Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Research I've Done Over the Last Few Weeks

I've done a bit of research regarding the topic of my NaNo novel over the past few weeks in an attempt to make my plot devices a bit more believable. It's important to write what you know, of course. At least, that's what they keep telling me. :)

First off, I need to tackle the ambiance of a pirate ship... In space... Hmm... Well, let's start off with the crew hierarchy, shall we?

I got the below information from a website called Swashbuckler's Cove, but it was all, of course, geared toward the historical pirate. I altered the info to fit my needs. :)

Captain: Eldon Whitlaw (See character profile HERE)
The captain of a pirate ship must possess the qualities of leadership and courage. Generally chosen for his daring and dominating character, a pirate captain is admired for his cruelty and destructiveness. A captain's power is absolute in time of chase or action, and he can discipline anyone who disobeyed his orders. He also has life and death power over anyone taken prisoner.

Quartermaster: Robert Oxford is a mixture of this, the next position, and the Sailing Master (See character profile HERE).
The quartermaster comes next after the captain in exercising authority over the pirate crew; he is in charge of the men when the ship is not in action. He can punish the men for insubordination and arbitrates minor disputes among the men. The quartermaster usually leads the attack and is the first to board the vessel. He is also in charge of food and water supplies. The quartermaster also assists in numerous tasks, including attending to the binnacle (box housing the compass), steering the ship, and navigational duties.

Ship's Master (Pilot): Once again, this is Robert Oxford.
The ship's master is an officer responsible for the sailing of the ship. He has to be a specialist in navigation and pilotage. He directs the course and provides himself with maps and instruments necessary for navigation.

Boatswain:
The boatswain supervises the maintenance of the vessel and its supplies of naval stores (tar, pitch and tallow, spare sails, etc.). He is responsible for inspecting ships, sails and rigging each morning, and reporting their state to the captain. The boatswain is also in charge of all deck activities, including weighing and dropping anchor, and handling of the sails.

Sailing Master: Robert's 3rd position. Ah, what an overachiever he is.
The sailing master is in charge of navigation.

Master Gunner:
The master gunner is responsible for the ship's guns and ammunition. This includes checking for faulty wiring and cleanliness, insuring the weaponry is in good working condition.

Technician:
The Technician is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the hull, masts and yards. He works under the direction of the ship's master and looks after the main tack and bowlines, or working the forecastle with the mate. The carpenter has no command and cannot give an order even to the smallest boy; yet he is a privileged person.

Surgeon:
The Surgeon is responsible for inspections to judge the fitness of the new recruits and captives and treatment of the sick and wounded. While the owner of the ship must provide the surgeon with drugs, medicine, and other things necessary for treating sick persons during the voyage, the surgeon provides the instruments of his profession. The surgeon is not allowed to leave the vessel in which he was engaged before the voyage is accomplished. Frequently, these surgeons are forced into servitude because their knowledge is invaluable to a ship's success, but they aren't exactly keen on the idea of a career in piracy.

Cook:
The cook's job is pretty self-explanatory. They cook and are the head of the kitchen staff. Case closed.

Mate:
The Mate takes care of the fitting out of the vessel, and examines whether it is sufficiently provided with the appropriate rigging necessary for the voyage. At the departure he takes care of hoisting the anchor, and during the voyage he checks the tackle once a day. If he observes anything amiss, he acquaints the ship's master. Arriving at a tort, the mate causes the cables and anchors to be repaired, and takes care of the management of the sails, yards and mooring of the ship. In case of absence or sickness of the ship's master, the mate commands in his place.

Powder Monkey:
In contrast to a pirate officer who was elected, the Powder Monkey is forced to perform what is some of the most dangerous work on the ship. They are harshly treated and rarely paid, and if they avoided being mortally wounded in their service, desertion is probably as attractive as a lifelong position of servitude with little to no hope of promotion.


So that's all of that, friends. I'll be posting more of my research over the next few days. Yay! :) Don't worry, I know that the world is kind of pirated out, so it won't all be pirate-themed. I figure, though, that the majority if my novel is going to be placed on board a ship so it's kind of important that I know what goes on there.

Peace.
Stef.

My Absence

Sorry I haven't been posting regularly this week. As you all know, I have been diagnosed with mono, and it's majorly knocking me on my ass. hah I have taken refuge at my parents' house for the last few days (Thank God we live in the same state!), sleeping the days and nights away. I mean, I have never slept more than I have been these past couple of weeks. I mean, it's nuts. Hours up on hours upon hours.

The sad part is that all of the extra time I gained by being forbidden from stepping foot on campus is not being spent in preparing for my return to class or NaNoWriMo. Oh, no. It's being spent in the horizontal position, eyes closed and snoring. Well, I don't know if I'm actually a snorer, but I've been told that I snore lightly from time to time. But that's neither here nor there...

At any rate, I'm going to take the weekend to do some more sleeping / NaNo prep / school catch-up, and I should be back up to posting regularly when the week starts on Monday. I'm so sorry to my lovely readers for letting my posts to get so spastic, but once I get on top of this mono thing I promise it will get back into the normal swing of things.

The Nashville, TN NaNoWriMo kick off write-in is on Saturday, and I plan to attend. I'll keep you all posted. :)

Peace.
Stef.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Day I Became Acquainted With Epstein-Barr

Well, kiddos, the results are in, and - drumroll, please - I have mono!!!! This is a specific virus usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which is a member of the herpesvirus and is also one of the most common viruses in the world.

But Stefanie, you ask, you were already tested for mono and showed up negative on the test! How can this be? Well, I'll tell you.

Apparently, there is a window of time after contracting the virus which doesn't register when tested, and that period of time ended for me sometime in between the last 2 Mondays. BLAH. Either way, I have mono. Great.

So what now?

I'm still in the "contagious zone," so I have been forbidden to even step foot on campus until Monday. Normally, this would be great news, but it honestly just stresses me out. I'm missing so much class, and I'll have so much work to make up when I come back. The problem is that the majority of my classes are in-class intensive. My conducting class (yes, I have to take conducting... UGH) requires a lot of in-class participation, and I'm going to really have to bust my butt in order to catch up. My German class involved a lot of in-class work, too. In fact, all of my classes do. Man alive... I'm screwed.

Well, I guess all I can do is get some rest and then work harder than I ever have in my life come Monday. I'm just kind of worried about NaNoWriMo, you know? I really wanted to succeed this year. I told myself that I was going to do it, and dog-gone-it I'm going to do it! :)

Happy thoughts are much appreciated.

Peace.
Stef.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Euphemisms"

Exercise #86 : "Euphemisms"

For example:
  • garbage collector ---> "sanitation engineer"
  • tax collection ---> Internal Revenue Service
  • innocents killed / injured ---> "collateral damage"
Usually euphemisms are made up of latinate words; they tend to sound pompously obscure, as indeed, they are intended to obscure something unpleasant, low-status, or offensive. Have fun with this one! Try concocting euphemisms for the following:
  • ~candy for breakfast
  • ~a defective tricycle
  • ~a gas guzzler
  • ~a ridiculously big bouffant hairdo
  • ~unemployed
  • ~painted the wrong color
  • ~a stolen election / ballot stuffing
  • ~excessive redtape
  • ~a cover-up of heinous corruption
  • ~the dog peed on the carpet
  • ~civil war
  • ~a failing grade
  • ~tax evasion
  • ~a size too small
  • ~this building could not withstand a minor tremor
  • ~the living room is the size of a mop closet
Well, friends, I'm going to the Dr. again today. I just can't seem to get over this crappy feeling. I'm exhausted all the time, but I've stopped having random fevers and sore throats. I've been tested for everything under the planet, but my doctor said if I still felt under the weather in a week that I should come back to see him. I've been tested for everything under the sun including the H1N1 virus (among other flu strains) and mononucleosis but shown up negative for everything. Ah, how I love being a medical phenomenon. Anyways, I'm going to go back today to figure out if I have a thyroid problem. He said he also might test me again for mono because there's a period after contracting the virus (Is mono a virus? I can't remember...) that a person shows up negative. So in the end, mono is still on the table. That and hypothyroidism. Great. Either way, I'm screwed. Let's just hope I don't have either!

I'll come back tomorrow (or maybe later on today) to let you all know the results. Lord, give me strength.

Peace.
Stef.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Where the Dust Settles"

Exercise #85 : "Where the Dust Settles"

This exercise is about bringing your attention to highly specific detail. In the room where you are right now, where does the dust settle?

Interesting. Quick and to the point. I'm all for that.

GO!

My living room needs to be cleaned. Badly. Do you want to know how I know that? Well, besides the rather disheveled, "lived in" look I've got going on, there is a nice, thick layer of dust that's settled on each surface:
  • the entertainment unit, including the shelves inside it
  • the end tables
  • the DVD player, Comcast cable box, stereo, speakers
  • beneath the couch
  • window sills
  • the coffee table
  • the little wooden bowls on my coffee table
  • the candle holders on my fireplace mantle
  • the fireplace mantle
  • the door frames
Ugh, I simply cannot continue. Must. Clean. Now.

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. I'm going to the Nashville chapter's NaNoWriMo kickoff party tonight! I'm so excited! :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Decision Time!!!

So NaNoWriMo is in a week!! Ahhhhhh! I used this weekend as a test weekend to see what all I could do writing-wise if the good old blog wasn't involved. Well, I have decided that I'm not going to post over the weekends (It's not like anyone reads blogs on the weekends anyway.) so that I can have the extra time to work on the 50,000 word count over the month of November. I'm sure you won't mind. :)

So officially, no posting on weekends for the month of November. Normal posting to resume on Monday! :-D

Peace.
Stef.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jason Derulo Before He Had a Hit Song

If you haven't heard, Jason Derulo is taking the world by storm with his new hit single "Whatcha Say" featuring Imogen Heap.

View his recently released single below.



What you may not know is that Jason Derulo (previously Jason Desrouleaux, I believe... I can never remember how it's actually spelled) attended the American Musical & Dramatic Academy with yours truly. :) I can't even tell you how proud I am of him, and I wish him the best in this juncture of his life.

That being said, I have a little treat for you, my readers. :) He was in my graduating class at AMDA, and we did our Final Showcase together. Well, guess what? I have the video of said showcase, and I have uploaded it here for your viewing pleasure! If you watch it, you may even see me. :) Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

Those searching for Jason-centric clips, take a look at Clip 2, Clip 8, and Clip 9.

For clips with my performances on them, check out Clips 2, 6, and 9.

Video Clip 1 has the following:
  • "Carousel" by Jacques Brel (music and lyrics) - featuring (in order of appearance) Allyson Dixon, Sylvia Batey, and John Edwards



Video Clip 2 has the following:

  • "Like Zis, Like Zat" from Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels by David Yazbek - featuring Seth Heideman, and ME, Stefanie Howerton :-D
  • "Run and Tell That" from Hairspray by Mark Shaiman and Scott Wittman - featuring Jason Derulo, John Edwards, Stevanie Williams, and Chorus (This is one of my favorite numbers. hehe So good.)



Video Clip 3 has the following:
  • "A Wicked Man" from Ernest in Love by Anne Croswell and Lee Pockriss - featuring Renee Barnett Drew
  • "A Sorta Love Song" by Marin Mazzie & Jason Danieley - featuring Melina Efthimia Fotiou Sais
  • "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim



Video Clip 4 has the following:
  • "All Er Nuthin'" from Oklahoma! by Rogers & Hammerstein - featuring Allyson Dixon and James Campbell
  • "His Rocking Horse Ran Away" by Betty Hutton - featuring Ellie Braverman



Video Clip 5 has the following:
  • "Some Things Aren't Meant to Be" from Little Women the Musical by Mindi Dickstein and Jason Howland - featuring Renee Barnett Drew and Sylvia Batey
  • "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel - featuring John Edwards and Chorus



Video Clip 6 has the following:
  • "The Killer Soprano" by Gerard Allesandrini - featuring ME, Stefanie Howerton! :)
  • "Vegetable Reggie" from Charlotte Sweet by Michael Colby and Gerald Jay Markoe - featuring Seth Heideman



Video Clip 7 has the following:
  • "Freddie, My Love" from Grease by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey - featuring Meg Phillips and Chorus
  • "The Secret Service (Makes Me Nervous)" originally sung by Perry Como - featuring Courtney O'Reilley & the Secret Service Guys
  • "Come Out of the Dumpster" from Wedding Singer the Musical by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin - featuring Hannah Hurd, Jimmy Campbell, & the Secret Service Guys



Video Clip 8 has the following:
  • "Wheels of a Dream" from Ragtime by Terrence McNally and Lynn Ahrens - featuring Jason Derulo
  • "Raven" from Brooklyn by Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson - featuring Stevanie Williams



Video Clip 9 (the final one, I promise!) has the closing number:
  • "Children Will Listen / Our Children," a conglomeration of 2 songs from Sondheim's Into the Woods and McNally & Ahrens' Ragtime - featuring Renee Barnett Drew, ME, Stefanie Howerton, Jason Derulo, Stevanie Williams, Seth Heideman, John Edwards, Courtney O'Reilley, Jimmy Campbell, Ellie Braverman, and Chorus



Whew! Crazy. Lots and lots of stuff, but it was a lot of fun. :)

I would like you all to know that this took HOURS of effort on my part to rip the single file from my DVD, cut the video into appropriately sized uploads, upload all of them, and then post this lovely masterpiece of blogging format. You had better appreciate this!!!

haha No, it was actually kind of fun... because I'm a dork like that.

Peace.
Stef.

"Karl's Scene Objective (Charlie's House)"

Exercise #84 : "Karl's Scene Objective (Charlie's House)"

In The Power of the Actor (pictured right), Ivana Chubbuck shows actors how to use their emotions to empower a goal. Actors identify their characters' overall objective, as well as their scene objective. Applying this to writing, assume your character is "Karl"; his overall objective is to prove that he has high status; his scene objective is to impress "Charlie," his snooty neighbor---and maybe even take Charlie down a rung. The scene takes place in Charlie's living room.

I own this book. :) It's pretty great. Read it if you're into the whole acting thing. Lord knows I am. hah I think I'm going to do this as a dialogue. It seems to me that it might be better that way. Oh well, this blog is all about experimentation, so... Why not?

Anyways... 5 minutes up on the timer. GO!

CHARLIE (C): Your lawn has been looking awfully nice over these past few weeks, Karl.

KARL (K): Oh, yes. I've been using this new fertilizer.

C: Have you? What's in it?


K: Well, it's an organic mixture based from recycled and treated sewage.

C: Oh.

K: I mean, it's treated, so...

C: Right.

K: Completely clean and safe.


C: Yes. Clean and safe.

K: And it's actually better for the plants. None of those nasty chemicals they use in normal fertilizers.

C: Interesting. I just leave all of that up to my gardener, Raul. He's amazing. I swear, the man can make grass grow out of sheet rock.

K: That's great.

C: So you do all your lawn work yourself?

K: Well, no. My kids help.

C: You make your children wallow in the dirt?

K: Yes... I mean, no. They like to help. And I believe that it makes them better people in the end.

C: Interesting viewpoint.

(pause)

K: So I spoke with my boss the other day, and he said he wanted me to head up a new department in the company.

C: That's wonderful, Karl. What kind of work is it?

K: It's the outreach department. The company is growing, and the CEO feels it's necessary to start getting out there and having an affect on our surroundings for the better.

C: Sounds like your CEO is a nice guy.

K: Yes, he is.

5 minutes up.

I don't know where that was going... haha I don't like Charlie, though. He's a twit. :-P

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. Additionally... This is hilarious...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Hell-broth Boil & Bubble" - #FridayFlash

Marlena circled her hands gracefully above the steaming pot, her fingers twirling in the misty, curling vapor. It was her favorite concoction with its spices and herbs so pungent that it would send even the most indomitable man into instant, uncontrollable rapture.

But if ingested...

Oh, if ingested!

He would be hers, would do her bidding, anything she wanted.

But the recipe had to be followed exactly. Any variance of any kind would result in disaster, causing immediate, violent illness and excruciatingly painful death to anyone who consumed it.

Slowly pouring the potion into a mixing bowl with a combination of flour, eggs, and butter, Marlena cautiously stirred the two together. The recipe called for the mixture to be as smooth as possible; no lumps or air bubbles were permitted. She inspected the batter with an extremely critical, trained eye. It wasn't just smooth. It was silk.

2 hours later, she had 6 batches of the most intoxicating muffins ever made by human hands.

"It's almost time," she said aloud. Anticipation tingled effervescently in her stomach. It was almost time.

A tiny door bell jingled from a short distance away.

"Marlena?" a voice called from the front of her home. "Marlena, are you here? It's almost time to go." It was Jeane, her ride.

"Yes, I'm here!" she called. "I'm just finishing up here in the kitchen."

"Ok," said Jeane. "I'll be out in the truck."

Marlena hurriedly but carefully placed her precious muffins in a large basket and covered them with a red checkered cloth. Smoothing her hair and pinching her cheeks, she made her way to her friend's truck. As she managed the basket in her lap, Jeane closed her eyes and drew in a long breath.

"Oh, Lena, they smell divine!"

"Thank you," she said. "They're my special recipe. I came up with it a few months ago."

"Well, the judges are bound to pick them as the State Fair Bake Contest winner this year, I'm sure."

"Here's hoping." But Marlena had bigger plans for these powerful baked goods.

Today, she would conquer the town. Tomorrow, the world.

And if she accidentally ruined a batch or two on the way... Well, the world could use a little less men.

THE END

While you're here, if you have the time, feel free to take a look at the characters I've been working on for #NaNoWriMo (links below). Any comments and / or advice would be greatly appreciated. :)

Profile #1: Estelle Hansley
Profile #2: Robert Oxford
Profile #3: Captain Eldon Whitlaw
Profile #4: Maxine Doyle / Madelyn Hansley
Profile #5: Nolan Hansly

Thanks!
Peace.
Stef.

Character Profile #5 : Nolan Hansley

PRECURSOR: If you missed the first 4 character profiles, click the links below to catch up. That is, you can do that if you want to. I just realized that I sounded kind of bossy. Whoops! :)

Character Profile #1: Estelle Hansley.......................................CLICK!
Character Profile #2: Robert Oxford.......................................CLICK!
Character Profile #3: Captain Eldon Whitlaw.........................CLICK!
Character Profile #4: Maxine Doyle / Madelyn Hansley......CLICK!

And now on to Mr. Nolan Hansley.

He is Estelle's father and Maxine / Madelyn's husband, the work-obsessed tradesman / politician who neglects his family. While that may sound slightly hash, it's true. He comes from a long line of workaholic businessmen, and the only thing differentiating him from the men he is following is the fact that he's added "politician" to his list of activities and monikers.Nolan isn't a cruel man; he has simply been taught that providing for one's family is the top priority of one's life. He takes this so seriously that it takes over his entire existence. He did love his wife, but as her sanity disappeared, so did his love for her. Over the years, his young romanticism fizzled, leaving him dry, but since none of the unions with his wife resulted in a son to whom he could leave his company he began to resent her. Their marriage thus became a failed business venture to him, and he began divorce proceedings on grounds of spousal insanity. Soon after, he began courting other women of high standing in order to make another "merger," and in the meantime he hid his ex-wife away in a separate, enclosed wing of his mansion along with a nurse and other various staff to take care of her. He had considered sending her to an asylum, but that would generate a great deal of unwanted publicity when he could just release a statement saying that she had gone to a new settlement to help with the establishment and growth process. He uses his clout and a large amount of money to convince the public to believe this lie, and all of his efforts work.

He is a moderately attractive man, your stereotypical tall, dark, and handsome with a hint of smarm. He is also the frontman for an anti-piracy movement currently being formed. He started the movement after several shipments in a row were stolen from his ships. No one gets between him and his money.

That's all I've got for Mr. Hansley. I'm trying to find a redeeming quality about him at this point, because, well... he doesn't really have one, does he? I'm not a big fan of quasi-villains (even though he's not the main villain of this piece) having only an evil side. I'm totally into the bad guys that have something about them that I understand, something with which I can identify.

Any ideas?

Peace.
Stef.

"Yellow List"

Exercise #83 : "Yellow List"

What things are yellow? Make a list. At the end of the five minutes, note the three you find most curious.

Ah, yellow. One of my least favorite colors. I mean, it's nice and all, but there are so many versions of this color that are simply eye-raping. Anyways, on with the list.

Things That Are Yellow:
  • bananas
  • school buses
  • yellow bell pepper
  • tennis balls
  • Post Shredded Wheat boxes (see right)
  • lemons
  • canaries
  • the middle traffic light
  • traffic lines
  • the sun
  • cheddar cheese
  • hay
  • corn
  • butter
  • cabs
  • #2 pencils
  • grapefruit
  • raincoats (stereotypical ones, anyway)
  • bees
  • squash
  • yellow jackets (I HATE those things!)
  • the yolk of an egg
  • scrambled eggs or an omelet
  • peanut M&Ms
  • the Simpsons
  • various flowers
  • rubber duckie
  • etc...
So that's my list of yellow things! :) The most curious? Well... I'll go with... but none of those are curious! That's silly.

Check back later today for my 5th Character Profile on Nolan Hansley, Estelle's father and Maxine / Madelyn's husband! Oooooooooh...

Before I leave you, though, feel free to take a gander at this video. It follows along with today's yellow theme. You're sure to love it. I know I got a good laugh out of it.

video

Peace.
Stef.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Character Profile #4 : Maxine Doyle / Madelyn Waters-Hansley

What? Someone with 2 names??? The plot thickens! hehe

As a precursor, this is Character Profile #4. If you want to catch up on the 3 that you have missed, go HERE, HERE, and / or HERE.

Maxine Doyle is the female alluded to in Captain Whitlaw's profile. She had been the Captain of the Spectre and had just made the choice to retire from her position as Eldon was joining his father on board. She was the sole person responsible for the ship's ultimate success and fame, and she had even made alterations to the ship, vastly improving its performance. Her decision to leave her place as Captain was brought about when she met and fell head over heels for Nolan Hansley, the son of a wealthy tradesman. In truth, she and her crew had kidnapped Nolan for the purpose of receiving a ransom payment from his father, but it was love at first sight for both Maxine and Nolan. Knowing that his father would never accept her as she was, the two of them decided to create a new identity for her. She would become Madelyn Waters, daughter of a farmer on a distant planet. Her story was as follows: pirates attacked her home, killed her parents, and took her hostage, planning to use her for sexual gratification, but the Captain had instead assigned her to culinary duty because she was more useful in that position. She had met Nolan on his first night on board because they shared the same cell, and they fell in love and decided to marry. So Maxine left her life and her name behind in an attempt to start a new one with the man she loved. His parents, specifically his father, were hesitant at first, but they soon grow to love her and supported their union. Soon after they married, the couple was blessed with a baby boy. Unfortunately, however, he took ill in his infancy and passed away suddenly. It was then that the novelty of their love at first sight began to wear off, and they both began to realize that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Thinking that a baby would solve their problems, Madelyn became pregnant again, the result of which being a daughter, Estelle (see character profile #1). She was a good mother and taught her daughter everything she knew about ships, self defense, and life in general, but Estelle also needed a father. At this point, Nolan was becoming distant, less and less active in their lives, throwing himself into his work. Madelyn also believed that his constant work was a cover for the fact that he had taken a mistress. More time passed, and she began to miss her old life. She loved her daughter and cared for her deeply, but open space was her true home; the freedom to go where she pleased whenever she pleased was sorely missed.

When Estelle was approximately 16 years old, her mother became pregnant again, but this pregnancy ended with a miscarriage. This sent her mind reeling, and she found herself in the midst of a mental breakdown. Add to that her husband's request for a divorce, and she snapped. She had no semblance of where or when she was, but she recognized people and faces. Her therapist recommended that she start journalling in an attempt to refocus her mind. She spent hours writing in these journals, but everything she wrote was complete nonsense. Fearing for the type of publicity his wife (soon to be ex) would get, Nolan hid her away in a suite in their mansion from which she frequently escaped. Sometimes she was given a moment of clarity and would try to visit her daughter to tell her something, but insanity would cloud her mind before she got the chance. Realizing that visiting her daughter was a futile effort during these moments, she began writing during them in a specific journal, making sure to write everything she could. Eventually, 4 years after she lost her mind, she gave this notebook to Estelle on her 20th birthday. Estelle believed this to be full of nonsense, but she kept it as a keepsake.

In her prime, Maxine was strong, quick-witted, and kind, her heart soft and feeling. She did have a habit, though, of getting too emotional, too attached. She kenw how to take good care of herself but preferred to take care of others instead. She loved her husband but knew that her love, after a while, was unrequited and accepted the hand that she was dealt even though she longs for more. She was a beautiful woman even in her insanity with red hair, green eyes, and pale skin. She was frequently referred to as the Titian Pirate Queen (Quick history lesson: Titian was an artist from the 14 and 1500s who frequently painted redheaded women. Click on the link to read up on him on Wikipedia.).

And that's the end of that one! :) Enjoy!

Once again, comments are very much appreciated.

Peace.
Stef.

"Permutation / Diary"

Exercise #82 : "Permutation / Diary"

In a "permutation exercise," one takes a line or more from another work and, keeping the phrasing, inserts one's own nouns and/or verbs and/or adjectives, etc. Here are a few lines from Mary Chestnut's Diary of March 21, 1861:
Dined yesterday at Judge's. Made himself eminently disagreeable. Abusing everything & everybody. Came back & in Camden had a tooth pulled --- home miserable with pain -- found Mrs Reynolds who told me Kitty Boykin is engaged to Mr Savage Heyward, a man twice married & ten children. I do not believe it. Talked all night--- exhausted. & nervous & miserable today--- raked up & dilated & harrowed up the bitterness of twenty long years--- all to no purpose. This bitter world.
-
From C. Vann Woodward and Elisabeth Muhlenfeld, eds, The Private Mary Chestnut: The Unpublished Civil War Diaries, Oxford University Press, 1984)
The exercise is this: Take her lines and style, but insert your own nouns, adjectives, and/or names, etc.

Friends, I'm still ill, so I'll be leaving this one undone for now. I will, however, add a post later on today about another character from my NaNoWriMo novel.

So that none of you worry, no, I do not have H1N1. In fact, I don't have any form of the flu at all. I've also been tested for mononucleosis, and results have shown up negative. I honestly don't know what's wrong. Over Monday and Tuesday, I slept approximately a collective 30-35 hours. NOT normal. Not only that, but I'm still exhausted. I could sleep another 30 if I was able.

So keep me in your thoughts over the next week or so. Hopefully, this little buggy will go away. Lots of tea, sleep, and happy thoughts. :)

Peace.
Stef.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Character Profile #3 : Captain Eldon Whitlaw

Welcome to my Character Profile series! This is #3 in a currently unnumbered list detailing the specific characters of the novel I am writing for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). If you missed the first 2, go HERE and HERE to read them.

Moving onward...

Meet Captain Eldon Whitlaw, the overtly sexual Captain of the Spectre. He was first brought on board as a young child when his father assumed the First Mate position (He became the Captain soon after.). He was approximately 4 years old, and his mother had just passed away after a long battle with an unknown illness. At the time, the current Captain forbade women on board claiming that they were unlucky, so he grew up in a male dominated atmosphere. Of course, the ship docked over the years at many docks, so he had access to women, but this time spent off the ship were brief, requiring him to master his interaction with women. He was soon able to turn every woman he met into a quivering mass of putty in his hands at a mere glance. While he is most definitely a most atrocious breed of womanizer, his lust is topped by his desire for wealth and fame. It's this desire that has made the Spectre so successful under his leadership, but his need for it is an unhealthy obsession. Years later, after moving up the ranks to First Mate, his father was killed in a raid, and he became the Captain, promoting his best friend, Pickett Oxford (see his character profile HERE), to First Mate. His first move as Captain was to make changes to their touring pattern and tactics, turning the ship and her crew into stealth attackers and smugglers.

As he was growing up, he heard tell of a previous Captain, a Maxine Doyle (profile yet to come), who was the reason for his first Captain's no women rule. He had met her a few times before she left, but he was very young and could not remember her. He did, however, have a hologram of her, and he was always infatuated with her stunning beauty. The crew also spoke highly of her kindness and natural leadership abilities. In later years, she became the model for the type of woman he was most attracted to not only because she was beautiful but also because of the rumors that surrounded her vast fortune. As he slept with the women that bore resemblance to the hologram, he often imagined that each thrust brought him closer to her and her incalculable wealth.

He does, however, have a strong yearning for a connection with someone. He has grown tired of messing around with woman after woman and has begun to search for the one woman capable of turning him into an honest man.

We'll see how this character pans out in the actual story. I, for one, am intrigued. :)

I still feel like Eldon needs a little flushing out. He seems to be rather one-dimensional to me right now. Does anyone have any ideas?

Peace.
Stef.

"200 Million Dollar Lottery" & a MILESTONE!!!

Exercise #81 : "200 Million Dollar Lottery"

Your character finds a lottery ticket in the street. It turns out to be the winning ticket: $200 million. (If your character is from another century or country, just assume the equivalent amount of resources.) What does he or she do with the money? Be as specific as you can. What does this reveal about about your character's true desires?

Ah, the glories of a growing character list... Of course, I'll be doing this exercise with Estelle and Robert (Go HERE and HERE, respectively, for their profiles), but I'm also going to add Eldon Whitlaw, Captain of the Spectre as a teaser for my next character profile which is going to appear on my blog sometime between today and tomorrow evening......... The suspense is killing you, isn't it? I know. It's intense, but if you close your eyes and take a deep breath you'll be fine. I promise.

GO!

Estelle's Reaction: Upon finding the ticket and realizing that it is worth quite a bit of money, she would start looking around for someone who might have dropped it. The money means nothing to her, of course, because she has access to an essentially unlimited fund care of her father, but she knows that it can be of great use to someone. In her Utopian world, she would find a way to give it all away to deserving people. $200 million could help many, many people. This isn't really a saintly act on her part, though. It would be viewed as such, yes, bu
t she is merely giving away something which she does not need. I'm not sure what this says about her. I'm thinking it require some thinking. Go HERE for her character profile.

Robert's Reaction: Robert's reaction would be... interesting to say the least. As a general principle, he doesn't like money. It adds a stress onto his life that he feels is completely unnecessary, especially when a lot of it is involved, but there's so much that can be done with $200 million. So he's torn between his dislike for money and the possibilities that $200 mill holds. In the end, I think he'd keep a portion for himself and then do as Estelle did, giving it away to those that needed it. Most of it would probably end up in his family's account, and it would arrive there anonymously, of course. Go HERE for his character profile.

Captain Eldon Whitlaw's Reaction: Eldon's would jump up and down, s
ing to the rafters, scream, and cry all at once. He's waited his whole life for a lump of cash that huge, and he will take every advantage available to him in using it. He would probably leave the Spectre (the ship of which he's Captain) and buy an island on some distant, quiet planet and live the rest of his life there. He would, of course, make sure that he had plenty of contact with women, though. He would probably even use his money to attract them. He would keep it all to himself, and he would live like a king for the rest of his life. Come back later on today or tomorrow to get his character profile.

"5" minutes up. I spent around 2-3 minutes on each of those, so meh... Who's counting the minutes? Not I!

Anyways, I'm off to take a nap. It's been a long day (already), and I need my beauty rest. It's important. Really.


Peace.
Stef.

P.S. I'd love to hear what you think about the characters I've come up with. Do you like them? Hate them? Find them to be horribly boring? hehe Any sort of critiqute would be greatly appreciated.

P.S.S. I almost forgot the MILESTONE!! I have reached 50 followers!!!!!! :-D Not only that, but I officially have not only 50 but 52! Very, very exciting. I feel so honored. Really, guys. That you would find this blog to be at all entertaining / helpful gives me warm fuzzies, kind of like the feelings depicted in this picture of Calvin & Hobbes. Doesn't it just make you want to go "Awwwwww!" :) Thanks so much, guys!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Character Profile #2 : Robert Oxford

This is the 2nd post in a series of posts. How many will there be? Nobody knows. Not even me. hehe They are profiles for the characters I have created for my NaNoWriMo adventure. It's my first try at this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants whirlwind of a writing marathon, so be gentle. :)

Before we get started with this one, make sure you stop by HERE to catch up if you missed the first character profile. Also, when I mention "the Spectre," don't get confused. It is the ship on which the majority of my story takes place. I'll probably do a character profile on it sometime later, because it is that involved in the story. hehe

Pickett Oxford is First Mate on board the Spectre and is a self-proclaimed misanthropic miser. At the tender age of 9 his parents, in dire financial straits and no other options available to them, sold him to the Spectre's Captain in order to lighten their fiscal load. He has been on board ever since moving up the ranks, serving under 3 different Captains, and distancing himself from everyone he meets. Being sold when he was just a child most rightly had negative effects on him, giving him severe abandonment issues, and these issues are not aided by the quick turnover rate of the crew over the years. A pirate ship is not a place to make lifelong friends. Despite his efforts to keep himself separated from his fellow shipmates he essentially grew up alongside Eldon Whitlaw (will be featured in next character profile), and they became close friends. When Eldon was promoted to Captain, he extended the First Mate position to Pickett, and after a long period of serious contemplation he accepted.

While he moved up the ranks, Pickett gained an interest in navigation, and over the years taught himself all of the ins and outs of said craft. In the end, this knowledge is what granted him promotion after promotion, pay raise after pay raise. Money, however, wasn't of much importance to him. He spent his money on necessities and put the rest of it away in a retirement fund. When he was promoted to First Mate, he took a percentage of his money and began sending regular, anonymous sums to his family. He understood their motives for giving him up, and he figured that they actually did him a favor. In truth, he blames the upper class people in charge of the system like Natalie's father for putting his parents in such a steep hole.

He is hard-headed and lacks in the social department, giving 1-word answers to any question asked of him, and he has absolutely no sense of tact (See comments to find out why this is removed). He'll tell you exactly what he thinks if you ask him, but otherwise he'll keep his mouth shut and / or ignore you entirely. Extremely protective of his belongings and those close to him, few as they may be, Pickett will fight to the death for them. He also doesn't like to admit it, but he has a soft side and constantly suppresses hopeless romantic tendencies. Of course, he's grown to be quite the expert at it, but every once in a while he slips.

That's everything for now. There are probably going to be a few things that I add / alter, but that's the basic idea.

Thoughts? Questions? Advice? :)

Peace.
Stef.

Sniff Sniff COUGH

I've been sick with a fever for the last two days (Well, it hasn't been a constant fever, but the bugger keeps coming back!), so I've been holed up in my bedroom sleeping the sicky away. I went to the doctor today, and it's not the flu. No H1N1! Yay!

Anyways, when my body gets back up and going, I'll resume my normal posting schedule. I was hoping for that to be today, but... well... We all know how that went, seeing as there is no post for today other than this one. Oh well.

This week, expect more character profiles, a #fridayflash, more NaNoWriMo prep, and more writing exercises! :) Glory be! hehe

I hope all of you are having a lovely day today and that those of you who are taking part in NaNoWriMo are prepping like nutters (that is, unless you're pantsing it). Can't wait to get started!

Oh! That reminds me. If any of you want a writing buddy, my username is FarEom. Feel free to stop on by NaNoWriMo and add me. :) The more the merrier!

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. I don't know if you can see this already, but I'm in love with LOLCats.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Show Me the Money"

Exercise #80 : "Show Me the Money"

How a character handles their money can be very telling. Does he pay his phone bill on receipt, or does he file it by due date in a color-coded filing system, or does he shove it into a pile with the junk? When splitting the bill in a restaurant does she whip out a calculator and calculate anything to the last penny with a tip of 12%? Or 20%? Or does she wait, doe-eyed, for someone else to handle it? Using high specific detail, list your character's actions, feelings, and gestures around money.

If you didn't see it, check my post from earlier today. It's the profile for the protagonist of my NaNoWriMo adventure (2 weeks!!!), and it's this character that I'm going to use for this exercise. I think I'll also do the same exercise with the character that's going to be profiled tomorrow, just as a teaser to get you to come back. hehe

Anyways, Estelle's money-handling attitude:

Estelle has never had an issue with money. Her father is extremely wealthy and has always given her anything she ever needed / wanted. She has been kept in a financial bubble and is simply not aware of fiscal problems, debt, lloans, etc. It is also because of this that she has had no experience in handling money. Everything is paid on time for her, so she has no worries. She does, however, have a soft spot in her heart for those of the lower working class. If she is out at a restaurant she makes sure to tip her server at least 50%. She has the money, so she feels the need to share it. She's extremely generous with what she has, but she prefers to have her tips and donations cited as anonymous. For reasons discussed in her character profile (Go here for that.), she prefers to keep herself out of the limelight. So in the end, we have someone with a desire to give who doesn't have any semblance of money handling skills.

Now onto my 2nd character, Kildan or [insert futuristic name here]. He is extremely frugal even though he is doing well for himself on board. He comes from a family that is practically destitute, so he is always aware of how much money he has and how much he needs to survive. His quarters on board the Spectre are spartanly decorated with only the necessities. He very rarely buys things for himself, but no one really knows where the money that he saves goes. So he's the opposite of Estelle, keeping an eye on every cent, knowing exactly where each one goes.

So that's it. :) Come back tomorrow for the character profile of [insert character name here]. It will be a blast, I promise. Not only that, but he's a really complicated character. I'm actually quite proud of him. :) Yay!

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. I'm a sucker for accents... for real. It's kind of a problem. I'm watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and they've built a home for this Louisiana family, and they all have thick Cajun accents. The guys got 10 times sexier because of that. I'm an equal opportunity accent lover, though. British, Australian, Irish, Scottish, Southern United States... They all make my legs quiver a bit. Do any of you have specific accents that you enjoy? :)

Character Profile #1: Natalie Hansley

This post marks the first of a series of posts over the next week or so that detail my work going into NaNoWriMo. I've said this before, but this is a story idea that I've been bouncing around in my head for a long time, and I've finally decided to stop putzing around and am going to write the crap out of it over the month of November. It's going to be a wild, bumpy ride.

And without further ado..........

Natalie ("Nat" for short) is our protagonist, the daughter of a high-profile tradesman / politician. Her life has been blessed with financial wealth, but her father, devoted to his work, is absentee at best. Throughout her childhood, Natalie fought for her father's attention, but nothing she did could distract her father from his job. Even when she misbehaved, his punishments, if he heard about the problems at all, would be sent through the house staff, most often through Awder, the house butler. Like her father, Natalie is proud and stubborn, but this strong, independent persona is only a cover for the extremely sensitive, vulnerable creature that she keeps hidden from everyone, including herself. She is like her mother in this way, only her mind is capable of withstanding the pressure of a constant facade. She also has an elevated sense of privacy due to her father's active public life, so all of the elements dealing with her personal life are shared with very few people. Another trait carried from her mother's side is a longing for adventure and travel. Although she has accompanied her father on several trade route establishment ventures, she was always confined to her quarters on board the transport vessel unless required for publicity. She yearns to visit the furthest reaches of space, to meet other peoples and learn about their cultures. As the daughter of a relatively well-known man, however, this is not possible, so she is essentially stuck.

She is a beautiful young woman, but her frosty demeanor when meeting new people makes her look a bit harsh and angular. The resemblance she holds to her mother is uncanny with her fiery red hair and vibrant green eyes, and the lean yet womanly figure further proves her relation.

That's all I have for now, but tune in later on this week for the profile of Pickett Oxford, our other main character and love interest. Ooooooh... :)

Peace.
Stef.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Zombieland : Time to Nut Up or Shut Up

Before I start with the actual review, let me begin with a rant...

I've been going to the same movie theater for years, and, as I'm an avid movie buff, that means I have been inside this movie theater not only as an employee (for 1 year: 2008) but also as a customer many, many, many times. I have never received bad service before, but I was completely shocked and appalled by the behavior of one of the people I once called my manager.

For those of you who missed this post (check the last couple of paragraphs for the explanation), my boyfriend broke up with me, and we had initially met at this theater when we both worked there. He is still there as a manager / projectionist while I have since quit and gotten a new job. We decided at our last get together (this past Saturday) that we would take 2 months of not talking in order to heal, but he said that if I were ever to want to see a movie all I'd have to do is text him with how many people I would be going with, what we wanted to see, and when, and if he was at work I could get in for free. Neither of us has a problem with this.

My ex was working at projection on Wednesday night, so he couldn't come out and give me the tickets himself. Instead, I had to go to the box office and retrieve said tickets from Kris, another manager. As I walk up, Kris looks at me strangely but then asks what movie I want to see.

"Zombieland at 9:55," I say.

Kris starts to print out the tickets and fill out the necessary forms for free passes, but then these words of wisdom escape from his lips: "So why are you still coming to this theater? I mean, why don't you go to a different theater now?"

"I'm sorry, what?" I ask incredulously.

"Why don't you go to another theater?"

I am shocked. Is he really asking me this? "Because this theater is the closest one to my house." I can feel my blood boiling.

That was the extent of our conversation. Even as I wrote that, my pulse quickened and my blood pressure raised. Who says something like that? I mean, really?
It's just ridiculous. I don't care if I worked there at some point. I am a customer, and that sort of behavior is completely disrespectful and downright rude. I was so offended, and I nearly asked to speak to his manager but simply didn't want to deal with it.

But anyways, the movie...

Just as a precaution, if any of you care about spoilers, DO NOT CONTINUE READING!!! There will be lots of information that most would consider to be "spoilers," so... click somewhere else!!! THIS LINK would be a good idea... Moving on.

Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, Zombieland is a comedy / horror flick along the same lines of Sean of the Dead which immediately makes it my kind of horror movie. It has a few gotcha moments, but the emphasis is generally placed on the comedy and effects, so if you're going for a real scare, this movie is not for you. Go see Paranormal Activity instead. I've heard that's a real scream. That being said, however, this is not a tame movie. A good portion of the shots include a he
althy serving of blood and guts, and the makeup is not for those with weak stomachs.

We join the plotline well into a zombie epidemic. The entire world has been turned into a wasteland filled with flesh hungry zombies due to an infection causing people to become irritable, flesh-hungry, and prone to spontaneously ooze blood from their orifices. The infection spread quickly, and soon humans had ceased to exist, save a very few survivors.

Woody Harrelson (pictured right) plays Tallahassee, an extremely convincing tough guy who is searching for the last twinkie in Zombieland, and his gun-slinging mannerisms are absolutely hilarious. He
has suffered loss just like all of the other characters, and his response to this loss was to distance himself from everyone he comes across. His catch phrase, "Nut up or shut up" is repeated several times throughout the film, but it's not his only one-liner. In fact, this movie is filled with one-liners. See below this review for a few of those quotes.

Jesse Eisenberg's character, Columbus, is your stereotypical awkward dorky guy - you know, the one character that Michael Cera is capable of playing - and he has survived the zombie epidemic not because he's strong but because he's smart. He compiled a list of survival tactics, and they've served him well on his journey back to Columbus, Ohio (He wants to see if he can find his parents.). These tactics vary from "Beware bathrooms" to "Always check the back seat," and don't ever forget rule number one: "Cardio" because "the fatties [are] the first to go."

He joins up with Tallahassee when they cross paths, and they soon meet up with a pair of sisters, Wichita and Little Rock (played by Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin respectively). Unfortunately, however, trust issues and self-preservation stand between them their success as a surviving quartet.

In the end, Zombieland is definitely a wild ride and a must-see. Also, there's an absolutely amazing cameo at one point in the movie that will leave you laughing for a long while after, but I won't spoil the fun for you. Just go see it.

And now for the memorable quotes:

Tallahassee: "I haven't cried like that since Titanic!"

Tallahassee: "Pretty soon life's little twinkie gauge is gonna go empty."

Columbus: "The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me."

Check out the movie's IMDB site for more quotes.

Peace.
Stef.

"Quilt & Qotient, Etc..."

Exercise #79 : "Quilt & Quotient, Etc..."

Write a brief scene that includes the following:
  • a quilt
  • the word "quotient"
  • a ball of rubber bands
  • a morbidly obese hippopotamus
  • the perfume of lilies
  • the sound of popcorn underfoot
Go!

"I refuse to turn on the heater until November," Natalie said. "It's not that cold."

Erin shivered underneath her quilt. "You're insane," she said.

"You'll live." Natalie picked up the tv remote and started surfing channels. They had been watching 2 morbidly obese hippopotamuses make an attempt at mating, but they were failing miserably, and Natalie had grown tired of their futile efforts. After several minutes, Natalie finally decided on VH1. A "Where Are They Now?" episode about Berlin was playing.

"Teri always enjoyed the scent of lilies, so I figured it was best to give her those," said bassist John Crawford. He was sitting in an interview room and was obviously placed in front of a green screen, because the lighting on his person didn't resemble the room that lay behind him in any way.

"Really, Natalie? 'Where Are They Now?'" Erin said. "Plus, this episode is really old. I mean, they got back together in what? 1999?"

"So what?"

"It's stupid. Just change the channel."

"I want to watch this."

Erin picked up the ball of rubber bands to her left and chucked it at her sister. It hit her squarely in the jaw and then bounced into the bowl of popcorn she had in her lap, knocking several kernels onto the ground. It had hit her much harder than Erin had intended.

"Are you serious?!" Natalie cried, her hand flying to her face. "That was completely unneccessary!"

"That was a lot harder than I meant," she apologized. "I'm sorry. Really."

With a huff, Natalie stood up and brushed the popcorn off of her lap. As she stepped away from the couch, the popcorn crunched underneath her feet.

"Great," she said. "This is going to get all ground into the carpet. Mom is going to be so angry."

"Don't stress out," Erin said. "We can get all of it out of the carpet."

"This is all your fault!"

5 minutes up.

Uh... I have NO idea how I can add "quotient" in there... Any ideas? :)

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. Check back later this afternoon around 2pm central time for my review of Zombieland. It's a doozy! Also, check out my #fridayflash for this week! "Mother Dearest"

#FridayFlash : "Mommy Dearest"

"Look out, Amelia!" screamed Eliza. A large dinner plate hurdled from the dining room into the kitchen, heading straight for her sister's head, but she ducked just in time thanks to the warning. The plate exploded into what looked like millions of pieces against the wall.

Amelia sighed heavily. "What did I do this time?"

"Who knows?" Eliza said. She grabbed the broom from the utility closet and proceeded to sweep up the debris.

Facing the dining room, Amelia squared her shoulders and yelled, "What, Mom? Tell me! What did I do?"

"You know she won't answer you," said Eliza. "She never does."

"Irritable old bat," said Amelia, sitting down at the kitchen table.

"Shh!" Eliza scolded. "She'll hear you! And she may not miss next time."

"Yeah, whatever."

After all the pieces had been picked up, Eliza joined her sister at the table.

"It's getting worse," Amelia said, pushing her glasses further up the bridge of her nose. A small scar interrupted the growth of hair on her right eyebrow. That time their mother had not missed.

"I know," Eliza sighed, "but I just don't know what to do. I mean, what can we do?"

"You know what we have to do." Amelia looked her sister directly in the eyes, but Eliza couldn't hold the stare.

"No," she said, standing. "That is not an option."

"We don't have any other choice."

"She's our mother, Amelia! We can't just kick her out of her own house! It's her house, too!"

"Not anymore, it isn't. The deed was put under my name when Dad died, which I'm still convinced was her doing."

"Stop it, ok? Just stop it!" Eliza threw her hands in the air. "Look, you're going to do what you're going to do, but I want no part in it. I'll be at Jared's. Call me when it's over." She walked out of the kitchen.

When Amelia heard her sister's beige '95 Buick Century pull out of the driveway, she picked up her cellphone and dialed.

"Hello, Father Mitchell. It's Amelia Burke," she said when the priest answered. "Oh, everything's alright here. I was just calling to see if you had any free time today to perform that exorcism we talked about."

The End

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Shuffle Qs"

Exercise #78 : "Shuffle Qs"

This is a strangely effective exercise for getting insight into your characters.

First, take 6 post-its or 6 small and identical scraps of paper. On each write a number and a question about your character, leaving one side blank. The questions might be, for example, why did he quit school? Or, what does she really think of her best friend? Or, what is going to happen to her in chapter 3? Close your eyes and shuffle them number-side down. Now you have 6 unknown "cards" to draw from. Without peeking, set them aside.

Now, take another sheet of paper. What you want to do is hold in your mind the clear intention --- crazy as it may seem to you, by the way, it's not crazy at all to your "artist's mind" --- to answer the questions in the order in which you will draw them from the pile. In other words, you are quieting your conscious, everyday mind, and letting your artist mind take a flying leap.

So, for the first question -- without knowing what the question is!---as an answer, what pops into your head? Whatever it is, write it down. It will probably be some kind of symbol. Maybe you will see a giant ostrich. Or a car crash. Or a thunderstorm! You might "hear" some words, or suddenly remember the smell of rhubarb pie baking. Whatever, it is, jot it down. (If you hesitate, the exercise does not work nearly as well--- so KEEP YOUR PEN ON THE PAGE.) (You may find that it helps to first close your eyes and take three long, deep breaths before "receiving" each answer.) Once you have six, then, draw the cards. If, say, you draw #5 first, then that is the question that matches your first answer. And so on. What do your answers tell you?

Hmm... This one requires a lot of off-computer work, which is fine, but it's going to take some thought on my part to figure out how I might relay the information. As Pooh would say, "Think, think, think..."

Think...
Think...
Think...

Ok. I've got it.

First off, this once again deals with my characters from my NaNoWriMo idea, so this will be a closer insight into my project. :) Speaking of which, the plan is, over the next 2 weeks, I will be posting character profiles from my story, and I'd love to get your insight. Expect those over the next 2 weeks. Wahoo!

Secondly, I'm just going to list the questions I've asked myself alongside the answers with which this exercise has provided me. After that, I'll fill you in on which questions inspired the answer for which. Ah, confusing... Just read the post, and it will make sense... I think? The questions I ask, however, are a little vague, so if you don't know what I'm talking about that's ok. I don't want to give away too much!!

Question #1: Does she return to her old life at the end of it all? (Inspired by question 3) An image of a smiley face popped into my head. That's not a yes or no!! hehe
Question #2: How does her mother regain sanity by the end? (Inspired by question 2) Another vague mental picture of an iris blossom.
Question #3: What does her discovery change in her life? (Inspired by question 5) This one made me laugh. I closed my eyes, and the clip of Gaston falling from the Beast's mansion played in my mind's eye. I wonder how this would apply to the changes in her life... Interesting...
Question #4: What does he do with his cut? (Inspired by question 1) The picture of a happy family flashed in my brain.
Question #5: How does the Captain survive / not survive in the end? (Inspired by question 4) Stitches, thread, needle...

I have no idea what my answers mean right now. I think they will require a couple of days to sort through, honestly. Maybe the answers will only make sense as I write during November. Who knows? We'll see.

Either way, this was a fun exercise. You should try it! :)

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. Saw Zombieland last night after church rehearsal. Will post review tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Cat's Eye View"

Exercise #77 : "Cat's Eye View"
Most adults see things at a very few different levels. They lie down, they sit up, they walk around. But what about a cat? It can slink under the bed or leap up into a tree. Imagine you are a cat. Make a list of all the things you might see in and around your residence that the human normally would not. Be as specific as you can.

You know, this is something that I have actually thought about. Does that make me a geek? haha Or maybe it just further determines the fact that I am quickly on my way to becoming the crazy cat lady that scares all of the neighborhood kids. Who knows? We'll check back in a few years to see how much further I have progressed down this path (or should it be considered regressed?).

Either way, this is something about which I have spent a little time thinking, so I'm thinking it's going to be a bit of fun. I'll do it in bullet point format for simplicity's sake.

5 minutes set... and go.
  • the tops of people's heads
  • the tiny space between the cabinets (My cats like to explore... a lot.)
  • the direct underside of people's chins
  • the tops of bookshelves and other furniture
  • underneath the kitchen cabinets (They have a tiny overhang about 4 inches above the floor that collects a TON of dirt and grime.)
  • behind the tv
  • rooftops (depending on how high they are)
  • the tiny bugs - gnats or possibly just dust - that fly around in the living room that no one else can see (I have yet to decide if these actually exist or not, but my cats freak out so often in the living room that they simply must be there!)
  • things in the dark (yay for more advanced night vision than humans!)
For some reason my mind just went completely blank. I had a few more things to type bouncing around in my brain, but they popped out suddenly. I can't remember them for the life of me. Oh well... 5 minutes are up anyway. :)

I'm going to see Zombieland this evening after I get through with work. I'm pretty excited about it, and I'll be sure to write a review. I'm expecting it to be pretty hilarious, but I don't want to get my hopes up. The last few movies I've seen that I thought were going to be funny were absolutely dismal. Either way, expect that in the next day or so. Yay!

Peace.
Stef.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"I Love Her, But..."

Exercise #76 : "I Love Her, But..."

"I love her, but..." fill in the rest of the sentence (Gender is interchangeable.). Do 3 different versions, and circle the one you like best. Use this as your first line, and start writing.

I'm sorry guys, but I can't do this one right now. Not in my current frame of mind. In all honesty, this is the exact line my boyfriend used when he broke up with me, and I simply cannot handle it right now. Maybe somewhere further on down the line, but right now... I knew I needed to bypass on this one for now when I started to tear up as I read the instructions. Heck, I read the title and my heart started racing. It's too soon, too raw... So... Once again, I'm sorry that I won't be able to do it right now.

I will say, though, that if any of you do this exercise, I'd love for you to post it in the comments section. It'd be a really great chance for you all to get to know one another and each other's writing styles. Not only that, but it's a lot of fun to see where different people take the exercise, to see several various responses.

So comment away! Have fun! :)

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. Tomorrow's post is going to be a little late. I have midterms out the wazoo and will do it as soon as I am able.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Dogs-o-rama"

Exercise #75 : "Dogs-o-rama"

Briefly describe the following dogs:
  • The one you own now (if you own one)
  • The one that lives closest to your current residence
  • The last one you happened to have seen (other than your own dog, if you happen to own one)
  • Your favorite dog
  • Lassie (from TV)
  • The Taco Bell Chihuahua
  • The first dog you ever owned (if you ever have)
  • A neighbor's dog in your childhood
As a self-proclaimed dog enthusiast (well, any animal really... except raccoons. I hate raccoons.), I love this exercise. I immediately started going through all of the dogs I have ever known, and let me tell you... I have known more dogs than people! haha Maybe not, but seriously... I know more than I can count. Is that sad? I don't think so.

Anyways, start!

The dogs currently in my life: Maggie and Zola
These two are an interesting pair, but somehow they work. Zola is an overly zealous, affectionate, snorting bulldog, and Maggie is a sweet little Corgi who will give you as many kisses as you want just as long as you pet her tummy. Zola is my sister's dog, and Maggie is my parents' (even though I claim them both... haha). Maggie (around 5 years old) tends to get a little tired of Zola (2 years old? I don't know...), who galumphs around the house, chewing on things and attacking her, but every once in a while, you see Maggie licking the folds of Zola's face (Bulldogs are notoriously dirty in this way.), cleaning them. It might sound kind of gross, but it's adorable.

The dog that lives closest to me: Dumb and Dumber c/o the Jerk Who Lives Next Door My next door neighbor is a jerk. Ok. Scratch that. Maybe sh'es not a jerk, but she's definitely good at acting like one. At one point, she accused (and made a HUGE deal about) me and my roommates of using her driveway to leave our house. First of all, we have our own driveway, thank you. Secondly... what??? It's a friggin' driveway. Get over it. That being said, she left a note on my porch saying, "Please don't use my driveway," or something to that effect, and I wanted to leave her a responding note saying, "Then don't let your dogs shit all over my lawn!!" Now, her dogs are friendly dogs, and I hate to think badly of them simply because I affilliate them with her, but... oh well. They'll deal with it. One dog is a black terrier of some sort, and the other is a Yorkie. She frequently lets these dogs out, sans leash, and lets them roam all over the neighborhood (which is in DOWNTOWN Nashville, I might add, and very dangerous with the crappy drivers we have around here) for hours, allowing them to poop and pee all over her neighbors' lawns, including mine. Not only that, but these dogs aren't exactly what I would classify as smart. The Yorkie, more often than not, runs all over the road, darting backward and forward in front of cars, bikes, etc... I've seen him almost get run over around 5 billion times. At one point, actually, a man nearly hit him, pulled over, and asked me (I had been sitting on my porch at the time.) if the dog was mine. When I said no, that it was my neighbor's, he picked up the dog, took a string from inside his car, and tied him to her back porch. I immediately decided that I loved this man. Either way... that's the next door dogs...

Wow, that was a rant, wasn't it?

The Dog I Last Saw: Abby in East Nashville
I don't know if any of you know this or if I've even talked about it, but I am a pet sitter / walker / take-care-of-er over in East Nashville with The Posh Pooch. My job is essentially to drive around East Nashville (and sometimes downtown), visiting clients' houses and letting their dogs out while they're out of town or away at work. I feed them, make sure the house is in order, etc... All in all, it's a pretty great job. The hours are flexible, and I get to hang out with dogs all day long. Anyways, I visited Abby this morning to let her out. She's a lab mix, and a total sweetie, one of those dogs that, when she wags her tail, her whole body wiggles. Every time I walk through the door, it's like I'm her favorite person ever. It's a great ego boost. hah If only people were like that.

My Favorite Dog:
I can't answer this prompt. It's just... impossible. I will say this. All of them. Yep. That about covers it.

My Least Favorite Dog:
Once again, impossible to answer other than to say none of them. In fact, it's the owners I don't like, not the actual dogs themselves.

Lassie (from TV):
I have a confession... and I don't want you to judge me. I have never seen Lassie. Not one episode, not one minute of a movie (Did they even make a movie out of Lassie? I'm sure they did.). As a dog lover that seems kind of crazy, but oh well. Maybe I'll get on that. Maybe I won't. Only time will tell........


The Taco Bell Chihuahua:
I never understood the whole Taco Bell Chi-Chi phenomenon. I'm not a big fan of Chihuahuas in general simply for the fact that they're little yip-yips, and they constantly look scared because of the big eyes and continual shaking. That being said, I've met awesome Chihuahuas, so I can't really say much.

My First Dog: Babs Tompkins
Babs was her legal name, but that was only because Babooshka was taken. In the end, the papers said Babs, but our whole family called her Booshka. She was a miniature Schnauzer, and she did not like children. That was partly due to the fact that she was already several years old by the time my sister and I were born, and when we came into the picture we were this little intruders who pulled at her tail and took all of my mom's attention. I actually have a funny story. Once, when my sister was petting Booshka, she started to growl, so my mom yelled "No!" and popped her on the head (not my sister, the dog). Later that day, my mom caught Jennifer petting Booshka, saying "Good dog," and then popping her on the head for no reason and yelling, "No!" haha This, of course, had to be stopped.

A Neighbor's Dog in My Childhood: Missy? I think that was her name.
A long time ago, I lived in Biloxi, MS, and we lived pretty much on the edge of the swamp. Lovely. Either way, there was this big Old English Sheepdog named Missy who my sister, Jennifer, and I played with from time to time. She also protected us from being hurt several times, but I can't remember any of those instances. Apparently, she growled at someone or something - maybe another dog? - that fully intented to hurt me. Yay, Missy. She was a great dog.

END

Ok, that was WAY over 5 minutes, but I got into this one. :) hehe

In other news, I have officially began to think about NaNoWriMo, and things are falling together quite nicely. I will, however, probably end up pantsing it just because I don't want to spend much time plotting stuff out, etc. I have a basic premise and a few characters ideas. Other than that, I think that's all I'll go in with. Maybe it's not a good idea to pants your first NaNo, but I think it will be good. If I want to add more form and preparation in later years, then so be it. For this year, however, I'm going in with minimum info. It's going to be awesome.

Time for me to head out. I have a lot to do today and not enough hours in the day to get it all done.

Peace.
Stef.

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