Tuesday, January 31, 2012

[Beautiful People] Teague, Jerome, and Raine

Well, I'm trying something new. I've seen this Beautiful People thing around before, but haven't ever tried it.

Now I'm trying it! Teague, Jerome, and Raine are the...er...lucky ones.

1. If character's house burned down, and they were left with nothing but the clothes on their back, what would they do? Where would they go?
Teague: I would return home, t' Dunn. From there, I would search for my family.
Jerome: I have no idea.
Raine: Um....I would probably try not to have a panic attack, and go to my aunt's house.

2. Are they happy with where they are in life, or would they like to move on?
Teague:*snort* Happy? No. I want t' move on--need t' move on.
Jerome: Happy...heh. That seems like a faraway dream.
Raine: No...no, I'm not happy. *looks down*
Me: Okay...moving on!

3. Are they well-paid?
Teague: What a dream. No. Not unless you count verbal abuse and floggings as good pay.
Jerome: Um....no. I don't have a job, though.
Raine: No. But, I don't have a job.

4. Can they read?
Teague:*shifts* No...I will learn. As soon as I get the chance, I want t' learn.
Jerome: Duh, of course I can read. English and Chinese.
Raine: *laughs* Of course!

5. What languages do they speak?
Teague: Engligh.
Jerome: English and Chinese.
Raine: English.

6. What is their biggest mistake?
Teague: I don't....I don't want t' talk about it.
Jerome: *frowns* Being born into TICCC [The Inter-Continental Communist Confederacy].
Raine: *sighs* I don't know, exactly. Not standing up for myself sooner, probably.

7. What did they play with most as a child?
Teague: My friends, and we would play with anything we could get our hands on.
Jerome: Toy cars.
Raine: My sketchbook and dolls.

8. What are their thoughts on politics?
Teague: The common people need a voice. It's not fair, the way we get stomped on by the nobility.
Jerome: Communism is ruining my life and it needs to end. Now.
Raine: We need Godly leaders again. Godly leaders with a solid understanding of the Constitution.

9. What is their expected life time?
Teague: Probably sixty or seventy years...*wrinkles forehead*
Jerome: I would answer, but Hannah is telling me to shut up....
Raine: Oh, I would assume about seventy-five plus years.

10. If they were falsely accused of murder, what would they do? How would they react?
Teague: I would probably freeze up, and then get very adament about my innocence and try to prove myself without losing my temper.
Jerome: I...*blinks* I think I'd stare, then probably shout something stupid and try to clear myself.
Me: While having an internal freak-out attack...
Raine: I have no idea. Most likely, I would freeze up or burst into tears.


This was fun. I have decided that I like Beautiful People...though, I'm not sure my gang liked going through it very much. But who cares? I'm their author. Having them mad at me comes with the job description.

Chazak Amats,

- Hannah

Monday, January 30, 2012

[Media Monday] These Things Take Time

This week's video is a song! I think I'll probably be switching between doing a song one week and a funny or otherwise video the next week.

These Things Take Time by Sanctus Real is a song I really, really like--more and more each time I hear it. It's so full of questions. Questions I'm sure everybody has asked at some time or other, and being an impatient human...it's good for me to be reminded that sometimes, these things take time.

Chazak Amats,
- Hannah

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A slump. Oh joy.

A slump, a bump, a pothole, a roadblock. Whatever you want to call it (except Writer's Block!), I have it.
What joy.
And yes. I'm being sarcastic.

I don't know if it's because of school, the flu that has been hanging over my family, or because I'm feeling an odd mixture of worry, panic, and procrastination about graduation and college, or a combination of all the aforementioned. All I know is that I'm having problems with feeling motivated in the writing/editing area.


I'm hoping to beat it this weekend. I've done a lot of critiquing over the past three or four days and yesterday I wrote a poem, both of which I think will help.

I think I just need a good kick in the pants. Which I shall do....and I shall beat this!

- Hannah

Friday, January 27, 2012

Go Teen Writers: A checklist for editing your dialogue

I ran across this post on a blog I began following recently. I would highly suggest that you follow the link and read it! It has some very helpful tips for making sure your dialogue is at its best.

Go Teen Writers: A checklist for editing your dialogue: The lovely Emily Rachelle asked me if I could please compile a checklist for editing dialogue. I thought that sounded like a great idea, so ...

[Review] Edge of Eternity

Edge of EternityEdge of Eternity by Randy Alcorn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this book, the central character is whisked into another world—worlds, actually, that overlap. Here he experiences the hereafter, while still alive.

I have mixed emotions about this book. While some of the lessons learned through this allegorical-style tale are valuable and reinforce important Biblical teachings, the writing-style and other story elements were, in my opinion, rather lacking.

I never felt connected to any of the characters save one, they never felt alive. The only one that was well-done was the one representing Christ—the Chasm-Crosser, the Woodsman, the King, et cetera. The main character, Nick…I never even liked him much. A lot of the dialogue and actions felt forced, and some of the jumps in the plotline felt overly-sudden, sprung upon the reader with little to no foreshadowing. The style was very much “telling”, and I kept thinking of ways the book could be re-written by showing instead of telling.

To-date I’ve only read one other of Randy Alcorn’s books, Deception, and I loved it—the characters, plot-logic, style, voice, everything—so in some ways, this book disappointed me a lot. If Edge of Eternity had been shown more than told, some of the scenes could have been mind-blowing—battle scenes between angelic forces, Nick shouting at the one representing Satan, and that fallen one screaming back, glimpses into Charis (eternal life), the Woodsman spanning the Chasm with the Tree and with his life, and the like. The scene with people oblivious to the battle of good vs. evil raging about them while Nick sees it and is trying to warn them also would’ve been stunning if amped up with a more personal, detailed style.

On the upside, a lot of the analogies/allegorical aspects were great. The rock analogy was one of my favorites. Nick and the other characters were given sacks and told to collect stones whenever they crossed a dried riverbed. Three of the characters collected a lot of rocks, Nick a few, and another character, zero. The trick to it is, when they aren’t at a riverbed, the sacks won’t open—so they can’t see what sort of stones they have collected. It turns out that those stones are their treasures, and if they withstand the fire, impurities are drained away. Inside each of the gems they can see one thing they did for the King—helping an old man, spending time talking to the King, refusing to give into sin, et cetera— and the stones are put inside of a crown for each one of them to lay at the King’s feet. No stones means you have nothing to show the King, as one of the characters discovered.

Two others that I also appreciated (out of quite a few) were the thing-treasures. While climbing up a mountain, many people tried to take all of their things with them, refusing to leave them behind even if that meant they made zero progress. My grandmother is one of those wonderful people who has truly learned that “things are things, and people are more important than things”, and this analogy reminded me much of her. Our relationship with our Father, the King, and with the people He created is more important than any mountain load of stuff we “rich Americans” think we can’t live without. While we shouldn’t disregard anything He has blessed us with, we shouldn’t hang onto it as if our lives depend upon it either.

The other analogy I also liked very much were the guardrails, representing guidelines that God has placed along the way to protect us. While descending a steep mountain along a path so narrow they had to travel single-file, Nick and his companions were confronted with a group going the opposite way, away from Charis. One wrong step off the path would gain you a fall off a steep cliff, if it wasn’t for the guardrails placed along the edge. This group didn’t like the guard rails, they complained about them, and one actually began removing them. The result? Most of the group slid off the cliff and plunged to a certain death.

So, my overall opinion of the book? The lessons were good, but the flow, characters, and style/voice weren’t so great.

View all my reviews

Cross-posted from my Good Reads account.

- Hannah

Monday, January 23, 2012

[Media Monday] I'm Reading a Book

Julian Smith must be like an author in many ways.....crazy and very creative. My family loves a lot of his videos, so keep watching for them--I'm sure I'll be posting all of our favorites!

Julian Smith's "Reading a Book" music video

Who says reading is becoming a lost art? It's definetly one you don't want to inturrupt, at any rate.

Quite the video to put on a writing website, hm?

Rak Chazak Amats,

- Hannah

[Review] Shoofly Pie

Shoofly Pie (Bug Man, #1)Shoofly Pie by Tim Downs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I've done it. Now I can say that I have read all of Tim Downs' fiction works. Of all the authors I have experienced, Downs is the first author who's complete set of (published) works I have read.

Shoofly Pie was good, and I enjoyed it. However, style-wise and character-wise, Downs' style has improved a lot since he wrote this book, which is his first.
Nick wasn't as likeable. He was more annoying, almost more blase. The dialogue didn't have quite the wit and punch that I've come to expect from Downs' works, and the narrative felt "heavier" and didn't always flow quite as smoothly.
The plot and technicalities were still up to the author's par. Forsensic details were strong as usual, and he added an interesting twist with a "bee beard"; he had a nice setup and payoff with that little bit.
I figured out "whodunit" pretty early on in the story, yet red herrings, additional motives, details, doubts, etc. kept it interesting until the last page. A little slower than most of his other books, but it's much, much better than my first book, so I'm not complaining.

View all my reviews

[cross-posted from my Good Reads account]

Chazak Amats,
- Hannah

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

[Review] Wonders Never Cease

Wonders Never CeaseWonders Never Cease by Tim Downs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coming from an avid fan of the Bug Man, Wonders Never Cease is completely unlike anything else Downs has written.
A very fast, enjoyable read. I finished it in two days. The scenario is believable and interesting, and is a good reminder that not only are angels and supernatural powers very much at work in our world today, but a reminder to be careful of anything that--no matter how good it seems--contradicts God's Word even slightly.

Kemp annoyed me to no end. I never ended up liking him, and from an author standpoint, loved that aspect, because sometimes it's a nice switch-up to have a central character that is unlikeable and yet, people want to read about him anyway. Natalie's backstory could have been alluded to more...I felt a little left in the dark about her background and would have liked to know more.

The ending felt a tad rushed; I wish Downs had fleshed out the ending a big more, as some parts of it felt a little too ambiguous.

Overall, a fun read.

View all my reviews

[cross-posted from my Goodreads account]

- Hannah

Monday, January 16, 2012

[Media Monday] Undone

When I first heard this song, I, if I remember correctly, stopped. I waited and waited, praying that the disc jocky on the radio would announce the name of the song.
Once I found out the name, I looked it up and listened to it over and over until the lyrics were stuck in my head.

We all run. Yet, we're all tired of running.
We all want to be the hero, but being the sole hero of our life is way too much work--we're incapable of doing so.
Sometimes showing weakness is a sign of strength.

This song sums it all up really well.

Chazak Amats,
- Hannah

[Review] Ends of the Earth

Ends of the Earth (Bug Man, #5)Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nick Polchak and Alena Savard are two of the central characters, so what's not to like?

Good pacing, great characters, meticulous plot, and incredibly well-researched. And, of course, Nick's humor. The storyline is very believeable--so much so that it's almost frightening when one starts to think "What if?"

Very, very enjoyable read. Two thumbs up.

View all my reviews

[cross-posted from my (new) Good Reads account]

Chazak Amats,
- Hannah

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

[Guest post] Quack!

Today I have a guest-poster! Penny is a friend and fellow OYAN student/author. I asked if she would be interested in swapping guest-posts, and she took me up on the offer (Thank you so much, Pen). Her site can be found here. Please take a look!


Looking at the title you wouldn’t guess this was an article about writing, would you? Well, I recently had a conversation with one of my aunts, who loves to read, about how an author gets ideas for pretty much everything that goes into their books. Titles, characters, character names, and more prominently, plotline.

At one point in the conversation I put forth that one could get story ideas from anything, even something as simple as a fork. To prove this, I then picked up one of the forks in the kitchen and commenced brainstorming. The result? An intriguing mystery story about what appeared to be a straightforward murder except for one inexplicable object in the room: a fork. The main character proceeds to search for the reason that fork was present, which eventually leads him to solving the case and apprehending the murderer.

This strange method of getting ideas from the most unlikely objects is something I have found common in the writers I have had contact with. However, it appears that most of the time it is an unplanned occurrence; the result of sudden inspiration that causes said authors to make a mad dash for their notebooks, much to the surprise of those present. This happens to me, as well. Especially in the middle of a conversation, while I’m writing, or just before I fall asleep at night. If you know an author, you know this is true.

But that kind of inspiration, although loads of fun, is unreliable and limited. The moment one sits down to write it out in more detail than just a scribbling in the notebook to remember the general concept, the full color surround sound moving picture you had in your mind fades in the wake of the hundreds of little details that must be pinned down before the idea can become a story. More inspiration is needed. “I write when I am inspired, and I see to it I am inspired every morning at nine ‘o’ clock.” That quote by Peter De Vries is an excellent example of what I mean. This is when we ring the alarm clock bell in Inspie’s ear and make him wake up and start working. This is when we sit down and just start writing, churning the gears until they get up and running smoothly. This is what I call planned inspiration. Pretty much everyone else calls it really hard work.

So what’s the deal with the fork? What I did with the fork is on the fly inspiration. For me this comes easily. I can look at any object and come up with some sort of idea for it. I have never had an extended amount of trouble with book titles, or character names, much to the annoyance of some of my friends, who are also writers. When one of them asked me to explain why that was, I got to thinking about what plays into being able to take any object, phrase, song, word, you name it, and come up with a story for it.

• Vision. Your surround sound HD moving picture ideas are going to be a disappointment, to varying degrees, when you put it to paper. Fact of writing life. But just because it doesn’t look good in black and white doesn’t mean it never will. Keep that blu-ray vision in your sights, and have faith in the magic of hard work. Oh, and those mediocre ideas you came up with can be digitally remastered. Just sayin’.

• Confidence. This is the ability to admit when an idea stinks, but not be embarrassed because of it. Two thirds of every writer’s ideas are dumb. It’s the ones who don’t feel bad about this fact that actually keep going and cone up with the stories that turned into the awesome novel you read last week.

• Angles. Those two thirds of dumb ideas I just mentioned? Don’t throw them away! The rest of the world is savvy about recycling, you should be, too. Every single idea can be looked at from about a thousand different angles. Never scrap an idea until you’re sure you’ve explored every element. Like as not you only have to tweak a few elements, context, or placement of the idea to make it work. This also plays into the confidence. Once you realize you can make pretty much any idea good, you are more willing to allow them to flow.

Okay, so back to the quack… First thing’s first, think of all the various meanings of that word. Obviously it’s the sound ducks make, but it’s also used as an insult (“What were you thinking, you quack!”). It could also be used as a descriptor for someone’s voice, if it was particularly high and nasally. So there are three choices, but to make it difficult, I’m going to use the duck sound one.

No, don’t laugh, give me a minute. Assuming I want to turn it into a thriller, not a children’s book or a book on waterfowl, how could I possibly fit that title as a key element in said thriller without making it completely dorky? My working goal is to take quack from funny, to dreadful. (Me? Ambitious? Nonsense.)

Let’s say the main character, who I am going to name Joe, had an uncle in the city die, leaving him all his possessions. Over the course of going through his uncle’s stuff, Joe finds an old antique wooden duck….that actually turns out to be a poison dispenser!

Okay, yeah, that’s pretty lame. Time for an angle! Poison dispenser… Perhaps Joe’s uncle was a taxidermist, and he stole a vial of poison from this one crime gang in the city and hid it in this stuffed duck (scrap the antique idea). Joe, being an odd person, names the duck Quack. (Title!) Over the course of a few weeks, however, Jose is hunted by these crime gang members as they try to find out from him where this duck went. (Dread!) Being noble on top of odd, Joe, once he finds out what they want and why, must try to escape the inner city to reach the police station with this stuffed duck. Tada! Thriller named Quack! The dark atmosphere can be easily inserted during the writing process, and to add to the waterfowl theme, add a villainous character named Drake and make the badguy headquarters right near a pond frequented by geese and ducks.
Yes, I made that all up just now. That is what on the fly inspiration looks like, and any writer can do it.
With a little practice, of course. But hey, we’re writers, right? “Try, try again” is about five million tries too short.

~Penny Kearney

After reading this over, my Mother suggested I make it something valuable inside of Quack instead of poison. This is the part where the writer takes into consideration the input of others, and decides whether or not it would, in fact, improve their story. But that’s a whole other topic…

[image credit: Duckling]

Monday, January 9, 2012

[Media Monday] Guys vs. World

Every Monday I am going to post a video of some sort; most of them will probably be music videos or humor.
Today's video is...

Guys vs. World (made by a friend/fellow author. Check his channel out on Youtube: Broken Lens Productions ).

Chazak Amats,
- Hannah

Friday, January 6, 2012

And the revising continues...

I thought I was almost finished with Plague of Darkness, the second book in The Arindraen Series.

I really did.

It had undergone roughly 9 edits. It had grown from around 22k words to 47k. I don't know how many hours I put into it, but however many, it certainly had been a lot. I had the covers designed, and everything almost ready to go. The story seemed locked into place, in text and in my head.

Then it happened: I got some more highly constructive feedback from a writer-friend.

It completely burst my I'm-almost-finished-and-might-meet-my-deadline bubble...and sent me back to revising. Major revising!

It's been pretty hard in some ways, because I have read the manuscript so many times.

My brain has kind of "locked it in", and doesn't seem to want to unlock very easily.

Over the past week, I've been slowly unlocking it. The lock is very stubborn, but now I have the lock off, and I'm beginning to pry open the door.

The novella, you see, wasn't in chronological order. It went like this:

- Present for several chapters.

- Jump back in time for 3/4ths of the book.

- Leap back to present for the remainder of the story.

And that must have messed up the strength of Teague's central goal, because several of my readers thought that the story-goal could be stronger and more apparent.

I've put it all into chronological order now, and I'm adding some more details that will hopefully strengthen the goal.

One thing that I have learned through all of this? Try to keep an open mind when it comes to storyline and plot. Allowing your brain to lock it too tightly makes it very hard when major revisions are needed!

Chazak Amats,
- Hannah

[image credit: Keep Out ]