Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In the News- That's a lot of Kids!


Texas Class looks to break record.
That's right, this class of 2012 has 18 sets of twins and 2 pairs of triplets! You can watch the video here.

BBC News Fail
While reporting on the conflict in Syria last week, BBC news accidently used the logo for the United Nations Space Command. Instead of the United Nations Security Council, the UNSC protects Earth from aliens in Halo. BBC news was quick to issue an apology, and even corrected the error in later versions of the newscast. But they weren't quick enough to stop it from going viral!

Apparenlty the U.N's Security Council doesn't have its own logo- they rely on the regular UN logo- and they aren't the only ones to make the mistake. The CanAsian Times accidently made the same mistake when reporting on Syria, only they haven't yet fixed the mistake. Maybe they're too embaressed? In anycase, you can read and watch the whole thing, here.

Afghanistan Schoolgirls poisoned yet again. 
160 schoolgirls were brought to a local hospital after they were found to be poisoned. The culprits are supposedly the Taliban who oppose education for girls. Its also the third time this has happened in less then two weeks.

They complain of headaches, dizziness, and vomiting, although they are discharged from the hospital in a couple hours. Police think that the classrooms were sprayed with toxic chemicals. Last week more then 120 girls and three teachers had to go to the hospital too for the same reason. Then, the day before the May 23rd attack, 40 girls at a different school had the same thing happen to them.

According to BBC, some officals think that mass hysteria may also be a factor although they say that it cannot account for so many girls. In 2009, hundreds of girls were put into the hospital in about the same amount of time, and in 2010 more then three dozen girls had to go to the hospital for poison too. You can read the whole thing and watch the video, here.


Heroic boy saves mother. 
During a robbery, 10-year-old Cameron didn't hesitate to tackle the ski-masked robbers when they threatened his mother with a gun. After shooting him through the arm, the suspects ran away. Cameron is reportedly doing fine now and he knows that he has God and his guardian angels watching over him as it could have been much worse. You can watch the whole thing, here.

Sincerely,
Sareh

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Review- The Girl in the Steel Corset


(From Goodreads) In 1897 England, 16-year-old Finley Jayne is convinced she's a freak. No normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch. Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special . . . that she's one of "them."

So when we first meet, Finely Jayne (sweet name), she's beatly some noble idiot to a plup because he tried to hurt her, she runs away, and ends up at a Duke's mansion. But this isn't just an ordinary Duke and he doesn't run an ordinary household.

First off, I'd like to say that I liked most of the characters. Finley and Griffin I think were both very well developed, as were most of the characters. Finley was at time a strong independant girl and then at other times, she was unsure of herself. Although I was confused most of the time was exactly her "darker" side is. I think its her being super strong, but I'm not sure.

Griffin was noble and understanding although he was a little too noble and unsure a lot of the times. But he was strong and I think is a dependable character. Emily was pretty cool although she was by far the sweetest character (although I thought she could be a bit too timid at times. She reminds me of a mouse). She was cool though being the inventor of the group, she had come pretty awesome creations.

Although I wasn't thrilled with Sam and some of the other characters. One of the main reasons I disliked Sam was that he was so stupidly stubborn and kept it up for most of the book. The constant "we can't trust her" got annoying. Plus, there was kind of a love triangle going on. But I liked both Griffin (cool name!) and Jack Dandy. Although I think that Griffin is the overall better dude even if Finley pretty much couldn't decide the whole time if it was right for a commoner to love a duke.

One of my favorite parts about this book was the names. The names picked for the characters are just awesome. Anyways, the other characters were pretty good. Jasper Renn is an American cowboy (who I thought was protaryed well as a cowboy even though I don't read westerns so I can't totally say). He was funny and pretty cool most of the time. Other times he bugged me with just his adittude. Jack Dandy is the "bad boy", a crime lord who seems to have affections for Finley most of the time. He's dangerous and cool, and I liked him. But I still prefered Griffin over him.

Actually when I think of Jack Dandy, I see a tall, slim man with dark hair and wearing a long coat, top hat, and a cane. And when I think of Griffin, I see a muscular, dark haired guy who's hot and wears pants, dress shirt, and suspenders.

As for the plot, it was pretty interesting. I loved the bits of mystery and the awesome steampunk things in here. There were a lot of cool inventions in here. And the whole world was just very believable I think. The only thing is that you pretty much knew who that bad guy was without much trouble. You should could tell why the wax figure was taken easily. It was a cool idea, although I think there could have been something a bit less cliche then what was done.

Anyways, the setting was really cool. I really do love steampunk and I think this book is a great one. Most of the inventions are believable although some can be a stretch. There's some historical facts mixed in and I enjoyed how Jasper brought in an American pov to the British steampunk scene. That being said, why does it seem like a lot of steampunk happens in London or some European place? Why can't there be steampunk in America or Asia or someplace other then London?

Overall, I really like this book. I vastly enjoyed how there were many words I didn't know and I had to go look them up. I enjoy books that build my vocabulary! I give this book a four and a half stars.

On Goodreads: The Girl in the Steel Corset
Website: Kady Cross

Sincerely,
Sareh

Writing Topic- Should Adults read only Adult Books?

So this week, a fellow ex-Inkie pointed out an article that I thought brought up an interesting point (one which I disagree with). Note that this is just me ranting my head off again because I have nothing to back up his argument. Surely, many YA books are not complex as adult books, but many more are just as complex if not more. And even if they're not, that doesn't mean that adults can't read them too).

Should Adults read only adult books?

So the author of this article basically states that there is nothing more embarrassing for adults when they read YA or children's books. Apparently the only time they should be reading these books is when reading them to children. Otherwise, these books should be read ONLY be children.

Several things piss me off about this article and the author. First of all, he bashes adults who read YA books without having even read these fabulous books himself. By these lines, he obviously doesn't know what the books are even about:
Let’s have the decency to let tween girls have their own little world of vampires and child wizards and games you play when hungry. Let’s not pump Justin Bieber in our Saabs and get engaged at Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyland. Because it’s embarrassing. You can’t take an adult seriously when he’s debating you over why Twilight vampires are ,O.K. with sunlight. 
1) "...games you play when hungry"  (<---refers to The Hunger Games).
2) "...why Twilight vampires are ,O.K. with sunlight." (<--- Actually, if I recall correctly, Meyer's Vamps weren't okay with sunlight. It was practically suicide to step into sunlight because then they would sparkle).

Secondly, this author assumes that YA books can't be as developed or complex as adult books. He basically is calling any adult who even writes YA books "embarrassing". Personally, I find this insulting even though I'm not an adult yet. I've seen plenty of complex YA books and many of them are very, very good.
I’m sure all those books are well written. So is “Horton Hatches the Egg.” But Horton doesn’t have the depth of language and character as literature written for people who have stopped physically growing.
Actually, older teens who read YA have probably stopped growing by now. At least I have and I read YA. And most YA books are written much better then "Horton Hatches the Egg". How dare he compares these books to a children's book? (Not that children's books are bad or anything, but YA books are more complex).

 And for his information, writing a YA book involves just as much character depth and growth as adult books, if not more because teens are still growing and learning. Teens are complex and therefore, so are the books we read. Sure, not all teens read and not all of them read over 90+ books in a year. That's okay, they're still complex.

Thirdly, this author says that YA books can't be a learning experience. I would like to say that I have learned tons from reading YA books. Many YA books talk about issues that I need or want to know (although not all of them I want to know). What about that girl who needs to know that there are other people out there like her? What about the guy who needs to know that he's not alone with his struggles? That there are other people out there who are struggling with similar problems?
I appreciate that adults occasionally watch Pixar movies or play video games. That’s fine. Those media don’t require much of your brains. Books are one of our few chances to learn. There’s a reason my teachers didn’t assign me to go home and play three hours of Donkey Kong.
I find the part about video games stupid. Has he ever played learning games? Or Nancy Drew games where you're required to solve problems and riddles? Not every game out there involves shooting people. I play lots of games that require me to use my brain.

And while he makes the point that we can learn from books, there are plenty of YA books out there that can help people. And its not just educational. Sometimes learning involves more then just math and science. Sometimes it involves social or personal issues. And plenty of YA books can help with that where adults or adult books can't.

Also, I'm pretty sure that "How to Kill a Mockingbird", "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer" are children's books and they are assigned in school. If those "children's books" are too simple to teach us anything, then why are they being taught in schools? How are teachers getting away with it and actually finding important lessons in them if they are "too simple"? Maybe because they aren't. Because that even though they're intended for a younger audience, older folks can still take away many important things from them.

And what about "The Lord of the Rings", "The Hobbit" and "Chronicles of Narnia"? Many adults read those books and love them. Many children read and love them too. But just because they are actually children's books, does that make them not the classics that they are?

Many YA books are not solely bought by teens either. Many parents will buy their children books for them to read. Parents are there to teach and help their children, right? Clearly, many parents think that their children will get something out of these "simple" books. Plus, parents might happen to be reading some of these books before letting their children read them! I know several of my teachers read The Hunger Games themselves before letting their children read them.


And who is this guy to say what people should and shouldn't be reading? Just because YA books are intended for a younger generation, doesn't mean that adults shouldn't read it. Many YA books are written by adults and many adults read them. In fact, I've read several articles were the authors think that YA writers should keep in mind that their books will probably be read by any age group. They're pretty much the middle catagory. Most border the line between for younger kids to understand, yet mature enough that adults can read them too. And there are plenty of YA books that are meant for older readers. And then there are ones meant for younger readers.

This guy should also keep in mind that many YA books are marketed as YA books because that's how old the protagonist is. But even so, that shouldn't stop YA books from not being good enough for adults to read! And adults are well, adults, they can make their own choices. No one should need anyone telling them what's okay and what's not okay to read.

And if they want to read YA books, that's okay, because I've come across a stunning amount of kids my age who simply refuse to read "because they can't find something that interests them" (and that's another post I'll have to talk about). And guess what, those kids are going to become adults. Books of any age catagory teach and I think they're missing out a lot from not reading. But if they did pick up an YA books, I'd be fine with that, cause they're actually reading something!

And finally, not only am I insulted myself but I am insulted for the many adults I know. They are not embarrassing for reading YA books, teachers are not embarrassing for reading these books with their students, and I do not find it awful when an adult I know reads something I read. In fact, I recommend many YA books to adults. Why not? They're fantastic books and people should be reading them.

Also, this writer is I think insulting many writers out there. Many YA writers are adults and clearly they think these books are important enough to take the time to write. Some spend months, if not years, working on these stories. Many of these stories can and will change somebody. And it doesn't have to be just a teen. YA books can and are complex and good enough for adults and teens to read. I have a forty-six paged document trying to organize my YA series and make sense of it all onto paper. Its complex as a series and every book in it is just as complex.

Anyways, there's my thoughts on this.

The Article:
Adults Should Read Adult Books

So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Feel free to state your opinions in the comments.

Sincerely,
Sareh

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Interesting Facts- J. R. R. Tolkien

So tonight I have some short facts on the famous author. I'm writing a research paper on him, so next week, I'll hopefully be posting that so you guys can find out more about him.


A younger version.
  • Was born in South Africa
  • Met his wife, Edith, when he was 16 and she was 19. His guardian, Father Francis, forbade him from seeing her until he was twenty-one. So he waited until then, convinced her to break off an engagement with another man, and married her. 
  • Fought in WWI. 
  • Loved languages and was a professor at Oxford and other colleges. He loved Welsh and Finnish which inspired his Elvish languages. 
  • He could speak and read Latin and Greek. 
  • Had four children. 
  • The Hobbit started out as a line on a blank paper a student didn't finish. He then wrote more of the story and read it to his kids. Eventually the story made its way to publishers. 
  • Inspiration for his story about Beren and Luthien came from his wife and him. On thier gravestones, he has Beren under his name and Luthien under Edith's.
  • He worked on the W section of the Oxford English dictionary. 
  • He was best friends with C. S. Lewis and played a part in Lewis's conversation to Christianity. 
  • The Lord of the Rings was popular enough (it had even been put into a condensed radio adaption on BBC) but it really took off when it went into a pirated paperback version in 1965. 
Videos
Also, here's some short videos on his life in case you can't wait for my research paper. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

So there ya go! 

Sincerely,
Sareh

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Movie Review- The Avengers

This is the most important thing you will read in this review:
Stay until the VERY end. Like until the commercials start playing. Wait until the fancy credits are done and then wait until the boring black and white credits with a zillion names is done. You will be delighted


So I FINALLY went and saw this movie last night. And I thought it was pretty good. My favorite part about the movie was the humor. I died laughing several times.

So in this movie, if you've seen Thor then you'll remember what I'm talking about, the Tesseract is taken from S.H.I.E.L.D. The Tesseract (not even sure if I spelled that right...) is this glowing blue cube from Asgard (home of the gods from Norse mythology) which acts as a portal.

Loki (Norse god of deceit and trickery) has come back to earth with a dangerous new plan. He means to use the Tesseract to take over earth and get his revenge. But what do you know, there's a group of superheros to stop him!

Our heroes (pun intended)

  • The Hulk- I saw this movie like when I was super little so I don't really remember it (was I even suppose to be watching it is a better question!), but apparently the guy's name is something "Banner" I think. And he's basically a indestrucible science experiment gone wrong. 
  • Ironman- Tony Stark. He's had two movies made of him and he was probably one of my favorites. Not only was he super funny, but for an older guy, he's still good looking. Plus his suit is just super cool!
  • Thor- For some reason, his character disappointed me. He's one of my favorites cause he's a Norse god and he's just cool, but his character was kinda disappointing. I don't think he did as much as he could of. And sometimes he just seemed to get in the way of things or ruin things. 
  • Captain America- One of favorites for sure. Not only is he good looking, but he's just cool. Only, there's some things about him that bothers me. For example, in the beginning of this movie you see that he basically is suffering from post-traumatic-stress-syndrome and he's still affected by what happened in his movie. But after that beginning, he never shows any problems. And I think they could have played off of that more. Like, what in the world happened to that girl he loved? Also, I think he seemed oddly adjusted to our world (go watch his movie! I hated the ending, it was stupid but it made since cause they wanted him in this movie). 
  • Hawkeye- Honestly, I wasn't really connected with this character. He's one of the new people we get to meet. He has this really cool bow and arrow thing, but other then that, I felt like I didn't know him all that well. He didn't seem like a very well developed character! 
  • Black Widow- I liked her. Not only because she was the coolest woman in the movie and she's pretty, but she was cool. Although I wasn't really sure what her special talent was. Was it fighting? I just wasn't sure. She was also very secretive and I'm not sure why in the world "Natasha" is called the Black Widow (which we only hear once or twice during the movie). I liked her, and then I didn't at the same time. 
What I liked. 
Like I said earlier, the humor was my favorite part. Yes this was an action movie, but it had humor and I think that's what makes it stand out the most from other superhero action movies. But no other action movies actually have humor (or if they do, I don't find it funny) in them. 

Another cool thing I liked about this movie was the gadgets they had. I think this movie is set a bit in the future (cause seriously, we do not have some of that stuff!) although I wasn't sure what time it was. 

I thought that the acting was pretty good most of the time. Sometimes it seemed unnatural or like they were trying too hard, but most of the time they were pretty good.

What I didn't like. 
There's actually quite a bit I wasn't impressed by with this movie. For example, who is Fury and why does he play such a special place in the movie? Sure I get that he's the head of this top secret organization, but at the same time...I just didn't get him. The other thing I didn't like was the council. Part of me thinks that they weren't really needed (all they really did was launch a nuke) and the other part of me just doesn't like them. 

I thought that Loki's army was kinda puny. While it did seem like there was a lot of those alien creatures, I also thought that the army just didn't seem all that big. And what in the world were they? I didn't know what world they were from or what they were. And it annoys me. Although the weird flying creatures that were like giant living robotic hangers were really cool. 

While Loki was a pretty good villain most of time, I also wasn't impressed with him. At times he seemed like this giant coward and it didn't seem like he was all that powerful. Without his septor and his fancy ability to make copies of himself, he just seemed like a puny villain. Plus there were times were he just sat there and did nothing. Like when Thor, Captian America, and Ironman were fighting, Loki just sat there and...watched? Why didn't he try to escape or put up more of a fight?

Overall I really did like this movie, but I didn't think it was one of the greatest. The scene at the end of the fancy credits confused the heck out of me and for pete sake, people clapped at the end of it! Now it was a good movie, but I didn't think it was that good. Plus, I don't think that you should clap at the end because the actors can't hear you. They don't know that you liked the movie that much and I think clapping is a form of expression that shows people that you are impressed with something they did. Why do it when there's no one to tell you that they're grateful that you enjoyed it?

Anyways, there's my two cents on the movie. I enjoyed it, I loved the humor. And most importantly: STAY UNTIL THE VERY VERY END. 

Sincerely,
Sareh

Writing Tips- Short Stories

So let's get straight to the point.

I don't normally write short stories.

Short stories are hard for me. Want a novel? I can do that? Anything shorter that's not a poem? No.

Well for the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to come up with a short story idea for an anathology that a group of Inkies (on facebook) and a couple other non-Inkies (I think there's only...one non-Inkie?) are putting together over June. Our theme is "life vs death".

"Pro-life" (aka stories are generally about anything pertaining to life or living) and "Pro-death" (not really. We mean that you write something about like ghosts or "what's its like to be dead".) are our teams although we have people doing both. I'm pro-life and my theme is "anti-self-harm".

Well all week I've been trying to come up with an idea that I could work for this. I had an idea and kinda messed around with it the other day and today. But then, a light bulb came on and I knew that my short story is going to be a scene that I want to write for Night Lies but probably won't make it into the story. Its more of a flashback and so far, Lieu's the only character to have flashbacks.

So it'll be interesting. The story takes place several years before Night Lies begins where Xander has just turned fourteen. (In Night Lies, he's seventeen on the verge of eighteen). Its going to be called The Edge of Nothingness. 


Here's some tips...
....I've discovered while researching how to write a short story (because novels are what I'm good at).
  • They usually focus on one important event. 
  • Its usually centered on one character or a few.  
  • They usually span a short period of time. 
  • They have a single plot (no subplots!)
  • Make sure your short story reads and sounds like a story and not a synopsis. (Thanks to one of my Inkie friends for this one).
  • There should be a complete beginning and end. 
  • No infodumps.
  • Tone down the descriptions. 
  • Don't rambling (rambling is for novels!)
  • Stick to one POV. 
Also, short stories can be any length from 1-20,000 (at 20,000 I think that's considered a novella). So remember, if you're rambling too much or your story is longer then you planned, you may have a novel on your hands. And that's okay.

Also, some short stories can be novels. I have one short story (that I might submit for the pro-death side) where I've gotten comments that the story could be expanded or even lengthened into a novel. I could see it, but maybe. But if I do ever want to turn it into a novel, it'll have to wait till I'm done with all my other projects. 

Resources

So, do you prefer writing short stories or novels? Which do you think is harder?

Sincerely,
Sareh




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How far would you go to save someone?

Funny Music videos
I thought I'd share somethings that are kinda funny. So, I'm sure you've all heard "Call Me Maybe". Well there's two sport teams now who have made spoofs and music videos of them. The first one, made by Havard's Crimson baseball plaers. And then the second one is made by the SMU Women's Rowing team. My favorite is the guy's version.

First.

Second.

How far would you go?
When Martin Davis was working at Swepco Tube LLC, a metal tube plant in Clifton, NJ, he fell 40 ft into a tank of nitric acid, becoming fully submerged. Then 51-year-old Rob Nuckols jumped into the vat waist high to save the 44 year old co-worker. Three other workers then helped Nuckols pull Davis out. When the rescue workers got there, the took Davis out of his clothes and sprayed him with water. He suffered a broken rib, a punctured lung, and burns on his legs and side. He is in critical condition although Nuckols was also treated for burns. Apparently Davis will be fine as the acid wasn't all that strong. Read the full story here.

Praying and Playing. 

Apparently the Exeter Cathedral in Devon, England the church members will collaboratively play the PS3 game, Flower. They'll pass the controller around until the first level is completed.
Developer ThatGameCompany calls the game a "video game version of a poem." In it, players guide a flower petal through environments that swing between the pastoral and the chaotic, and in doing so, cause the onscreen world to change. Sounds a lot more contemplative than Call of Duty.
"Together we will enter a 'virtual creation' and bring our own touch of transformation to it," the centuries-old Anglican cathedral says on its Facebook page.
How the game works or how they'll do this during a church service is beyond me. Much less, what do they plan to accomplish? A better attendence from the younger generation of people? Click here to read more.



Rescued at Sea, Grad now Joins Coast Guard.
When Orlando Morel was just six years old, he and his mother left Haiti on a small wooden, crowed boat headed for America. When they became lost at sea, the U.S Coast guard eventually rescued them. Now 24, he will join the Coast Guard and graduate from the academy in Connecticut. He'll serve in Florida where his missions will include migrant interdiction. After his mother died shortly aftrer his birthday, a Haitian woman serving in the U.S Navy adopted him. Louise Jackson who lives in Rockville, Md. is thrilled. To read the full story, click here.

Sincerely,
Sareh

Monday, May 14, 2012

Writing Prompt- Lost Civilizations

I don't know about you, but I'm a history geek. I love history. Especially ancient history. Tonight's post is going to be about ancient and lost places

So after looking at these cities for ideas, trying writing a scene or a short story where someone discovers one of these cities, goes back in time to, or where the character lives there. Remember that most of these cities, we don't know a lot about. And most of what we do know is guess work. So be creative and have fun!

  • Machu Picchu- This is the most famous Inca city which sits 7,000 ft above sea level on a rocky mountain slope just 70 miles from Cuzco (the Inca capital). According to many theories, the city may have been home to temples, palaces, observatories, and a vacation spot for the Inca ruling class. The reasons for the city being abandoned is unknown but theories range from wars, the city being condemned for some unfavorable act,  to epidemics. 
  • Great Zimbabwe- This is the famous African city. There are two main buildings, the Hill Fortress and the Great Enclosure. Surrounded by a stone wall 830 ft in circumference, ranging in height from 16 ft to 35 ft, and is 4 ft thick in some places, the city must have been well protected. It is believed that the city was home to a Bantu-speaking people who lived there until the 15th century. Some believe that the city was built out of stone since the people living there were probably miners and used their city as a trading center and slave center for transporting them to Arabia. 
  • Angkor Wat- This ancient Indian city was home to the Khmer who followed Hinduism. Its a city of temples, beautifully carved walls, reservoirs, and irrigation canals. Since any of what the Khmer wrote themselves never survived (their documents were written on plants and skins), most of what we know more then 1,000 inscriptions in different languages. 
    • The city was founded in the 9th century by Jayavarman II and the city fell as a result to weak leadership, military campains, rebellious slaves, malaria, and perhaps, flooding. The city also inspired The Cursing although the actual city isn't used in the book (perhaps though the Temple is inspired by it?).
  • Susa- The ancient Persian city changed control many times before being destroyed by the Assyrians around 645 B.C. Although destroyed, the city rose upon again out of the ashes to house famous peoples such as Cyrus the Great, Queen Esther of the Bible, and Alexander the Great. It was destroyed again sometime in the 13th century. The burned down city was discovered in 1850 and consists of four mounds, the Acropolis, Apadana, the Royal City, and the Artisan's Town. 
  • Troy- Troy is famous for Helen of Sparta's story in which she falls in love with a prince of Troy and runs away from her husband to be with the prince. Her husband, King Menelaos launched a 10 year war to get her back and ended up destroying the city.
    •  In 1870, Dr. Heinrich Schliemann deemed that he had discovered the famous, lost city. During one of his excavations, he discovered a gold treasure and gave it to his wife, Sophia who hid the jewels in her shawl. A lone picture of her wearing the "Jewels of Helen" is all that remains for us to know what the treasure looks like for it was lost from Berlin in 1975. Only a pair of earrings and a few small other pieces remain. 
  • Petra- The Nabaraeans, a skilled nomadic tribe of shepherds, made Petra the capital of their Empire over 2,000 years ago. Originating in northwest Arabia, it took them over 600 years to make their empire and commanded a center of trading that gave them huge wealth and control. Around the time of their height, over 20,000 people lived there and in a.d 106, the Romans took it over. After the 7th century though, the city disappeared from all records but memory. The story of the discovery is quite exciting, as is most discoveries, but this one I find the most interesting. 
    • Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, an Anglo-Swiss explorer was going to Cario in 1812 when he heard about the city. Learning Arabic, he disguised himself as Ibrahim ibn Abdallah, a Muslim trader who wanted to sacrifice a goat to the prophet Aaron on a hill overlooking the city. This cover story was to convince the local Bedouin tribesmen to guide him to the city. While there, he made a quick drawing of the city under his robes, made his sacrifice, and then returned home. 
Other suggestions for cool lost cities include Atlantis and Eldorado. 

So do you know of any other cool ancient places or rumored ones? Have you ever written a story before about one or read or watched a movie about one?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Writing Prompt- Famous People

Famous people often have interesting lives. Or at least, they seem more interesting than normal. And often times, these people are in contact with even more interesting people.

So today's writing prompt is to find someone famous and then look into their lives for an interesting story.
And often times, remember that real life events can inspire stories. You don't have to look into a famous person's life for this prompt if you don't want to, but I'd advise it. If anything, look at other people in their lives and see if you can get a story from them.

For example, a somewhat-famous-person, Nellie Bly had an interesting life as one of the first female reporters in the 1800s. Here's a little bit from the post I wrote about her (linked in the previous sentence):
It was here in New York, working for the New York World, that Nellie became famous for her stunt in the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island. Two years later, she had become the World's best stunt reporter. She was known for getting herself arrested so she could spend the night in a women's prison and among other, uncovering corruption in the state government. In later years she reported on the National Woman Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C., interviewed many famous politicians of her day, and reported on  WWI.
While it would be fun to turn Nellie's life into a historical fiction, she herself wrote and published books on her adventures (Miscellanous SketchesTen Weeks in a Mad HouseAround the World in Seventy Days, among others). You can read them for cheap (I think amazon's kindle versions are 99 cents or something like that) or I'm sure you could find them for free somewhere.

I have some other links from my blog in case you're looking for inspiration. The US Presidents had some interesting stories (Part 1Part 2Part 3, & Part 4). James J. Hill also had an interesting life.

But besides the famous people, I'm sure there are other people in their lives that might have had even more interesting lives. Right now I'm doing a research paper on J. R. R. Tolkien and while he didn't do much exciting, his life is still interesting. He was friends with C. S. Lewis, was in WWI and WWII and was a professor at Oxford. On his grave and his wife's grave they have their names and then their two Elvish nicknames.

So who might you use for this prompt? And what makes their life interesting to you? Are they famous, or are they not? Is something cool they did overshadowed by someone famous in their life? Maybe they rose to fame because of someone in their life who was famous first?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What's up with text talk?

So, I saw a post the other day that inspired me to talk today about 'text talk'. To clairfy what I mean, things like "u", "brb", "ttyl", etc are what I was 'text talk'.


A Short Rant and then Research
So one of the things that really bugs me is when people use text talk in everyday conversations. Think spoken conversations. "Brb" and "LOL" do not belong in spoken conversations, its silly in my mind. Sure everyone uses "LOL' these days to express laughter or amusement (or in awkward conversations, etc), but if you've gotten so bad as to actually says L-O-L in spoken conversations, well...that's a bit much.

Sadly, this is something our teachers actually have to talk to us about. They hate it when students use text talk on homework and in papers. Usually they count off points for it because they don't count it as proper English (and could it even be considered proper English?). Once again, using text talk on homework isn't professional or nice to read.

I understand using it when you're texting, after all, that's what its for. But, I (and a lot of people I know actually) don't use text talk even when we're texting. Maybe that's why me and some of my friends end up sending each other nine page texts? No joke, either.

So today I want to explore text talking and what it means for us today. Can it be considered proper english? Is it okay to use it when you're not texting? And as writers, are we allowed to us it at all?


Is text talk shaping how we speak?
Even without doing any research on that question, I'd like to say that I believe it is.

Having just done research...I have found few articles that support the ideas that "text talking is ruining English" or "people don't know how to speak proper English anymore". Most articles I found seemed to say that texting actually doesn't change the English language, it just changes the way we speak English.

I actually couldn't find a lot of articles on this. I thought I would find a ton, but in reality, there wasn't much out there. Most of it was "translating" text talk into proper English. Overall, the most useful one I found was Wikipedia (which I don't like to use even though studies say that its actually probably more reliable then other sites you can find).


Accordinbg to one study, words actually aren't avvreviated (Edit: abbreviated) as much as most people believe, both adults and children use text talk, use of text talk in written work by students isn't common, and that text talking doesn't actually mean low literacy in users. Some people feel that text talk is actually another language and that it doesn't actually affect our grammar. And Wikipedia also notes that while text talk is faster to type, its slower to read as our brains need to decode it.

Most people it seems to view that text talk is a corruption of English and that it is deteriorating our language. Some view that text talk is irritating and lazy behavior. Other studies according to Wikipedia say that men and women use text talk differently (although the numbers are slim). Women seem to use more proper english then men, while women's messages being longer and men's mostly being one sentences. (Although texting with my brother and other male friends proves this wrong. Some of my guy friends send longer text messages than I do.)

Getting to My Main Point
Is it okay for writers to use text talk? Certainly in texting, but other than that? On Inkpop and other writing sites, most writers on them seem to agree that as writers, we shouldn't use text talk. When we're on the forums or posting on Facebook, its generally a rule that if you want to be respected, you use proper English. Although using text talk such as "LOL" has crept up into the forums I'm on of late.

Anyways, in my opinion, its up to you. If you're comfortable using text talk in places other than texting, then go ahead. I just don't like to use it so I try to use it as little as possible. Personally, I don't think writers should be using text talk on the internet (I mean, if we were only limited to 160 characters per whatever, I'd totally understand, but since in most cases we're not...I don't understand).

Plus, we're writers. Aren't we suppose to be one of the English (or any language, I guess. I just refer to it in this post cause its my native tongue) language's biggest supporters of proper usage? I guess if you're having a fast paced, intense conversation on some site, I can see using text talk, but I'd still take the time to type everything.

But that's just my opinion. Like I said, its entirely up to you and what you're comfortable with. If you want to use text talk, don't let others tell you what to do. If you don't use it, that's fine too. In any case, I think it will be around for a while so we'll just have to get used to it. (I know the Internet Girls series by Lauren Myracle (the first one is TTYL) is written entirely in text talk!)

Resources
Wikipedia- SMS Language
Dictionary.com- Does Language Shape the Way We Think?

So what do you think?

Sincerely,
Sareh

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April 2012 Blog News


Welcome!
So last year I would let you know how many members we've gained or lost since the start of the month, but since I haven't done that yet this year, I'll just let you know that we at least gained 10 new members since the start of the year. So, thank you everyone who follows this blog and who randomly pops over. You guys have no idea how much you reading this blog means to me! And anyone who's gained since the start of 2012, welcome!

Schedules
So I've had a busy week. Prom is coming up, college visits, showers, banquets...etc. Yep, you name it, it probably happened since last Wednesday. Anyways, I took a look at the books I still need to review and finally realized that the list is growing long again. So I've decided that I shall be reviewing two books each week (Sunday and Thursday).

Since We're on That Topic...
If you haven't noticed. There are some books that will either appear on the "To read or What I'm Reading Right Now" gadgets or on the book list that I don't actually review. There's a reason for this. These are books I either don't finish or by the time I get around to reviewing them, I can't exactly remember what happened in the story. And I don't review books that I either don't finish or can't remember well enough. Its not fair to you and its not fair to the authors if I did.

Once Again...
As usually I'm letting you guys know that I'm still open to suggestions, comments, and just random conversations. You can either reach me in the comments of any post, or by going to the "contact" page. Although I don't check the contact list much, but I'm making a goal to myself for the rest of the year to check it more, and update the blog archive more and a ton of other stuff. (Its even in writing now so I can't really go back on that promise, now can I?)

Stats (Arranged by the top five regardless if numbers repeat)
Posts
Shape Poetry- 274 Pageviews
The History and Usage of Codes- 134
In the News- Doggies and music!- 117
Writing Tips- How to NOT infodump!- 98
The US Presidents were strange people! (part 4)- 63

Search Keywords
Shape Poems- 76
dark clouds- 6
how to write in elvish- 6
more code history for kids- 6
to read and write in- 6

Counties-
USA- 610
Russia- 593
United Kingdom- 106
Canada- 45
Netherlands- 44

Sincerely,
Sareh

Sorry Guys, But its the Girl's Turn!

Wow. I just realized that I haven't blogged in a week. Which is sad. But, I'm finally come back to blog some more after being super busy since Thursday. So today, we're covering another dance.

My freshman year was the last time my school had a Sadies (aka Sadie Hawkins). Last year the dance was cancelled because of a blizzard and then when they finally had it four, five months later, barely anyone went. But because of the low attendance, the dance wasn't held this year and everyone was royally mad. Anyways!



What exactly is Sadie Hawkin's?
If you don't have one or you've never heard of this, the Sadie Hawkin's dance is a dance where the girls ask the guys. Its less formal than prom and may involve themes.

So where exactly did the Sadie Hawkin's dance come from?
The dance comes from an old comic strip, Lil' Abner by Al Capp and was named after the character, Sadie Hawkins. Apparenlty sometime in November (I've seen the 13th or the 15th, although I've also heard that the date was never actually given) a) all the unmarried women in Dogwood could chase the bachelors and if a woman caught a man, they would marry. Or b) apparenlty as he "the homeliest gal in all them hills" Sadie Hawkins could get a man. So her father arranged for a race of the bachelors. And whoever Sadie caught, they'd marry.

The first Sadie Hawkins took place in 1938, and by the next year there were over 200 of the events. Orginally, the dance was held in November, but now its held usually any time in the winter.

Some Fun Facts
  • Sadie Hawkin's Dance is also known by many other names. Some of these include: TWA (The Woman Asks), WPA (Women Pay All), TWIRP (The Woman is Required to Pay), Girl Break, Morp (Prom spelled backwards), Ladies' Choice, Vise Verse, and other creative names. 
  • In Utah the dance is known as "Preference" and that the girls must "tag" her date. Tagging can't be done on campus, so the girls have to think of creative ways to tag their date or find them. 
  • The dance has inspired "Spinsters' Ball" which is for unmarried adults. 
  • In the case of non-Sadie's dances, a song may be called a "Sadie's" song. This means that for that song, girls have to go ask the guys to dance. 
  • Apparenlty when the Lizze McGuire show had an episode where the characters had their own Sadie Hawkins, the creators of Li'l Abner tried (and failed) to sue Disney for using "Sadie Hawkins" without their permission. 
Resources:
Wikipedia
About.com
History of the Sadie Hawkin's Dance

So, do you have a Sadie Hawkins at your school? If so, do you call it something different?

Sincerely,
Sareh

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