Sunday, 29 November 2015

Bonus Post: Gap year plans

In case I haven't talked about it enough yet, I've finally graduated from high school. *confetti* I'm taking a gap year instead of heading straight to university, so here are my plans for the year. (If my plans are public, I'm a whole lot less likely to ditch everything and binge watch movies all year.) 

1) Save some money. I have a job that I will be continuing to work at, and I'm going to increase my hours to part time. I'll learn some more skills and make more money, which will be awesome. (For those of you who are curious, I'm saving up for a French course in France.) 

2) Get better at French. This one flows from my last one, because I want to get to France knowing a thing or two. Plus I've worked too hard for too long to just quit now. (And, you know, it's fun.) They have a class you can take here, so I'll have to look into it. 

3) Take care of myself. For the past four-ish years I've let my health go down the drain a little. I've been too busy studying, trying to catch up and adjusting to bother with eating terribly health-ly (which is now a word) and exercising. When I'm not doing anything, I'm too tired to bother. So I'm going to exercise and eat better this year. 

4) Blog. Yay! I love blogging, I really do and now I'll be able to put more time into it. 

5) Writing. I really want to try to sign a book (any book, I don't care at this point) with an agent over the next year. I have lots of stuff to do, hopefully lots of time to do it. 

6) Watch movies. I adore movies, but haven't had a lot of time to watch them because of school. So I'll be on the couch a lot (this one will clash with number three, but oh well. *shrugs*) 

7) Join the local soccer team or swim. Because I have to stay active somehow. 

8) Do more photography/drawing. I love taking pictures of my gorgeous adopted country, and I also enjoy drawing occasionally. Once again, lack of time has squashed these particular activities. 

9) Relax. There's something about lying on your bed, staring at your ceiling, a breeze floating through your window with music pumping through your headphones that makes me smile. 

10) Read. READ ALL THINGS!

Friday, 27 November 2015

How to be an artist and not go insane

Let's be honest here. At one point or another you, as an artist/creative person, have thought that you must have lost it. I have entire, endless oceans inside my head. (Hence the name of my blog.) There are really, really messed up, adorable, wonderful and totally fictional characters that I hang out with on a daily basis. I have plot lines, setting descriptions and random story ideas bouncing against the inside of my brain and I can rarely watch a movie without ticking an imaginary checklist of things like: character arcs, world building, backstory, climax, resolution, inciting incident, etc. etc.

And that can be a little bit scary. 



I am assuming that I am not the only one out there who thinks somedays that I should really just move to Wonderland already and save everyone the trouble of picking out a nice asylum for me to go to. 

While I'm not saying I've got it all figured out (my goodness, I've still got a long ways to go), I have figured out a few ways to lessen the "insanity" (which, as I have figured out, is just bent up creativity). 


1) Unleash your creativity. This one may seem a bit obvious, but seriously. Unleash your creativity. Those characters inside your head are probably not going away any time soon, and the only way you can get the children to shut up is to write their stories down. Write that book. Sing that song, paint that painting, create that poster, dance that dance. Set the creative monster free!

2) Talk to other creative people. Seriously, creative people are so much fun to talk to. I just reached out to other writers in the past year, and man, has it been awesome. I went from someone who had to ruminate on books and stories and characters and etc. etc. by myself to being able to talk to people who got it. That was pretty spectacular. Sometimes I'll comment about a character or stereotypes on a blog and discussions follow, then I get to sit back and ask if that really just happened. Like, did we just discuss the hidden symbolism in the font of this new book? (I actually haven't had that conversation, FYI.) Non-creative people don't really care, so it's awesome to connect with people who understand. (So a huge shout-out to the blogging community here!)

3) Embrace the creative monster within. Being creative may seen a bit weird to other people, but that's ok. If you're creative, own it! Shout it from the rooftops! Put it on a billboard! Carve your face into the surface of the moon! (Or maybe not.)


How do you not go insane with all your bottled up creativity? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Things I wish I would have known in high school

For those of you who don't know, I just graduated from high school. (Yay!!) If I could go back and tell myself something before I started, this is what I would say. 



1) It's going to be ok. Starting high school is pretty scary, and starting high school in a new country is even scarier. But it will be fine! You'll make friends and stress out and go to the beach and read a lot and in the end you'll look back and be satisfied. High school is not the end of the world. 

2) Challenge yourself, because you're good enough to take it. I sucked at math when I started grade 9. It didn't help that I missed some school so they were all ahead of me, either. So I studied really hard and worked harder. When I got to grade 11 I took the hardest math class I could, even though I wasn't sure if I was going to pass. I ended up getting top of the subject for that year. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself. 


3) Family and friends are awesome and don't underestimate them. I would not be standing on my own two feet (as opposed to crying on the ground) if not for my family and friends. Treat them like gold. 'Nuff said. 

4) Your best is good enough, and it's all you need. There will always be someone who is better at you in something. That's ok. You don't have to be number one all the time. And on a slightly different note, if you study your hardest and work harder and still get a bad mark, then be happy about it. You couldn't have done any better and you should be proud of your best. 

What are your favourite lessons from high school? And words of wisdom for the coming years ahead?

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Announcements/updates/requests for help/exciting news

Today marks the first day of my life out of high school. That's right, I've graduated! (*fireworks*) What exactly does this mean for my blog? Not a whole lot, to be honest. I'll be commenting more and reaching out to more bloggers than before, and I'll probably have more bonus posts. For the next couple of days I'll also be having bonus high school themed posts (mostly because you only graduate once and it's been a very long, hard journey and if I can't blog about it then what is the point, I ask?). (And my totally amazing, completely awesome parents gave me the best graduation present in the entire universe: the complete, hardcover Artemis Fowl series, ALL SIGNED BY EOIN COLFER!!!! I don't think I've mentioned this before, but Artemis Fowl is my favourite series in the entire universe. I was just a little hyserical.) 




For the next exciting piece of news. I am going to Europe in January! (*confetti and fireworks and chocolate*) I'm super excited and we're going for about three weeks. (In other words, there'll be a lot of Oh, the Places You'll Go posts in February.) This means that there are some guest posting opportunities available and I would be thrilled if anyone was interested (because all of my jabberwockies ARE JUST PLAIN AWESOME). If you're interested, email me at victoriajackson9901@gmail.com preferably before January so I can get everything organized. Anyone can guest post (whether you have a blog or not) and I'm accepting posts about reading, writing, movies, travel and culture. 

I also just wanted to take this opportunity to thank all my lovely jabberwockies for reading, commenting and promoting my blog. Thank you. 

You guys seriously rock.  

Friday, 20 November 2015

Snippets: "Zoe + Death, BFFs"

I've been doing some editing, and I've put together a new of my favourite snippets of my WIP, Zoe + Death, BFFs. Enjoy!

Blurb: Zoe has a bit of a problem. It isn't that Death is her best friend. Granted, that was the cause of her problem, but it isn't the actual problem. The problem isn't even the extra counseling sessions she has to sit through because she was talking to herself again. What? It's not her fault that no one else can see Death, after all. No, the problem began when Zoe accidentally deleted his book "How to Fix a Rip in the Universe" off his phone, which wouldn't have been a problem except for when she tears a rip in the universe. Now her mom is dead, Death's workers are all on strike, Death is having trouble keeping it together and everyone is keeping secrets.

But no matter what anyone tells you, it wasn't her fault.


Right?

***

"White House Madness 2.0 came out."

"Lemme see!" Zoe reached across the table and snatched the smartphone Death's hands.

"Yeah, no problem." The sarcasm dripped from his voice.

"Well, maybe they'll finally have a version that I actually like."

Zoe's fingers flew across the touch screen, accessing the app to try out a new level. White House Madness was his favourite game. The goal was to break into the White House and either save or assassinate the president. Death usually saved him but sometimes Zoe made him assassinate him when she was having a bad day. The reason why Death liked it so much - and the same reason why Zoe hated it - was because you had to solve science and math problems along the way.

She started the first level and tapped on the backdoor to the building. A bubble popped up. "This door has an electronic keypad lock with a six digit code. How many different possibilities of codes are there?" How on earth was she supposed to know that? Zoe typed in random numbers until the game failed her and frustration made her fingers shake. Stupid thing.


*** 

Death waved his arms around and yanked on his hair. "You are the best thing that's ever happened to me. You, well, you and classical music stopped the messed up depression stuff and, and, you're like chocolate, Zoe. Too much of a good thing screws everything up. I was normal with you and I didn't want to stop."

Zoe didn't answer for a moment and focused on staying the speed limit, trying to sort through everything. 

Finally, she spoke. "If this was a TV show, this is where you would announce your undying love for me." She turned and gave him a crooked grin.

Death pretended to strangle himself. "Blah! I'd rather die!" 

She snorted. Good times, good times. This was what she liked about Death. Well, the fact that he made her laugh and how he tried to talk like a teenager for her. 

"So am I forgiven?" she asked.

"For what?"

"For being chocolate." 

***

The barista behind the dark wood counter noticed them and smiled. "Hello again."

Zoe skipped across the worn carpet and slid onto the polished stool at the counter, and Death wandered around behind her. "Hey, Joy. How's your mom?" she asked. 

"Pretty good. She's on new medication now, so her headaches are mostly gone."   

Mom shot them a questioning glance. "How often do you come here, Zoe?"

Drat. "Never. Promise."

Joy tried to hide her grin by wiping off a few lines of the chalkboard menu and replacing it with new text. Zoe was unimpressed by how much Joy failed to hide said grin. 

"Okay, fine. I come once a week."

Both Death and Joy snorted, and the family of three looked on in interest. Death tugged his scythe off of his back and twirled it like a baton. She shot him a look. He was going to cut someone's arm off. Or his own. Besides, he really wasn't helping. 

She threw her hands up in the air. There would be no escaping Mom's wrath this time. "Fine. Whatevs. Three times a week. Possibly during physics, possibly not."

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

My life as a YA love triangle

If you've read some YA, you're probably familiar with the love triangle. If not, allow me to summarize. An ordinary teenage girl with little to no personality leads an average life. She has no boyfriend but is usually good friends with a cute, shy boy who secretly has a major crush on her, yet she is blinder than a guy whose eyes stopped working (bonus points if you get that reference). 

Then, a super hot, edgy, dangerous guy with a mysterious past shows up randomly. (He usually has an intense gaze and great abs, which are described multiple times over the course of the novel. (It makes me want to burn the book, it's that bad.)) In some books, he wants to kill the average girl or harm her in some way, so of course she falls in love with him. (Because logic.) 


Why. Just why. (And I know this wasn't really a love triangle, 
but it made my point for the paragraph above.)
They start going out (and depending on the genre he'll continue to hurt her and/or they'll try to save the world while she describes his abs) but wait! Cute, shy boy admits he likes her! And now she starts to like him back! WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO?!?!?!

In case you didn't pick it up, I'm not a fan of the love triangle. Mostly because: abusive relationships, drawn out conflict to fill up pages and abs instead of a personality. GET TO THE EXPLOSIONS, ALREADY!!! 


There was actually a plot to this, so I was horribly
disappointed that they spent so much time on the
love triangle. 
(It could have been so great.)
Anyways. I've always been pretty vocal about love triangles being stupid, and this is why I know God has a sense of humour. My life has become one. 

No, I don't have two guys (one cute and one with great abs) fighting for my affections. (I don't even know who would want that in the first place. Like yeah, I suppose boyfriends can be great but not when they're trying to hurt you. I suppose they'd make great enemies.) I do, however, have two countries fighting for my affections. 

Allow me to draw some parallels. 

I am average girl. Because let's face it, most people are average. It's just the way life works. 

Canada is the cute, shy boy. Canada is kinda known for being a doormat, which is what the shy boy usually is. They're both physically attractive (shy boy is cute and Canada has a spectacular natural landscape). I also didn't realize how much I loved Canada until I left, then he was dying for my attention. 



Australia is the dangerous guy with a dark past. Everything in Australia will try to kill you. (I touched on that briefly here.) Seriously, give it a chance and it will kill you. Oz has a dark past (think convicts and a whole lot of hardship) and an edgy, sharp landscape in place of abs. And yet I'm still in love with it. Australia also came out of nowhere and made me realize how much a) I'm in love with it and b) how much I miss the cute boy back home (AKA Canada). 




Luckily for me, this is real life. It is much easier to chose between two countries instead of two guys because I can have both countries. I can be Canadian Australian, which is pretty cool. I can't really date two people at the same time. (It makes it so awkward. I have two arms for a reason; one to hold my book and the other to hold onto my significant other so he can guide me while I read and walk. How would I do it with two boyfriends? When I grow a third arm I'll think about getting involved in a love triangle.) 

Are you a fan of the love triangle? Rants, raves, comments, concerns? Are there any aspects in your life that you feel resemble a YA love triangle?

Friday, 13 November 2015

Why I love middle grade/young YA

Let's face it, young adult books can be tough to read. They like to ask hard questions, like "is the way we're living the best way" and they explore things like love, heartbreak, courage and what it means to truly be yourself. It's about honour and duty and sacrifice and not getting killed by the villain from the other dimension who has a really big gun. 

Sometimes, I just want to escape. 


One of my all time favourite
middle grade books. 

I'm not complaining about my life, mostly because I think it rocks, but sometimes I've had a hard day and I don't want to ponder the morality of war (thank you, John Marsden) or the age old the rights of the few vs the rights of the many issue. Occasionally, I just want to dive into someone else's world where I know there's going to be a happy ending. 

This is where middle grade/young YA comes in. I say middle grade/young YA because middle grade is for 8-12 year olds, and I'm a little too old to be reading books for 8 year olds. This category of books is right in the middle, for about 11-14 year olds. And I know that 14 year olds read "true" YA novels and some 11 year olds read books for 8 year olds, but that's how I'm classifying it. The novels are just grown up enough to have complex storytelling and language techniques (it's not all "She had dark hair. She had dark eyes. She had a scar on her nose. She smiled. I smiled back. She waved, blah blah blah) that I can read it without throwing something, but it doesn't have the themes that YA has.

YA is great. I truly love it. But I don't always want to go through an intense journey of love and death and heartbreak. Sometimes I just want to see the magic in life. 

You guys? Has everyone outgrown middle grade or do you still pick up the occasional middle grade book? 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

5 ways to make a foreigner's day

Being a foreigner is hard. It gets easier with time, but it's still often hard because you're away from your friends and family and having to adapt to a whole new culture. So if there's someone in your life who didn't grow up in your country, here are five ways to make their day. 

1) If they just moved, make sure they have everything they need. 
For example, do they need mattresses while they wait for their stuff to arrive by boat? Do they need flowers to fill their empty house? What about a bucket full of ice until their fridge arrives? What about someone to go for lunch with? Stuff that you would take for granted is actually really important. If in doubt, just ask. 

2) Learn a bit of their language.
It can be difficult moving to a new country where they don't speak your language. It was difficult for us, and we actually speak English. (Then again, Australian English is just... weird. Awesome, but weird.) Just learning how to say "hello" would rock. My friends now say "washroom" instead of "toilet", which always makes me smile. 

3) Ask questions about their country.
I love answering questions about Canada, as long as the questions aren't stupid. Stupid questions include - "If you're Chinese, then you'd know kung-fu, right? Wait, you're American and you're not overweight? You're Canadian, so you must know Justin Bieber, right?" Most people would (hopefully) laugh, but seriously, I've gotten it all. Ask thoughtful questions, like about the education system and what they think about the different seasons and what their country's national sport is. 

4) Don't stereotype. 
These one leads on a little from the last question. Please, please do not stereotype. Don't stereotype them based on their country (all Canadians must love hockey, eh?) and don't stereotype their country based on them (you get good grades, so everyone in Australia must to). It's hurtful to assume that everyone in a certain group is the same, and while some people feed off stereotypes, not everyone does. 

5) Be understanding. 
It can be really difficult to move away from the country you grew up in. It doesn't matter if you had my experience where I moved from one awesome country to another, or if you moved from a poverty stricken, war-torn country to a peaceful one with a stable society. It's still hard. Living in another country is a game of balancing time zones and emailing people you haven't seen face-to-face for years. We just went back to Canada last December, and that was the first time that we'd seen our friends and family for three years. I'm not saying that it's crippling or awful or unbearable, because I'd do it all again without a second thought and it's been one of the best experiences of my life. But sometimes all you need to do is understand that they're going through stuff that you can't understand. 


Do you have any tips for making people's day, foreigner or not? What makes your day? Comment away, my jabberwockies! 

Friday, 6 November 2015

The Villain Test (part 2)

Unfortunately this will be a short post due to finals (but hey, quality over quantity, right?). And check out part one of The Villain Test here, if you haven't already. 

We all know villains can be awesome. (Because they can be. (Seriously. Villains are cool.)) Unfortunately they're usually not used to their full potential, hence my brilliant (ok, maybe not brilliant, but whatever) Villain Test. Part one was that all villains probably shouldn't be all the same. What is part two, you ask? (I'm glad you were wondering.)

If you couldn't write your story from your villain's point of view, then something's wrong. 

It makes sense, doesn't it? If you can't write your story from their point of view and make it half decent then your villain is probably thin. Granted, it wouldn't have to be amazing because you tend to (and should) make your main character more developed than anyone else, but still. 

If your antagonist failed the Villain Test, then it's time to discover them as a character, not as "the bad guy". Even if you're going with the Joker-like "pure evil" slant, you still need to understand them as a character. Would the Joker be as effective if he sat in a chair and repeated "I like hurting people because I do", or if he told the police officer why he liked killing people with knives? 


In my opinion, characters aren't villains because they sit in a scary lair and have a big weapon and want to kill people. Bad guys can only truly become a villain if we see ourselves in their reflection, if we can recognize humanity's worse in ourselves through them.

Who is your favourite villain? Which villain can you not stand? Do your villains pass or fail the villain test? 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Halloween in Australia

Quick update: I am now on Facebook and Bloglovn'! Follow me! (Or not. Whatever works.)

***

This is our third Halloween in Australia and I think we've finally nailed down our traditions. Sort of. Here is my guide for a North American living in the land down under. 

1) Save your empty milk jugs. Pumpkins here are ridiculously expensive. (The last time I checked it was like $3-4/kg. RIDICULOUS, I TELL YOU.) Plus, they make a mess which is fun to make but not to clean up AND I'm not terribly interested in dealing with ant infested pumpkins. (Because it would happen, and it would suck.) So save your milk jugs. When Halloween comes around, cut out faces with black paper, stick them on the milk jugs, fill them with water and throw some glow sticks in. These make the coolest pumpkins which are a) cheaper, b) more creative and c) do not get infested with ants within an hour. 





2) Have an awesome supper. Because do we need a reason to have great meals? We had Mexican and it was to die for. 

3) Have pumpkin pie. This was a first this year, and it was awesome. We had to order the canned pumpkin online (and we got Crispers!!! It's been years since I've had Crispers. (Plus the pumpkin had French on the can, which was super cool. *sigh* It's been a while.)) So we got to eat pumpkin pie, which made it really feel like October. (Plus we got whipped cream. I LOVE WHIPPED CREAM!) 

4) Hand out candy to the few trick-or-treaters. Halloween isn't a really big thing here. At home you'd get tons of kids every year, and I think this year we maybe got sixty (which was an all-time high). We were talking to some friends back home and they got about fifty, which was super low because there was rain/sleet/snow. So yeah. There wasn't a whole lot of kids but there were a few. 


5) Go into a food coma from supper and watch Tim Burton movies and Parks and Recreation. I've never been into the Halloween movies, but this year we watched a few Parks and Rec episodes, The Corpse Bride and most of Beetlejuice. (Is it just me or did The Corpse Bride make anyone feel claustrophobic? Beetlejuice too, but to a lesser extent. I think it was the colours and the lack of sky.) 


Source

So that was my Halloween. This was actually the first year I haven't gone trick-or-treating and it was a nice change. 

We do the milk jug thing every year, but I think we should continue with the pumpkin pie and make it a new tradition. Do you have any Halloween traditions? Are there any traditions you used to do as a kid but don't anymore? Comment below, my jabberwockies!