Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Oh, the Places You'll Go: Dubai

Well, our journey through Europe is crawling to the finish line, and I think we'll end this particular trip with our layover in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. 


Friday, 25 March 2016

Should stories have meaning?

Ok, jabberwockies, discussion time. When I was in 10th grade my English teacher said that only the good authors wrote symbolism and themes and metaphors and stuff in their stories. 

And here I am, three years later, and I'm still not 100% sure I agree. 




I think what this comes down to is what the point of a story actually is. Is it just entertainment? When you sit down to watch Spider-Man shoot his webs at bad guys, does it mean it's a bad story - or that the screenwriters were bad - if that's all there is to it? I know I can watch a movie or read a book that's utterly devoid of all meaning and walk away feeling satisfied, enjoying witty banter and action scenes and cool costumes. A large part of a story is entertainment, and if it fails that job then it fails as a story. 

But another role of a story is to comment on the human condition, to challenge the themes and issues we could never fully confront in real life. Does ambition always corrupt? Are we slaves to fate? These themes that we explore in fiction help us to understand our lives better and to question our reality, which is a huge part of being human. 

I think there's both a time and a place for stories with and without meaning (and by meaning I mean that the story says something about the human condition, such as ambition makes good men fall (thank you, Macbeth)). Let's be honest, there's not a huge message behind Artemis Fowl but it's still my favourite series. Does that make Eoin Colfer less of an author than William Shakespeare? 

I don't think it does. I think stories have the responsibility to both entertain and comment on the human condition, but I think its main purpose is to make someone's day a little more interesting. I'm sure we can all think of stories that had no meaning but still had a special place in our hearts. However, I find it's often the stories that have something to say which stay with me the longest. 

So in other words, I'm still on the fence about this one. 

Is a story worth any less because it doesn't explore who we are as people, or because it only makes you smile and doesn't make you think? 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Oh, the Places You'll Go: London

Seriously, London rocks. I think it was partly because after weeks of travelling in non-English speaking countries, we could go up to someone and hug them yelling "DUDE YOU SPEAK ENGLISH YOU ARE MY NEW BEST FRIEND!" (For some reason, we didn't make many friends in London...)

Friday, 18 March 2016

Totally Should've Tag

Thanks Liz @ Out of Coffee, Out of Mind for the tag!

Totally should have gotten a sequel

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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Airman by Eoin Colfer. I loved Frankenstein and I've never found a retelling that I liked as much as the original, except for maybe Man Made Boy by John Skovron, so I think the sequel would have to be written by Mary Shelley which is difficult for obvious reasons. Airman is one of my favourite books of all time (and it's written by the author of Artemis Fowl, so is anyone really surprised?) and IT NEEDS A SEQUEL. 

Totally should have had a spin-off series

Chaos Walking, because that series was so stupidly brilliant. *retreats to a burrito of sadness because it's over*

A character who totally should have ended up with someone else


Coming from someone who actively avoids love triangles, I don't know. If there's a love triangle I usually don't care who the MC ends up, and if I do care (which isn't often) the MC often ends up with who I want her to. 

Totally should have ended differently


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I'm going to say Mockingjay here. I think the ending fit the book very well but it was just so sad and depressing. I really could have used a littler note to end on. (AND A CERTAIN SOMEONE/S SHOULDN'T HAVE DIED, BY THE WAY.)

Totally should have had a movie franchise

Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl. (Unless, of course, if it's a terrible movie, which in that case no movie.)

Totally should have had a TV show


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Pendragon by D.J. MacHale. There's like ten books and I think a TV show would be epic. Traveling across space and time, fighting shape-shifting evilness... It'd be pretty awesome. 

Totally should have had only one point of view

I'm stealing this one from Liz, because Insurgent and Allegiant should not have had Four's perspective. I usually had trouble keeping them apart, and because I was never really a fan of Four I didn't enjoy being in his head. 

Totally should have a cover change


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Almost any book where there's a girl in a fancy ball gown. I avoid those like the plague. The Princesses of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George was pretty much the only exception to this rule so far. I'm not sure why I avoid them, I think it's because I've never been interested in the books themselves and I've unconsciously applied that theory to most books. 90% of the time there's a strong romance plot, and I seriously struggle with strong romance. 

 Totally should have kept the original covers

I don't know, actually. Give me your ideas in the comments. 

Totally should have stopped at book one


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A few years ago, I read Matched by Ally Condie and it was ok. I wasn't a fan and I didn't love the love triangle, and I read about half of the second book and stopped reading. I wish I wouldn't stopped reading Matched and didn't bother with the second book, because it was like every other dystopian novel AND had a love triangle. 

I totally should have stopped reading

I don't think I should have bothered finishing The Lord of the Rings because it sucked about a year of my life away, and when I finished I still wasn't sure what had happened. I watched the movies, and I understood it so naturally I had to subject myself to reading the entire trilogy all over again. 

Totally should have not prejudged


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Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm not big into romance (in case you haven't noticed yet) and it looked like a romance novel so I was avoiding it, but Cait keeps recommending it and eventually I caved. And it was utterly brilliant. I'm trying to figure out how to get to the library in the next week without the ability to drive by myself. It's a serious problem. 

I'm going to tag RM @ The Book Hound, Sunny @ A Splash of Ink and Emily at Ink Inc. and if I didn't tag you and you want to do it, feel free to steal it. 

Did anyone else not enjoy Matched? Who was happy with the ending for Mockingjay? (And by the way, the trailer for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children just came out and OH MY GOODNESS!! (But it looks like Olive and Emma switched powers? Which totally isn't cool. But other than that it looks awesome! (I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet, but Miss Peregrine is one of my new favourite books.)) And the Cap 3 trailer is out and GUESS WHO'S IN IT. THAT'S RIGHT. SPIDEY. AAAAH!)

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Australian Slang

I realize I was supposed to be talking about London this week, but the thought of watermarking all those pictures made me procrastinate, and I've made the executive decision to postpone that particular post to next week. 

Australians are famous for their slang. G'day mate, throw another shrimp on the barbie! Right? Err, not really. Only the tradies (see below for a definition) really say g'day often, and they call them prawns, not shrimp. Besides, why would you throw a prawn on the barbie when you can throw a steak on? 



I've taken the liberty of coming up with a few common phrases (with an example sentence in brackets if it's needed) that you might come across in Australia. It's worth noting that different people say different things, especially in different places in Australia. 

Arvo: Afternoon (I'll meet you this arvo.)
Bathers/togs: Swim suit (Queenslanders say togs, Australians from the south (Victoria, New South Wales) say bathers.)
Bikkie: Buiscut (cookie). 
Bogan: The Australian version of a red neck. The stereotype is a beer, flip flops, a steak and a fishing line. 
Bottle-o: Liquor store
Chook: A chicken
Dodgy: Something is sketchy or not legitimate. (My homework was so dodgy.)
Fair Dinkum: Legitimate (to be honest, I'm still trying to figure out how to use this in a sentence. It's the most confusing piece of Australian slang I've come across). 
Fairy floss: cotton candy
Footy: Australian football
Heaps: Lots (I have heaps of homework.)
Icy pole/Ice block: A popsicle or a freezy 
Lippy: Lipstick
Lollies: Candy
Maccas: McDonald's
Mozzie: Mosquito 
Rocking up: To show up for something. (I rocked up to the party last night.)




Salvos: The Salvation Army
Sickie: To take a sick day from work. (I'm going to have to take a sickie today.)
Sook: Someone who whines or complains, isn't tough. (My friend is such a sook.)
Tea: Dinner (Also a snack and lunch. There's morning tea (a morning snack), afternoon tea (lunch) and tea (supper). There's also actual tea, occasionally, but mostly meals go without tea. Because logic.)
Thongs: Flip flops
Tradies: A tradesman.
Uni: University (college for you Americans). 
To get up someone: To rebuke someone (the teacher got up me for ignoring my homework). 
Vinnies: St. Vincent de Paul, a thrift/charity store
Whinge: To complain (He whinged all afternoon). 

A note to writers: If you're writing an Australian character, I would suggest that you don't use too much slang, and make sure you get an Australian to read you book before you send it out into the world. 

What's your favourite piece of Australian slang? Do you have any slang from where you're from?

Friday, 11 March 2016

Beautiful People

I'm linking up with Beautiful People today to talk about my main character for my Camp Nanowrimo novel. (Yes, there is yet another novel in the works. You know those people who work on the same novel for several years? Yeah, I'm not one of them.) 


(Also, if you're not a writer (as I know several of you aren't) and don't know what Nanowrimo is, allow me to explain. Nanowrimo is "National Novel Writing Month" and takes place in November. Basically, you write 50,000 words in the month of November (which is 1,667 words a day). Camp Nano takes place in April and July, where you get to pick your project and word count.)

Before I start, novel stats!

Title: The Dimension Jumper
Series/standalone/trilogy/whatever: Trilogy
Synopsis: A teenage genius becomes trapped in an alternate dimension and must find her way home.
Main character: Dr. Jade Hamilton
Nanowrimo goal: 40,000 words (the unofficial goal is 50,000 but I often struggle to write first drafts over 40,000 words, so I think I'll write the 1,667 words a day until I finish the book). 

Now onto Beautiful People. I'll be writing about Jade, my poor, beautiful and terribly tortured teenage quantum physicist. 

Describe their daily routine.

When Jade isn't trapped in an alternate dimension, she's working at the university to open a portal to another dimension. (I'm sure you can tell how well that works out for her.) Usually at some point in the morning, the teenage janitor stops by and tries to not trip over his own feet while dying of a deadly disease called infatuation. Jade mostly ignores him. She then heads home, has dinner with her older sister and parents then retreats to her room to do some more work. 

If they joined your local high school, what clique would they fit into?

She's no longer in high school, but if she was she'd be alone for most of the time. For most of her high school career she was smarter than the teachers, so she'd have trouble fitting in. 

Write a list of things they merely tolerate. Ex: certain people, foods, circumstances in their lives…

Most things. Later on she becomes attached to people and places and things (I know, I know, descriptive me). In the beginning she merely tolerates anything that isn't her work. 

How do they react in awkward silences?

Jade actually enjoys awkward silences. She pretty much creates them, and during them she just stares off into the distance, thinking of her work. 

Can they swim? If so, how did they learn? 

She swam as a kid, but stopped taking lessons. 

What is one major event that helped shape who they are?

There are several major events that shapes who Jade is, most of them horrible, but...

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What things do they value most in life?

I'm not sure, actually. I think Jade and I will discover that together. 

Do they believe in giving other people second chances? Do they have any trust issues?

Yes, she has trust issues, and it's part of her character arc. However...


Your character is having a rough day…what things do they do to make them happy again? Is there anyone they talk/interact with to get in a better mood?

If it's a rough day outside of work, she just dives into her work and ignores everyone else. If it has to do with work, she's completely lost and anxious. 

So now that I've managed to avoid pretty much every spoiler out there, tell me about your novels. Are you doing Camp Nano? Which major event shapes your characters? And if you're not writing something, which book are you current reading? 

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Oh, the Places You'll Go: Paris

I'm back with your weekly dose of stories from Europe! Strap in, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times and enjoy the ride!


Friday, 4 March 2016

My (probably unpopular) opinions on Shakespeare

I get as readers/writers we tend to idolise other great writers, and William Shakespeare usually sits at the top of the list for some people. And I'm sorry to those people who like his work, but I don't. 

Why? Good, I'm glad you asked ;) (Also, I studied Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet in school, then I saw a Hamlet and Othello play. I'll be using those plays as examples with spoilers, so be warned. (But, you know, it is Shakespeare and I think you can only warn about spoilers for so many hundreds of years after it was written.))
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1) I don't connect with the characters. While I admire Macbeth and Lady Macbeth for their courage, I also wished they would have died in, oh, act 1. I kinda cheered for Banquo for a little bit, but then he annoyed me too and I was done. On my list of Stupid People in Stories, Romeo and Juliet take first place, and hence I was rather happy with their ending. Their choices were stupid and I don't think they understood love if that was their choice. Also, Othello was stupid. (Yeah, I get it, different time period and conspiracy and everything, but really??? Murdering your wife? Really!?!?) For me to get onboard with a book, I really need to like (or not deeply hate) the characters. 


2) We had stupid assessments. I hated the Shakespeare units because we had to do a monologue and an essay exam. I HATE MONOLOGUES. I would rather personally give Darth Vader my resumé for a job in the sewage department in the Death Star than do a monologue, and essay exams are boring and stressful. 

3) I've rarely been taught it in an interesting way. My memories of Macbeth include a double English of nothing but reading Shakespeare aloud while being totally confused to what was going on (along with the rest of the class). Now, we didn't study Hamlet but I saw it live, and I really enjoyed it, to my surprise. I mostly understood what was going on, the adaptation was funny, the costumes/props were awesome and the actors were great. I'm not sure why I liked the play so much better than any of the Shakespeare movies I've seen, but Hamlet is the only play I currently don't actively hate. I think part of it is because Shakespeare is meant to be performed, not read for two hours. 

I realize most of this isn't Shakespeare's fault and it's more the fact that I was forced to learn it in boring ways, but that's just been my experience. And I don't horribly hate Shakespeare, by the way. The Hamlet play was amazing and I respect the amount of symbolism and themes that are in his work. 

I just won't be reading any more plays in the near future. 

Do you enjoy Shakespeare's work? Do you think his plays are overrated? Did anyone else have to do a monologue, or did I suffer alone?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Bonus Post: The (rather random and probably stupid) things I did yesterday

-I swept a dying beetle off the porch to the grass, either to his death or salvation. We shall never know. 
-I blogged.
-I read this post and cried because I miss Alberta. 
-I watched Julie & Julia and cried because DARN IT I WANT TO BE AN AUTHOR. 
-I procrastinated. 
-I listened to lots of Relient K (who are awesome, by the way (<3 electric guitar)). 
-I finished editing a chapter of Formulas. 
-I Googled Hungarian flowers (sunflowers bloom in October, by the way).
-I yelled at the fridge in French because it was being judgemental. (Not about my weight, which is what most normal fridges are judgemental about. No, it was judging how I cried in the movie, so I commented on its weight and ranted about how I am a fantastic writer, thank you very much. I'm not sure it speaks French, though, so I don't know if it understood anything I said. (And I'm not insane, by the way. Promise.))
-I almost cut off my finger while chopping a carrot. 



-I worried about the creaking door, because it's probably a Weeping Angel or the Silence coming for me.
-I realized I cried about 100 times more today than I have ever cried at jiu jitsu, despite the fact that I always lose. Twice in one day from a movie and a blog post, but never from jiu jitsu. Take from that what you will. 
-I edited another two chapters. 
-I listened to more Relient K. 
-I painted my nails, then realized that I couldn't wear my Birkenstocks without ruining them. (Life is cruel.)
-I listened to Owl City (but let's face it, half of my life is spent listening to Owl City). 
-I edited two more chapters and hit my word count goal of 50,000 words. It used to be 40,000. It was a cause of a massive celebration. 
-I did the laundry, the dishes and vacuumed like a good child. 
-I enjoyed having a candle lit. (It's weirder than usual, actually. Growing up, we never lit candles because I have a brother who liked to see how many CDs he could fit in the CD player at once when he was little. (The answer? As many as you want, but it's not going to play anything ever again.) Needless to say, candles are a recent thing.)

Well, jabberwockies, what stupid and/or random things did you do in the past week? And do you like the smaller or larger pictures better?

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Why, hello there, nostalgia

When I was three, my sister and I bundled up in our Gap sweaters and tiny jeans, then spent the evening following Mom and Dad around the backyard garden. We avoided the buzzing mosquitoes that loved to bomb-dive us while we tried to help pick the sour crab apples from the trees that were far too tall for us and the spaghetti squash that was half our size. The breeze burrowed into our clothes and when we became tired, we crawled into Dad's arms to be carried back into the house before we dropped into a deep slumber.

When I was four, my two older cousins came over to visit. We spent the afternoon sliding down the worn carpet stairs on our stomachs, trying to be the fastest. As it turned out, it wasn't a good idea. I had carpet burn all over my stomach and chest for days, and they won anyways. 


Rollerblading

When I was seven, I was running out of room on my bookshelf. We were in my new house, the one where I was too afraid to stay in the basement by myself for long because of the monsters in the shadows. I decided to put my books in my closet instead, but in a few years I had to buy a new bookshelf. I still ran out of room. 

When I was eight, my brother, sister and I yanked on our long socks, snow pants, fleece jacket, mittens, snow coat, hat and boots. Then, of course, someone had to go to the bathroom and complete the whole ritual all over again. We scurried outside and followed Dad as he snowblowed a path to school. We stood in the snow that plunged to the earth as the snowblower whined in our ears, muffled from the layers of clothing wrapped around our heads, then flung ourselves in the deep snowdrifts. The streetlights illuminated the snow that fell like icing sugar. We flung snowballs when we didn't think anyone was looking, but we were always caught in the end. 



When I was eleven, our family went on a quaking trip to Kakwa Falls with the family across the street. Excitement bubbled in my chest when I was finally allowed to drive the quad, but I was always distracted by the wild strawberries and the butterflies that crossed our path. Fallen trees were my Achilles Heel. Mom or Dad would take the reigns when the deep mud became too much, and I never minded. We raced around the empty, silent trees with our neighbours as our rubber boots sank into the thick, spongy peat, then we snacked on crisp green beans as our parents climbed down to the falls. My neighbour's boots floated away in a river we crossed, never to be seen again. I discovered my waterproof boots weren't quite waterproof. 

Nostalgia is defined as "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past." For me, it's also the knowledge that things were once good in the past, and they'll be good in the future, despite today's circumstances, good or bad. 

What are your favourite childhood memories?