see something on the front (home) page of this blog and describe it to you. Then you get to guess in the comments. Whoever is right first gets to pick the thing next.

Actually, lets make this interesting. You can "eye spy" anything on the internet (as long as it is appropriate) describe it and post a link to the page its on in the comments. For example one might go onto...Youtube and "eye spy" the Youtube logo in the corner and describe it as "something familiar with tube and red" or whatever and then link us to the page. Er...something like that.

Anyways, I'll go first. The object I'm seeing is on this page.
Eye spy with my little eye...something...gray, black, and white that appears twice on this page.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review- Spells

(From Goodreads) Six months have passed since Laurel saved the gateway to the faerie realm of Avalon. Now she must spend her summer there, honing her skills as a Fall faerie. But her human family and friends are still in mortal danger--and the gateway to Avalon is more compromised than ever. 

When it comes time to protect those she loves, will she depend on David, her human boyfriend, for help? Or will she turn to Tamani, the electrifying faerie with whom her connection is undeniable?

Certainly not one of my favorites. I decided to read the next book in this series because I hate not finishing series. 

Anyways. The books was really slow throughout. I'm going to say that now. 

What I did like about it was the fact that we actually got to see Avalon, which is what I wanted to happen. And I know I mentioned that in the last post about the first book, Wings.  Avalon was very interesting and I adored seeing how the author described it. 

I loved the summer fey's houses the best. They were cool. I also enjoyed seeing how they don't use money there and instead you can have something if you really like it. I enjoyed meeting the other fey and learning about the fey Laurel knew before she went to our world. 

It was cool to see Tamani's mother and the little girl who stayed with her. Although I wasn't sure who exactly she was. I got confused. The play that Laurel went to was interesting, especially the twist on The Midsummer's Night Dream. 

But beyond those things, I didn't really like the story. It was good yes, but really slow. You didn't even see trolls really until the very end where we find some things out.  The characters were okay although most of them just ended up annoying me. Especially the stupid love triangle. 

This is going to be a short review, but I just don't have that much to say about this book. The cover is beautiful though. 

On Goodreads: Spells
Website: Aprilynne Pike
Book Trailer:


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Writing Tips- You're Awesome!

I had a really awesome post idea for today that I wanted to share with you today. But being me, I didn't write it down. So now I can't remember what it was. 

Anyways, I decided I'm going to write a post today about not being afraid of what you write. In case you're confused here's what I mean. 

Don't be afraid of how others will perceive your work. 

If you want to write about that subject then go for it. My latest WIP involves a lot of blood and violence. Not that there's a lot of fighting, but the culture involves a lot of taboo subjects and things people might get squeamish about. 

For a while I was worried that people wouldn't want to read it because it involves human sacrifice and things that go along with that. I even describe it in detail during a couple parts of the story. But then, I've been thinking: just because someone else wouldn't want to read this doesn't mean I shouldn't write it. 

So then I've kept the parts and decided that if they need to be taken out later on, they will. If not, I'll keep them. 

Your writing is awesome regardless of what someone else says. 

No matter what the reviews say or the comments you might get, your work is still awesome. As long as you think so. If you want to write about something you're passionate about or something that you feel needs to be included in the story, go for it. 

Everyone has an opinion and not everyone is going to like everything that you write. That's life. But the other thing is that there's at least one other person out there who will at least like what you write. For everyone person who doesn't like something, there's another who does. And that's okay. 


Keeping that in mind, you should still consider the other side. Even if someone completely hates your work, you should still accept their opinion and consider what they're saying. Maybe they can offer advice on something that you missed or something that needs to be worked on. Their opinions and comments can be just as helpful as praise. 

Don't let it go to your head.

This goes both ways. Don't let praise go to your head and think you're the best writer out there. There's always something you can improve on or learn. Even J. K. Rowling isn't the best writer out there and she probably still has things she can learn or improve. 

Don't let the negative comments get to you either. Just because someone doesn't like something you wrote doesn't mean you're the worst writer ever. You're not. And don't even think about throwing that work away just because someone said they didn't like it. It may not be your best ever, but its still good. 

And if you have second thoughts about your piece, take a step back, breathe, and look at it a second time. Maybe not right away, but give yourself enough time that you can look at it with a clear head.   

Writing takes practice just like anything else and you can only improve by reading and writing as much as you can. You cannot get worse. 

Also, keep in mind that you're not alone. There are thousands of writers out there and remember this: for every published writer, there's another thousand wanting to be published. That may or may not be true, but you get the idea. 

Everyone has their ups and downs. Some days, I feel like the worst writer out there. And other days, I feel awesome. That's life too. 

So in short, remember these key things. 

  1. You're awesome no matter what someone says. Writing and in life in general. 
  2. Don't be afraid to write what you love. You never know, you could change someone's life. 
  3. You're not alone. If need be, find other writers you can talk to who understand.
  4. Writing takes practice. If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again... and again. 
  5. You can only get better. 
  6. Life is full of ups and downs. Its how we respond to them that matters. 
  7. There's always something to learn or improve on. Unless you're God.
  8. Every author started like the rest of us: unpublished and with a story to tell. 
  9. Don't give up. Dr. Suess got over 200 rejections before The Cat in the Hat was published. 
  10. On earth, the sky is blue. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Readers and Birdies,

Happy thanksgiving!

There is a lot of things to be thankful for and for us in America, this is our day to show it. For those out of the USA, take time today to show and tell people how much and what you're thankful for today. Today is a day to celebrate and the day to spend time with people we love.

So here's a list of some things I'm thankful for:

  • For all of you awesome readers! Without you, 30 something people who read my blog, and all the other people who stop by here, I wouldn't be here. Because well, lets face it, what a blog without it's followers and readers to read/listen/watch it? I've grown so much since starting this and I've learned so much! I hope that all of you get at least one thing out of this blog and I hope you will continue to do so. 
  • For God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Because They're awesome and amazing! God for sending Jesus, being there for all of us when we need it, forgiving me over and over when I mess up, and listening to me when I ramble on in my prayers. Jesus for dying on the cross and rising again so that we all might be saved and come to know Him. And for the Holy Spirit for giving me the words to speak and love and whatever else it is that He does. 
  • For my family and friends because they're awesome people too. They've given me so much support it's amazing! 
  • For my school and the time we've been given off from it. I have amazing teachers and classmates. 
  • For my pet dog, she's so cute!
  • For being able to write awesome stories, books, etc. Draw, read, and dance. 
  • For books because without books I'd be bored to tears and I've learned so much from them!
  • For the government even though I may not agree with them, God put them up for a reason so I guess I should be thankful we don't have a tyrant who says I can't have freedom of religion and speech. 
  • For today being sunny where I am. 
  • For all the amazing blogs I read. 
  • etc. 
So what are you thankful for? What are you doing for Thanksgiving today?

Oh! That reminds me! I'm officially published now! I don't know if I've mentioned it before...but I've been published in my school advent devotional booklet! Okay so, its nothing big big, like a book, but it's something, right?


Monday, November 21, 2011

Game Night! Fill in the Blanks!

Once upon a time (add name) went to/on a (place/ activity) and while doing so (name) met (another name) who was (adj.) with (adj.). (Name) loved (object/place/etc) and would often (verb) while running his (animal). One day (2nd person) decided that (he/she) would (verb) to (person). (Person) was (emotion) and (always/never) spoke to (name) again.

Really bad fill-in-the-blank, but hey, fill in the blanks and posted your responses in the comments! Or if you have your own fill in the blank story, let us know!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review- Chosen

So I just got done with an epic musical at my school. We did Beauty and the Beast with me as the broom (although everyone thought I was some random Hawaiian girl), a villager, and one of the wolves (I looked more like a Russian wolf because my "ears" were more of a hat). And because I'm finally done with it, I'll be able to blog more! Yes! The musical was fun and I'm glad it's over, but I'm sad at the same time. 


(From Goodreads) Think with your heart and prepare to die for you have been Chosen.
The land of the Forest Dwellers has been decimated by the Horde under the watchful eye of the vilest of all creatures, Teeleh. Thomas Hunter, supreme commander of the Forest Guard, is forced to lower the recruitment age of his army from 18 to 16. From among thousands, four new recruits are chosen to lead--and perhaps die--for the greater good.
The chosen four are sent on a quest to prove their character, but their mission takes a dramatic turn when they are intercepted, sworn to secrecy, and redirected to a different endgame. Now they must find the seven lost Books of History. Books that have power over the past, present, and future. Books whose words are alive. Books sought by the Dark One that control not only the destiny of their world . . . but that of ours as well.
So the author, Ted Dekker, is one of my British litature teacher's favorite authors. I remembered he mentioned him back in freshman year and then he has almost all of his books in his classroom. Plus I've been seeing this series in my library but I haven't been able to find the whole series. Until recently when I discovered that my teacher had all of the books in the series. 
One of the neat things I found out about this author is that most of his books are all somehow connected or related. The other neat thing is that you don't have to read the different series in order that they were written to get one series. So I was able to get into this series without having to read another series first. 
Another cool thing I found out about these books are that even though they're fantasy, they're Christian books too. Which is awesome. The other cool thing about this is that although Christianity wasn't like "BAM!" in your face, the themes of Christianity was subtly woven into the story with clues that I picked up on. Like Elyon (God/Jesus) and Teeleh (Satan). And the lakes were like physical representations of God's forgiveness for us. And the skin illness was sin. 
So onto the story, the characters were all good although I wasn't really sure that I liked most of them. Johnis was cool, as was Silvie, but I didn't like the other two chosen teens. They were good, but not my favorites. I like the whole alternate reality thing and the whole idea of the books. 
My favorite part are the Roush, the fuzzy white bats. They sound adorable and I wish they were real so I could hug one. They were funny too. If I had to say if they represented anything I would say they represented angels. 
Well there's actually not much I really want to say about this book. It was good and I enjoyed it. The plot was exciting and interesting, plus orginal. The characters could have been better but they were good too. I wish we could have learned more about their culture and why there's only seven lakes left.
On Goodreads: Chosen
Website: Ted Dekker
So have you read books where the author somehow connects a story to another? Did you have to read the other one to get the one you read or could you read them separately

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Writing Tips- World Building

World building is very important. It's probably easier if you're writing in a real-world setting and even harder if you're creating your own world. In any case, it requires research and thinking.

First Step: Research
World building has two things to build a great and believable world. Creativity and research. When one researches, one must remember that you do not need everything you research. In other words, you must figure out what to read. If you're using historical parts in a fantasy novel you probably don't need the most credible sources. Although it's also good to make sure you have true facts in case you end up using something that makes you sound like you don't know what you're talking about. But even if you're creating your own version of a culture, you'll still need to use your imagination.

Even though one must be careful about how much you research because it can quickly take up your writing time and you may never end up starting the story, how much one researches depends on how closely you want your story to relate to true facts. If you want your story's culture to sound like something from Ancient China, you may want to research that culture unless you want to loosely base your culture off of it.

But besides researching historical facts, researching scientific facts and other things will make you sound like you know what you're talking about. You might ask why you need all this researching if you're writing a fantasy novel, but you see, there's these things called plausibility and realism.

Plausibility vs Realism
Plausibility is making your fantasy sound real, as if you're almost there. Realism is using facts from the real world to help make your world sound real. Without real facts, you might end up making your work harder than it has to be.

Tips to help your world:

  • Make a list of rules and stick to them: If your world uses time travel and you can hyper-jump to a planet, make sure that if so, you can hyper-jump during any time of the novel unless there's a reason why. If your spaceship can do so during one chapter but can't the next, why? 
  • Create maps and research them: I love making maps. They can be very helpful in not only knowing what your world looks like and deciding where things are, but they can help with traveling. They can help you decide what routes to take, where buildings, towns, and geographic features are. How long does it take to get to the next town? How far apart is one town from the next? Knowing where deserts commonly are found and why can be useful. Knowing weather patterns and what causes them are the same. 
  • Stick with real things or have a reason not too: If you decide not to have gravity or some universal rule, make sure you have a reason why. Maybe a gaint spell came along that caused the world to loose its gravity. Or it has something to do with being closer or farther away from another planet or maybe it's less dense or more dense. 
What Creatures inhabit your world?
Three tips to decide what flora and animals are normal in your world:
  1. There are no created animals, all the animals and plants we know of exist.
  2. There is part created creatures/plants, part animals we know of existing: Creatures that don't really exist live in the same world as animals and plants such as deer and coconuts. Remember that the animal kingdom is arranged in a pyramid with large predadors at the top and a larger number of smaller creatures at the bottom.
  3. There is no creatures that we know of exist: In other words, you created all of your creatures and plants. Remember that your creatures should fill the same roles as earth animals. Like horses. Although your creature that has a horse-like roles can do things horses can't like flying.
Creating your culture's government is very important. Every society and culture has some type of government. And characters are often a part of something government related. Some types of government can be:
  • Empires
  • Kingdoms
  • Anarchy
  • republic
  • city state
  • feudalism
  • dictatorship/totalitarian
  • communism
  • federation
And then these governments can be separated by even more things like:
  • patriarchal
  • matriarchal
  • militaristic
  • theocratic
And within these are even more things your people can be apart of. States, armies, secret societies, government agencies, guilds, and other things ran by governments. 

Creating Culture
Many things help create culture, things like:

  • Religion- What someone believes in can greatly affect the culture. How often do the characters pray? Are they deeply religious or not so much? If your culture has religion, recall that religion usually affects every day life and almost everything that people do. In Christianity, most people might go to church every Sunday or some people go once in a while. Muslims pray several times a day. 
  • weights and measures- Things like pounds, miles, and quarts are part of the system that America and one other country uses. Everyone else uses things like the metric system. The American system was based on how long the average person's arm or foot was, while the metric system is based on the number ten. How do people count time? By the postion of the sun or the moon? How much does something cost? And what do they use to decide that? Coins, feathers, shells?
  • sayings and slang- What people say, how they say it, and what they mean by it differs from culture to culture. Where I live, people say something is "breast" when something is awesome or cool. My cousin says "cool beans" when something is cool. I bet people over in Africa have their own slang for when something is cool.
  • diet and food- What does your culture eat? Meat, just veggies and fruit, or both? Also remember that many cultures have different foods from other ones. Italian is very different from Chinese food. Or something that's a common dish in Africa would be exotic in America. 
  • music, art, and pop culture- Music and art all say something about people's culture. The Egyptians are famous for their hieroglyphs and the sarcophagus that hold mummies. While the Olmec in Ancient America carved giant heads.  
  • prejudice/racism/tolerance- Back in WWII there were many anti-Jewish feelings. People were racist or against Jews. People can be prejudiced against fat or malformed people. Some people tolerate certain groups of people but view them as like second class citizens. 
  • manners- Is it polite to bring food when you visit another home? How does your people greet each other? Its important to know what is rude and what isn't. As is how to show respect to someone of higher rank. Do they bow or salute? 
  • clothing- The type of clothing and how they wear it contributes to culture. People in India wear saris while the traditional dress for the Japanese is the kimono. Is their outfits made out of cotton during the summer and wool in the winter? Are bright colors worn in the summer and spring while dull colors are worn in the winter and fall?
So what are your favorite created worlds?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In The News- Finally! A News Post that Doesn't have Anything to do with Animals!

New Eye Surgery causes stir
Dr. Gregg Homer of Stroma Medical in Laguna Beach, California thinks he's finally found a way to change brown eyes to blue after nearly 10 years of research. Using a laser, he's discoverd that he can remove brown pigment from the surface of the iris and leaves the blue pigment underneath exposed. 

Apparenlty it takes up to three weeks for the body to fully change and adjust to the blue color. While the Dr. says that there is no signs of tissue damage during testing, there could naturally be side effects yet unknown. Even though he has about a year left to finsih the remaining research, he says that the operation will be avaible in the world in 18 months and about three years for it to arrive in the States. It's $5,000 for the 20-second surgery. 
Since this sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, we contacted Dr. Conswalla Shavers, a surgeon at Park Avenue Lasek in New York City, for a little medical insight. She laughed at the description of this procedure and said it was unnecessarily dangerous with many potential side effects. "I'd imagine that the risks would outweigh the benefits in a patient," she said. "It could release too much pigment into the anterior chamber that can clog up the draining system in the eye. This makes the pressure go up and causes glaucoma." 

Is the prospect of blue eyes worth permanent vision damage? We think not. And Dr. Shavers says there's no guarantee you'll even end up with baby blues. "What's to ensure there's definitely blue pigment underneath? You could remove brown pigmentation and there's just more brown pigmentation underneath." Blue eyes are a recessive trait, but even if your parents are carriers there's no way of knowing what shade, if any, lies at the bottom of the iris.
A far less risky option is contact lenses. And besides, with contacts you can get other colors besides blue. You can read the whole article here.

Jane Austen...Murdered?
 The famous author of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Senseabilty, and Emma is believed to have died of bovine tuberculosis or Hodgkin's lymphoma (a type of cancer). But Lindsay Ashford, a crime writer, believes that famous author died of posion. When Jane Austen was in her 40s she had written six novels and while working on a seventh, she came down with a condition. Ashford read about the symptoms in some of Austen's letters where she states that she has been left with discolored skin. 
Because she had researched poison and contemporary forensic techniques for her crime novels, Ashford was able to identify Austen's symptoms as potential arsenic poisoning. Arsenic would also explain Austen's slow decline and fatigue. Asford's suspicions were heightened "after she learned that a lock of Austen’s hair on display in a museum tested positive for arsenic."
As Flavorwire reports, arsenic does not necessarily equate to murder, as we're so often led to believe, because "a doctor could well have prescribed a medicine containing the element." Still, Ashford wishes not to rule out the option.
You can read the whole article here.

Girl Survives being Stuck in a Car Wreck for more than Two Days. 
In North Carolina a nine-year-old girl was pinned in a car wreckage for almost two days, surviving off of pop-tarts and Gatorade. The crash unfortantly killed her father, thirty-nine-year-old Douglas Landon. Jordan Landon of Cove City was airlifted to a hospital Sunday night after she was cut out of her car that had been turned upside down since Friday night. 

Amazingly, the girl was able to stay calm throughout the ordeal and was reportd to be talkative. She is expected to fully recover. The police report that her father was going over 100 miles per hour but friends say that they don't believe that Douglas would ever speed. It appears to be unknown was caused the accident in the first place.  

You can read the whole article here.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Writing Prompt- Skeletons in the Closet

Secrets, everyone has secrets. They can be what drives people to do or to not do things. They make things exciting. Some secrets aren't very big while others are. And secrets can make people to crazy things to keep them hidden.

So tonight we're going to take a look at secrets and how to incorporate them into your stories.

Everyone has them
Everyone person has a secret and sometimes those secrets can effect other people around them. When creating your characters, remember that while they don't have to have a secret, they can. Now it doesn't have to be life threatening, although it can, but it can be as simple as a friend having a secret crush on the same person that your character. But they can be big, like keeping a boy/girlfriend a secret from their parents, the unknown sibling or half-sibling, etc.

But remember no matter what secret a character has, if that character is going to reveal it at some point in time, make sure it at least has something to do with the story. It doesn't have to effect the MC his/herself, but it could affect a friend which in turn, effects the MC. There's endless possibilities.

It doesn't have to be a person.
Something that some people forget is that not just people can have secrets. Buildings for example can, like a secret passageway or a room. Animals can have a secret like maybe burying or hiding something that belongs to a character and then later on having the character find it.

By giving buildings or something besides a character a secret can build to the story. It can add elements to the story that previously wouldn't have been there or it can give a character a secret in turn (for example, a character finds the secret passageway and decides to keep it a secret).

One could be sneaky and have the MC think someone has a secret but really they don't! A character could also be keeping a secret for another character.

Keep the reader guessing.
Remember that if someone or something is going to have a secret, they're going to keep it as long as possible. When thinking about when to reveal it, or if to reveal it at all, think about the timing of it. One wouldn't want to reveal the secret whenever, that could throw the story off, or if you put it in a spot with a bunch of other stuff going on, it could get lost in the commotion or lose its importance. If you're going to reveal a secret trying finding a spot in the story where the character or something doesn't have a choice but to reveal it.

For example, Charrie has a secret boyfriend she's been hiding. This boyfriend happens to be Kia's boyfriend. And during the big Spring Prom, this boyfriend has no choice but to reveal to one of the girls that he's been cheating on her. Of course, he could just not go, but he has to go because he is the host of the party. He could have just chose between the two girls eailer but he's been trying to lead both girls on as long as possible. So now he calls one of the girls, just as she's getting ready to go, and tells her that he's sick, thinking that she'll stay home. But instead she tags along with her best friend and when she gets to Prom, guess who's there! Now the boyfriend has no choice but to reveal his secret.

Here's some tips to help you come up with some ideas.

  • Look at your MC and some other characters. What do they have that could be a secret? Do they know something or  have something that they don't want anyone to know about or something they want to reveal too the world? List all the possibilities and then decide what could be used. Remember that characters can have more than one secret. 
  • Back stories can be great sources for secrets. If you're having trouble thinking of a back story or what to add to one, try adding in a secret. 
  • Does your character or another character know something they shouldn't? Are they keeping a secret for someone? Try writing a scene where a character finds out something important and doesn't know what to do about it. Then have them go tell that secret to someone else. 
  • What would happen if a character accused another of having a secret they didn't really. What if they confronted them about it privately or publicly?
  • Remember that when a secret is revealed, it will always cause someone to lost trust in that character. Even if it's a good secret or something that they knew but shouldn't have. 
  • Also, secrets add mystery. People like mysteries. 
  • Secrets should have something to do with the story, even if they are small. 
  • Buildings or other objects can "keep secrets". Most of the time, its just hiding something. 
  • Secrets will always change someone's life or at least change how someone thinks about the character. 
  • Reveal the secret when the time is right. And don't reveal it right away unless it's important for the story. 
So, has a secret ever greatly affected your life or the life of someone you know?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Liar Lair! Pants of Fire! (Interesting Facts- Lying).

People lie all the time and it can be useful to know how to tell if someone is lying or not. When we're writing, our characters often will tell or want to know when someone is lying. And so, here's some tips!

Body Language
  • Physical expression might be stiff and few. 
  • Doesn't make eye contact
  • Hands often touch a familiar place where your eyes often look, like their face, throat, or mouth. Sometimes playing with jewelry can show nervousness, indicating a lie. 
Emotional Gestures and Contradiction
  • The timing and duration of emotions are off. It is delayed, stays longer, and then is gone as quickly as it came. 
  • Timing is off between expressions and words. 
  • Expressions don't match their words.
  • Is uncomfortable during pauses in the conversation.
  • A guilty person will get defensive while innocent people will do the opposite. 
  • The person accused might turn their head or body away; they might look at something else. 
  • Places objects between themselves and the person they're talking to. 
  • Watch other people's reactions to see if they are buying their story.
Verbal Cues
  • Will throw the person's words back at them. 
  • Avoid making direct statements. 
  • Speak more than they normally do. 
  • Speak as little as possible.
  • Repeat questions because it gives them time to think of an answer.
  • Slow down their speech to think of what to say next and when they have it, speak faster.
Tips to see if someone's really lying:
  • Have them tell their story backwards, from what happened last to the beginning.
  • Have them repeat their story.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Change the subject of the conversation quickly, a liar will become more relaxed and go along with it. While an innocent person will become confused and wonder why the topic was switched. 
Keep in mind...
  • Even if someone displays some of these cues, they may not be lying. 
More Information
Statement Analysis



Monday, November 7, 2011

Writing Prompt #2: Have fun and get working!

I was actually thinking of combining this with tonight's game idea, but then I decided that these ideas to have fun, do something, and get writing could be put under just writing prompt anyways.

Act it Out
Just as the title says. Grab some friends and some costumes and act out scenes from your story or a book. And you never know, your friends could give you some ideas or make the story go in ways that you could never have thought of. And just to make sure, tell them that they're free to make the story go in anyways they see fit if they think it'd be better. Or not, its your story.

Read it out loud!
Another idea involves reading your story out loud, but instead, record it! If you have a recent computer and some form of a microphone look for a program that will record things. Some computers actually have a recording program built into it, but if not, I'm sure you can find a program for free. And once you've recorded it, put it on your ipod or other listening device so you can listen to your story whenever you'd like. Also grab some friends to read other character's parts or put some music in the background.


Game Night- I think...

Okay so this probably isn't the best game, but it can come out with some really funny results. As far as I know it doesn't have a name but to play pick a spot in a public spot to sit in with a friend or without, and watching people who pass by. Then pick a person at random (preferably someone you don't know) and try to come up with a story about them.

Who is the woman sitting in the coffee shop poring over the news about Iran and why?
Could that tattoo on the person next to you stand for something?

It's amusing and can be great for helping your writer-ly brain. Writers often use people from real life to base their characters off of and that's fine. So here's a somewhat fun way to do so, and if you'd like, bring a friend and see what you can come up with!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book Review- The Book Thief

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Okay, so I've seen this book in my library before and I didn't pick it up because it didn't sound like something I'd read, but then, my pen pal recommended it and she said it was really good. 

So I read it. 

And it was. 

First of all, the book is kinda in first person and then it kinda isn't. But wait Sareh, how can that be? Well you see, the book is written from Death's point of view in first person but he tells the story of Liesel most of the time so it's kinda in third person. But also kinda like a flash back in a way. 

Anyways, Death was actually funny and cool. And he was interesting. He kinda gave some foreshadowing but instead of ruining the book, I think it made it better because you wanted to read on till whatever happened. 

This book is historical fiction about WWII and usually when we see stories about WWII its from a Jew's pov. But this wasn't, it was about a German girl living in Nazi Germany. I loved how books had such a large part in this story and how they clearly affected the MC and the people around her. It was so interesting to think about how a simple act can change so much. 

One of the reasons I love this book was the writing. It was so...cool and interesting. I thought about the story constantly and I wanted to read more. It was very unique from my perspective. 

The characters were very well developed, each with their flaws and their strengths. Although I didn't like Max all that much for some reason, or his drawings. His drawings sometimes were weird. I liked Liesel's foster parents, they were interesting. Rudy annoyed me at times, but mostly because he was so stubborn. And I thought all the other characters were interesting. Including the mayor's wife (or at least, I think she was the mayor's wife, I can't remember), although I didn't know what was wrong with her. Was she lonely?

Anyways, it was a really great read and I really recommend it. 

On Goodreads: The Book Thief


Friday, November 4, 2011

Buying vs. Borrowing Books?

I saw an article a while back that talked about borrowing vs buying books. And so I want to know, which do you prefer?


Borrowing Books

Pros- You don't have to spend money, even if you borrow it from a friend or the library. Hopefully, if you're lucky, you can barrow as many books as you want. Libraries have tons of books so you can find books on pretty much any subject. It's more eco-friendly (if you're into that type thing).

Cons- You only have a certain time to read them, and if you don't return them in on time you have to pay a fee (if you're borrowing from the library of course). Libraries may not always have the book you want or it may be on a waiting list and you have to wait till the person ahead of you is done with it. The books may come in a
damaged way (i.e coffee stains, pencil/pen marks. drawings, missing pages etc).

Buying Books

Pros- It's yours, so technically you're allowed to do whatever with it. You can make notes or high light stuff in it.  You don't have to worry about when to return it. There's something special about buying a new book and seeing that book sit on your bookshelf or wherever you keep books (unless you're buying them used, cause unless the person recently bought the book it probably won't be in perfect condition). You can read it whenever you'd like. Plus you support authors when you buy books because authors don't get any money when you rent their books from libraries.

Cons- Books are expensive, especially if they're new. This means that you may not be able to get as many as you'd like. And if you buy a book you end up liking you're stuck with it most of the time unless you return it or give it to a friend. Friends may want to borrow the book from you and some times not return it or damage it.

Inspiration for this post:
Is it best to buy or borrow books?


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blog News- October Issue

So, I meant to post this yesterday but I was busy writing and procrastinating. It was fun.

Blog News

Welcome New Members!
Welcome new members who have joined in the month of October! We love seeing your friendly avie there in the follower box! Last month we had a total of twenty five and this month we jumped to twenty-nine. 

Schedule Changes- Again
So because I'm actually reading more books and I thought I'd be able to, I've changed Sundays to books reviews. And on Sundays and Thursdays, I will be reviewing two books each time. On Mondays, I've also added Writing Prompts.

It's Nanowrimo Time!
Hey writers! It's that month again! November is official National Writing a Novel Month! For those who are doing it, have you signed up at the site yet? If you have, add me! I'm known as Sareh Qu. on it. Anyways, I'd love to hear how you're doing and what you're writing for this year.

Reminders from last month:
Wanted- Suggestions 
Did you recently come across an interesting article or piece of news? Do you have a favorite picture/video that inspires you or you think is just awesome? Is there a great site you visit all the time? Or do you have a great idea for a blog post or a topic you would like to see discussed? If you have a suggestion for something or maybe you would even like to do/see a blog post on something, please let me know though either the facebook page, the contact form at the bottom of the About page, or by emailing me (email address at the bottom of the About page).

Resource Tab
Because it's already getting pretty long and so far I've only added books and websites to it, I was wondering if I should add a category for individual pages? I'm not sure if this new category would be organized at all. So what do you think?

Wanted- Writing Ideas and Prompts
My brain isn't great with coming up good ideas, so if you have any writing prompts or ideas you'd like to share, please do so! Or maybe you have a funny story or something random/cool, that works too. Maybe a picture or video?

Yes! We finally have a facebook page! If you haven't liked it so far, please do so! Remember that you can post suggestions and other stuff on it if you'd like but just remember to keep it clean and safe. No swearing or anything with offensive stuff. I'll try my best to keep it updated with blog posts from here and news or whatever else.

Stats: Cause they're interesting. 
Most of these are arranged by top five.

The History and Usage of Codes- 176 pageviews
How to read and write in roman numerals- 29 pageviews
In the News- Cat has Two faces and "The Simpsons"...- 18 pageviews
Poetry- Shape Poems- 17 pageviews
Writing Tips- Stories with a love triangle- 14 pageviews

Post Archive- 6
Resources- 6
Writing Prompts- 4
About- 1

Referring Sites
Google- 192
Google UK- 50
Google Fr (france?)- 43
Google Ca (Canada?)- 28
Google In (India?)- 21

Search Keywords
Code pigpen- 26
alphabet code pigpen- 6
spy codes- 6
secret alphabet code- 5
NHKN (the N's are backwards and the letters are really small. Another language perhaps?)- 5

United States- 652
UK- 79
France- 53
Netherlands- 53
Canada- 35

Chrome- 527 (46%)
Internet Explorer- 353 (31%)
Firefox- 155 (13%)
Safari- 60 (5%)
Opera- 18 (1%)

Featured Articles and Sites (Sites will be found on Resources page too.)
Fiction Factor- Synopsis - Tips on how to condense your novel.
Character Planning- Back stories and Inner 'demons". - tips on creating believable characters.
Chaotic Shiny- A wonderful generator site.
Spring Hole- Another generator site along with quizzes to determine if you have original characters and worlds.


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