March 29, 2011

Save the Trees

Something to consider.

A few weeks ago The New York Times published an article about two 130-year old oak trees in Auburn, Alabama. For years they were the good-natured victims of a historic rivalry between two local football teams. The oaks were liberally decked in toilet paper in celebration of various victories, but they came to public notice when they were poisoned with herbicide. This action aroused an outcry that made it into the New York Times. Several Alabama citizens launched a campaign to raise "donations and awareness" for the ill trees.

The campaign has garnered nearly $50,000 and 60,000 supporters. Somehow this struck me as odd. Disturbing, even. It is not the anti-environmentalist poisoning of the trees that has alarmed me; rather I marvel at the irony of American priorities.

Here stands the situation: two old trees are imperiled – grand old trees and worth preserving, I'm sure. So a fund is created to “raise donations for and awareness of the trees,” and said fund swells to nearly $50,000.

Fifty thousand dollars. For two trees! Think of the meals, the clothing, the water, the shelter, the schooling, and the medicine that money could provide for human beings, millions of which happen to be living in abysmal poverty.

$50,000 could provide a year of food, clothing, shelter and education to 120 kids in Africa. Instead it's spent to 'raise awareness' for two sick trees.

A verse from the Casting Crowns song While You Were Sleeping keeps ringing through my mind.

“United States of America,
Looks like another silent night
As we're sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children.”

March 25, 2011


There has been a tag going around the blogosphere, and at the risk of boring you, I'm going to participate. Below are 75 Q&As about my current novel, the working title being Apprentice.

- - -

1. What’s your word count?
Currently 'tis about 30,000.

2. How long until you finish?
I haven't the foggiest. >_>

3. If you have finished, how long did it take you?
I have finished draft one, which took me about two years, but it was a very poor first draft. Now I'm doing an intense and massive rewrite.

4. Do you have an outline?
Yes, and I keep revising it as I go along.

5. Do you have a plot?
I'm coming to realize, to my increasing alarm, my demoralizing lack of a sturdy one.

6. How many words do you typically write a day?
None or 2000. There isn't much middle ground. >_>

7. What was your greatest word count in one day?
Good question. (OO)

8. What was your least impressive word count in one day?
Six words.

9. What inspired you to write?
"If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad."- Lord Byron. As for what got me started, who knows. What inspired you to start eating?

10. Does your novel/story have a theme song?
Theme song?? I've never considered it before, and quite frankly I imagine that considering the matter would be a stressful procedure that would waste much otherwise good time that could be spent in writing. Just like this tag.

11. Assign each of your major characters a theme song.
I thought this was a book, not a TV show! *glowers at questioner*

12. Which character is most like you?
My protagonist, Heather.

13. Which character would you most likely be friends with?
Misky. Misky Lockwood. Though I'd very much want to befriend Rillan and Falen as well.

14. Do you have a Gary-Stu or Mary Sue character?
Heh, my character Tess borders a bit on that. I'm trying to think up some decent flaw to give her so no one hates her.

15. Who is your favorite character in your novel?
*chews lip thoughtfully* Favorite is probably Misky or Falen. But Crei might be the most interesting.

16. Have your characters ever done something completely unexpected?
Gack, no! (OO) This must be remedied! *makes note*

On further consideration, I remember that a group of characters does something very unexpected, but not enough individuals.

17. Have you based any of your novel directly on personal experiences?
Oh yes. *vigorous nod* *pauses* *considers* *shakes head* Hard to say.

18. Do you believe in plot bunnies?
I not only believe in them, I harbor a horde of them under my bed. They've made an immutable pact with the dust bunnies and live off socks, woodchips, and dead characters.

19. Is there magic in your novel/story?
Not a sparkle.

20. Are any holidays celebrated in your novel/story?
No holidays, but there are bonfire celebrations of victories in battle. XD

21. Does anyone die?
I would go around in public with a pillow over my head if not. I would be a disgrace to the name of writers if not. I would detest myself if not. Good gravy, my story is about a warrior tribe struggling to survive a massive war against brutal monsters. YES PEOPLE DIE.

22. How many cups of coffee/tea have you consumed during your writing experience?
Oh, not much. One or two cups of chai tea, mayhap. I've found that bringing food along with me to the writing desk is one of Procrastination's most subtle and deadly ploys, so I try not to do it too much.

23. What is the latest you have stayed up writing?
Probably 1:00am or so, during the infamous NaNoWriMo.

24. What is the best line?
Let's go with the opening line, because I like it. "A tall figure walked slowly down the sidewalk of Carnegie Lane. His steps were slow and his eyes unfocused, staring straight ahead without really seeing. A sheathed broadsword clinked against his side."

25. What is the worst line?
Too many and too boring to mention.

26. Have you dreamed about your novel/story or its characters?
The story came from a dream. I had dreamed I was standing inside a house with a bow in my hand and a sword at my side, surrounded by fellow warriors, all tense and dead silent, waiting. The front door burst open and an army of monstrous goblins poured in, and we warriors battled them. The heroic, unafraid, right-ness of the moment was unforgettable; and that scene sparked my story.

27. Does your novel rely heavily on allegory?

28. Summarize your novel/story in under fifteen words.
Oh dear. *sighs* "A girl is kidnapped by warrior tribe fighting to survive annihilation by barbaric goblins."

29. Do you love all your characters?
Nah. Crei annoys me, but I sympathize with him.

30. Have you done something sadistic or cruel to your characters specifically to increase your word count?
Absolutely. Just recently I decided it would be great fun (and a plot bolster) to throw in a scene where a character is captured and tortured by sadistic goblins.

31. What was the last thing your main character ate?
*blinks* A piece of dry bread.

32. Describe your main character in three words.
Victim of circumstances. :|

33. What would your antagonist dress up as for Halloween?
o_O Seriously? You couldn't think of a better question than this? *weary sigh* My antagonist would find the concept of Halloween utterly stupid, and would idly flay anyone trying to explain it to him. Besides, he wouldn't fit into any costumes, anyway.

34. Does anyone in your story go to a place of worship?
*screws up face in thought* I'm considering it.

35. How many romantic relationships take place in your novel/story?
There is only one, and it does in no way consist of romantic talks under the stars. At the end of my book, two mature characters, who have been just friends throughout the war, will simply, happily, and quietly get married.

36. Are there any explosions in your novel/story?
*thinks hard* *brightens* YES! Dar Duneshark blows up the goblins in the basement! XD

37. Is there an apocalypse in your novel/story?

38. Does your novel take place in a post-apocalyptic world?

39. Are there zombies, vampires or werewolves in your novel/story?
>_> No. Those latter two, in particular, are far too reminiscent of a certain wildly popular teen novel which shall go unmentioned and which I would rather be eaten by wild mountain goats than emulate in my writing. There are, however, goblins and kamikaze mice. >_>

40. Are there witches, wizards or mythological creatures/figures in your novel/story?
No, not really.

41. Is anyone reincarnated?

42. Is anyone physically ailed?
Oh yes.

43. Is anyone mentally ill?
Someone's going to be. Stress of war, and all that.

44. Does anyone have swine flu?
No. Silly question. >_>

45. Who has pets in your novel and what are they?
Do goblins with giant trained worms count?

46. Are there angels, demons, or any religious references/figures in your novel/story?

47. How about political figures?
Not really.

48. Is there incessant drinking?

49. Are there board games? If so, which ones?

50. Are there any dream sequences?
No. >_>

51. Is there humor?
I hope.

52. Is there tragedy?

53. Does anyone have a temper tantrum?
No... though my protagonist Heather does get rather crabby. She didn't like being shanghaied to another dimension.

54. How many characters end up single at the end of your novel/story?
Too many to count.

55. Is anyone in your novel/story adopted?
Maybe, but that's a secret. *glances furtively about*

56. Does anyone in your novel/story wear glasses?

57. Has your novel/story provided insight about your life?
No. It's definitely been a place for me to vent plenty of my own musings and questions... it just hasn't answered any of them for me.

58. Your personality?
A bit.

59. Has your novel/story inspired anyone?
LOL, probably not. XD

60. How many people have asked to read your novel/story?
I never give them a chance to ask. My acquaintances know, in no uncertain terms, that - metaphorically speaking - my story is locked away in a subterranean vault a million miles below sea level, and it shall remain there until I am ready for the public to see it.

61. Have you drawn any of your characters?
Tried; failed. *hangs head in shame*

62. Has anyone drawn your characters for you?
*brightens* Leauphaun did, once. But that was for a different story...

63. Does anyone vomit in your novel/story?
I'm considering it.

64. Does anyone bleed in your novel/story?
I, quite literally, have notes scattered through my house saying things like, "Should I maim Tess?" and "Someone gets snakebite" and "More injuries. Let's lose some LIMBS."

Enough said.

65. Do any of your characters watch TV?

66. What size shoe does your main character wear?
I don't care and neither do you.

67. Do any of the characters in your novel/story use a computer?

68. How would you react if your novel/story was erased entirely?
Run through the house screaming, go into mourning, hide under a pillow for a week, sprinkle ashes everywhere, not get on a computer for a month, and not try rewriting it for at least two years.

69. Did you cry at killing off any of your characters?
No... I cry for unusual reasons, and while some character's deaths might have affected me deeply, they haven't made me cry.

70. Did you cheer when killing off one of your characters?
Uh... no. I've never hated any of them that badly.

71. What advice would you give to a fellow writer?
If writing's just hard and blocks are everywhere and you are dejected about how things are going, take a break. Walk around. Read a book. Load the dishwasher. The subconscious works wonders on stories.

"There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." - W. Somerset Maugham. The world abounds with advice and rules for authors, but ultimately, very few of them are true always, for every writer. Don't stress over remember and adhering to every writerly tip (word of wisdom: it's hopeless).

Famous writer Ernest Hemingway once said, "We are all apprentices in a craft where no one becomes a master." We're all still learning, and none of us will be perfect. Never alone, always hope, endurance and victory.

72. Describe your ending in three words.
"Heather goes home." There. Satisfied?? o_O

73. Are there any love triangles, squares, hexagons, etc.?
No. *shudders*

74. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the least stressful, 10 being the most) how does your stress rank?
About my story, at this moment? I'll give the boring 5.

75. Was it worth it?
The tag? Maybe. It's helped me reevaluate my story. The story? Gack, I hope so.

- - -

I've already read Eldra and Jake's story tags and I'd be delighted to read any others'! If you've done the tag, please link me to it in a comment!

March 23, 2011

Inheritance Cycle - Book 4

THE NEWS IS OUT! The word spreads all over the blogging world! Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your dog, tell the plot bunnies dwelling under your bed!! (ohhh, you thought I didn't know about those? o_O You'd be surprised at the things this spy is aware of.)

AT LAST, after more than two years, we know the release date of the long-awaited fourth book of the Inheritance Cycle. The final book of Christopher Paolini's famous series is entitled Inheritance and is due to be released November 8th, 2011!

You'd probably have to be a monk living in the basement of a Polish monastery not to have heard of the famous Eragon series. What do you think of them? Approve? Disapprove? Uncertain?

Eragon readers, spread the word. The final battle for Alagaesia is coming.

May your swords stay sharp,

March 13, 2011


Because I haven't posted a video in a while,
and because I have no time to write a proper blog post,
and because I never claimed that this would be most intellectual blog on the blogsphere,
and because I have never been the most sophisticated bulb in the box,
and because this made me alternately laugh and tremble in fear,
and because I hope it will make you do the same,
and because Frank the Uneatable commanded that I do this,

I'm going to post this video, entitled Spatula. My Underground friends, THIS is the Frank we know and fear. Watch if you dare.

(note of clarification: In case there was any doubt; I did not make this video, nor do I know the person who did.)


Post Scriptum: If you have no idea who Frank is, let it suffice to say that he is The Great Spatula, revered and feared among all the known world. He devours his enemies like tic-tacs. Only the Yodeling Dwarf has ever lived to tell the tale. Frank is Uneatable and absolutely and unquestionably Undefeatable.

March 4, 2011

C. S. Lewis

A few of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotes.

- - -

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival."

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you."

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing."

"We read to know that we are not alone."

- - -

What are your favorite lines from Sir Lewis?