Monday, April 29, 2013

In Which I Write An Essay (Or Not)

So I'm trying to get my stuff together to actually apply for grad school. My goal is to work on it all this week.

Most of the stuff isn't hard. Letters of rec I've got lined up, transcripts I can have sent over from the U of MN. 20 page writing sample... that's one's a bit tricky. Not because it's hard or anything, but just because I'll have to look through some options and decide what's the best to showcase with. The beginning of something? An exciting chunk in the middle? But I'll get there. I just need to devote some time to it.

No. The writing sample I'm not really worried about. What I AM worried about, though, is the 3-4 page critical essay.

Pshaa. Like I'm going to handwrite it with crayons. THAT will make a good impression I'm sure

This is what they say about it: 

...focusing on an element of craft or a particular subject in a children's or young adult book that has impressed you. For example, focus on the ways in which the writer created tension on the page to move the reader forward through the book. Or, focus on the ways in which the author developed the characters in the picture book you read. Or, based on a particular book, discuss what elements make a successful sports novel for girls. Please use specific examples from the text as evidence to support your opinion(s)

I mean, on paper, that seems easy. And actually the idea of it's not what I'm worried about. 3-4 pages is nothing and I'm sure I can blab on about pace in the Hunger Games or something.

What I'm worried about is writing the actual essay. I used to be really good at writing these kinds of things. But I haven't had to do anything like this in about 10 years. I can't really remember how to do it. Like, I can't even remember how to start one, let alone format it and junk. It's kind of stressing me out. More than it should, probably.

I used to save all my papers and junk from college and even a few from high school. But I've upgraded two computers since then so I'm not sure I can find any of them. I still have one of my old laptops and I plan on plugging that in this week and seeing what I can find. I'm just not sure that I transferred any of my school work from my desktop at the time to my laptop.

If there's nothing there, I guess I'm going to have to trust to the interwebs to steer me in the right direction.

Apparently essay writing IS a skill that you lose if you don't use. I never would have guessed that.

What's up with you? Written any papers or essays recently? Have a good weekend?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Fun

La la LAAAAAAAA! We've made it once more to the awesome weekend and the fun that is surely to follow!

are the weekdays gone?

Let's get this fun started off right!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday Weird: The Georgia Guidestones

In northeastern Georgia stands a bizarre and mysterious monument. But it wasn’t created during ancient times. Known as the Georgia Guidestones, this stone structure of five, 16-feet-tall, 20-ton slabs of polished granite is inscribed in eight modern languages with instructions for post-apocalyptic survivors attempting to rebuild civilization (as well as a shorter message in 4 ancient languages Babylonian, classical Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Sanskrit)

In June, 1979 a man by the name of R.C. Christian (a pseudonym) hired a granite company to build the slabs. To this day, no one knows the identity of this man (except a banker who is sworn to secrecy)

The guidestones are oriented to track the sun’s east-west migration and have holes to allow gazers to locate the North Star.

A message consisting of a set of ten guidelines is engraved in eight different languages, one language on each face of the four large upright stones: English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.

The guidelines read:
  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
  2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
  3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
  4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
  5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
  7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
  9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
  10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
And of course, the guidestones have led to plenty of conspiracy theories, most of them focusing on the supposed satanic nature of the guidelines. The stones have even been vandalized.

There you have it. Have you ever heard of the Georgia Guidestones?

Monday, April 22, 2013

In Which I Feel A Bit Lost

So, yeah. Like the title says I've been feeling a little... aimless I guess? I dunno. And I don't know why. Maybe it's because my class has ended, though I don't think so. Most likely it's just nothing brought about by nothing that's left me in a funk.

I'm working on revisions, and I know some bigger changes I need to make, I just... haven't. And there are also some bigger changes I'm pretty sure I need to make, I'm just not confident enough to make them yet.

You know, kill your darlings and all that.

I have a whole character at the end of the MS I think I need to cut. And it's hard because I really love him. He's awesome. But he's not in it much, and while he provides an opportunity for the MCs to really solidify some things before they go off to the final climax and junk, I'm mostly worried that he slows the pace too much when things should be ramping up.

I tell myself I could use him elsewhere. If I did a sequel for this MS (and of course I'm bouncing ideas around) he could easily fit there. But what if I don't actually write a sequel? Then he's just gone and that makes me sad.

So mostly, I think I just need some outside eyes to tell me if my suspicions are right and he needs to go, or if I'm just crazy and the pacing is fine. I don't think it is, but I've been wrong before.

So, yeah. Just kind of meh about revisions right now. Hard decisions make for some hard work and I'm just having some trouble with it right now. I'm sure it will pass, it always does.

How about you? Killed any darlings lately?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Fun

YES!!! We made it through one more week, with all those weekdays thinking they're sooo great when really they stink. And not a good kind of stink either, you know, the kind that you want to roll in. No, the bad kind of stink. The kind which must be avoided.

You stink like weekday

Anyway, let's abandon those weekdays and instead welcome the weekend with open arms and some fun!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday Weird: The Bloop

In 1997 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) recorded a sound in the ocean. Which is, of course, something it does all the time.

This noise though was a bit strange. And loud. Like, really, really loud.

So loud, in fact, that it was picked up by two different microphones over 3,000 miles apart.

The sound was dubbed "the bloop". It really doesn't sound like much at normal speeds. But when NOAA sped up the recording to 16 times the speed, it sounded like something large, dropping into the ocean. Like a "bloop".

Some scientists determined that the bloop was made by an animal. Except there's no animal large enough to make that sound. Not even a blue whale.

Most scientists now, however, believe it's actually the sound of an "icequake", when a shelf of ice cracks and breaks off in Antarctica.

BUT! One important thing to remember, is that the bloop happened only about 1000 miles from where the sunken city of R'lyeh houses Cthulhu. So I don't think we should really rule that out either.

"Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."

"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."


Monday, April 15, 2013

In Which My Class Is Almost Over

Tonight's the last night of my class - the YA Novel class at The Loft.  I'm both excited and sad.

Sad, natch, because it was a lot of fun and I met some really, really great people and writers. And because I always left class super motivated to work work work on my writing. I mean, I'm usually pretty disciplined with my writing, so it's not like my class has made me do more work (outside of critiques I normally wouldn't have done without the class) but it has made me all itchy to get to work right away each day instead of putzing around a bit.

So I'm going to miss seeing the peeps every week and having that total buzzed feeling afterwards as I drive home.

But I'm super excited for tonight's class! We're having kind of a hodge-podge class, since we finished all the critiques last week. Everyone's going to talk about some of their favorite YA/MG books and favorite craft books. And we're also going to have a favorite pages reading.

That's where each of us in the class are going to take 5-10 mins and read some of our favorite pages of whatever we're currently working on.

I'm super excited to see what everyone else reads, because so many of them are great writers and I really want to hear some fun excerpts. And I'm also really excited to read my excerpt as well. It took me quite a few hours to figure out what section I should read. Because I'm really in love with my All That Remains WIP so there were a lot of sections vying for a chance to be read aloud.
I finally made a decision based on how long each section would take to read, and how much back story I'd need to fill in for the listeners before I got started.

The section that won is about 7 mins, read aloud, and only has characters in it that the class is familiar with from my 20 page critique a few weeks ago. Easy peasey.

So there you have it! Last class = bittersweet.

All right, so let me know how things are going for you? How's the writing? The yard work? The kids?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Fun

Woo Hoo! We made it through the week, ape-friends, and we've come out the other side to the awesomeness that is THE WEEKEND!!!

Sleep all the hours!!!

Let's get this party started off right!







Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday Weird: Ball Lighting

Ball lightning is a phenomenon that people have been seeing since the 17th century. It's pretty much like regular lightning except, you know, a ball.

Descriptions actually vary widely. It has been described moving in unpredictable trajectories (up, down, side to side) as well as moving through physical obstacles (sometimes without any effects, sometimes melting or burning anything it touches) and occasionally popping or exploding.


For a long time people thought it was fake, made up, because there was no physical proof etc, even though people had supposedly been killed by it (and plenty of people (including famous people like Aleister Crowley and Tsar Nicholas II) had reported seeing it).

Nowadays, it's considered a natural phenomenon, but with no real understanding yet as to what it actually is.

In some cases, they're able to recreate it in the lab, but whether that recreation is actually what happens in the atmosphere is unclear.

Some people think that a lot of UFO sightings may actually just be ball lightning, and that's probably true in a lot of cases of lights in the sky.
Have you ever seen ball lightning?

Monday, April 8, 2013

In Which I Need To Budget

In the past I'd maybe go to a few local conferences a year and call it even. None were so expensive that they'd break the bank.

But this year is a little different. I planned to take a class (it's going on right now) and I planned on 3 local conferences (Children's and Young Adults Literature Conference, 4th Street Fantasy and the MN SCBWI conference in the fall). So there you go. A couple hundred dollars here and there and I'm set for the year.

But then I really enjoyed my class. And I found an Advanced Children's Writing Workshop.
And I also learned that Donald Maass will be here in the fall for a Story Masters workshop (the people I heard about this from said they attended this conference last year and that it was amazing)

So if I were to throw these two into the mix (and these are way more expensive than the others. The Story Masters conference is like $500) and suddenly I find myself spending more money than I planned...

Which made me realize that I think I've reached a point in my writerly life where I need to budget better. I think this year is a wash. I've applied for the advanced class (though you have to actually supply a writing sample, so I may not get in) and depending on how that goes will make my decision on the Donald Maass conference. But I think, starting next year, I'm going to have to actually sit down, figure out how much I'm willing to spend that year on writing related expenses and budget accordingly.

This will be especially important if I apply to Hamline's MFA program for next year (very likely).

So how about you? Do you budget your writing expenses?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In Which We Bribe Begonias

You know who's awesome? Hart Johnson, that's who! And you know who writes awesome books? You guessed it! Hart Johnson!

Today we're giving a shout out to Hart's 2nd book in the Garden Cozy Mystery series: The Begonia Bribe.

You should definitely give this series a shot because it's a lot of fun!

The Begonia Bribe: 2nd in the Garden Society Cozy Mystery series by Alyse Carlson (aka: Hart Johnson)

Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’s job to promote them. But when a pint-sized beauty contest comes to town, someone decides to deliver a final judgment …

A beauty pageant for little girls—the Little Miss Begonia Pageant—has decided to hold their event in a Roanoke park. Camellia is called in to help deal with the botanical details, the cute contestants, and their catty mothers. She soon realizes that the drama onstage is nothing compared to the judges row. There’s jealousy, betrayal, and a love triangle involving local newsman—and known lothario—Telly Stevens. And a mysterious saboteur is trying to stop the pageant from happening at all.

But the drama turns deadly when Stevens is found dead, poisoned by some sort of plant. With a full flowerbed of potential suspects, Cam needs to dig through the evidence to uproot a killer with a deadly green thumb.

Pre-order on:
Barnes and Noble

Find Hart/Alyse at:
Confessions of a Watery Tart
Facebook Author Page or Profile

Monday, April 1, 2013

In Which I TypeRace

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I'm pretty competitive when it comes to... well, a lot of things. It's probably why I like gaming and board games and disc golf and racquetball and all that junk. Can I win at something? Then I want to win at it.

Another thing I'm sure I've established is that I like to write.

So what were to happen if we combined the two??

I would explode in excitement over TypeRacer!!!

TypeRacer allows you to race other competitors with your typing speed. If you sign up (and it's free) it will keep track of your avg WPM and how many races you've run, etc.

The tricky thing, though, is to nail that punctuation and not make any typos. Because you have to fix anything you don't type correctly, which slows down your WPM (news flash, typos are Achilles heel, apparently, in TypeRacing.)

You can also practice if you don't wan to actually race other peeps. I also wonder if I play around enough with this, if I'll become a faster and more efficient typer? I suspect so. I don't necessarily feel like I need to type all that much faster. I'm happy with my speed and can pump out a couple K in an hour. But if I could do that and have less spell checking to do because I have less typos? Well, that would be just fine. Just fine.

Give it a try! You don't have to register if you don't want to, you can still race and practice as a guest.
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