Friday, 29 July 2016

Writer's block is like Captain America

Quick recap for those of you who (somehow) haven't managed to see any of the Captain America movies: Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, was a genetically enhanced super soldier from the Second World War. He flies a plane carrying a huge bomb into the frozen ocean to save New York or something (nine times out of ten it's New York) and becomes a Capsicle. (Ha, ha. See what I did there?) About 75 years later, some people find him in the ice and wake him up. (He doesn't die because he's enhanced. Cool, huh?) 

If you didn't know, Spider-Man is my favourite superhero and
Cap comes in second. Source 

Also quick recap for those of who you (somehow) haven't experienced writer's block: it's basically this sucky existence where you can't write. Hence the name, the block of the writers. 

Voilà! Recap finished. (I'd do up a nice venn diagram for you and make this post nice and short, but I have a feeling that I'd screw the diagram up so let's not do that.)

My venn diagram.

So here we go, why writer's block is like Captain America. 

First of all, writing block sounds super cool to have. You sound pretty impressive when you drag yourself around the house, moaning about how your characters aren't behaving and how you IMMEDIATELY NEED A HOT CHOCOLATE OR SOMEONE IS GOING TO DIE AND THEY MIGHT NOT EVEN BE FICTIONAL. Everyone kinda just stares at you in reverence and runs to get you the hot chocolate. If you're Captain America, you are pretty much the definition of impressive. He walks into a room and everyone realizes that the boss is there. They then rush off to get him a hot chocolate (because obviously that's what you should do).

Writing block is difficult to beat. Like I mentioned before, a good way to deal with it is to flop around the house. Also, yelling at random strangers helps. So does procrastination. Writing blog posts is good, too. But no matter what you do, you can't shake the beast off your shoulders. On the other hand, Captain America is a known warrior/fighter/soldier dude. He's hard to be beat. He has a giant frisbee, and he isn't afraid to use it. *cue epic explosions*

I realize Agent Carter has like nothing to do with my
post, but she's basically my biggest hero and I couldn't
 not put a picture of her in. Source

Writer's block comes up in the randomest of places. Like yeah, sure, you can have a great week and then BAM! suddenly you can't even touch the keyboard without getting burned like a vampire. Did anyone see it coming? No, they did not. Captain America is like that, too. After all, the last place you'd expect to find a super soldier would be the Arctic ice. He just randomly showed up, and it was pretty much useless for S.H.I.E.L.D to ask any questions. They just had to deal with what showed up. 

I would like to point out one difference. Capitan America is awesome, writer's block is not. Would I like to hang out with Captain America for the day? Yes, yes I would. (We would go for ice cream or something. It would be marvellous. (See what I did there?)) Would I like to stab my writer's block in the eyes, then tear out its kidneys? Yes, yes I would. Alas, I am stuck with no Captain America and one case of writer's block. 

Who's your favourite superhero? Have you ever had writer's block? Who's seen Captain America: Civil War? (Hint: it's awesome.)

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

I believe the sky was made for me to touch

First and foremost, if you haven't listened to Relient K's new album Air for Free then you must go do so immediately. (It's like summer in sixteen songs.) Go. I'll wait. (Better yet, read my post and listen at the same time. (But only if you can manage to contain all that awesomeness at the same time. I wouldn't want to be responsible for you spontaneously combusting from too much awesomeness.))


Also, warning. This post will contain ramblings about life and whatnot. 

Last Sunday, some of the people from our church invited us over to their house in the country for lunch. Now, imagine me being invited over for lunch. *sobs* But despite my difficulties with interactions in a social setting, I actually enjoyed lunch. (I mostly just stayed quiet and ate, which I was fine with. I didn't want to try to talk because then I'd lose track of what I was saying and the words would get all jumbled up and I'd look stupid. (Welcome to the life of an introvert.)) 

I was the only teenager there, so I could either try to fit in with the adults or the ten year olds. It was a difficult choice, but in the end I decided to mostly do my own thing and hang out with whoever. 


Jabberwockies, they had a trampoline. A trampoline. I haven't been on a trampoline for years. I bounced everywhere, with my hair going absolutely everywhere and it was basically awesome.

They also had a swing, which I messed around on for a little bit before I checked out the creek. Thankfully, there didn't seem to be any nasty creepy crawlies in there to eat me, so I splashed downstream a little ways while their two dogs bounced around everywhere, splashing me and generally being dogs. (It was great.)


They also had quads. QUADS. THEY HAD QUADS. I REPEAT, THEY HAD ACTUAL QUADS. (I'm an Albertan girl, and I basically grew up on a quad. Half of my childhood memories were of me hanging onto a parent (or driving myself, when I was older) as we drove through the forest. (Also, this was the first time I could legally drive a quad (you have to be 16 or older) so that was nice. (Don't tell the FBI.)) My brother and I drove around their property on these fantastic quads, generally having the best time ever. 

The whole I was there, I had this Relient K song stuck in my head, God and there was this one line from the song which goes like and I believe the sky was made for me to touch. I think that's such a powerful line, and there's so much you're admitting that you believe in with that one line. You say that you believe in God, that He made the sky for you. You believe that you have a purpose in life, that all this beauty in life was made just for you, that it wasn't an accident. You believe that you are worthy of love and beauty. 


For the past week, I'd been at work and while I love my job I also don't often see the sky for the whole day except through the windows. To be able to get my feet wet and jump as high as I can to touch the sky, to have a moment when I could just sit and thank God for His beautiful creation that He made for me to touch made me so grateful. Because I can say that the sky was made for me to touch, even though I don't always feel like it. 

It can be hard sometimes to know that I am worthy of all that. It can be hard to know that I can be both an engineer and an author, a friend and an introvert. It can be hard to always be sure of my purpose in life because I don't know what I'm doing, I just like pretending that I do. 

But that's ok, because I don't have to do it. God's got my back, and the sky was made for me to touch. 

When was the last time you touched the sky?

Friday, 22 July 2016

Five ways to find time to read

Good [insert time of day], jabberwockies! 


Today I'm guest posting for RM Lutz @ The Book Hound, and I talk about all kinds of stuff (mostly about five ways you can find time to read). So go check it out! (Also check out the rest of her blog, because she's an awesome blogger.)

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

When it rains, it pours (Queensland floods)

For some reason, people keep telling me that winter is the dry season. (It's just like when my sister tells me that Batman is better than Spider-Man, or when a friend of mine tells me that Ant-Man is better than Spider-Man, or etc. etc.) Of course, then a practical monsoon comes our way and is like HEY GUYS I'M HERE! (I like to imagine it came through with a good Imperial March theme song.) 

So anyways, the rain started on Friday. Our tin roof rattled all day and night, and by the time Saturday morning came around I was worried about getting to work. There are two different ways to get there, and the way I usually went was flooded. Saturdays are short days for me, and I finished at one o'clock. By the time twelve o'clock came around, the pharmacist and I (we lived on the same street) were worried about the other route getting cut off by the floods. She ended up driving me home, then my mom picked the car up later. 

I bravely put my hair up, wrote my last will and testament and pulled on my raincoat then ventured outside. Thankfully, I'd hidden my camera inside a plastic bag so I didn't immediately ruin it. I risked life and limb to take some pictures of my block, so please enjoy.

Someone's driveway.


A few hours later, this was almost underwater. 



Does it ever flood where you live? 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Bonus Post: Driving misadventures (a trilogy (part 3, in which I back into a Mercedes))

Well, this is part three of three (check out posts one and two!). And basically, the title says it all so this will be a pretty short post. 

I went for a walk on the beach, because I like trying to be fit and active and everything else. You know, like a good person. (I try.) Anyways, I had a lovely walk on the beach, and when I got back into the car to drive home I misjudged the distance and backed into a Mercedes. 

At first, I just kinda stared like OH MY GOODNESS SOMEONE KILL ME WHAT HAVE I DONE I CAN'T EVEN. Full panic mode. I drove back into my parking spot and called my parents, and we got it all sorted out with the lovely people who owned the two-week old brand-new car. (They were exceedingly lovely, considering the situation.) Thank goodness for insurance. 

So yeah. That was awful. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

The cost of words

I've been thinking a lot about the cost of words. It mostly came because I was listening to this song, Talk is Cheap and somewhere in the weirdness of my brain I began singing "words are cheap" in my head, then I had to stop and go wait, what? 

(Sorry, my mind is stupid and weird sometimes.)

So now I have this thought in my head, words are cheap. And I've been thinking about whether or not that's true or not, because as a writer I think it's pretty important to know. 

Let's talk about actual monetary value first. First time authors are paid roughly $10,000, and for an average 60,000 word book that's about 16 cents a word. Not bad, all things considered. Of course, you can get paid more or less depending on how well-known you are, and the length of the book changes the outcome as well but it's not a bad estimation. 

Words have an energy investment, too. I'm a major introvert, and holding a conversation with someone drains my energy. I enjoy talking to people, but after a few hours at work or school I need a few hours to recharge. That's not the situation for everyone, of course. Some people recharge by talking to other people (the monsters! How do they survive?), so in that case words are cheap because it doesn't cost them much energy to talk. 

The biggest cost to words, in my opinion, is the emotional investment. Every time I open my mouth or type words on this screen thingy that you're staring at, I allow you into my soul. There are different degrees to it, of course, and I obviously don't allow you into the deepest, darkest layers of my soul every Tuesday and Friday. (I believe we're all happy about this, because the lowest layer of my soul is quite weird and dark and sticky and occasionally sweet and light, and we don't need to trek down there all the time. (Plus there's an embarrassing amount of Spider-Man fan fiction hidden away.)) However, whenever I do share something that's a bit deeper it costs me an emotional investment. It takes courage to share some things. 

The weird thing is that for me, at least, talk costs more than words. If you asked me about something that I cared deeply about in real life, like the representation of women in the media, Christianity, Artemis Fowl, writing, environmental issues, etc. then I could probably tell you two or three things about it then fall silent. But if I could write about it? Well, I've written several books about imaginary people who only exist in my head. Written words cost so much less than talk. Whenever I open my mouth my words fail and crumple in on themselves, like a snowflake that lands on someone's tongue and melts. On the other hand, when my fingers poise over the keyboard they just can't stop dancing across the black and white keys. Somehow the wire between my brain and my mouth was transferred to my fingers. 

I realise that for other people, it's the opposite way. Some people can talk all day, their words never racking up a bill at the bank while I'm left behind, dragging my wheelbarrow of cash to pay for my debts. For some people, words deposit, not subtract, and I would like to pass my congratulations onto you. 

For me, talk isn't cheap. Talk is expensive. Talk, even shallow talk, empties the fridge and leaves nothing left for supper. I can't afford deep talk, I can't afford to be bankrupt and have nothing left in the pantry. But written words bypass the bank and I can go deeper for longer without having to stop, gasping for breath. I can write about heartbreak and anxiety for hours and hours while a half hour conversation about someone's weekend will drain my college fund. 

Words aren't cheap, they never have been. Neither is talk. Some things just cost more than others. 

Which is more expensive for you, written words or talk? 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Explained: Australian Geography

Last week, we talked about Canadian geography (can I get a cheer for the free geography lesson?). This week, we've got Australian geography to learn about. (My goodness, I sound like a teacher. (I'm so sorry.))

So! Australia, like Canada, is part of the British Commonwealth. (Sort of. Like Canada, it's kind of confusing because while we officially recognise the Queen as our figurehead she can't make any laws or basically do anything.) We're part of the Oceania/Australasia continent which includes Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Papa New Guinea, East Timor, Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu. 

Source

We have six states (Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australian and Western Australia) and two territories (Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory). (The ACT is kind of weird. The capital of Australia, Canberra, is there. From what I understand, when Australia became a country there was a massive argument about whether Sydney or Melbourne should be the capital. They created a territory in the middle and called Canberra the capital as a result. Yeah, Australia is weird.)

The official language is English, but we've also got cool stuff like Mandarin, Japanese, Italian, Arabic, etc. In school, they usually offer Mandarin, Japanese or French (or some combination of the three) which I think is pretty awesome. 

As in Canada, the weather can be pretty extreme and on opposite sides of the scales. Cyclones, the Outback, rainforests, snow, oceans, lakes and droughts that can last a decade. 

So there you go, geography sorted. *drops mike* What's one geography thing people always mess up about your country? Do you get extreme weather? What languages are spoken around where you live? 

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Bonus Post: Driving misadventures (a trilogy (part 2, The Gas Station Incident))

(I'm doing a trilogy on driving misadventures (in case you couldn't tell from the very informative title of this post) and if you haven't caught part one, check it out!

So a couple of months ago, I received my driver's licence (to my eternal delight). For the first couple of days, I mostly just drove to work and picked my siblings up from school. It was great fun, except for the time that I almost ran out of gas. As a new driver with a quarter of a tank, I wasn't sure how much further I could go. The last thing I wanted to do was run out of gas and have a panic attack and generally freak out. 




Thus, I headed to the gas station. Now, I have filled up with fuel before, but never all by my lonesome. (But go me! Being an adult! (Ha.)) So I found my way to the gas station, but all the spots were full. That was fine, I could wait. But which pump should I go to? And which side was my tank on? (AAAHHH PANIC!) I spent a few minutes debating, and finally decided to just stay put and wait for the person ahead of me to finish, except for when the person in the line beside me finished. Should I just wait, or could I back up and go into the next pump? 

And to make matters worse, that Surf Lifesaving Girl was standing at the doorway to the gas station asking for donations, watching me the whole time. Probably judging me. Do you have any idea how much that freaked me out? I HATE it when people watch and probably judge me. No pressure, right? 

No fear, I was a responsible adult. I backed up a little, pulled over to the pump beside me and shut the car off. A few minutes later, I was standing next to my tank, realizing that oh, I pulled up to the wrong pump. My tank was on the other side. 

Darn it all. 

I tried to pull the hose around to my tank, but to my despair I discovered that it could have reached if only I'd have pulled up closer to the pump. I turned to see the Surf Lifesaving Girl watching me, and that it was it. I was done. I replaced the hose, hopped back in the car and drove away, shaking my head the whole way at my failed attempt to be an adult.

Halfway back home, I discovered that I hadn't put the lid back on the gas tank. 

What was your first experience with filling up with fuel? Were you excited or scared to get your driver's licence? Have you ever had any strangers (possibly) laugh at you?

Friday, 8 July 2016

Beautiful People

Today I'm linking up with Beautiful People to talk about my WIP, The Dimension Jumper. Last time, I talked about my protagonist, Jade, so today I'd like to talk about my antagonist who appears in later books (it's a trilogy (hopefully)). (Unfortunately, I have to be a bit vague because some of my lovely betas read my blog and I'd hate to spoil stuff for them.)



Onto the questions!

Do they want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?

He'd like to get married eventually, but he's so focused on his goals that he kind of knows that it'll probably never happen. But he'd like it. 

What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)

He likes to use words as his weapon and get inside someone's head. If he can manipulate someone into doing something, he will. (He's a super nice guy.) If he has to get physical, he'd rather use a gun and shoot someone from far away so he doesn't have to see them suffering. 

Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?

He definitely doesn't mind getting violent to get what he wants, but he'd much rather try to manipulate people first. He'd rather try to be your friend first, try to get inside your head to figure out what's the best way to make you like him to give him what he wants. Occasionally someone will see through his mind games, and he'll get very violent very fast.

Are they a rule-follower or a rebel?

Once again, it depends on the situation. If following the rules will get him what he wants, then he'll be a teacher's pet. If the rules don't suit him then he'll toss them out the window and go get what he wants. 

Are they organized or messy? 

He's usually quite organized, and likes to know exactly what's going on with everything. It's like a chess game to him, whether it's where his tools are or what different people's motivations are. He's a scientist so he likes to have everything perfectly charted, observed and graphed. (However, when he first wakes up and when he's tired is pretty much the only time he'll have no idea what's going on. Think groggy teenager.)

What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

He likes people to understand what he's trying to do, because in his mind he's doing the right thing. He's also super smart and doesn't fully connect with the rest of society, so when someone gets what that's like it's always a bonus for him. I'd say the last people (I know, I'm cheating) to make him feel loved was his old girlfriend, his sister and my main character just because they understand what's going on in his brain. 

What do they eat for breakfast?

Some type of seasonal fruit, probably. 

Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened?

His old girlfriend dumped him because he was getting too obsessed with his goals, which was honestly understandable. (I'd dump him too.) He is still kinda in love with her, which sucks for him. His sister also died, and they were really close (which also sucks for him). Both incidences inspired him to become the evil villain he is today.

What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?)

A nice, hot drink and an evening of scientific discussion. 

Are you linking up with Beautiful People? Does anyone else ever feel strangely sympathetic for their bad guy? What's your favourite bad guy in books/movies? 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Explained: Canadian geography

Well jabberwockies, I thought it'd be fun to do a mini-series (and by mini-series, I mean two posts because I seem to have a problem with writing a series longer than two posts) about the geography of two awesome (I'm totally not biased) countries. This week, it's Canada. (And by the way, most of my readers are American and I'm pretty sure (I hope, anyways) that my American readers have a pretty good grasp of Canadian geography BUT there's always new things to learn and I also have Australian readers who have stuff to learn too. So yeah.) 

First things first, Canada is in North America and is the second largest country in the world (with Russia being the first) and is part of the Commonwealth. This means we have the Queen on our money, and if England goes to war then we tag along too but we make all our own laws. The Queen is basically a figurehead. 

Source

In Canada, we have ten provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Québec) and three territories (Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories). (I must admit that I've always been glad to only have twenty-six provinces/territories and capitals to learn, compared to the Americans. You guys have one hundred things to learn!) The capital is Ottawa, in Ontario. 

We are a bilingual country, which means that everything is in two languages, French and English. You've got cereal boxes and airbag warning stickers and official documentation like passports that's all in two languages. Where I was from, all the signs and stuff (like stop signs) were in English because English was the native language, but you could get signs in French and English depending on where you were. If you landed in the Vancouver airport (which is one of my favourite airports ever, by the way) all of the announcements will be in French and English. 

Distributions of native French-speaking people of Canada, 1996. Source

In terms of weather and landscape, we have pretty much everything. Beaches, humid forests, lakes, farms, deserts, frozen tundras and mountains. We can get to -50C (-58F) to 40C (104) with chinooks, blizzards, heat waves and thunderstorms in between.

(And it's a pretty cool place to live, by the way.)

Did you learn anything new about my home country? If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Did you ever struggle to learn the provinces/territories/states and their capitals in school?

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Bonus Post: Driving misadventures (a trilogy (part 1, The Hawaiian Milkshake Incident))

I figured it'd be fun to do a trilogy of sorts with different driving misadventures. (Because we all know driving misadventures are a lot more fun when they happen to other people. When they happen to you, it's just painful.) So thus is part 1, The Hawaiian Milkshake Incident. 

Allow me to set the scene. The island of Maui, Hawaii in 2008. We were on a family vacation, and being the sun-starved Northern Albertans that we were we spend most of our times sitting in the sun and enjoying the beaches. 

One day, we had stopped our snorkelling/sun soaking/sand castle building for the day, grabbed five extra large milkshakes and pointed our rental car in the direction of The Garden of Eden. (It was basically this really beautiful garden with waterfalls and stuff.) It was about an hour's drive through the twistiest, windiest, craziest road ever (and by the way, all those words are real. Promise). (Also, please remember that at this point I was about nine years old, my sister was about seven and my brother was probably five. We are barely mature enough to survive a full hour without killing each other today, and almost eight years ago it was pandemonium.)

So we spent half an hour winding up and down this road, definitely not murdering each other, sweating and feeling pretty sick from all the twisting going on. At one point, we met a guy from Calgary who taught us some "magic" tricks, which was pretty cool. 

Then, the inevitable happened. All five of our milkshakes tipped and deposited themselves on the carpet of our rental car. Goodbye, breakfast/lunch. Mom scooped the milkshake onto the side of the road, and based on the moral of the occupants of the car (namely, we were all carsick and wanting to strangle each other) Dad turned the car around and we wound back down the road. We never did get to see the garden. 

We still had the car for about another week, and thanks to the lovely Hawaiian weather the milkshakes quickly rotted. Every time I'd open a door, a blast of sour milkshake would hit me in the face and nearly knock me over. Dad cleaned it the best he could, but we still had to hold our breaths whenever we got inside, which was often problematic. 

Friday, 1 July 2016

Fiction vs non-fiction (the battle of the century) (also a minor announcement)

My dad and I have had this thing going on forever, where he'd say something about how he loves non-fiction and how stupid fiction is, then I would reply with something along the lines of you're wrong fight me. (Which, in all honestly, would not end well for me because while I do jiu jitsu, I'm not very good at it and he does crossfit. And he could probably just sit on me and that'd be the end for me.)

So which one is better? Voilà! I have a list (or two) for you. 



Fiction
Pros
-You can escape from reality
-You can explore themes and issues that you couldn't in real life (like the power of words in The Book Thief)
-You can explore historical events and what it would have actually been like to live there/then
-You can make an emotional connection with the story
-Can inspire you to take charge of your own life or build certain positive characteristics 

Cons
-It's not real
-Can distract you from real life
-It may change the way you think about life, especially if you only read one type of genre (such as historical romance)

Non-fiction
Pros
-Helps you learn about people, places, events, our world
-Informs you about various worldview and ideas
-Helps you understand your world and your place in it

Cons
-May leave you with little imagination

Ok, admittedly there aren't many cons to reading non-fiction. (And I don't have any problem with reading non-fiction. I actually love non-fiction.) Our never-ending argument mostly revolves around the fact that he won't read any fiction at all, and my point is that dude (yes, I've called my dad "dude" before), fiction has so much to offer too. 

How many times have I read Artemis Fowl and resolved to stick to my friends more in the future? How many times have I read The Penderwicks and realised that yeah, sometimes you may want to murder your siblings in a violent fashion but you also really love them. (I also may or may not want to become Captain America/Spider-Man/The Doctor.) Reading fiction has made me a better person. I live in a world that isn't always the best role model, and to have these fictional people who always strive to become better reminds me that I don't have to follow the pain and hurt and sin in this world. 

Again, I'm not against non-fiction. I've read lots of amazing biographies and I adore documentaries and I've learned so much about other countries through non-fiction books. But we need a balance. (Also, I'm declaring myself the winner of this particular argument.)

*drops mike* 

(Also, minor announcement. I'm going to Canada! YAY!!! It's my grandparents' 50th anniversary and my dad, brother and I are going for about three weeks during August. That means I have guest posting opportunities available if anyone's interested. (Contact me at victoriajackson9901@gmail.com if you are.) Other than that, we're going to have a great time and I'M SO EXCITED!!) 

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?