Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interesting Facts- A Brief History of Prom

So over the next couple of weeks, we'll be taking a look at the histories and interesting facts of many famous school dances and events. Prom, Sadie Hawkins, Winterfest (snofest, etc), and Homecoming.

Its that time of the year. You know it. The year when seniors (and increasingly juniors) break out the money and go into a stage of prom-frenzy. Its that time when people are constantly asking "are you going to prom?" and "Who are you going with?". If you're like me, and haven't been asked, this can become annoying. But if you're also like me, and you're proud to learn a few basic facts about the mundane, here's a short history and some facts to dump on your friends (and date if you have one) when the conversations lull.

A Brief History of Prom

Prom is actually short for "promenade", a formal parading of guests at a part.

The first reported proms were in the late 1800s at colleges in the US. They were mostly likely modled after drbutante balls held by the rich and famous and hosted by middle class familes who wanted something similar for their children. One of the first recorded mentions of it is a journal entry of a student attending a prom at a local college. During this time (when the world was stricter and maybe a tad bit duller in some cases), proms were chaperonded senior-class-only balls held at the end of the school year. Proms were suppose to help develop social skills and etiquette. Students would attend these proms wearing their Sunday best.

In the 1920s (when people were a bit more daring), proms often included tea and dancing. Around the 1930s and 40s, prom began to appear in high school yearbooks and somewhat resembled today's prom where people dressed up in party clothes and danced.

By the 1950s, prom began to finally be seen as one of the most important events of the year. During this time, it became more and more important to be elected prom king or queen and finding the right dress and date also become important. Proms moved from high school gyms to fancier places like hotel ballrooms and country clubs. Expensive prom dresses, and tuxedos became normal. Now prom was more of a time to show off and be admired rather than a simple gathering. These proms also began to be themed (This year my school is having a 1920s theme [The Great Gasby].).

By the time the 1970s and 80s rolled around, high school proms began to become a life event for most students, turning into the ultimate rite of passage. And many movies and popular culture began to have prom as an important main theme or an event in the story.

These days (where some people take prom to the extremes), proms feature a pre-prom event (usually Grand March), a dinner, dance, and then a post-prom event (this year its the mall for us). Many schools host prom at off campus places (with some schools apparently hosting it on cruise ships). Although one of the most famous proms was when President Gerald Ford's daughter, Susan, had her senior prom at the White House in 1975.

According to one study, a typical prom couple usually spends more than $500 on prom (tickets, buying or renting formal clothing, flowers, limos, etc). While it is still traditional for boys to ask the girls, many more people are choosing to go with friends in a group, by themselves, or with a non-traditional date.

Prom and similar functions from around the world (Source: Facts and history about prom)
  • Austria - Matura ball (in January or February), where parents and relatives are invited by students
  • Australia and New Zealand - School formal or just Formal
  • Brazil - Bailes de Formatura, no prom queen or queen at all 
  • British English - Ball
  • Chiles - Fiesta de Graduacion (graduation parties) held in December, after dinner parents leave and alcoholic beverages are available
  • Colombia - “proms” where alcohol is available
  • Egypt - similar to the Christian schools in the United States. (I have no idea what they mean by this. Seriously. I go to a Christian school and our prom is like every other prom.)
  • Germany - Abifeir or “Abi ball” or “Abi Party”, where alcohol is provided because the legal drinking age in Germany is 16 for beer and wine but majority is 18 or older
  • Ireland - Debutantes’ Ball and Grads- for all male schools
  • Italian military schools “Mak II 100″, held a 100 days before graduation and is not formal
  • Lithuania - Isleistves, held the same day after presentation of diplomas. Also 100 days before prom is called Simtadienis, it is a less formal event organized by the junior class but attended by the senior class
  • Malaysia - proms organized by students only, no school administratives take part
  • Pakistan - Farewell Dinner and Farewell Function, held only after college academic yr. Prom queen and king are called “Lady of the evening” and “Gentlemen of the Evening”
  • Peru - “Fiesta de Promocion” may be help at the house of a graduating senior, where dinner is served along with alcoholic drinks and breakfast served at 6 the next morning
  • Poland - Studniowka - 100 days before exams, mainly for those who are about to graduate but underclassmen may attend. Graduates receive a ribbon with name on it and wear them until the end of the academic year
  • Slovakia - Stuzkova’ held in November or December attend by students, parents, and teachers
  • Slovenia - Maturantwki, tradition to have first dance with mother/father
  • Sweden - Studentbalen meaning the student ball
  • United Kingdom - school ball until 2000 but now school prom
Resources
Time- Brief History of Prom
PromWorks- Prom History
Random History- From Debutante Balls to High School Hops: A History of Prom
A Short History of Prom and Prom Dresses

Pages with tips and etiquette suggestions to check out.
Prom Etiquette
Prom Guide
Tips for Prom
Prom

So, do you have any stories about prom? Or any big plans for it? Or none?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There are Mean Teachers...and Then There Are Rare Animals.

So for tonight I have eight stories to share with you. So I'll give a short breakdown of these stories and then link you to them. In mention to the title, I have two stories about crazy, mean teachers and really cool animals (and some crazy things people do for their pets).

Dad discovers Autistic Son bullied at school by Teachers
This is such a sad story. Really, it truly is. So, Stuart Chaifetz's son, ten year told Akian (cool name, it reminds me of Death Vader's real name) is autistic and goes to a school for kids like him. For six months, Mr. Chaifetz was called in for meetings because his son was being violent. But apparently, Akian has never hurt anybody before.

And so one day, he put a recorder on his son and taped what exactly went on. Well to his horror, Akian's teachers and her aids emotionally abused him, called him names, laughed when he cried, made fun of him, and other horrible things. Well these teachers are still teaching (just not at Akian's school anymore) and Mr. Chaifetz just wants a public apology. To read more and watch the dad's rant (which is actually a well made video and he acted very mature in it), click here.

Virginia Teacher fires blanks at students. 
Manuael Ernest Dillow, 60, apparently pulled a blank firing handgun from the back waistband of his pants and fired the gun for each student there. He apparently did it to get the attention of his students (who were in a welding class) and it put fear into the kids. He's being chared with 12 felony counts, all class 6, and each punishable up to five years in prision along with a $2,500 fine. He's been since release on a $20,000 bond. To read the whole thing and watch the clip, click here.

Man accidenlty mistakes girlfriend for a hog...and shoots her. 
I don't think this couple will last the year. Apparently, Steven Egan, 52, and his girlfriend, Lisa Simmons, were camping in Florida. While Egan went looking for a hog, he heard something moving in the woods (Lisa had gone looking for oranges even though Egan told her to stay put in the campsite), and fired. He accidenlty shot Lisa in the leg and she had to be airlifted to the hospital where she's reported to be in serious condition.

On a happy note...
I saw these really cute pictures this guy, Jason Lee, took of his daughters for his mother when she was diagnostics with Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Really, these are adorable pictures! Click here for some smiles and laughs.

The Easiest Recipe for Peas ever.
So this article is really commenting on the comments on a recipe by Paula Deen for peas, but I just find the recipe funny. Because its so ridiclous that she would need to put this up. Here's the recipe.
"Melt the butter in small pot and add the peas. Cook over medium heat until peas are warm."  
I know, really hard, right? *sarcastic* Anyways, to read the comments and the rest of the article talking about the comments, click here.

Doggie Weddings...What Next?

The happy couple.

Scruffy Rubin and Snickers Carter were happily married on Sunday in a wedding with 100 guests, a wedding cake, open bar, receptionist, and even security. The ceremony was conducted by "priest" Harry Farber (who wore a black collar with novelty dog bones on it), and both dogs were dressed up finely for it in a custom counture dress and doggie tux. They trotted down the asile on faux grass, were accompained by a ring bearer (I don't know how they got the rings on!), flower boy, groomsman (a pug named Max) and an usher. A live band plaed "You Light Up My Life".

Their owners, Ernie Rubin and Ann Carter gave the $5,000 wedding at the Palm Desert Resort Country Club in Palm Desert and asked guests to donate to the Orphan Pet Oasis Humane Society of the Desert in North Palm Springs. To read the whole thing and watch the video, click here.


First ever footage of white orca.
Russian scientists have released video of what could be the world's only all-white adult male orca. Iceberg (the whale), believed to be 16 years old, is a part of a pod of 13 other orcas off the coast of the Commander Islands in the Bering Sea. Iceberg was photographed twice in 2010 and the scientists are not sure if he really is a true albino. To read the whole thing, click here.
And you can watch Iceberg, below.

Purple Crabs!

Four New species of crab have been discovered in the Philippines on the island of Palawan. And one of them as an unusually bright purple shell.
National Geographic reports that the Insulamon palawanese may use its uniquely colored shell to help identify its own kind.
"It is known that crabs can discriminate colours. Therefore, it seems likely that the colouration has a signal function for the social behaviour, e.g. mating," Hendrik Freitag of the Senckenberg Museum of Zoology in Dresden, Germany told AFP.
Aww! Purple frogs!
Apparently there is a crab that is blue (called the Chesapaeke blue crab) and this also reminds me of the purple frog with a pointy nose. To read the whole thing, click here.

Sincerely,
Sareh

Monday, April 23, 2012

Writing Prompt- TV Commercials

So there's two parts to this.

#1
If your story or project was being made into a movie and they were going to make a trailer for it, what scenes would you want the trailer to show? Would you want it to be a lot of narrating and text or a lot of clips from the movie? And who would play your characters?

#2
Your character has the chance to be in a TV commercial, what TV commercial is it for? Are they an extra or do they have a leading role? Is this something they want to be in? Try writing a scene or a short story in which your character is in the commercial, discusses if they're happy with it, and what people's reactions to it is. Did it catch people's attention or was it another one of those annoying commercials no one payed attention to?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Friday, April 20, 2012

Random Friday- Cars and Pet Rocks


So for tonight's random post, I'm showing you my new pet rock and a bunch of old cool cars I found the other week at this one place. You could buy them and the place where they were at was like a celebration hall. It was cool.  Here you go!
Sincerely,
Sareh












Thursday, April 19, 2012

Writing Tips- Do you really need "that big secret"?

So today we are going to talk about "that big secret" or "a bunch of little secrets". What I'm talking about is that major secret that the plot and story hangs on or a big reveal nobody saw coming. Many authors feel as if they need a big turning point in their story, one that often comes in the form of finding out that someone betrayed a character or something.

But do you really need a big secret to make your story good?

Not necessarily. Although you'll find a lot of books that have this, you don't always need them. Sometimes, a story can be good with a bunch of little secrets or multiple big secrets for more power. But sometimes, those big secrets can make or break a story. When you have a big turning point, you risk the chance of it either being too big or not big enough.

In Night Lies, I have a giant turning point that I don't think that my readers will see coming. Oh I'm sure some will realize it before I reveal it, but most probably won't. In The Cursing I have a bunch of little turning points. Most end up being big to Tatiana, but some of them aren't huge. In The Prophecy, I have several big turning points, although I sprinkle them up among the story and the other books in the series rather then all in the first book.

Reasons for Big Points 
  • Starting a book
  • Changing a Character's mind
  • Cliff hangers
  • To keep the story interesting
  • To introduce a new idea or a new subplot
  • To torture your characters more
  • To lengthen the story 
  • Ending a book
If you have a big turning point...
What exactly your big reveal, your turning point, or whatever you want to call it is depends on your story. Not every type of secret is right for your story (long lost friend, everything's a lie, so and so isn't really dead, etc) and you shouldn't put a big reveal in if it actually doesn't have anything else to do with your story other than you want one because it'd be cool and dramatic.

And your big reveal also depends on what your characters can do. Are they up to handling something big? If you have a dangerous secret will they be able to resolve the issue or what will they do if they find this big secret out. Some secrets can be too big or too little for certain characters. If your character finds out that he's the only person who can save the world, does he have the abilities and resources to do so? If your character is one of the only people to survive a hurricane, will they be able to make it to safety in time or save people other than themselves? 

There's also the case of when to reveal the big turning point. Some authors wait until the story starts getting boring to reveal a big secret to make the story more interesting, reveal at the beginning for a motive, or wait until the end for a final punch in the gut.

And its the big reveal that not only matters, but the timing is also very important. Reveal too early and you may find yourself with not enough power to get through the rest of the book. Reveal too late and you may not have enough time to resolve the issue.

To make things even more exciting you could add more than one giant turning point for an extra whammy. But be careful, you might find yourself in deeper trouble than you thought. Also remember that if you have a big turning point, your character should be able to fix it (or fail. That could be exciting too.).

If you don't have a big turning point...
That's okay. Remember that its okay to have a bunch of smaller ones. Smaller turning points can be just as dramatic as big ones because you give your characters more than one problem to deal with and they may have a more dramatic effect than one giant one.

But if you choose along that path, keep in mind that too many small but big points may overwhelm the story or the characters. And the more problems you have, the more loose ends you'll have to keep track of. It'd be bad to introduce five or six problems and then more than halfway through realize that your characters never fixed three of those problems. And now you have to fix those plot holes.

Other tips
And even if you want a bunch of small points or a big one, you can always put that point or other points into another book. Not every idea you have has to go into this one story. And spreading things out can make keep the story fresh, alive, and exciting.

And you don't even have to have a bunch of small ones or a big one. Some stories are fine without the extra baggage and with the one main conflict. Your characters may have enough on their plate without dealing with more. 

If you have a big secret or several, it's a good idea to drop hints before hand rather than suddenly drop it out of nowhere. If you do drop it out of nowhere, your readers may accuse you of not being able to continue with the main plot or something equally horrible.

Plus, the best big secrets are the ones that are out in the open but hidden cleverly enough you never really guessed it till it was revealed (Note: this plan may result in side affects in readers such as outbursts of "I should have seen that coming! Or How in the world did I not realize that?" Other symptons of surprise may result in anger, throwing the book across the room, or calling a friend and revealing the big secret.)

Of course, you could always just reveal something out of nowhere, but I find it more fun to toy with readers and characters with hints of the truth rather than a big sudden reveal. Plus, its more fun to watch readers try to figure something out on their own and desperately read the book to find out if they're right or not or whatever.

Four types of big secrets
  • Only the author knows (both reader and character are clueless)- Where everyone but you is left in the dark. Sometimes this is effective for bigger surprises rather than little ones. 
  • Only the author and readers know (character is clueless)- Ah, those times when your readers are either told something important or realize something before the characters do. 
  • Other characters know (except for certain characters and readers)- Times when your main character is clueless of something everyone else seems to realize (That reminds me of an article I read where firefighters were called to a burning apartment. After putting out the fire, the found the owner of the house still sleeping on his bed. Apparently he hadn't woken once during the whole thing and never felt the heat.)
  • Only the author and the characters know (readers are clueless)- This one I don't think I see a lot of, but I'm sure it can happen. When your characters are all aware of something not made known to the readers. 
Examples
  • A Million Suns
  • A Long Long Sleep
  • Wired
  • A ton of other books. 
Genres I think that have the most surprises:
  • Science fiction
  • Dystopian
  • Mystery (duh!)
  • Fantasy
  • Thrillers
  • Other genres of course but those are my top five. 
So, do you have any big turning points in your story? What's your favorite one?


Sincerely,
Sareh

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Orange Goo Mystery is Finally Solved!


I find this... hilarious.
I can't figure out what
this is a picture of.
A tie perhaps?
So, I don't know if you've heard of the novel "Fifty Shades of Grey", but I just watched a yahoo video about it and found an interesting fact. The new best selling novel, is a erotic fanfiction based off of...Twilight. Yep, you read that right! And I wouldn't be reporting on this except that I find this hilarious and slightly...disturbing. Maybe because the fact that Twilight isn't exactly a human-friendly book (Meyer actually did say "I'm not anti-femine, I'm anti-human), but not only that but Twilight's heroine (does she even deserve the title?) Bella, isn't exactly a great rolemodel. Also, its a YA novel about vampires and selling your soul to be with your 'true' love.

So my question is, how did a YA novel inspire an eroctic adult novel about "a young woman who falls in love with an older millionaire prone to bondage". Secondly, why Twilight (which also brings up the question what exactly in Twilight inspired this? Or do I even want to know?)? When I think S. Meyer wrote these books, she probably never thought that this kind of book would be inspired from hers. Anyways, you can watch the video,here , and make your own opinions.

Canada has new money again...and it glows!

After introducing plastic, multicolored, and see-through bills and then killing off the penny, Canada has a new coin now. This new collectuble quarter features a dinosaur who's skeleton appears in the dark after facing light. It's actually two images on one side and the other side has a non-glowing Queen Elizabeth. The quarter is made out of cupronickel, valued at 25 cents, and is much larger than a regular Canadian quarter.
It shows an artist's rendering of Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai, a 4-ton, 26-foot dinosaur discovered in Alberta in 1972. It's the first in a four-coin series of photo-luminescent prehistoric creatures.
The mint says the skeleton can best be seen after the coin is exposed to sunlight, or to fluorescent or incandescent light for 30-60 seconds, adding that the luminescence won't fade with time.
The glowing novelty is a first for the mint, but sadly it won't be for general circulation.
The dino's mintage is limited to 25,000, and collectors who want to count their dinosaurs at night will have to pony up to the tune of $29.95. Canadian, of course. It launches April 16.
Apparenlty this isn't the only cool coin, New Zealand has a Star Wars coin. You can read the whole article, here.

Baby declared dead...only to be found alive by parents. 

In Argentina, a newborn baby was discovered aline by her mother 12 hours after the hospital declared her dead. Analia Bouguet, the mother, says that the hospital only gave her a death certificate and not one for a birth. Apparently her fifth child, the little baby girl was born premature. And two hours after finding out the news, Analia and her husband visited the morgue to see the child one last time. But when they uncovered the little casket, the baby cried out to the surprise of everyone.
The newborn has been named Luz Milagros, or "Miracle Light." She is still listed as being in critical condition but is said to be improving. The deputy provincial health minister announced that five medical professionals involved in the case have been suspended, pending further investigation.
You can read the whole thing and watch the video, here. 

Orange Goo Mystery Solved!
Do you remember when I posted about a mysterious orange goo up in Alaska eailer? Well its been solved.

At firsst, researchers of NOAA- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration- believed that it was created by millions of tiny crustacean eggs with fatty oil seen through the sacs which gave it the strange color. But now they're saying it was a mass of spores from a certain type of fungus, orginally, called rust (named for its organge color). But then they couldn't actually identfiy the exact species of the fungus.
Writer Jennifer Frazer covered the strange story on her “Artful Amoeba" blog for Scientific American, and reported that the mystery had finally been solved: "the identity of the rust has been revealed at last. It is the Spruce-Labrador Tea Needle Rust, Chrysomyxa ledicola, a parasite of both spruce trees and a rhododendron — a flowering woody shrub common to conifer understories the world over — called Labrador Tea." 

Sincerely,
Sareh


Monday, April 16, 2012

Writing Prompt- What's their fashion style?

So, I'm all for creating realistic characters. That's why so many of my writing prompts focus on them. But tonight, we're going to take a look at what kind of clothing our characters wear on a daily basis.

Here's some examples of different styles (source: here)
Boho
Feminine 
Chic
Couture
Elegent 
Bold
Sporty
Glam
Sophisticated
School Girl (prep style)
Nautical 
Goth (Goth are tecnically thought as to wear black clothing while emo, just usually wear plain clothing you know like a T-shirt and jeans. They don't really have a typical style)
Earthy
Polished
Urban
Classic
Statement
Festival
Vintage



As we can often tell what kind of people are by what they wear, what kind of style does your characters have? What does this say about them? Or even, is what they wear often match their personality? (For example, a really quiet person wearing something totally attention-grabbing). 


Sincerely,
Sareh

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book Review- Unearthly

(From Goodreads) In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.
Okay, so I really liked this book. But I don't like the cover! Its pretty, don't get me wrong, but its another boring picture of a girl in a dress. And its all one color! (except for the words of course, but purple is also my favorite color).
One of my biggest favorite about the book was the characters, hands down. Her family is more than just a family, its a real family. Clara doesn't hate her family for stupid reasons and her family isn't stupid. You can tell they honestly care and love another. They have fights, they make up, and they stick together and make sacrifices for one another. And her family is so real despite everything that happens and the fact that they're all part angel. 
And her friends were real people too. They honestly cared about her and loved her and were cool people. There weren't really any stupid people who hated each just for the sake of adding something to the plot. People were realistic! 
And the romance! Clara and Tucker's relationship was real. It wasn't one of those stupid "insta-love". No they actually took their sweet time learning to love one another. And they had doubts about each other and they fought like a real couple and then broke up but made up like real people seem to do. And Tucker was cute. He reminds me of one of those hill-billy guys (who isn't really my type) but he was sweet and caring! Yay realistic couples!
Then, there's the angels! They weren't your stupid, normal angels who randomly fall in love with humans and feel like they're above the consequences. These fallen angels make sense. They're evil, they suffer, and they're always having to deal with the trouble and pain that comes from disobeying God. And the "good" angels, like Clara, they had an actual purpose. And they full filled those purposes! They are messengers and beings who help us. Plus the wings. I loved the wings and how the angels can change them to however they wanted them to look. And the explanation made sense! Yay! 
Clara also wasn't one of those stupid teen girls you seen in novels. She had flaws and admitted to them, she knew she wasn't perfect and despite those flaws, she conquered her fears and worked to become a better person. She had doubts and fear, hates, loves, was awkward, and didn't always know what the right thing to do was. She also realized that she couldn't do everything on her own and that sometimes, that's okay. But she also knew how great of a person she was and didn't let what others thought of her define her life. And she didn't throw away her life's purpose for some stupid boy. Also, her actions had consequences, and she dealed with them! Like normal people!
But really the only thing that bothered me alot about this story was the end. Oh gosh! I am still and was SO CONFUSED. I have no idea if she actually fell or not. Or did she even complete her mission? Due to major spoliers, I won't say what happened, only that I'm really and totally confused. The ending was too open for me. And not enough was explained. SO CONFUSING. GAH. 
Anyways, it was a fantastic book. I give it five stars, but because of the ending, it might require four and a half. Mostly because I hate endings like this. With some books, its okay, but others, NO. I'll read the next one, but still. There shouldn't be stupid confusing endings like this. 
Goodreads:Unearthly
Website: Cynthia Hand
Sincerely,
Sareh

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Paper Vs. Computers- Which is better?

I really wish today was friday so I could ramble. I feel like rambling. Mostly about books but then...I can do that tomorrow...

Anyways, so today instead of rambling about books I will ramble about paper vs computers? Which is better? Or is there even a "better"?

Computers- Pros

  • Better organization. 
  • Its easier to store your files in multiple places. You can store them on your computer itself or on the internet. 
  • Easier to erase and add things. 
  • Easier way to share your story with multiple people. 
  • You can type up your project on different kinds of document writers besides Microsoft Office, like Scrivener, Wordpad, LibreOffice, and others. 
  • If you're a fast typist, you don't have to worry about messy hand writing and some people are faster typist then they are at handwriting. Its easy to change fonts too. 
  • You can store all your research and stuff into files for quick easy access. 
  • Your work can be password protected. 
Computers-Cons
  • If you want to put a document onto paper, then you have to print it off. And overtime, it'll cost lots of money. 
  • It might be easier to catch a virus, accidently delete something, or corrupt your project. 
  • If you change word processors (like when my Microsoft office stopped working and I had to convert all my files so they would work on different programs) you'll have to convert files. 
  • You can forget passwords or have something hacked.
  • If you share something online, there's always a chance it could be stolen. 
  • It can be easy to make a ton of files and loose stuff. 
  • Your computer can die and if you don't have backups, you'll loose your projects.
Paper- Pros
  • Like using different word processors, you can use different kinds of paper. 
  • You can use journals, notebooks, sketchbooks, or any other form of blank books to write in. You can even choose between lines and unlined (you can do choose this too on some word processors).
  • Different colored ink in pens, crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc. 
  • Pen vs pencil. 
  • You can write or draw in the margins. 
  • There's that wonderful feel of paper. 
  • Might be more convenient. 
Paper- Cons
  • Its easier to loose and destroy in some cases. 
  • No password protection. In most cases, anyone can find it and read it. 
  • You might have messy handwriting or get cramps easily. 
  • Its harder to share with multiple people. 
  • You might have a harder time keeping notes, research, and your project organized. 
  • It takes more space to store paper. 
  • It takes lots of time to write something and then transfer it to your computer.
  • Kills trees. 
Combined Pros.
  • Both can have different fonts, shapes, colors, and sizes. 
  • Both can be lined or no lines (in some cases).
  • With somethings on the computer, you can draw or write in the margins like on paper. 
  • You can organize your stuff into files. 
Combined Cons
  • Cramps either way. 
  • You can destroy stuff either way.
  • Distractions either way. 

So well, there it is. A list of the pros and cons of writing on either paper or computer. Which do you prefer? Do you have anything to add to these lists?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Writing Prompt- Where do they live?

So I'll go back to regular schedule next week. But until then, tonight I'm doing a writing prompt. Houses and where you live as well what's inside can tell you a lot about a person.

So where do your characters live? (urban or rural?)

Then, what kind of place do they live in? Apartment, town house, etc.

How do they decorate their house? Modern, chic, etc. Do they have specific themes or not? What's their favorite room and what's their bedroom look like?

Is thier house neat or messy? Do they have paintings or a specific kind of item all over? My aunt has a rooster themed kitchen and my other aunt has a ton of pepper and salt shakers for any occasion.

Do they allow pets inside? Are there any places were kids can't go or can go?

What about their garage or attic? Do they keep anything cool in there? My parents have a ton of cool stuff in our garage.

What do they do when they have visitors over? Or do they just not have visitors?

So where do your characters live? What can you learn about them from it?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Writing Tips- How to NOT infodump!

Infodumping...one of those problems that plague writers every where. Its one of those relentless evils that seem impossible to beat, but with the right mindset and some thinking, you can easily learn how to overcome them everywhere. (All examples used in this post are excerpts from my novel, Night Lies. The first three chapters can now be read on Wattpad).


So what exactly is an infodump?
An infodump is be definition, when a writer feels that they must tell their reader curcial information and end up dumping information in their stories in big chunks. So basically...an infodump.


What an infodump look like:
 This is a part from chapter three  in which I explain about Faith's condition. I should change it, but I've yet to find a way to shorten it or put it throughout the story. Eventually I'll fix it...
Faith was different from everyone she knew. She was a Lusus Naturae or a mutant as the media called them. Only, no one knew about that. Faith had used her powers when she was younger, but she hadn't used them in front of people because when she did, people got scared. But when she was older, she found out what happened to people like her- other Lusus Naturae- they disappeared. No one knew what happened to them.
As she grew older, she used her powers less and less, hoping she'd grow out of them. That she knew was the test. Every child when they were born under went a test for the Lusus Naturae DNA. If they were found with the DNA the child was watched by doctors and other people until they were twelve. If they never showed any signs of powers or they had out grown out of their powers by then, they were let into the Academy. If not, they simply disappeared. 
Why are infodumps bad?
They're not if you think about it, but most people just don't read them. And if its something important, you want your readers reading that. Not skipping over it. Besides, do you really want to read a whole page length explaining something that could be explained in a couple sentences? Or not even explained at all?


Sometimes, there are reasons and places where infodumps are needed or just where you can't get rid of them. And that's okay. As long as you don't do it all the time.


Think about this: you're writing from your character's perspective and every time you pause to explain something, you risk losing your reader's attention. Not only that, but infodumps pause the story and are unnatural in some ways. Using them means risking jarring your reader out of the story. They make readers aware of the author and that's something you shouldn't want to do. You want your story to remain natural and make your readers feel as if it is real.


It also means that it slows down the story. Do you really want that awkward pause right in the middle of the story's flow? Let the story flow its natural course without awkward breakups.


Sareh's foolproof plan to kill off infodumps and save your story. 
  1. Decide if the information you want to covey is really all that important. Remember, your reader doesn't need to know everything. 
  2. Can you put this somewhere else? Readers don't need or want to know everything at once. If you find yourself infodumping, try to figure out if this information is curcial to the scene. If not, try breaking it up and sprinke it throughout the rest of the story. 
    1. Look at the next example. That part was not only big and chunky in chapter 2, but I ended up explaining Lieu's past over a couple other chapters instead of all in the first one with her in it. 
  3. Shorten it. If infodumps have taken over your story, is there a way you can convey this information in less space? Can you make it into a sentence or even a couple sentences instead of a giant paragraph or a couple of them?
    1. Ex. After their parents' death, Cassy and Lieu had sold their old apartment and moved in with their aunt and cousins. But after it was discovered that their aunt stole their parents' life-insurance, Cassandra moved out, saved up enough Credits, and bought the current apartment. (This example was originally put into the second chapter, then moved to the fourth. But it was also much longer and I ended up shortening it to a couple sentences.)
  4. If there's no way to fix your infodump, leave it. But this is the last resort. 
  5. Have your characters tell the information. Instead of having one character remember something, could two or more characters talk about it? 
    1. Ex. (In this conversation between Lieu and Eden, we're explained to how Lieu got her nickname.)“Hey Songbird,” Eden said carelessly.
    Lieu’s head snapped up from the lunch menu to glare at her. “Don’t call me that,” she snapped over the Network. “You know that only Xander calls me that.” Eden rolled her eyes. “Yeah ever since that day he caught you singing Gospel songs in the girls’ lockeroom shower. You weren’t even suppose to be in there.” “Well I didn’t know that he was in there! I thought that all of the guys on the swim team had gone out already! And its not my fault that the guys’ lockeroom had flooded thanks to Henri Robyn’s prank. Besides, I was out of water at home and I needed a shower!” Lieu glared at her friend some more, thinking how Eden needed a healthy dose of glaring.
    You could have just come over to my apartment,” Eden reminded her.
    You were on a date with Mica, and I know you hate being interrupted in case something romantic is happening,” Lieu countered. Disconnecting her Network, Lieu quickly ordered her lunch- yogurt.   
Part 2- What not to do. 
  1. If people are always commenting on infodumps, try to fix them if possible. Don't add on to them or move them to a different spot and think your readers won't notice. We're not that stupid. 
  2.  Don't explain something to a character they already know. If you're using conversation or something to fix an infodump, don't have another character telling a character something they already know. That's silly. To fix this problem, try talking about something as if its something that everyone knows already. Don't pause to explain but instead, show us whatever it is you're explaining. Don't tell me what the Network is, show me!
    1. Ex. In Night Lies, all my characters know what Widgets are, but do you? Probably not. But by reading the story and seeing how the characters interact with Widgets, one might come to the conclusion that they're somekind of screen thing. In fact, they're like tablet computers. But more high tech. 
    2. Same thing with the Network. That's like the internet or the cloud. But you can access it from anywhere. Think of...the internet in your head and that's what you get basically. If that makes sense...
So, do you have any problems with infodumps? What are ways you use to get rid of them?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book Review- Perfect Chemistry

(from Goodreads) A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers.
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.  In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.


This was a book recommended to me by one of my great friends. She said it was amazing and it was! It really was. Unlike the last book, this one made an impression on me and I remember most of what happened in it without reminders. 

At first I didn't really like Brittany, she's one of those super-duper popular people. Although I think that was the intention in the beginning. But even then, I still liked her. Underneath the facade, she was a real and cool person. Alex was a cool person too. He was realistic too and interesting. All of the characters were pretty realistic and interesting. 

I hated Brittany's popular boyfriend and I was glad when she broke up with him. I thought it was cruel when Alex toyed with Brittany's heart but I was glad when they fell in love despite the barriers and stereotypes surrounding them. I didn't agree with some of their choices, like Brittany's near the end which lets Alex win the bet. The characters as I've mentioned were realistic and acted like real people and real teenagers with their own problems and desires. 

I love the plot it was interesting and orginal I think.   The story was funny and although it wasn't something I'd normally read, I am thankful that my friend introduced me to this series. The writing was very good. It was in a way that you could understand and feel what the characters were feeling, but it wasn't infodumpy or anything like that. 

The story's message I think was good and it was about (I think) how everyone deep down is different and yet the same. Everyone has their problems and everyone is cool too given the chance. And you shouldn't let other people tell you what to do or who you should be. You also shouldn't be worried with what people think because in the end, it doesn't really matter. 

But there were some things in this book that made me uncomfortable. Note that there is swearing and sexual stuff in this book and I don't think this is a book younger kids should read. But that being said, it did make the story all that much more real. 

I really would like to ramble. The book was amazing and it was cool to read. There's a few minor things I didn't like about the book but for the most part, I loved it. The characters were by far, my favorite part. Mostly cause I could relate to them and I loved seeing them change in the end. And for the good too. They overcame the odds and fought for what they believed in. It was cool. 

There's not much I can say about this book besides gushing, so I'm just gonna leave it with this. It was a five star book. I know its not everyone's cup of tea, but I think its a good book to read. It really makes one think, I think.

Goodreads: Perfect Chemistry
Website: (I couldn't find a website so I'm linking you to the Goodreads Author page) Simone Elkeles

Sincerely,
Sareh

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

So even if you don't celebrate Easter, I hope you had a happy day. If you do celebrate Easter...He is risen!

Yep, you have no idea how many times I've heard that today and have had to reply "He is risen indeed!". I swear we said that at least six times during the sermon and another four or five times during the service. Plus I've repeated it another four times to various friends and family.

Anyways, I've been up since...3:30 am ish? And I went to bed at...1:20 am ish? I saw Titanic in 3D and didn't get home till 12. Plus I didn't fall asleep until an hour later. Plus I had to wake up early to work at church for youth group. And I haven't gotten free time until now.

So I came on to wish you a happy Easter and to let you know that I'll be posting a book review, some writing post, that March overview I want to do yet tomorrow since I will have time, and I'm letting you know that I'm switching Mondays back to writing prompts now that Lent is over.

 Easter is one of my favorite holidays because its so happy and bright and fun. I adore Easter. Plus we get to sing fun songs in church. They're more upbeat and happy. I wish we could sing more songs like those on other Sundays.
And here's some random Easter pictures.

Happy Easter!
Sincerely,
Sareh

Friday, April 6, 2012

Book Review- Illusions

Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice. 

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.



So tonight I decided to review a book instead of  a movie since I did a movie review on Sunday. And when I was figuring out what book to review I couldn't remember what book this was until I looked it up on my "reads" list on Goodreads. Obviously, if this book had been amazing, I would have remembered it more. Since I didn't, this book didn't make a very good impression on me. Onto the review!


Like most of the series so far, nothing much really happens. There's a few exciting parts, but most of the time is spent with Laurel deciding which boy she loves. In the last book she decided to choose David but in this book Tamani suddenly shows up in her school! Aparently he's been sent to protect her and is posing as a transfer student from Scotland (why not Ireland?). 


Anyways, this new student, Yuki appears and there's this big mystery about who she really is and what purpose she has. I liked how there was more mystery in this book and how Tamani finally gets to shower attention on another that's not Laurel. 


The plot itself is actually kinda interesting once Yuki came into the picture. It was mysterious and I basically read it to only find out what was really going on. As for the characters, David is too perfect. Tamani I don't like, but he's better in the fact that he's more 3D than David. Yuki is one of the most interesting characters, although for most of the story, she is WAY too quiet. It bugged me. Plus there's Khea who just throws Yuki onto Laurel and expects her to be all hunkey-dorey with it. Khea wasn't all that great of a protection in my opinion. And Laurel...well...I don't like her all that much. I just don't think she's all that great of a protagonist. She doesn't seem all that strong or special. I like her, but I don't think she's a great protagonist. ANYWAYS. 


One of the things I wish about this series is that the last two books were just as interesting as this one kinda was. The last book was basically all spent Laurel rambling on in Faerieland (Avalon its called) and "trying" to figure out how to use her powers. (The way I see it, she's a failure at trying to mix potions and stuff. In the story, she admits to being able to do basic stuff, but seriously. She should be able to do more than she actually does in the story!)


The other thing that bugged me is the stupid love triangle in this series! She publicly breaks up with someone and then gets back with him after passionately kissing the other dude. I can't wait until Laurel decides to grow up and actually choose someone for once. Its like rebound city in this series!


Oh and really the only other thing I have to comment on in this kinda vague review is the ending. Oh wow...where do I start? The ending slightly confused me, but the very last thing was the part that Laurel spent most of the book trying to figure out. And it was...bam! Here's the most exciting part...and then it ended. While I love cliffhangers, I don't like giant cliffhangers like that. They bug me. Sure, I'll probably read the next book to find out what actually happens, but I don't like it when authors do that. 


It was a very good ending, don't get me wrong. But it was the most exciting part. And then there was nothing after that. It was the best part of the book though. 


Oh! The cover. I love the cover of this book and the second book. They're probably the few books I've seen in a while that don't have a girl on the cover wearing a ballgown. These new ones are very pretty and they did a wonderful job with them even though they don't actually have much to do with the book itself. 


As I said, I'll read the next book, but only to find out what happens with Yuki. None of the other characters make me want to read the next one, just Yuki. I won't buy the next one either, I'll rent it from the library like I've done with all this series. Three stars with a slim chance of four. 


On Goodreads: Illusions
Website: Aprilynne Pike


Sincerely,
Sareh



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Writing Prompt- Letters.

So I love writing letters. I have a pen pal and who's really awesome. Anyways, here's an exercise.

Pretend that you're pen pals with your characters and write them a letter. Then pretend to have them write you back. How would they respond to what you said? What kinds of things would they write about?

Then, have your characters write each other letters! Your MC could write to your villain and demand to know why they're such a villain or they could write to a minor character and lament about why everything always seems to happen to them.

Have fun and be creative!

Sincerely,
Sareh

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Will You be Dying Your Chicks Magenta this Easter?


So tonight I looked on Yahoo and found 70 articles on their main page. And I read the interesting ones and narrowed them down to six articles. Because its a lot, I'm going to write a sentence or a couple of them for the articles and then link you as usual to them.

Toddler dies in washing machine
Tiffany Hebb of Oregon was doing laundry while her 21-month-old Ollie stayed nearby. But when she left for a few minutes, Ollie crawled into the washing machine and drowned. Now Tiffany and Chris Hebb are making it their mission to spread the news of how washing machines are more dangerous then you think. Read the full article click here.

Divorce...rings?
Yeah Yahoo has a picture show of a bunch of rings made for people who get divorces. I think its silly. Especially for the prices most of these cost. Why would you spend $40+ when you can go buy a cheap one at target or Claire's for under $15 and call it a "divorce" ring. To view the odd and creepy looking rings, click here.

Exiled Ottoman Princess dead at 91. 
Neslisah Osmanoglu was an Ottoman princess who married an Egyptian prince and was forced twice into exile when both royal kingdoms were abolished. She died of a heart attack at 91 in Istanbul and is survived by a son, daughter, and grandson. To read about her click here.

Suspension Bridge hangs 1000 ft over the ground. 
The Aizhai bridge is part of an expressway from southwest China's Chongqing Municipality to Changsha city in Hunan. The bridge now makes the trip between the cities from several days to just eight hours. To see the pictures (and judging by these pictures, I wouldn't go on that bridge even if you payed me), click here.

In Arizona, trolls are now illegal. 
Arizona is trying to pass a law that would make obnoxious Internet users (aka trolls) illegal. The law states:
It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use ANY ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DEVICE and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.

Violators could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and face up to 6 months in jail. If electronic devices are used to stalk someone, the charges then become a Class 3 felony, with penalties ranging from a minimum sentence of two and a half years in jail for non-dangerous offenders with no prior record to 25 years. To read the whole thing, click here.

Dying Chicks...and not just their eggs. 
A tradition that has been going on for a while has just been brought to my attention thanks to Yahoo. Apparently the practice is to dye chicken chicks different colors. To turn ordinary chicks into eye-popping neon or pink, one simply injects non-toxic food coloring into and egg on the 18th day of incubation. After several weeks after hatching, the bird loses its bright colors after it molts. And this reminds me of the chicks that just hatched in Bio. We had black, brown, yellow, and mixed colored chicks. They were adorable. To read the whole article, click here.

So what do you guys think?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Movie Review- The Hunger Games


So I usually do book reviews but since I saw The Hunger Games last night, I'm sharing my review with you instead. Also, happy April Fool's day! I don't have any jokes for you sadly though. Well I have one, but it might be offensive, so I won't post it. Anyways, since today is also April 1st, I'll be doing a overview of March after this post.

Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games.  A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which "Tributes" must fight with one another until one survivor remains.


Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy.  If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.


Note: Read at your own risk. There will be spoliers. 


So I've been really excited to see this movie. Everyone says it was epic and it looked epic in the previews. And it was very good, but it had some problems.

As whenever they base a movie off a book, I'm always worried that it won't be anything like the book. But I thought they did okay with making it like the book. There was some differences. Like Madge, the mayor's daughter, gave Katniss the pin in the book. But in the movie, Katniss buys the pin at the market, gives it to Prim, who then gives it back to Katniss. There was some other differences too.

When it started out, I thought that the camera moved around a little bit too much. And I thought that the acting didn't seem quite right. Plus everything seemed really fast paced and I felt that if you didn't read the books, you might get a little confused. Like with the lady in the fancy outfits who came to their district, who was she? And when Prim's name was called, I thought they did good with that, but Katniss should have screamed sooner.

And I thought that Haymitch was good but I think that he should have had more time in the movie talking to them. And what in the world happened with Cinna? He was good in the movie and he was how I imagined him. But they didn't give him enough screen time in the movie for him to have been as close to Katniss as he was in the movie. He wasn't there much at all so I thought it was kinda weird that he was so close when the viewers may not have been sure why.

I really enjoyed see the fashions of the Capitol and of the districts. Some of the stuff the people wore in the Capitol was actually kinda cool and with a little modification, I wouldn't mind wearing it. Although I'm not sure I'd dye my hair all those funky colors.

Oh and during the parade, where they were all in the chariots, the flames that were coming off of Katniss and Peeta did look really fake. I'm not sure if they meant them too or not because they were fake even in the movie, but they just looked fake. But I loved Katniss's hair then. I would have liked to have seen the other tribute's costumes though.

I thought that they should have showed more of Peeta and Katniss when they were training. Like the training didn't look all that much like training. You could tell they were...acting at some parts. I enjoyed the part where Katniss had her own personal time with the sponsors. But it didn't seem like they had trained all that much.

But the movie finally got good when they actually were in the Hunger Games themselves. Rue was super cute. So cute! I loved her character. And she was exactly how I had imagined her. It was exciting and cool during the rest of the show. I enjoyed the 3rd person view we got so that we could see them controlling the games, Haymitch trying to get sponsers, and Rue's district rioting.

I thought that they did a bad job with the mutts at the end. The dogs were suppose to look like the characters they represented. Like Rue's should have been small. But all the dogs were the same. And there were times were the tributes would die and the cannon wouldn't go off like it was suppose to when they died.

I thought they did good with Rue's scene where she died and afterwards. Although Rue had been under a net and she hadn't been in the book. Plus her district didn't send Katniss bread afterwards for singing when Rue died. But Katniss did well afterwards with the crying and looking upset.

As for the other characters, they were all good. Although I didn't like Gale's character much. He wasn't as handsome as I had imagined him and I didn't like his acting. Prim was cute throughout the whole thing and I loved her character. She did well.

Peeta was so cute! There were some parts where I didn't like his hair when it was slicked back, but when it was messy or lightly combed, he looked really cute.

As for President Snow, he wasn't as how I had imagined him. I had imagined him as a forty-year old man with short white hair and hard, pale blue eyes. But in the movie, he reminded me of Santa Claus because he had this white bushy beard.

Other than that, it was a good movie. I really enjoyed it and it was my favorite movie of the year. My cousin and I kept whispering the whole time and we annoyed some people. But we didn't really care. But I enjoyed it. I give it four and a half stars.

Resources:
IMDb- The Hunger Games
The Official Hunger Games Website

Sincerely,
Sareh




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