Friday, 29 January 2016

Movies I watched on the plane and what I thought of them

Yeah, basically what the title said. 

Season 7 of Parks and Recreation: WHY IS IT OVER??? Season 7 wasn't actually wasn't my favourite season (I liked 3-6 the best, maybe it wasn't amazing because Chris and Ann were gone?) but it was still very good and I'm so sad it's over.

Self/Less: GO WATCH THIS IMMEDIATELY. This rich dude, Damien, is dying from cancer so he undergoes this procedure called "shedding" where you "shed" your body and put your consciousness in a new body. But then there are all kinds of issues that come with whose body you're using... This movie (while being great with all kinds of gunfights and car chases) asked all kinds of great questions such as: even if people will remember you, do you feel immortal? If you do not feel immortal, is it ok to break the laws of the universe in order to be immortal? If you don't ask the right questions, are you still at fault when you don't have all the right information? Do some people deserve to live longer than others? 
Source

Bridge of SpiesGO WATCH THIS IMMEDIATELY. Beyond the fact that Tom Hanks is awesome, this is a great movie. A lawyer has to represent a Russian spy during the Cold War, then negotiate a trade between two spies. The movie was about believing that every person matters and that everyone deserves to be treated as human, no matter what they've done or who they are or where they're from. It could be slow in a few spots, but it was a drama and not an action movie so I understand why. The characters were great, the themes were awesome and the historical element was really interesting. 

A Royal Night Out: This is about Elizabeth the 2nd and how her sister Margret and her go out to celebrate the end of WW2. This one was really good because I love the whole 1940's atmosphere and it was nice to see a story about sisters (even though there was a romantic element).


Source

Hotel Transylvania 2: The first one was better. I wanted to see more of Johnny because Johnny is hilarious, but it focused more on Drac and Mavis and Johnny's son. (And the bad guys in the end were terrifying! What is that doing in a kid's movie???) So basically it was like every sequel ever.  

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.GO WATCH THIS IMMEDIATELY. During the Cold War, and American and a Russian spy team up with a German girl to stop the sale of a nuclear bomb. First and foremost, this was a spy movie so I was pleased with the amount of hand-to-hand fighting, gun fights, car chases, explosions, etc. etc. that took place. There were gadgets and spy suits and betrayals and it was awesome. Plus, I cannot stress how hilarious this movie was. BUT I COULDN'T LAUGH OUT LOUD BECAUSE I WAS ON A PLANE FULL OF PEOPLE, IT WAS TORTURE. The spies had the most amazing/hilarious relationship, which I guess comes from hating each other but having to work with each other. There was one point where you could see the Russian spy driving around in the background, fighting (and blowing up) while the American sat down and had a sandwich. I had low expectations going in, and I'm happy to say that it blew them out of the water. 
Source

WALL-EGO WATCH THIS IMMEDIATELY. Because it's WALL-E and Pixar and I have never fallen more in love with a robot before. (This was like the 5th time I've watched it and it just gets better every time.)

Mr. Holmes: Sherlock Holmes (AKA Gandalf AKA Magneto) has retired to the countryside, his mystery solving days over. He solved a mystery 30 years ago and he retired because of it, but now he can't remember what happened. This movie broke my heart in many ways. One, because I'm a HUGE fan of the BBC's Sherlock and the thought of Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft and John dying or Sherlock having Alzheimer's... just no. NO I TELL YOU. The nice thing (or really sad thing) was that we finally saw Sherlock care about someone so deeply that he couldn't function when that person was in trouble. He connects with someone else so deeply that their death sinks him into depression and that's not a side we often see of Sherlock. My only complaint is that the movie was a slow in places and I ended up editing while watching it. 

Have you seen any of these movies? Did you enjoy them or would you rather not watch them again? Do you watch lots of movies on planes or are you smart and try to get some sleep? Who here hates airplane food?

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

What moving around the world actually entails (part 3)

Imagine this. You land in a foreign country with nothing but your suitcases and the boiling heat hits you in the face. You've left your friends and family behind, sold your childhood house and have no idea what awaits you. 

There's a strange lady waiting for you at the airport. You get in the car and she drives you around town. You silently watch out the window as your new life rolls past. Once you get over the palm trees, there's one thing that you can't get over. 

They still have Blockbuster here. 

Strange, I know. Who cares about Blockbuster, right? But that stuck out in my mind. (I don't think it's here anymore, though.)




Dad's company rented a house out for us for six weeks. There were only three bedrooms, but we didn't mind too much. Even though we were in a pretty big city, we decided that we wanted to move to the town closer to the coast. We enrolled in school there, so for the next six weeks we drove half an hour to and from school every day. 

We all had trouble adjusting. Dad had a new and very different job and us kids had to adjust to a different school system and a different way of life. (My sister and I jumped a grade and a half while my brother jumped six months of school, so that took some getting used to as well.) Mom struggled because she had six hours every day to find something to do, and she didn't know anyone. (She didn't want to work so she could take care of everyone.) 

One thing that really made life difficult was that there were rats in the ceiling. They jumped from the trees outside to the roof and we could hear them at night. We ended up moving into one bedroom so we could all be together while Mom and Dad had the other. The last bedroom stayed empty. The house was also right on the highway, so if the rats didn't keep you up then the cars did. I remember that one night I ran back and forth between bedrooms, trying to escape the rats, crying. I ended up watching a movie and trying not to think about what was above my head. To this day, if a bird lands on our roof I have to fight off a wave of panic. 




It was hard. I missed my friends and family and my old life. Thankfully, once the six weeks were up we moved to the coast, closer to school. Life slowly got easier and easier, especially once we got our own house. The bizarre faded into normalcy, new friends were made, new memories. 

It still hurts, I suppose. Whether I'm in Canada or Australia I don't think I completely belong anymore, but that's alright. It's just part of growing up and trying to figure this wonderful world out. 

***

Also, I'm back! We landed at about 9am yesterday. (I fell asleep at 12pm, woke up at 7pm then fell asleep again at 12am and woke up at 5:30am. GO JETLAG, GO, GO, GO JETLAG!) 

If you've noticed that I've been neglecting your blog lately, it's probably because I have been, but I will be better from now on, seeing how I'm sleeping in my own bed now. Thank you all for being lovely to me while I've been gone, and thanks to my guest bloggers! (You shall be hearing more about my trip in the coming weeks :) )

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Bonus Post: I'd rather build the metro

At about roughly this time next year I'll be starting university to become a civil engineer. (Yeah, it's just as scary as it sounds.) Right now I'm in Dubai and I get to admire all of the beautiful skyscrapers and the way they, well, scrape the sky. 


That got me thinking. If I manage to make it to the end of university and become a civil engineer, I'd have the ability to work on projects like skyscrapers or even the tallest building in the world. But the thing is, I think I'd rather build the metro. 

Designing the tallest building in the world is ambitious. People remember the name of that tallest building, they recognise the outline of it, they want to visit it. (For goodness sakes, the names of the engineers who built the Eiffel Tower are carved into its side. They will be remembered forever.) The world's tallest building will be in books and across the Internet and stamped in history with a giant rubber stamp of "REMEMBER ME."

Ok, sure, you can't actually see the names of the engineers
in this particular picture so it doesn't really help me make
my point, but I promise they are there and I should never
need an excuse to put a picture of the Eiffel Tower on.

The thing is, it isn't going to do anyone any good. Sure, some tourists will be able to take the elevator to the top and enjoy the view or an hour or two, and some rich dude in a suit will make a good few dollars. Offices, hotels or stores will pop up in the building. 

No one is going to remember the metro. It is simply a tool to use, not something to admire. It is how to go from point A to point B. The thing is, though, it helps people. It's cheaper than using a car in a lot of places and when it has a good design and is easy to use it can make someone's whole day go smoother (as I should know from the past three and a half weeks of traveling Europe's metro systems). It gives everyone the power of being able to move freely in a big city for a relatively low price. 


At the end of the day, I'd rather improve people's lives and be forgotten than set some records and be remembered forever. 

Would you rather build the skyscraper or the metro? (Of course, no hard feelings if you're a skyscraper kind of person :-) ) 

Friday, 22 January 2016

When you want to throw your MS into the fires of Mordor

I am currently working on the second draft of my manuscript, Formulas. I'm sure I'm not alone here when I think it would just be easier to throw the thing into the fires of Mordor and be done with it already (because seriously, I'm beginning to wonder if not even Spider-Man can save this thing). 


I don't know if you can see this, but the little figure running
 up the side of the mountain is me lugging my MS in an attempt
to save the earth from its inexcusable horribleness. Source

I'm sure we've all been there. I typed my first draft out in a furious month or two (or four) then set it aside to simmer. A year later, I finally got back around to editing. First things first, I read through it, making notes of everything that sucked and ended up with my Edits List. When I reached the end, I kinda felt like Frodo when he said he'd take the Ring into Mordor. 

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?!? 

Orcs are insane and want to kill me! These characters are so thin! Boromir is going crazy! This dialogue is so lame! I am only three feet tall! It's so bad that I don't even know how to fix it! WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS!?!?!?

Basically, I felt waaaay out of my depth. Sure, it's fun to write the first draft and say 'oh, I'll edit it later', but when it actually comes to editing it seriously feels like deciding to make that trek to Mordor. It's such an overwhelming job and I felt seriously under-equipped to make this journey. 

It got worse when I actually started. It felt that with each problem I fixed three more cropped up in its place. I'd open my document and stare at the screen, unsure of what to do. I'd stare at the cursor, scroll to infinity and procrastinate to no end. (I should be editing right now, but I'm writing a post about editing instead because logic.) However, slowly, I made some changes and fixed some stuff. It still sucks, (seriously, it still really, really, really sucks) but I can slowly see it get better even though editing it feels like having my arm melted off with acid. 



This is what I look like after an hour or so of editing. (My precious....) Source

There's only one reason why I continue. Hope. (And I know it sounds super cheesy, but stay with me here.) Every once and a while, I'll read a certain paragraph or a line or find a good word choice and I can see the book that Formulas could be one day. It can be funny and sweet and sad and thought-provoking and entertaining. Sure, it isn't now and that hurts but if I'm lucky I can see that it can be one day. It's that hope that one day, after I edit it, someone will read it and fall in love with my characters and their stories.

Hope is the only reason I'm able to write stories.


What gives you the strength to write your stories? Do you ever want to shred your MS into a million pieces, burn whatever is left and bury the ashes on the dark side of the moon? 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

What moving around the world actually entails (part 2)

I'm not 100% what the point was when we decided to move. Mom and Dad looked into it for a bit before they talked to us. I remember thinking that it would be kinda cool, but I don't think it ever really sunk in what it would mean. I don't think you ever really can understand it when you're that young, especially if you've never moved before. 

Everyone was pretty excited about it. We all loved Australia, and even though we were apprehensive about it we thought it'd be a pretty great adventure. 



Dad started looking for a job at job fairs. There were ones in Edmonton in Calgary and Dad eventually got a job, even though there were lots of issues with businesses folding and paperwork and time and more paperwork. 

And more paperwork. Seriously, moving countries is just one giant stack of paperwork. 

Finally, Dad had an interview over the phone, then a second interview. I remember Mom and I sitting on the stairs, listening in as Dad discussed moving arrangements. 

Mom leaned in and whispered in my ear. "We're moving to Australia," she said. 

Cue montage of packing boxes, crying, more packing and a lot of planning. We were going, and there was no turning back. 

Friday, 15 January 2016

Guest Post: RM Lutz

Bonjour de Paris, tout le monde! RM Lutz from The Book Hound has joined us today. Go check out her blog and leave lots of lovely comments, because she is a lovely person with a lovely blog. 

***

I’ve never guest-posted before, so this is a new experience for me. So, as per normal for me, my first thought when encountering a new, big, scary (maybe not—but humor me) experience was: don’t mess it up. 

It’s my first thought about a lot of things. First archery tournament? Don’t mess it up. Terrifying presentation? Don’t mess it up. First time making a new recipe? Don’t mess it up. Not, do your best. Not, let’s think how to best do this. 

But, don’t mess it up. 

And with that one phrase, all creative thoughts shut down. The gears stopped turning, the muses fell silent, the well of inspiration dried up, the hamster fell off the wheel—however you want to say it, I didn’t know what to write. I was too scared to find inspiration because I was too afraid of failure to look ahead to what might be accomplished.

Whether it’s because we’ve scared ourselves out of inspiration or because we just don’t feel like inspired authors, a lack of inspiration may seem like the end of the world. 

But it’s not. 

To tell the truth, I don’t feel like an inspired, accomplished writer most days. Quite the opposite—I feel like a second-rate, dried out, uninspired novice who probably has no business writing. 

If I waited for inspiration, I’d never get anything more than a few sentences down on the page. If I waited to feel like I was a qualified writer, I’d never write a post on my blog or open up my WIP document again. 

I’d sit and stew in my easy chair, my coffee growing colder by the minute. And then I’d give up. 

Don’t give up on writing. Don’t wait until inspiration strikes you like a lightning bolt—because odds are, it won’t. Don’t wait until you feel qualified—because odds are, you won’t. That’s okay. Don’t feel qualified? Write until you get better. Practice makes perfect. Don’t feel inspired? Take Jack London’s advice and go chase after inspiration with a club, lightsaber, fountain pen, or whatever your weapon of choice happens to be.

Don’t wait until you feel good enough. Write now. Write in spite of being uninspired. 

One day, you might look back at that book, or article, or scrap of paper. And while it might be flat and riddled with grammar errors and totally bland, it was a step in the right direction. 



***

Thank you so much RM for joining me today, and remember to check out her blog!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

What moving around the world actually entails (part 1)

Let's see if I can start a series that lasts more than two posts, shall we? 

I never really expected to move halfway around the world. It was all a bit weird, actually. I realise I've never actually talked about what we did or how this whole thing happened, so I thought I should probably explain. Hence the following series. 




So! This whole thing started with an innocent enough vacation to Australia in 2010. It was super fun. We started in Sydney after the longest flight of my entire life (they had good movies, though). We visited the Botanical Gardens, the Opera House and wandered around the wharf. 




We flew up to Brisbane where we spent some time in the Australia Zoo. We drove drove all the way up to Port Douglas. For those of you who are wondering, it took a long time. (Seriously. A long, long time. We did nothing but drive for days and days. We also had a lot of frozen Coke from McDonalds (they had free wi-fi)). Think days on end of nothing but flat fields and red dirt. 

The people were lovely and the landscape was like nothing we'd ever seen before. Canada is soft and feels like home, with pine trees and long summer grass and white Christmases while Australia was some kind of foreign world from a science fiction show. It was all so different and new. There were these giant fish in the Great Barrier Reef, snakes and spiders the size of my palm. 




It's funny. One of the last sentences in my journal was that Australia was amazing, but that I was sure we'd be back again. 

Friday, 8 January 2016

My Wall of Utter Procrastination

I may or may not have mentioned My Wall of Utter Procrastination before. AND I LOVE IT!!!! I may or may not sit on my Bean Bag of Writing and/or Homework and stare at my wall in order to procrastinate. 

I need it. I love it. It is therefore my duty to make you love and/or need it, too. 



The background
I am a very visual learner. I like graphs and graphic organizers and giant family trees and pictures and diagrams. I have (on more than one occasion) glued four pieces of paper together to make a giant poster. (French verbs and chemistry make so much more sense on giant sheets of paper.) I've also seen similar Walls in movies (like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Sherlock (The Empty Hearse)) and I thought they were pretty cool. 




The how
I used to have a binder full of all my writing ideas, so one day I stuck everything up on my wall. Slowly, it grew as I put more ideas and random stuff I was interested in. Quotes, character sketches, a world map, pictures, origami, world building, whatever. I am now running out of room. (This is a serious problem, jabberwockies.) I used lots of sticky tack and I'm sure my family think I'm totally nuts, but I'm happy. 



The why-it's-awesome
With everything inspiring in one spot, it's easy to get a quick boost of motivation and creativity. I can (sort of (not really)) find everything I need quickly because it's all right there and I don't have to sort through a three mile thick binder full of random papers. Plus I feel like a crazy writer, which is always a great feeling :-)



Do you have a similar Wall? I've seen people with cork boards and those look pretty cool. Would you consider making your own Wall?


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Bonus Post: One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you to Emily over at Ink, Inc. for nominating me! 




The rules:
-Thank the person who nominated you
-List the rules 
-Put the picture up
-List seven facts 
-Nominate 15 other bloggers

And here we go!
1) I regularly get sucked into the dark, never-ending black hole of Pintrest. 
2) I graduated when I was 16 years old. (Technically I turned 17 a month or two after graduating, but still.)
3) I can list all the books of the Bible but still do not know my own phone number. 
4) I have an obsession with water colours. (I was actually going to have a water colour theme for my blog but it didn't happen for some reason. *shrugs*)
5) I have two rings that I wear at every possible opportunity for no reason except that I love them. 
6) My favourite series is Artemis Fowl.
7) I struggle coming up with facts about myself :)

Well, I don't know fifteen other bloggers, so I nominate Liz @ Out of Coffee, Out of Mind, R.M. Lutz @ The Book Hound and Heather @ Sometimes I'm a Story.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Guest post: Susanna Olsen

Susanna from Miss Adventure has kindly agreed to join me today. (And you should all go visit her blog and leave lots of comments because her blog is amazing and so is she.)

***
When I arrived in the UK three months ago, I was quite surprised by the  extent of differences in word choice. From the the names of vegetables to letters in the alphabet... so many words were unexpectedly different from American English. Being made fun of for my Americanisms was fun for a while. I debated whether I should hold tight to my old ways or embrace British English full on. After some time to consider (and more than a wee bit of persecution for my pronunciation of aluminum foil...), I've decided to embrace this new way of speaking. I don't want to fake a British accent. But I have become more willing to drop my American phrases for their British counterparts. Since making that decision I have enjoyed quite a few new favourite phrases and words. Seriously though, now I don't know how I'd live without them.
us-uk-flags
Mate

Just a jovial and informal way of saying friend.
Dodgy

Basically I really fun way of saying 'sketchy'. Go ahead, say it five times fast, you know you want to.
Cheers
Cheers-Gatsby
This word is not limited to the end of toasts at fancy dinner parties. In the UK, they use it to tell strangers thank you or show appreciation. If you make room for someone on the sidewalk*er*pavement or give someone a tissue etc... they will probably respond with “cheers”.
Squidgy
IMG_6632
Soft and gushy, like a really moist chocolate cake.
Fancy
Is a great word of determining how your friends feel about something.
"Do you fancy getting a chocolate milk this afternoon?"
"If you fancy, we can walk to the park instead."
Rubbish
Why say trash when you can say rubbish? I mean seriously, it is just so much more fun to say.
Brilliant
According to Urban Dictionary, it is a British term to used to describe everything. Also, it is a generally acceptable as an intensifier.
"That's brilliant."
"It was brilliant fun.'
Peckish
Slightly hungry. I don't think there is really a perfect American translation.
Cheerio
When I first arrived, one of my British friend was quick to point out that Americans always think that British people are always saying goodbye with 'cheerio'. She said she thinks that is really quite hilarious because she never uses that word. However, I've noticed that she tends to use it as a comeback if someone compliments her.
"That coat looks really nice on you!"
"Oh. Cheerio!"
Isn't that lovely?
So you see, since arriving in the UK my vocabulary has become ever so much more fun. Now if I can just stop embarrassing myself by saying pants instead of trousers and remember that a sidewalk is called pavement, perhaps I'll be able to truly start to fit in here without being made fun of for my Americanisms too much.
What are your favorite British expressions?

***
Thank you Susanna! Make sure you check out her blog!

Friday, 1 January 2016

A year in review

Today I interrupt our regularly scheduled chaos to bring a re-cap of the last year. I know that probably everyone will be doing one of these, so I'm sorry if this is like the fifteenth billion re-cap you've read today. But what can I say? I love my summaries (and explosions and epic gunfights, of course), but I'll try to keep it short. 



Life
-We visited Japan in January on our way back from Canada
-I had a blast during Cyclone Marcia in February
-I (somehow) managed to obtain my learner's drivers license. (I would suggest everyone avoids driving between 8am and 8pm, especially if you value your life. Stay away from the roads at all costs and if you must leave our house to go to work or something, please consider duct taping mattresses and bubble wrap around your car and wearing a helmet.)
-I read a lot and wrote a lot (look at me, being descriptive).
-We had a relaxing week on Hamilton Island.
-I discovered Pintrest which is simultaneously the worst and best thing in the universe.
-I started this blog, met lots of friends and wrote even more.
-I stressed out a lot in term three but then graduated in November.
-I put a purple streak in my hair to celebrate graduating. (It's very unlike me, but I went ahead and did it anyways. I'M SUCH A REBEL!)
-We spent a lot of time planning for our Europe trip.



Blog
-I actually started blogging, which was a new experience and mildly nerve wracking.
-I talked about my experiences with living in a new country.
-I started a holiday! (Sort of.) This year for Appreciate an Artist Week I wrote to Owl City.
-I also talked a lot about writing and reading and movies and stories (because I'm a diverse person who couldn't pick a topic to stick to).
-I met lots of cool people with awesome stories and amazing blogs who were/continue to be incredibly supportive and generally fantastic people.

The most popular posts of the year:
The Villain Test part 1
Things I love About Canada and Australia
Avoiding a Mary-Jane Watson
Oh, The Places You'll Go: Melbourne
My Life as a YA Love Triangle

Writing
-I started querying The Creature of the Night... and got nowhere. Maybe I'll revisit it in a few years?
-I mostly finished editing Zoe + Death, BFFs and it was great to see it pull together after a horrific first draft.
-I finished drafting The School Captain and let's just say that I'm not looking forwards to editing that insane mess.
-I started on draft two of Formulas and it almost killed me. I was not kidding when I said the first draft as so bad that it would burn your eyeballs out if you read it. 
-I also started planning another series that I'd like to start drafting next year. I have very quickly realised that there will have to be lots of research into astrophysics and I'm rather worried about having both lots of research and a series which I'll have to stick to (but the villain is so deliciously evil that I can't wait at the same time).
-I had a lot of ideas for stories that I won't be able to write for years. *sobs* IT BREAKS MY HEART!!!
-(Can you tell I have major issues with starting and finishing a single story? I've worked on like seven different projects this year between editing, planning, drafting and writing a few scenes but I haven't fully finished one book yet.)

Thank you all for a fantastic start to blogging! I really appreciate all my jabberwockies. Has anything big (or small) happened to you this year? (I'm sure everyone's done something...) What's been your favourite memory? What are you looking forwards to next year?

(And I'll be a bit slow with reading everyone's lovely blogs for the next few weeks, but I'll do my best.)