Monday, December 30, 2013

December Favorites

Hmm…I wonder what will be on this list? Gifts of the 25th, perhaps? ;) (I also apologize for the quality of these pictures. I had to take them quickly last night and didn't have the greatest set-up or lighting. It's been a crazy week!)

1) Unspoken by Dee Henderson


Unfortunately I accidentally discovered I was getting this before Christmas, but it didn't lessen my excitement at all. This is Henderson's new book, and seeing as I consider her one of my "mentors," I am beyond excited to start reading this!

2) The 5-Disc Extended Edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

This Christmas was rather filled with Hobbit/Lord of the Rings gifts…which was fine by me ;) This awesome set came from my brother, and I didn't even know of its existence yet! I know what I'm doing on my next day off.

3) Hobbit Door Locket

This was also known as the "International Christmas" as several of our gifts came from around the world (most of them from my brother - he was in the Navy and got many of our gifts while on deployment); this locket came from Australia and was ordered through etsy (I believe by seller ReadingFanGirl, but I'm not positive). It's simply gorgeous.

4) Reversible Mug Cozy

Gifted from my mother but made by my sister-in-law, this is the perfect cozy to use when drinking tea while writing ;) Not only is the color green perfect (did you know just looking at the color green can enhance creativity?), but one side says, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" and the other side, "A safe fairyland is untrue to all worlds." Perfect for this fantasy-lover.

5) Leather-Bound Journal

How. awesome. is. this? Another gift from my brother, this little journal came all the way from Hong Kong. The Chinese word on the front is "dragon." He knows me so well.

6) A Kindle

Shock. I got a kindle?! Well, yes I did. This was not something I asked for, and don't worry - I'm still strong for paperback books. However, this kindle was my gramps'; my gommie gave it to me (along with an awesome pen/stylus), and it really is quite a convenient thing to have. Even though it's just a piece of technology, it was my gramps' and so I'm going to treasure it for as long as I can :)

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I went to see The Desolation of Smaug with my brother last week. Having loved The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (more than the original 3 installments…wait, I didn't say that…), I was beyond excited to be seeing this after waiting a year.

**Unlike most of my reviews, this contains a LOT of spoilers. Skip to the very end to get to my overall thoughts**

The Desolation of Smaug begins twelve months before the essence of the movie begins, when Gandalf and Thorin meet. From there, we jump right into where An Unexpected Journey left off. My mind had to piece together everything very quickly, so I wish I had been able to see the first movie right beforehand, but I caught up easily enough.

This. movie. was. AMAZING. Charm and hilarity mixed with awing action scenes and special effects is what you get when you mix Tolkien and Jackson.

First I'll address the main concern I had walking into the theater — Tauriel. We all know butt-kicking, rebellious female characters are more often than not overplayed in movies, and more than anything I didn't want that to be the case. It wasn't. I actually really enjoyed her character and found myself likening her to a mix of Arwen and Eowyn. Besides, her name means Daughter of the Forests. How awesome is that?

The budding "romance" between Tauriel and Kili was more interesting than anything. I wouldn't say I didn't like, I wouldn't say yet that I did. However, Tauriel is not your typical she-elf, and Kili is set aside as being different from the other dwarves, and they are both a bit reckless and rebellious. I think their romance is more of a curiosity and wonder in each other than something that could develop into a relationship. It's fun to think about though ;)

And Legolas…now, I don't know about you, but he's one of my absolute least favorite characters in The Lord of the Rings movies. However, this time he has more than just looking off into the sunset and saying a line of importance (we have Balin for that now, it would seem). His fight scenes…honestly, some of the best stuff I've seen in ANYTHING.

Mirkwood. Ever since reading the books and seeing the first three movies (and having not read The Hobbit), I've always dreamed about what Mirkwood was like. How was it different from Lothlorien? What was different about the elves living there? Mirkwood has somber feeling, like Lothlorien, but also an air of strong will, rebellion, mysteriousness, and danger. Oh, and you hated the spider, Shelob? Just wait, oh unsuspecting non-viewer…just wait.

The one thing I felt off about the movie was Esgaroth (Lake-town). It could just be this very human aspect is nothing I've ever seen before in Tolkien's universe, even with Rohan, and I'll love it the second time around, but the Master played by Stephen Fry seemed so… common.

However…Smaug. Smaug. SMAUG. After spending a year watching Merlin and being dulled down by the horrible dragon in that TV series, I was mind-blown. I've never seen anything like him look so real on the screen. Benedict Cumberbatch is the best dragon yet - can we just pause and take a moment to appreciate magnificent portrayal?

Bilbo was just as funny and charming (no one but Martin Freeman could play him), though we start to see his descent as the ring begins to take hold. I'll be interested to see how Thorin plays out in the final installment after seeing all the treasure in the Lonely Mountain. Plus, can you say CLIFFHANGER?! I'm doing a bit of rebelling myself and NOT reading The Hobbit before watching these movies (*gasp*), so the movie ended and I was just like, "Wait…wait, this is like when Sam and Frodo were going to die at the "end" of The Return of the King, right? It hasn't been 2 1/2 hours yet. Wait, why is Ed Sheeran singing that awesome song? NOOO."

Overall thoughts: You haven't seen The Desolation of Smaug? Get yourself to a movie theater! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Blogging Tips and Tricks

So, the new year is almost upon us. If you're *coughcheesycough* like me, you're already thinking of what will be making it to the final cut of your New Year's Resolutions.

I know most of my followers — if not all of them — have their own blogs, whether they be on writing or some other subject. However, It began thinking that maybe some of you just aren't satisfied with your blog, whether you don't like the format, the look, the schedule, or constantly have mental blocks on what to post.

I'm going to share with you some tips and tricks on how you get make 2014 YOUR YEAR of blogging and finally set aside those worrisome blogger woes.

TIP #1: Determine if you need a schedule

When I first started blogging, I posted whenever I wanted, whether a month went by or a day. I finally figured out that didn't work for me, and I made a commitment to blog every Monday between 10:00-11:00 AM (since then I've gotten job with a flimsy schedule, however I do still post every Monday.)

I'm not saying this is for every blogger, but if you a) like structure and rules, b) are struggling with keeping up on posting ANYTHING, I would suggest at least trying it out for a month or two and seeing if it could work.

Take a moment to examine each day of your week, and determine what day and time would be best for you not only to post, but also to get the post ready the night before. Then stay focused. It'll be tough, but remember: this is a trial session.

TIP # 2: Carry a notebook

If you're a writer, you probably already carry a notebook in your pocket or in your purse wherever you go. I suggest either sectioning off a certain part of your notebook or buying a completely separate little one specifically for your blog.

Whenever an idea comes to your head, whether it just be (taking writing as an example) an observation in a book you're reading, a character's trait you love, or simply a title — write it down. No idea is too small or ridiculous when it comes to blogging ideas. I've found that  sometimes the ideas that don't seem important now but still nag at me to write them down end up sparking an entirely different line of thinking.

TIP #3 Tell people about your blog

This may seem obvious, but I struggle with this. However, not only will sharing your blog via pinterest, twitter, Facebook, ect. and telling people you know increase the circulation of your blog but will also hold you accountable. The more people you know are checking your blog, the more you'll start to take your commitment to posting more seriously.

TIP #4 Examine other blogs

Don't think your blog is quite where it should be? Don't like the design of the page? Do some snooping on your other favorite blogs. How do they format their posts? What about their design layout or colors to love? Are the blogs down-to-earth, clean and simple, or wild with colors and fun images? How often do they post? What are they posting about? (**Remember when you take ideas down to be cautious of plagiarism**)

TRICK #1 Small Paragraphs

My weakness is getting long-winded and writing long blog posts. When you come onto a blog, chances are you aren't going to want to spend twenty minutes - half an hour reading one post. So make your paragraphs small. (I haven't quite mastered this trick, but I'm working on it ;) )

Though it may seem choppy to you at first, by making your paragraphs smaller you allow the reader to glance over your posts and quickly find which one he or she wants to read. Plus, we all know it goes faster if you're not staring at one paragraph that takes up half the page.

TRICK #2 Put things in order

Not every blog post or style will require it, but see how each point is labeled bold and I keep the tips and tricks together? I find when I have blog posts subjects/posts structured this way, I get a lot more views on the blog.

What helps keep you blogging? 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Which Story Should I Write?

(Apologies in advanced for the font issues, I can't do anything to change it. No idea what caused this, but I hope to have it figured out by the next post)

Probably all of you know by now that I finished the first draft for my WIP "Drasia." While this is the prequel to three more planned books, I couldn't help but feel energized to start another story idea completely separate from the fantasy genre. (I have a pretty short attention span and like to move on to the next thing before the first is finished…a horrible habit to have, in case you had no idea). 

I had determined I would start planning a modern day "action/mystery" story or a 1940s-set story, however I couldn't decide which idea to go with. After a week of mercilessly wrestling between the two, I finally said these words to myself: ""Well, I probably really wouldn't want to start writing the modern mystery/action story because I'll be distracted by the other Drasia books, and I want to give my whole attention to the modern idea when I start writing it."

Anyone else see the utter idiocy in that statement? The moment I said it I realized I'd said something…well, stupid. However, this opened my eyes to several things: 1) I had made my choice between the two story ideas, 2) I thought I had been considering the 1940s idea not to be that important, 3) the modern idea was clearly more developed than the 1940s story,  4) now isn't a good time to start a completely different story because my focus will be elsewhere - let me rephrase that, it SHOULD be elsewhere. 

Again, I thought I had chosen the modern over the 1940s because it was more important; HAAAAAALT. No story idea isn't important. If you've created it, love the idea and love the characters, it is important. As I just mentioned, all this meant was that it wasn't developed very well. After examining each story, I came to the conclusion that the difference in my mind, preferring one to the other, was because I had already a set goal and theme to the modern story idea, whereas the other was just a jumble of things I love or in which I am interested; it wasn't fleshed out enough to become a real story. Now, in the future, when I go back to the 1940s idea, I'll remember this and know this book will need some major reevaluation before the writing process begins. 

Now, does this mean that I can stop everything I'm doing now and write that first story? NO! I've already made a rather serious commitment to the Drasia books (I spent a whole year on the prequel, for goodness' sakes). However, I also don't want to lose any ideas or excitement for this modern story.

But here's the thing: If there's a great story within you that speaks to your soul, you will not lose your faith in it. Sure, the excitement might fizzle every now and then, but it will always return with an explosion. This modern story idea has spoken to my heart and already feels very dear to me, even before any serious planning, and while it's hard for me not to work on and write it, I'm pretty confident I can wait and not lose momentum forever.

Story ideas will still spring to mind as I continue to work on my Drasia books, and I will develop them as far as I dare go without losing sight of my current project. There's no harm in letting those ideas soak in for a while; the great ones will never leave you. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

No Post

There will be no post today - taking a break for this week. :) 

Remember to check out the Contact Me page if you have a writing question or suggestion for a post!