Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Beast Guardian

Beast Guardian ~ Novel (2006)
Enough of all the monster hunting; why can't we all just be friends? So thinks Garren, self-proclaimed Beast Guardian extraordinaire! Where there's a Hunter, Garren will be close behind, rescuing the creatures of the night from persecution. Its not that he condones hunting human flesh- monsters just need a little love (and possibly a relocation!)

Monday, December 26, 2011

101 Projects for Artists and Illustrators

Don’t know what to do with your extra time? There are plenty of odd jobs and tasks that an illustrator can do in between assignments. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a long list of projects, ideas, and necessary chores to help make your free time more productive.

Tell a Story
 Many images are used to help a narrative, and as an illustrator it is important to keep developing this skill in your off-time.
  1. Make a book cover for your favorite classic novel.
  2. Create a series of illustrations that show the passage of time.
  3. Illustrate a song.
  4. Make a narrative advertisement for a soft drink.
  5. Illustrate your favorite childhood memory.
  6. Make a children’s book spread for a fairy tale.
  7. Illustrate the four seasons.
  8. Why did the chicken cross the road?
  9. Make a series of black and white “chapter” drawings for a novel.
  10. Retell a short story in graphic form.
  11. Create a theater poster for a Shakespearean play.
  12. Create a series of illustrations that shows a person aging.
  13. Make an instructional poster for a favorite recipe.
  14. Illustrate a day in the life of a cat, dog, fish, or monkey.
  15. Make a picture book dummy.
  16. Illustrate the seven days of the Creation.
  17. Interesting stories to consider: The Odyssey, the Bible, Aesop’s Fables, Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, nursery rhymes
  18. Make a magazine cover for a current news story.
  19. Illustrate a famous historical event from: 20 years ago, 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, Prehistoric times
  20. Illustrate family life in the future, at least 100 years from now.
Academic Exercises
Time to get back into the classroom! Refresh your skills every now and then so you don’t lose sight of the basics.
  1. Make an illustration influenced by your favorite illustrator.
  2. Paint a landscape with only three colors.
  3. Create a painting in a medium you’ve never used before.
  4. Study and draw figures from each source: Bridgman, Vanderpoel, Hogarth, and the masters
  5. Make an abstract painting.
  6. Paint a self-portrait.
  7. Create a full painting in 30 minutes.
  8. Draw a figure in: 1 hour, half hour, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds.
  9. Fill a page of your sketchbook.
  10. Create two versions of the same painting — one with warm colors, one with cool colors.
  11. Sketch in a public place.
  12. Paint a traditional still life.
  13. Paint the same still life in your illustrative style.
  14. Read a book.
  15. Watch a movie.
  16. Read other artists’ thoughts.
  17. Watch how other artists work.
  18. Take a class, if there are any available in your area.
  19. Research a particular era, artist, or style and create a few paintings influenced by it.
  20. Take a trip to a zoo or aquarium to sketch animals from life.
Practical Projects
Don’t let the promotion and organization of your business get pushed aside.
  1. Create a series of spots to use on your website.
  2. Make an illustration for a postcard.
  3. Design a new logo for yourself.
  4. If it’s near the holidays, create a Christmas card to send out.
  5. Create a Thank You card to send to clients.
  6. Draw a self-portrait in your illustrative style to use on your promotional materials.
  7. Create a business card.
  8. Make a small sampler, such as a booklet, that contains your artwork that you can use to give to prospective clients.
  9. Create a piece of artwork to enter into a competition.
  10. Take a moment to archive your traditional paintings through scanning, digital photography, or slides.
  11. Backup your digital files to a disk, hard drive, or server.
  12. Create sample sheets of your artwork that art directors can file easily.
  13. Update your website with new artwork.
  14. Work on creating samples for styles, markets, and subject matter that you are lacking in.
  15. Create stationery for your business.
  16. Make computer desktops or e-cards to distribute on your website.
  17. If you are a children’s illustrator, create some coloring pages for your younger fans.
  18. Create a fresh, new illustration to be used in a sourcebook or other advertisement.
  19. Clean your work area.
  20. Catch up with your paperwork.
Creative Exercises
One of the hardest tasks that illustrators have is to stay fresh and original. Use your free time to keep the creative juices flowing.
  1. Design a character for a book/movie/tv show.
  2. Draw a caricature of your favorite movie star.
  3. Illustrate a fortune from a fortune cookie.
  4. Create an illustration that integrates your name.
  5. Make an album cover for your favorite band.
  6. Create a modern movie poster for your favorite classic movie.
  7. Create a classic movie poster for your favorite modern movie.
  8. Design a creature that is a combination of at least two different animals.
  9. Design a car from 100 years in the future.
  10. Paint a landscape painting of an imagined land.
  11. Draw a treehouse. Include as much detail as you can.
  12. Draw 50 thumbnail sketches of the same object.
  13. Make an illustration for each month of the year.
  14. Design a deck of cards.
  15. Make up your own fairy tale land and characters.
  16. Research and draw characters/objects/settings from: the Mob, the Middle Ages, the Samurai, a Pirate ship.
  17. Draw a monster a day for a month.
  18. Illustrate a song from the Sixties.
  19. Create illustrations of current events and topics such as global warming, airport security, new technology, or education.
  20. Illustrate a stereotype.
Online Communities
These are resources I have found across the internet that will help you grow as an illustrator.
  1. Participate in Illustration Friday.
  2. Create a Moji.
  3. Start a blog.
  4. Help other artists who ask for critiques of their work.
  5. Join an artists’ forum and participate in discussions.
  6. Find and study online tutorials.
  7. Look at other artists’ work through portfolio sites and blogs.
  8. Subscribe to Drawn!
  9. Subscribe to Lines and Colors.
  10. Listen to what other artists have to say through podcasts.
  11. See what other artists’ like on de.li.cio.us and StumbleUpon.
  12. Contribute to the ThreeThumbsUp Gallery.
  13. Read EmptyEasel.com.
  14. Check out AmateurIllustrator.com.
  15. Join a community like the Little Chimp Society or Illustration Mundo.
  16. See the point of view of an art director.
  17. Stay up to date with your industry: SI, SCBWI, GAG, IPA
  18. Find illustration competitions.
  19. Online portfolio sites: Portfolios.com, iSpot, Illoz.com, childrensillustrators.com
  20. Read book reviews: the Sandbox, Fuse #8
And Last But Not Least…
  1. Subscribe to DaniDraws.com for illustration tutorials, videos, and more great articles like this one. ;)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

You Too & Stuff

You Too & Stuff ~ Novel (2011)
Conley Elliot would die before admitting he liked a boy. In fact, he did. And now that his unfinished business needs a bit of finishing (or else,) Conley's got no choice but to admit that he really REALLY likes Spencer. But even if he could fess up, what good could come from admitting he's loved and lost?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Touching Down

Touching Down ~ Novel (2009)
How much do you need to know about a person before you can consider them a friend? For two mascots from rival high schools, the answer may depend on what's underneath the garish colors and bulbous plastic heads.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dance Winter Sky

Dance Winter Sky ~ Inkling (2011)
Children born on the leap year have a special ability- they're the only ones in the world who can find The Hidden Land, a world beyond the realm of life and death.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crackalicious

Crackalicious ~ Comic (2009)
Quite simply, Crackalicious is complete crack, and it's delicious. This is a no-rules everything goes stick-figure-esque comic drawn in whatever media Paradox Found and I have on hand. Our story is stream of consciousness and the characters are equally as insane.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

American Sake

American Sake ~ Comic (2006)
Lobo Wolfgang, an average American (wolf) transmute, is charged with the task of keeping the pieces of his large family together after his parent's mysterious death. Stressful, but not so stressful as when he inherits the family business and discovers a secret that could change the lives of transmutes forever.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Art Memes

Expressions and Body Language

Poses

Development

Other Stuff

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How often do you think about writ­ing?

The easier question might be when DON’T I think about writing, to which the answer is… Um, never? Probably when I’m concentrating on work? Maybe?

I always think about writing, to the extent that I quite easily identify it as obsession. Everything I do, everything I see, everything I hear, I always end up asking myself “How can I use this?” “How can I make this better?” “What is the most entertaining part about this?” “What happens when I try to stuff it into such-n-such world?” “What character of mine would most likely say this?”

The questions go on and on and on. My gears are always turning and the only thing that drives me insane about this is that I can’t find anyone else to talk to about it. More than anything I want to find at least one person who is so blatantly obsessed as I am so that we can ramble on together and help develop each other’s ideas and relate to someone.

I’ve come across a few individuals on the internet who are very likely in the same category of “storynut” but I want to find someone I can actually interact with on a daily basis. Face-to-face.
In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for the one-way road.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Best source of inspiration?

The best source of inspiration is any source of inspiration, I always say. However, my most reliable source of inspiration would be my dreams.

Usually I get an idea from somewhere- anywhere. Something I see, something I read about (odd newspaper articles mostly) and then I just let my brain sit on it for a while. Then, eventually, these things start to collide while I’m dreaming, and voila! I get the premise for another story I want to write.

Actually, it’s been happening so frequently lately that I’ve started to pick up short-story writing simply so I can use them all. It’s hit or miss, but sometimes I get something fantastic. It’s just a matter of write write writing every day until a gem appears.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities?

Yes, I have but it’s usually pretty limited because it’s so hard to write. This is largely because I’m fortunate enough to be healthy myself, and my friends are as well. As a result, I have little experience in dealing with disabilities and therefore don’t trust myself to write it effectively.

I have one character who lost his leg in an accident when he was very young. By the time the story opens he’s already largely healed from the trauma and learned how to live with his condition, so the story doesn’t actually focus much on that aspect of his life. I chose to give him this condition for metaphorical reasons rather than drama.

As for mental disability, one character of mine is a blatant sociopath. However, he’s only affected by this in the beginning of the story, since the turning point is that due to supernatural reasons he’s given a conscience, and thus the rest of the story is about him dealing with the horrible things he’s done to others in the past, their reactions to that, and his mission for self-redemption.

Other than that, I haven’t really dabbled too much in disabilities. I’ve toyed with addiction before, mostly side characters who are alcoholics or have the desire to quit smoking or are dependent on some medication. Recently after reading Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I’ve become interested in asperger syndrome, but I don’t know if a character will come out of it yet.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do appearances play a big role in your stories? How you go about designing your characters.

A big role? Not generally.

Since I like to write a lot of action sequences, my main characters are usually pretty fit so that they can reasonably handle the torture I like to put them through. A character of mine is usually only exceptionally good looking if there’s some kind of story construction behind it (or if my target audience expects/demands it.) The same goes for a character that isn’t attractive.

My view on the issue is that characters all start in the same place “average” and according to the story’s need, should be adjusted. I try not to waste time on descriptions that aren’t going to be used later on, so I generally let the audience fill in the gaps with their own defaults, which likely makes the character more likable in the long run.

At some point, I almost always draw my characters. This is when I work out details such as particular hair-style, specific fashion notes, certain facial features and body proportions. Then, depending on what I come up with there, I can go back and edit written details later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How will­ing are you to kill your char­ac­ters if the plot so demands it?

I’m extremely serious when it comes to character death.

When a reader picks up my story, I feel like I enter into a contract with that reader. In exchange for their time and attention, I will provide them with a satisfying experience. These satisfying experiences come directly from my characters and the situations they’re in. By killing a character, I kill an opportunity to transmit certain experiences to the reader, and if this is sloppily done, the reader will be unsatisfied, the contract will be void, and they are free to stop reading.

There is almost always a better method to transfer an idea to the reader than killing a character. The sense of loss can be felt through interrupted relationships, injury, separation, missed opportunity, mistrust, and denial. The sense of futility can be felt though powerlessness, destruction, restriction, and oppression. If I kill a character when there’s a different, possibly better way to get the same reaction from the reader, then I will consider myself a failure if I chose the easy way out.

Because "the easy way out" is usually what character death is. If I get a character deep into a heaping pile of stinky poo, then it’s my responsibility as an author to see them through to the end. The audience has pledged me their trust, and if I let the character die, I let the audience die, and no one wants to feel that kind of betrayal.

Exceptions do not exist; however, character death can be a useful tool. I reserve death almost exclusively for side characters who are used as a catalyst for the main character’s action. The death of a main character can be useful in certain stories, but my personal preference is to save that for short stories, where the reader doesn’t have to devote as much time and emotional investment.

It’s tricky and, in my opinion, extremely easy to screw up. My question ultimately is this: Why kill a character when there’s so many options worse than death?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Echo Bazaar: A Trade in Souls 1, the Regretful Soldier

I happen to know a man who, perhaps, knows too much. Given the circumstances, it would be unwise to record his identity, so for the purposes of this recounting I shall refer to him as the Regretful Soldier.

The Regretful Soldier is, so far as I’ve been able to deduce, a warm-hearted citizen of the Neath. Due to this unusual quality of character, I’ve taken an interest in him despite my misgivings with attachment. I have…not a “weakness,” but an “affection” for those who genuinely care. Consider it a vein of romanticism that I’ve been unable to quash, despite Fallen London’s abrasive nature towards such things.

The details of the Regretful Soldier’s tale are not the focus of this document (for that, see ‘Neathy Secrets’ compendium- section 4, sub-section 23.) This is actually the recounting of my own story, which was born from the need to find an acceptable ending for the Regretful Soldier’s nightmarish tale.

Let me say, I have never held a firm interest in the Brass Embassy’s affairs, but on this particular account regarding the Regretful Soldier, I must weigh in. It is the unfortunate consequence of the Brass Embassy’s interference with my respectable companion’s life that I must interfere with the workings of the Devils, but let it be known that I hold no personal grudge against Hell’s operations. This is, you could say, a quiet, professional disagreement.

I plan to set forth and investigate the Soul Trade, and through that investigation I will recover the Regretful Soldier’s long-lost wife’s soul. I will not stand idly by and watch him suffer any longer in his old age. For all the man has been through, he deserves to die peacefully, with his beloved by his side and with his kind heart intact.

The Regretful Soldier is unaware of my operations. I prefer to keep this foray into the Soul Trade as clean as possible. In the event that I disappear, may these documents assist whomever is willing to help recover my own lost soul.

~Shar d’Ney

Monday, December 12, 2011

Echo Bazaar: A Trade in Souls 2, Sour Elizabeth

The Flit is a cesspool of lurid information, and it took less than half a peach-brandy to hear of a sudden increase in Soulless among the Flowers. I couldn’t help but cringe. Flowerdene Street is a grim, unclean place that never seems to lose the overwhelming odor of bat guano from the rookery. It had been some time since I last visited.

It was at the Flowerdene Rookery I managed to uncover a stray scrap of paper, wedged between two uneven stones. A soul contract, likely left behind by one of the Soulless who had already forgotten the significance of anything material. This, of course, was not the contract belonging to the Regretful Soldier’s wife (it was, after all, a transaction that took place decades ago,) but it did contain the name of whatever Spirifer took this particular unfortunate soul.

Whether it is one or several Spirifers operating under this name does not matter. He, she, it, or they go by the name ‘Sour Elizabeth,’ a phrase that I’ve overheard whispered between the “patrons” of Spite. I also happen to know that I can learn more of Sour Elizabeth at Ladybone’s Road…

~Shar d’Ney

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Echo Bazaar: A Trade in Souls 3, A Shepherd of Souls

Sour Elizabeth, it turns out, is female after all, but I would hesitate to call a creature such as herself a ‘woman.’ Women can be devious and even downright malicious, but still I don’t consider them soul-sucking monsters of the Neath. Not quite like Sour Elizabeth, at least.

It turned out that Mr. Chimes had recently taken an interest in Sour Elizabeth. Why, I cannot say, other than the fact that Mr. Chimes seems to have a morbid fascination with the deranged. It is fortunate that Mr. Chimes has also recently taken an interest in myself (though I would hardly consider myself derange. It is more likely for the fact that I simply know how to know anything… a useful skill, I admit.) It proved easy work to enter the House of Chimes and lure her into one of the private chambers.

I daren’t report too many details on her appearance here, other than the note that such a malevolent individual can’t help but reflect such a horrifying disposition on her features. It’s a shame, really, since it made the initial seduction into a private space all too simplistic. It had apparently been quite some time since she’d gathered any form of positive attention from a man.

Once the door was properly secured and the key tucked deep into my cloak, I revealed what I knew of her and how I planned to destroy her lively-hood should she not offer the information I required. Had I not known what fiendish crimes she persistently committed since years previous, I might have felt pity for the wilted creature.

Unfortunately, she knew nothing of the Regretful Soldier’s wife. However, she did offer to buy my silence with her current brood of souls which she had not yet sold to the Devils. I accepted the deal, naturally, and I must admit I was shocked at the enormity of her reaping. 120 souls, neatly bottled and packaged in crates, locked safely away in a warehouse in Spite. I would have never guessed one individual was capable of such monstrosity.

Despite such apparent evil, I felt (and still feel) that it is not my place to pass judgment on any individual. As such, when the transaction was complete, I let her go on her way without harm. My goal is to recover the Regretful Soldier’s wife with as minimal attention as possible. Should a Spirifer of Sour Elizabeth’s caliber suddenly go missing, it would surely be noticed. I can trust that she will remain silent on my involvement, else she suffer greatly at the hands of the Constables.

As it turns out, none of the 120 souls belong to the Regretful Soldier’s wife. But looking upon their sad faces, drifting aimlessly within their dusty bottles, I cannot bare to simply leave them like this. I fear I may have to return them to their rightful owners, or otherwise risk a guilty conscience for the rest of my life…

~Shar d’Ney

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Echo Bazaar: A Trade in Souls 4, The Committee for Vital Restitution

Curse my need for peace of heart! Plenty of methods are available to me for peace of mind, naturally. I can easily think of a hundred reasons why I should not interfere with the destinies of these lost souls. The Soul Trade is a protected economic function of Fallen London, protected by the Constables, encouraged by the Masters, and ignored by the Church. But even knowing this, my heart simply will not rest until I see this affair to the end.

They moan. And I cannot sleep.

Given the authorities’ disposition toward the Soul Trade, I must turn to sects that hold alternative political standards. I’m well known among the Revolutionaries, so a few inquiries to the right ears turned up a secret extremist faction of the Church called the ‘Committee for Vital Restitution.’

My stance towards the Church is about as neutral as my stance towards Hell. Truth be told, I hold an equal distaste for both. So, it could be said that my desire to meet with the Committee for Vital Restitution is another quiet, professional interest.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to dig up any tangible information on how to find this committee. The Constables’ investigation is leading no where, so from this point I will have to pick up my own leads. My followers and I will be keeping our eyes and ears open for more clues.

~Shar d’Ney

Friday, December 9, 2011

Do you draw your char­ac­ters? Do oth­ers draw them?

I draw my characters all the time and I absolutely love it when others draw my characters too. A good number of my stories are presented in comic format, so the character is always described visually in those cases. But even for stories that are meant to be written, I draw the character.

Drawing helps me figure out more about the character. It makes you think differently. Through drawing, I learn the specifics of their appearance. Do they have a prominent chin? How wide are their shoulders? Do they wear earrings or other accessories? What about facial hair? Body language, habits, economic status, social status, education, occupation- all of that can be depicted visually, so I consider drawing my characters to be an extremely important part of my process.

It’s also great for inspiration. When I get down on my story (and we all have those “this sucks” moments) I can look at my drawings and feel recharged. It’s also a great way to get others excited about what you’re working on. A good illustration from a story is one of the best ways to sell an idea since people can take in so much more information visually.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

Oh snap, not many of my characters at all have children. Let me ponder this…
I’ll restrict it to main characters (parent side-characters don’t count) and that leaves me with, I believe, one character of mine who has canon children. Kieran from Raise Holy Hex is a child in the first story, in the second story she’s a teenager, and in her third and final story, she is a mother of three (one daughter and twin boys.)

Due to my extensive babysitting experience, I like to think I’m pretty good at depicting children in my stories, though these particular children haven’t been written yet. It’s not the children that make me nervous though- it’s the mother-child relationship that I’m hesitant to write.

Since I’m not a mother, the closest experience I have to mother-child relationship would be with my pets. (When I say mother-child relationship, I place the perspective character first. So a character with the perspective of a mother would make it mother-child, as opposed to my experience with my own mom, which is a child-mother relationship.) Children are not pets. And babysitting isn’t exactly a good basis for mother experience since being full-time responsible for children is, I imagine, so much more complex.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve only plotted the third story rather than sat down to write it. Kieran’s relationship with her children is very important to that story.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tell us about one scene between your characters that you’ve never written.

Okay, there is no situation between characters that I have actively avoided writing. If the story leads there, I write it. So I’ll interpret this question as “a scene that you’ve planned for a story but have not yet written.” Because I’ve got lots of those!

One scene I haven’t written yet is the climactic moment in story “Bound” where the heroes confront the big baddie and pull a classic switcharoo on the audience. I plan for the audience to think that the characters have lost, when it turns out that the main characters have not only deceived the audience, but the people the big baddie is controlling. Then it’s revealed to the reader that the main characters outsmarted the baddies and now have usurped the power.

It’s an epic fight scene with the heart of a shonen comic, complete with explosions and likely some swearing. Pretty fun.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How long does it usu­ally take you to com­plete an entire story?

Depends on several factors: my interest, time available, if I know the ending or not, desire, deadline, length, and which draft stage?

If I had to give an average, my long stories take about a year to complete. Usually I spend a few months and get down the whole first draft, and more often than not that’s where it remains. I have too many ideas to dawdle on one for too long. Occasionally I come up with something I like to see through to the end so I do a couple more runs on it.

I don’t generally write my stories for publication. I do it because it’s insanely fun to do. My stories could almost be considered my journal. Through my characters, I can explore all kinds of situations that I want to better understand. The stories that I come up with often reflect something that’s going on in my life at the time. A friend of mine passes away, I write a story about the afterlife, exploring people who are left behind, and the attempt to get them back.

Almost never do I notice the link between a story I come up with and what’s going on in my life at the time. It’s not until years afterward when I look back on it can I notice where the story came from. At the time of a story’s creation, it’s just me writing down whatever I find most interesting. If I leave a draft alone for a couple years after I’ve written it, I can come back later and figure out what it was I was trying to say with that story, and then it can be rewritten into something worth sharing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

Pets almost always don’t play a prominent roll in my stories. In my experience, they tend to get in the way. If a character of mine has a pet, I forget that it’s there half-way through the story and then have to figure out what the heck is going on with it later. A lot of my stories involve travel of some kind, so a pet generally gets in the way of a character’s ability to follow routs I want to take.

The exception to this is when the pet plays a story role. For example, Garret from My Sylvan Weed has a pissy black cat that he doesn’t get along with. Later on in the story, the reason for this interaction is discovered and eventually rectified. The relationship between Garret and the cat is a basic reflection of other relationships going on in the story. These are the kind of things I like.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What are your favorite character interactions to write?

Quite easily, my favorite interaction to write is argument.

Story has no purer form than an argument. One character wants something, the other character wants something that conflicts. Arguments are intense and can be depicted in so many different ways.

Arguments change depending on their context. A pair of lovers will bicker differently depending if they’re in a restaurant, at their in-laws, or home alone. Best friends have different kind of weapons against each other than strangers do. They can be completely cool and cerebral, or physical and heated.

I love arguments because they often represent turning points in stories. When two characters argue, it means they’re finally addressing something that is not working, and the outcome of the argument could affect every event that comes afterward. Characters are defined in arguments- they all have different tactics, morals, lines to cross and are willing to cross. Characters and readers alike learn from arguments, and a well-constructed confrontation can be extremely entertaining to follow.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Favorite minor character that decided to shove himself into the spotlight.

Syaoran, hands down.

Sy was a minor character that appeared about thirty pages into the story. He’s a shy, kind individual with a twisted past. He wasn’t particularly good-looking or talented, or even particularly useful, but for some reason beyond my knowledge, the main character Raz hit it off with Sy and since that point they became the dynamic duo right to the end of the story.

What I love about Sy is that his movement from minor to major took me completely off guard. I had entirely intended him to be a fleeting moment in the background, but somehow he just clicked. His story wasn’t over yet, and better than that, his story perfectly intertwined with the main characters.

I like him because he’s got some controversial themes surrounding him. First of all, Sy’s gay, and before I wrote Sy I didn’t much dabble with gay characters. It’s not a focus of his character, just one of his many elements. His character also deals with abuse and how to overcome it. That’s his primary character point and with him pushing his way into the main cast, it altered the course of the story dramatically. It was really fun.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Favorite antagonist

FF, I love all my antagonists… I… I love badguys.

A favorite? How about I talk about my favorite type of bad guy to write. I love to write bad guys who have no conscience. Every time I create a character like this, I try to depict it in a different way.

Bade is completely suave, but prone to sudden violent outbursts. He also tends to be impulsive and particularly cruel, but his overwhelming amount of charisma has given him a powerful following which makes him even more dangerous.

Allan is the mad-scientist type. Extremely intelligent but without any social morals- a dangerous combination for anyone who happens to fall into his clutches. He’s the bad guy who’ll smile politely while he opens your skull with a chainsaw.

Xer is quiet and calculating. There’s something eerie about him, but the main characters dismiss the oddity due to cultural differences. Not until it’s too late do they find out that Xer is seriously capable of anything because he simply doesn’t value human life. Unlike Bade and Allan, Xer prefers to keep his hands clean and instead wages psychological warfare while his underlings handle the less pleasant tasks.

Please don’t think I’m crazy, though. These are bad guys, after all.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Favorite protagonist

I have a whole bunch of favorites. Actually, as a rule, my protagonists are always my favorite character of the story because if I don’t care about the character, my reader wont either.

I have a particular affection for badasses- specially female badasses. I know this contradicts my tendency to have male characters, but seriously, can anyone deny a Sigourney Weaver? I think not.

Of my female-badass collection, favorites depend upon my mood. I have different shades of badassery. There’s the girls-with-guns, robbers-in-ribbons, the classic-tomboy, the undercover-chick-discover, kills-in-frills, hot-but-horrifying, the curt-flirt, bombshell-with-actual-bombs, famous-n-dangerous, among others…

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lighting TAs



This is a picture of the TAs (plus Gina) earlier this year! Top-bottom, left-right

Gina, Svetla, Xristos
Jinyi, Heather, Hae Sook, Tridip, Kingsley, Brandon, and me!

Xristos was a temp, so he no longer works here (but hopefully will return as a lighter ;D) Heather left Blue Sky and Brandon got promoted to Lighting TD. Miss ya’ll!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Do you write romantic relationships? Are you good with those? Do you write sex scenes?

Of course I write romance. I’m a chick, it’s practically a requirement that I indulge. Really, I think any good story has a whole range of relationships, and among the range would be romantic relationships.

It’s not always the main characters involved, though it usually is. The romance is not often the focus of the story, with the exception being stories You Too & Stuff and Strings n’ Ribbon.

Romance just adds another dimension to the interactions. The thing about love is that you can love someone and be driven absolutely insane by them at the same time. You can be completely incompatible with someone and yet still be in love with them, which is excellent story fodder since story’s heart is rooted in conflict. Love defies logic, and if used properly can become a believable and powerful motivator.

As for the sex scenes, sure I write those too. They don’t often make it to the final cut of the story, but if you can write it, why not? It’s fun to write too and can sometimes help develop a better understanding of the characters. Never can tell what can come of it.

As for the question if I’m any good at writing intimate scenes- I’m not really sure. I try to treat it like any other scene I write- there’s a point behind it and a result that affects the next scene. At least in construction, I know it’s solid.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A writer you admire, whether pro­fes­sional or not!

Geez, there’s a lot of writers I admire, mostly because of their success. For the sake of this post I’ll say I admire JK Rowling. Harry Potter is an extremely successful series that’s equally as entertaining. I love all the characters, the world, the plot. Love the big baddie and all his minions. It’s an international best seller, made her bundles of well-earned money. It’s a series that’s easily going to be considered a classic and it’s something I’d read to my children too. Yep, I admire Rowling very much.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How do you map out loca­tions, if needed?

Depends on how large it is.

If I have to map out an entire continent or world, then I just use paper. Sometimes graph paper but usually plain printer paper so that I can scribble and move things around without thinking too hard. Then I hold onto it for my own reference.

But if a large part of the story takes place in one location, such as a building, then I’ll actually take the time to lay out the building and important items of furniture in a 3D program, usually Maya. I use this to help visualize and keep my descriptions accurate, and in cases where the story is a comic, I can use the model for perspective reference and to help with coming up with new shot ideas.

Besides, it’s fun.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Hunger Games



Movie Trailer of the Day: First official theatrical trailer for Pleasantville director Gary Ross’s big-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling sci-fi book, The Hunger Games.

The film, which stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, and Donald Sutherland, is set to open wide March 23.
I have mixed feelings on this. I thought the books were fantastic right up until the end of the very last one, and that just completely ruined the whole series for me. It was one of the biggest literary disappointments I’ve experienced in a while. On the other hand, the story was absolutely right up until that point.

If you want to read a series along the lines of this one and not be disappointed by the ending, take a look at Scott Westerfield’s “Uglies” series. I read it years ago and I still think of it today, and I think overall the characters are much more enjoyable than Hunger Games.
That being said, I’m definitely going to see this movie.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Today I received the most sincere love letter I’ve ever read in my life.

It begins: “I will never be able to write on a postcard all of the things that I would like to say to you.”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In what story did you feel you did the best job of world-­build­ing?

The answer to this question is the same as my answer to the first question “What is your favorite universe.” It’s my favorite because it’s the world that I spent the most time creating and figuring out the details of.

However, the “best construction” of a world doesn’t necessarily mean that hundreds of hours were poured into it. In my view, the “best construction” of a world is one that results in a believable environment for the story to take place in. It doesn’t even have to be complex, just clever and interesting.

If I think further along these lines, I’d have to say that the world I did the best job developing would be a world much like our own, but with the addition of parasitic superheros. For that world, I developed (along with my friend) different kinds of superpowers, figured out the rules for superpowers in this world, developed alternative branches of history based on the role of superpowers, etc. On the surface, the world feels much like our own, but when the story starts rolling the reader discovers that this is a much different world than they expected- which is what one of the main characters discovers as well.

So, I’d say my story ‘Sunburn’ would be the best.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What’s your favorite cul­ture to write, fic­tional or not?

Primarily modern American and only because that’s my background. It’s pretty hard to escape your own background, so instead I decide to embrace it in my writing.

In cases where I want to break free of that, I use historical references to design new cultures for fantasy worlds. For example, if I have a world where there’s slavery, I do research into what was going on in actual times of slavery, what the standards were, who was in charge, what the political atmosphere was, what the slaves were used for, etc. I’ve noticed that religion has a huge effect on culture, so I try to figure out the values of my fantasy culture’s religions, if there’s more than one, if they fight or live peacefully, what god/gods they have, how that relates to the social classes.

Also, region has a major play in cultures, so I have to consider what the land is like. Is it fertile or not? Does it rain often? What are the seasons like? What is the major export/import? Is there more water or land? Mountains and what kinds? All of this affects the atmosphere and culture of the people in their worlds.

Basically, it’s a lot of effort to develop fantasy cultures, and I’ll admit in some cases it’s extremely rewarding. But for most of my stories, I focus on an alternate universe modern America so that I can paint the background quickly and go from there. Even within the modern setting, there’s plenty of mini-cultures to chose from depending on what region of the US I plan to set it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

10 things you love

  1. My friends and family
  2. Writing
  3. Drawing
  4. Good desserts
  5. Good music
  6. Good books/movies
  7. The feeling of progress
  8. The sensation of learning
  9. Accomplishment
  10. To dance and sing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Who is your favorite/least favorite char­ac­ter to write?

As a rule, I do not write characters that I do not enjoy.

However, I’ll admit that occasionally there’s a character role that’s neglected because I don’t want to write it, and in that case I take a couple steps back and think about what in a character I can like while simultaneously filling that role.

For example, Trope Tower. Trope Tower is the story I’m currently working on, and it’s a point in the story to parody as many aspects of story as I possibly can. This includes giving my main kick-ass female lead (one of my signatures) a roommate named Mary Sue. As you may guess, Mary Sue is a Mary Sue, which is perfect for the story’s comedy, but I just can’t stand Mary Sues.

Usually, I’d just cut the character anyway and put in someone else good for the comedy, but this is just too perfect considering the circumstances. Which basically means that I need to reassess my distaste for Mary and figure out what about her I like. Which, it turns out, there can be a lot of things. Mary is a sweet girl, she’s a little shy but overall likable. As a point of her character, she’s good looking yet overly-modest. These are all things that make me want to barf and at the same time I can find I enjoy. It’s almost like revisiting some old guilty pleasure of mine from early teenage years or something.

Anyway, once I start to write Mary, I’m going to have to work to find all the aspects of a Mary Sue that are appealing, and when I find and exploit what those things are (which they’re there- considering how many Mary Sues exist in literature) I’ll be able to develop a character that’s likable despite the reader’s predispositions. Besides, it’ll be funny, considering the whole thing is a blatant joke on the Mary Sue trope and how it affects the other story elements.

By this time, you probably know what my favorite kind of character to write is. Badasses. Male or female, if there’s a character that can hold its own in a fight, I like it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What are some really weird situations your characters have been in?

Haha, um, the absurdity of their situation is often in direct correlation to the absurdity of the world they live in. In other words, sometimes I design stories to intentionally put my characters in very weird situations.

One of the strangest worlds that I’ve developed (with a friend of mine, actually) is the story Magical Boy Series. In Magical Boy Series, it’s established that objects (such as clothing) collect energy when they’re often used by people. So a much-loved jacket that’s been passed to you from your father will have a lot of human energy attached to it, in which case it can actually transform into a human-like character and assist you somehow.

So magicians (sometimes jokingly referred to as ‘magical boys’ and thus the name of the story) have the ability to unlock this power, which leads the main character to have several awkward situations when his older brother catches him wearing a frilly pink dress because he’s attempting to channel the energy in it.

It’s, ah, entertaining, to say the least.

Friday, November 18, 2011

10 things you’re ashamed of.

Yikes. Shame? Boo. I feel no shame! I am shameless!!
  1. Sometimes I snap at people when I’m in a bad mood, but I always apologize when I catch myself at it.
  2. Sometimes when I’m stressed out I procrastinate. I wasn’t always like that, so I’m trying to stamp out the tendency while it’s young.
  3. I used to be big-headed. I still can be sometimes, but now I recognize it and I’m working on toning it down. I’ve been told it’s a symptom of being young.
  4. When I was little I thought that those phone cards with the minutes on them were actually business cards, so I took a whole bunch of them from the counter at a store and pretended they were my own credit cards. When my dad asked me how I got those cards he looked really upset and it scared me, so I told him I found them on the sidewalk. It wasn’t until much later that I learned what they were.
  5. I have a memory of saying the wrong thing in front of a large audience when I was in girl scouts. For the longest time I ranked that moment in the number one slot of the most embarrassing moments in my life. I’m ashamed I was embarrassed of something so lame for so long, haha.
  6. I don’t know if I would call it “shame” but I do have some kind of interesting, unidentified reaction to my memory of the first time I ever cheated on a test. (Not that I made a habit of cheating on tests, for the record.) When I was in elementary school we were having a spelling test. The teacher asked us how to spell the word “school” and even though she’d covered up all the posters in her room, the door was open to the adjoining class and I saw a large banner that said “Welcome back to school!” on it. So I copied the spelling. I guess I should feel ashamed of cheating, but instead I feel pride at being resourceful.
  7. Oh, something I’m ashamed of now but didn’t understand was in preschool I met a little black boy for the first time in my life. He was the only black kid in class and I’d never seen anyone like him before, and since he was different I didn’t want to play with him. I think I’d feel pretty bad about it now if I didn’t also distinctly remember he smelled funny.
  8. Haha, I just remembered a time when a “friend” of mine told me that pine wax was actually honey, and she convinced me to try some of it. I got so sick and I’m ashamed I was such a dumb little child haha!
  9. Um…gosh this is hard. Should I be ashamed I can’t think of much I’m ashamed of? Is shame that thing you feel when you haven’t forgiven yourself for something? What is the actual definition of shame? “A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” Yeah, there’s plenty of times I’ve been wrong and foolish but I don’t feel pain in response to it. Usually it’s just funny… or if it’s not funny, I just think ‘it is what it is’ and move on to something else.
  10. I don’t think I have anything else to add, actually.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How do you get ideas for your char­ac­ters? Describe the process of cre­at­ing them.

I usually let characters develop themselves, and they almost always change in response to other characters development. Basically, I develop characters through relationships. Dynamics. Hm, what’s the best way to describe this…

For example, let’s take a look at comedy. Comedy duos almost always feature two characters- the funny-man and the straight-man. The contrast is essential to the humor and thus success of the comedy. I treat the development of my characters the same way. They’re not individuals, they’re actually one segment of a larger creature, which is the cast for the story.

 If the cast is missing an element I feel is needed to round out the story’s appeal, one or more of the characters will shift to fill out the requirement. I don’t normally consciously acknowledge this when I’m first starting. The characters develop intuitively, and usually I know who they should be by the time the story is through the first act. This often requires that I go back and re-write the entire beginning, but that’s fine.

After I get the first draft done, beginning to end, then I can re-read it and see if I find any holes or things that don’t feel right. Then -and only then- can I really start applying roles to characters and see what’s going on. With that in mind, I can do the next draft.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

10 favorite bands or artists. (no particular order)

  1. Abney Park
  2. Beats Antique
  3. Mutemath
  4. Innerpartysystem
  5. Adam Lambert
  6. Froufrou
  7. Muse
  8. Coldplay
  9. Cobra Starship
  10. Madonna

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

This is a tough question!!

I guess you could say that my favorite genre to write is fantasy, but fantasy is such a wide net that it’s almost unfair to say.

Within the fantasy genre, you’ll find horror, supernatural, high-fantasy, modern-fantasy, alternate-history, magic, superheroes, monsters, ghosts, alternate dimensions, dreamworlds, and a host of other fantastical subjects. I write it all.

If I had to narrow it further (which to answer the question I suppose I should,) I’d also admit that the majority of my writing can be found in the “young adult” category. This is largely due to the fact that I’m 23 years old so the scope of my life-experience is young adult.

I’ve noticed that as I age, my characters tend to age. When I was 13, my characters were generally 15-16. When I was 15-16 my characters were 18-19. When I was 18-19 my characters were early twenties. Basically, I’d write characters that were in my “next category of awesomeness” ahead of me. I guess my stories could be speculations on what my near future might be like -well, not that I was traveling outer space or had supernatural abilities, but the relationships were like test-trials for the next stage.

It’s really fun to go back and read my old stories after having reached or surpassed the age the characters were written at. They go back and forth between being fairly accurate and a bit too immature for the situations they were in. But honestly that’s one thing that I like about writing- characters that are entirely unprepared for the situations they’re in. By having all of these stories squirreled away on my hard drive, I’m able to re-read them and better revisit what it was like to be 15-16 and that helps my writing today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

10 things about your friends.

  1. They’re all vastly different from each other.
  2. Most of my friends know most of my other friends but I don’t think I have one friend who knows all my friends.
  3. They all come from different sides of the tracks and I float between their circles depending on my mood.
  4. Most of my friends have a creative side to them, but it’s not always expressed through visual arts. They’re great writers, game designers, musicians, and computer programmers.
  5. My core group of friends would probably be considered geeks by most.
  6. My friends tend not to date each other, as an unspoken rule.
  7. There is very little drama in my group. When there is, it’s intense, but doesn’t last long.
  8. I consider all my close friends part of my family and protect/assist them as such.
  9. Most of my friends are people you can go a while without seeing but feel like no time has passed when you meet up again.
  10. Most of my friends were met in school.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? How do you relate music to your writing?

I almost always play music when I’m writing. There’s multiple reasons for this, the first one being that turning on music gets my brain in gear for writing.

I’ve got to cover up the noise around me to focus on writing. Without it, I usually get distracted by conversations around me, the sound of the air conditioner turning on, squeaky chairs or questions from people. When I want to get some writing done, I put on my headphones (two fold for blocking out noise and signaling to others that I’m not in a mood to converse) and turn on my iTunes.

The music that gets my creative gears going has changed over the years. It’s a gradual transformation that’s moved from rock music to atmospheric and recently something that could loosely be described as “electronic folk rock.” Um, yeah, I don’t know quite what to say to that except that for some reason it makes me start writing. Once I get started, I’m able to listen to a whole range of music, usually chosen depending on the mood of the scene.

I love to create soundtracks for my stories. Often I hear something on the radio or on the internet that makes me think of a character or situation in a story, and I quickly add it to a playlist in my iTunes. I try to build up my playlist to about thirty songs before I start listening to it while writing, since if the music tends to repeat too much I get distracted and bored.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

10 of your favorite people. (no particular order)

(Family aside)
  1. Beckah (though she’s practically family.)
  2. Jim McCampbell (Teacher/hero)
  3. Ross
  4. Adam
  5. Anna
  6. All my friends from college (Is that cheating? Oh well.)
  7. Phi, my cat (not a person but still I love her.)
  8. Monster and Paris (my ferrets, also not people but this is my list and I put whoever I want on it.)
  9. Jackie (I said I wasn’t going to list family but he’s my friend too so don’t judge me XD)
  10. Quentin Tarantino

Friday, November 11, 2011

A plan…

I’ve uncovered the secret.
Is it possible?
It must be done. I must know the truth.
It’s maddening.
I leave my earthly possessions to Maybell. Av would not know what to do with it all.
~Shar d’Ney

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 things about your family.

  1. We get along pretty well overall.
  2. There’s four in my immediate family: Mom, Dad, Jackie, and me.
  3. Both grandparents on both sides are still alive and kickin’.
  4. We go on family trips to different places. We used to go to North/South Carolina all the time during spring break.
  5. My dad’s a lawyer, my mom’s a pharmacist, both my granddads worked at NASA.
  6. My brother’s gonna be a good president some day, just you wait.
  7. My parents have a habit of adopting the neighborhood kids.
  8. We have a family cat named Nutmeg.
  9. My brother is Jack the Third and he plans to have a Jack the Fourth.
  10. I’m proud of my family name because I’m proud of my family’s accomplishments.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where are you most comfortable writing? Use the 5 W’s.

Who: I prefer to write in the company of other people. Writing is usually a very independent activity, and I often get lonely when I write for too long. Because of that, I like to find myself someplace that I can sit with a lot of activity so that I can feel like I’m part of society, haha.

What: I’m most comfortable writing fantasy stories. Particularly fantasy that takes place in an alternate USA, present day. This is mostly because I have so much reference to go off of, and the occasional pop-reference makes me giggle inside and keep things interesting, even if it’s something that I’ll cut out in a later draft. It’s really fun to go back to old stories and watch how technology changes from one story to the next. I have stories where you can figure out what year it is by what kind of cell phone the main character is using.

When: I prefer to write in the afternoon-evening. After I’ve gotten some things done for the day, I like to settle down with my netbook and write for the rest of the day. I feel like the pressure is off in the evening so it’s more fun.

Where: Quite easily, my favorite place to write is at Starbucks. The Starbucks in Rye is perfect for campers. There’s electrical outlets all over the place, lots of comfy chairs or tables if you like. It’s always busy, the employees here are nice, and it’s outside of my apartment where I tend to get lazy. I like to use this place to help get my brain in gear for writing. It’s a location apart from everything else I normally do. Not to mention that I like to treat myself to vanilla bean frappacinos.

Why: Why do I feel comfortable writing? I’ve never asked myself that question. It’s almost like asking someone why they feel comfortable under a warm blanket. Because it’s nice. Writing makes me feel really good because I find storytelling to be incredibly fun, even if I’m not sharing a particular story with anyone. Even if it’s just for myself. Or even if I’m writing an opinion on something I watched or an essay about a book or a research paper about something that interests me. Recording my thoughts is entertaining and gives me a sense of security. Like the moment of enjoyment I’m experiencing right now isn’t going to be lost in the ether of the past. It’s something that I can revisit, something I can make better over time, and something I can use to communicate to others when I feel it’s necessary. I don’t consider myself a good speaker (even in normal conversation) but I do consider myself a good writer. This is how I talk to people.

How: Setting up to write has a bit of a routine. I go to Starbucks, order myself whatever kind of sweet drink I feel like at the time, and then plop down at my choice location, usually a table in the corner where I can watch people if I feel like. I always write on the computer, since I’m a far faster typer than I am a scribbler. Also the computer screen lets me keep my head up- if I write on paper my neck can hurt from looking down all the time. It’s easier to edit on the computer, I can make backups, and I used to use google docs to do all my writing until I discovered Scrivener. Scrivener is an excellent program that helps writers organize large texts. It allows you to write a scene as its own segment, and then you can move that scene wherever you want in the story line. It also allows you to pull up reference of any kind and look at it at the same time as writing. By this point I’ve converted almost all my stories to Scrivener.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

5 things you need to say

  1. Haters gonna hate. Players gonna play. But if you hate or play with me, I’ll just kick you in the nads.
  2. Yesterday was Thursday. Today is Friday. Tomorrow is Saturday.
  3. The best part about being a girl is everything.
  4. I’m not ignoring you, I just don’t turn on my phone. Try email instead.
  5. Peace out.

Monday, November 7, 2011

10 of your favorite foods

  1. Baklava
  2. Lasagna
  3. French fries
  4. Cheeseburgers
  5. Eggs
  6. Fruit
  7. Mashed potatoes
  8. Chicken
  9. Angel food cake
  10. Cheesecake

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Canes of Peach Brandy

Av did not recoil from the bundle of canes that clattered unceremoniously on his table. The lack of reaction did not surprise Shar. After all, Shar was certain he’d never once seen Av recoil from anything but the mention of a bath. The books Av had been reading, though, that was surprising.

Both men (if Av was a man, Shar was never quite certain) eyed the canes as if neither understood how they’d gotten there. “I’m not much of a thief,” Shar announced, “but when I am, I try for the good contraband.” He gestured to the canes, almost tensely. “You know these, of course?”
“Cains?” Av back-handedly brushed one off his book.

“No.” The cane briskly lifted, pulling Av’s attention with it. “Oriental canes.” Shar tugged on the handle, and it gave way with a wooden ‘pop.’ A small bottle of peach brandy slid into Shar’s palm, and the offering was set before Av. Shar grinned proudly.

Av, however, was not so impressed.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

By age, who are your youngest/oldest characters?

Disregarding vampires/immortal characters (of which there are a few.)
My youngest character is probably… Well, I have two eight-year-old characters.

Emma is my character from my senior thesis. She’s an eight-year-old girl who has a lot of big dreams. Her favorite color changes every couple of weeks between pink, green, and light blue. She loves sweets, her favorite animal is a kitten, and she counts her age by months (she’s eight and three months.) Emma wants to be lots of different things when she grows up, which she tends to combine into a string of things, such as- “I want to be a traveling dancer veterinarian nurse horse-riding superhero when I grow up.”

Elspeth is an eight-year-old from a dramatically different story and so has a dramatically different personality. She’s extremely quiet and only talks when she has something important to say. She’s not shy but people sometimes perceive her as such (they can’t imagine why a little girl would be so quiet otherwise.) In truth she just doesn’t have much interest in social interaction. Elspeth is exceptionally good at identifying patterns, so she has a fondness for mathmatics. She gets along better with computers than she does people.

This also makes me think of another character from my first story. His name is Laboosh and he’s nine years old. This story is a scifi that involves different worlds, which is why his name is so odd. Laboosh is a hyperactive little boy, bursting with energy and interest in his world. He lives on the ship with primarily adults, so he’s learned how to keep himself occupied on his own, but since he doesn’t have friends his age he can sometimes be a bit of an attention-hog. As a result, he sometimes gets in trouble just so that people will notice him. He’s a good kid at heart, he’s just misunderstood and lonely.

As for the oldest character I have, that would be Gram from a story called You Too & Stuff. Gram is the main character’s grandmother, and she’s 88 years old. She makes it a point to keep active and sharp. She has a sarcastic sense of humor that can sometimes make her seem cynical but she’s otherwise pretty kind. Gram is a little bit out of touch with the modern generation, which puts her at odds with her grandson, who she’s raising on her own. Sometimes her grandson is a bit tiring or rebellious so she generally lets him do as he pleases and gives him advice when he starts running into trouble.

These characters tend to be the exceptions, however. Most of my characters are currently in their twenties because that’s how old I am. They’re easier to write and more likely to be in the situations that I like to focus on right now.

Friday, November 4, 2011

5 ways to win your heart

  1. Flattery always works.
  2. Presents do too.
  3. Making me laugh is the best.
  4. Lend me your jacket when it’s cold.
  5. Any combination of the above and I’m yours.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

5 ways to make you cry

  1. Reject my love.
  2. Reject me socially.
  3. Betray my trust.
  4. Bait me into a fight.
  5. Be nice to me in person and say nasty things when I’m not around.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

10 things you do every single day.

  1. Brush my teeth.
  2. Do something on my computer.
  3. Admire my reflection.
  4. Check the weather.
  5. Consider going back to sleep.
  6. Wonder what time it is.
  7. Offer a thought to friends who’ve passed away.
  8. Eat food of some sort.
  9. Ask myself what I feel like doing.
  10. Recall my dream from the night before.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Found slipped under the cracked back door…

Dear individ’l o considrable note:

Smy misforchun to inform yo that yo accomplis was found kilt by poison. We’d taken alook at im but seems e’s not gon wake. Es been burnt ta hide any evdince his body mighta ad. I shouldn be writtin this note ta yo but seein ows my frens canna read o writ it don matter mucha anythin. I’s just noes yos a cleva indvidul that us stretskids owes a favor n I’s thought yo’d wanna noe.

Yos fren,
Urchin

Monday, October 31, 2011

List of Horror Movies

An email circulated around Blue Sky collecting horror movies (or movies with horror elements) that we should watch. Since today is Halloween, I figure it’s a good time to share it! I’m going to cross off movies on this list as I’ve seen them. Join in if you like!

13 Ghosts (1960)
13 Ghosts (2001)
28 Days Later
28 Weeks Later
30 Days of Night
Alice Sweet Alice
Alien
Aliens
An American Werewolf in London
American Zombie
The Amityville Horror (1979)
The Amityville Horror (2005)
Apollo 18
April Fool’s Day
Army of Darkness
The Audition
Battle Royale
The Birds
The Brood
The Changeling (1980)
Cabin Fever
Candyman
Carrie
Carriers
Children of the Corn
Christmas Evil
Cloverfield
The Crazies (1973)
The Crazies (2010)
Creepshow
Cronos
Darkness Falls
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Dead Alive
Dead Snow
Delicatessen
The Descent
Devil’s Backbone
The Devil’s Rejects
District 9
Dog Soldiers
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Don’t Look Now
Drag Me to Hell
Event Horizon
Evil Dead 2
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Exorcist
Exorcist II: The Heretic
Exorcist III
Fido
The Fly
Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th Part 2
Friday the 13th Part III
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Friday the 13th Part 9: Jason Goes to Hell - The Final Friday
Friday the 13th: Jason X
Friday the 13th: Freddy vs Jason
Friday the 13th (2009)
Fright Night (1985)
Frogs
Gator
Ginger Snaps
Grace
The Grudge
Halloween (1978)
Halloween II (1981)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Halloween H20: 20 Year Later
Halloween: Resurrection
Halloween (2007)
Halloween II (2009)
Hellraiser
Hellraiser II: Hellbound
Hellraiser II: Hell on Earth
Hellraiser: Bloodline
Hocus Pocus
High Tension
The Host
Hostel
House of 1000 Corpses
The House of the Devil
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
The Howling
The Human Centipede
The Human Centipede 2
The Hunger
I Am Legend
I Know What You Did Last Summer
I, Madman
In the Mouth of Madness
Insidious
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
It
Jeepers Creepers
Killer Clowns from Outer Space
Let the Right One In
Let Me In
Mirrors
Misery
The Mist
The Mothman Prophecies
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Nightmare on Elm Street
Nightmare on Elm Street 3
Nine Dead
The Orphanage
The Omen
The Others
Pan’s Labyrinth
Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Activity 2
Pet Sematary
Pet Sematary 2
Poltergeist
Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Poltergeist III
Pontypool
Possession
Psycho
Pumpkinhead
[Rec]
Repo! the Genetic Opera
The Return of the Living Dead
Return of the Living Dead Part II
Return of the Living Dead 3
The Ring
Ringu
Rosemary’s Baby
Scream
Secret Window
Session 9
Shaun of the Dead
The Stuff
The Shining
The Silence of the Lambs
Single White Female
Slither
The Strangers
Super 8
Suspiria
The Swarm
A Tale of Two Sisters
The Thing (1982)
The Thing from Another World
Three
Three…Extremes
Tremors
Trick ‘r Treat
Troll 2
Videodrome
The War of the Worlds (1953)
War of the Worlds (2005)
Wicked Little Things
The Wicker Man (1973)
Wolf Creek
Zombie (Zombi 2)
Zombieland

Sunday, October 30, 2011

5 things you’ll never do

  1. Be a boy.
  2. Actually fly without the aid of a jetpack or some such nonsense.
  3. Defect to the enemy.
  4. Understand infinity.
  5. Actually believe I’ll never do any of the above.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

5 things you want to do

  1. Go falconing/owling.
  2. Direct a movie.
  3. Publish a comic book.
  4. Make a million dollars.
  5. Have a family of my own.

Friday, October 28, 2011

5 things you’re known for

  1. Being a deadline-nazi in professional relationships.
  2. Being the girl who said “I want to work in movies” and actually doing it.
  3. My above-average writing skills.
  4. Being a braggart when I actually accomplish something I’m proud of.
  5. Passion.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

5 things that make you hyper

  1. Too much caffeine.
  2. Not enough sleep.
  3. Morning coffee.
  4. When something happens on a show/in a book/in a movie that I completely did not expect and I like it.
  5. Children.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

5 things you do when you’re bored

  1. Organize my iTunes.
  2. Pick at my nails or some other such grooming.
  3. Tap my fingers or twiddle my thumbs.
  4. Complain loudly.
  5. Yawn.

Monday, October 24, 2011

5 signs that you’re into someone

*NOTE: These things must occur in combination to be valid.
  1. If I give you an unusual amount of casual attention.
  2. Poking or other sort of playful physical contact.
  3. If I talk about you to my friends a lot.
  4. If I laugh at your not-so-funny jokes anyway.
  5. If I tell you so.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Order Experiment

In my acting class, our first assignment was to venture out into society and troll someone.

No, quite seriously. That’s what our assignment was. We had to go to some poor service-employee and ask for something so inanely specific it’ll get us over our fears of doing stupid things. At the same time, we would get some laughs.

Then we were to report back to class next time and share with the class our stories of complete ass-itude. Here’s mine.

Order Experiment
I figured I’d start my assignment with the bank because it turned out that getting the necessary change for the assignment was pretty interesting.

I went to Bank of America to get the change (my personal account is at Wachovia), and a young female teller called me up to her desk. I asked her if she’d be able to exchange my twenty-dollar bill for some change, and she said yes. So, I proceeded to ask her for one 10-dollar bill, three 2-dollar bills, three dollars in dimes, and one dollar in nickels. It turned out that she didn’t have any 2-dollar bills, but she sent me over to a different desk that had them.

So I walked over there and the teller (also a mid-twenties female) welcomed me to Bank of America, how could she help me? So, (counting on my fingers as I went so that I wouldn’t mess up) I asked her for three 2-dollar bills, three dollars in dimes, and one dollar in nickels, please. I handed her the twenty.

“You want what?”

I repeated myself, holding up my fingers as I did so.

“Alright.” She fished out the three 2-dollar bills. “And how much in dimes?”

“Three.”

She plugged something into her computer and stared at the screen. “So you’ll have fourteen dollars in change?”

I looked at her funny, quickly figuring in my head how this added up. I repeated my order to clarify (fingers still in the air, but this time, it was for her benefit, not mine.) She said “Oh!” and typed something in the computer again. She turned to her change organizer and began to count out dimes. “Why couldn’t you ask for five dollars in change? It’d be easier.” Said jokingly, but meant seriously. Once again, I silently checked myself to see if that, indeed, would have been easier. It didn’t seem like it.

Dimes were added to the pile. I wasn’t entirely sure if they were all there. “And one in nickels,” I said again. “One in nickels…?” “Yes.” She turned and began to count out nickels. She seemed confused. She said, “So you’ll have sixteen dollars?” I thought again, figured she’d counted the 2-dollar bills in that as well, and said “yes.”

So here we are, staring at my strange combination of change and dollars. I was waiting for the ten dollar bill to be added. Awkward pause. “Wait…” We exchanged glances. She stared at the presented twenty-dollar bill. She looked to the 2-dollar bills. I held up my fingers, once again presenting the math, and I repeated my order. “That’s ten dollars left over,” I added. “Oh! Oh!” She suddenly exclaimed, nodding quickly. At this point, I was beginning to wonder if the smile on her face was merely a formality. “Alright, I get it. You were right. Would you like a ten dollar bill?”

It briefly crossed my mind to say ‘no, I’d like another set of three 2-dollar bills, three dollars in dimes, and one dollar in nickels’ but I decided that wouldn’t have been very kind. So I said “Yes please.” She offered me an envelope to hold it all as I recounted the money to be sure it was all in order. As I left, I waved and said “Thank you very much,” my bright voice stopping all conversation in the line behind me. She waved back with a smile, “No more service for you.”

—-

Holy. Crap.

Alright, get this.

For my assignment I decided I should go to Applebee’s for dinner. There, I would order a Shirley Temple and specify that the sprite, the ice, and the grenadine would be in all separate cups and there should be one cherry in each of them.

I have to say that ordering this was almost depressingly simple. The waitress (twenty-ish, amiable, blonde) just jotted down the note, smiled, and continued about her business. It was so easy that I considered if this request should be scratched and perhaps I find something else to attempt. When she came back with the drink, she gave me a large cup of Sprite, a large cup of ice, and a full gin glass of grenadine. In the Sprite and ice there were two cherries each, and in the grenadine there was five cherries. I considered returning it and requesting that there only be one cherry for each glass, but I absolutely love cherries, so I decided to settle for the given amount.

The rest of the dinner went by normally.

I have to say, I did not expect that the most difficult part of this assignment would be paying for it. When you look at it, it seems simple enough. You’ve got the proper amount in change, just pay for the damn thing and get out of there. When I first thought it over, I figured it would be hardest for me to make a specific demand from someone. I realized afterward that making the actual request was simple for me because I do similarly crazy things on a regular basis; I just don’t do it for a class assignment.

So, I’m sitting there with exactly five dollars in dimes and nickels from the bank, and I’ve also got a huge number of dimes, nickels, and pennies left over from the bottom of my purse. I get the check, and the meal (including gratitude) cost me $12.54. I swear to god, I pulled out $10.54 in dimes, nickels, and pennies. I added two dollars in quarters and I placed it on the table. I then pulled out my wallet and produced the three 2-dollar bills and tucked them under the grenadine glass.

The waitress came to the table, and I just watched her expression completely shift from a formal smile to a ‘holy shit, what is this?’ look. The first words out of her mouth were, “What’ve you got going on here?” She’d momentarily dropped all pretenses. I feared for my life.

“I’m paying for my meal.” It was incredibly difficult to act as though this was an everyday thing for me. I swear, I really did try to act normal, but it’s really hard to do when you know the waitress is just dying to wring your neck.

“Coin Star is so much better for this.”

I stared at her. Blankly.

“I can’t carry around all this change, but,” she lifted her finger and pointed across the room with an irritated look, “you can go talk to the bartender, and give him your money.”

I glanced in that direction and looked back at her. I gave the waitress a look that said ‘Yeah right, that’s your job, so you better damn well do it.’ (I was nearly shocked how easily the expression came to me despite the situation.)
She looked back at me, and a fake-smile came to her face. “I don’t have time to count through all this.” Another pause. I was still staring at her. She leaned over the table and began to count out the change. “Here, you can help me.”

I decided that humoring her was good enough. Of course, I already knew how much money was there, and I also knew that if I helped her, she would only have to recount it, but I decided to go along with it. I placed a few quarters together, a few dimes. A penny here and there. She got up to five dollars and walked over to the bartender. She came back and we counted out the rest of the money.

“And what are those?” The waitress suddenly asked, eyeing the small stack of 2-dollar bills almost suspiciously.

“Additional tip. It’s for you.” With that, I got up and left. I stepped out onto the sidewalk, and I let out a deep breath that I didn’t realize I had been holding. I slowed down, crossed the street, and spent a few minutes to take some notes for the assignment. I returned to the car. I was home free.
It wasn’t until I was standing in front of the cashier at Borders, order already rung up, when I realized I had forgotten my wallet back at Applebee’s. I’ve never been so flustered and distracted to the point of forgetting something as important as my wallet, but lo and behold, it happened. My first thought was, ‘oh crap, my money’s gone.’ I immediately began to regret seriously pissing off the waitress right before leaving. At this point, I could only rely on her moral code in response to her possible knowledge that I could have spared her all the coin trouble if only I had paid with that fresh 10-dollar bill that was happily tucked in my tri-fold wallet.
I moaned and returned to Applebee’s.

I stepped inside, and the hostess (30s, short, Latino) immediately recognized me. “Back for another table?” she asked, unsure if she should grab a menu.

“Uh, no…” I said, glancing around. I was hoping to god that my waitress didn’t spot me from across the restaurant. Turned out that the bartender already had, and he wasn’t shy about it either. I quickly glanced away. I felt my hands slip into my pockets. “I think I left my wallet here…?”

“Ah, yes, I believe so.” The hostess turned on her heels and headed directly for the woman I knew was the manager. I recognized her because the woman that sat at the table beside me had quite loudly complained about something her waitress had done. That discussion had ended in a free meal that I personally didn’t believe was rightfully earned. Anyway- the hostess and the manager briefly discussed something, and the administrator disappeared into the back room.

After a nervous moment of waiting (I swear it felt like fifteen minutes,) the manager walked to the front. She was an abnormally tall, broad-shouldered woman with high, plucked eyebrows and dyed blonde hair that made her head look on fire when the light hit it just right. Her bright blue eyes were so wide I thought they’d pop out and hit me in the face. I shrank. “Hey you,” she said crisply, smiling with her thin, painted lips. By this point, I was growing rather weary of supposedly cheery people. It’s incredible how easily a practiced customer service person can lie to you. “This yours?” She held up my small, black wallet. I nodded. “Mind if I-?”

“Ah, yeah, go ahead…” My attention briefly scanned the floor as if I had dropped something, and then it returned to my poor forgotten item.
She opened up the wallet and scrutinized my ID. “Ah, yeah, I recognize you. Sat right over there,” she pointed to my table. The woman’s glances flickered back and forth between my face and the terrible three-year old photo. “I figured you might have gone off to see a movie, so I knew I couldn’t follow you there.” Her flickering eyes paused, and she took the silence as an opportunity to broaden her toothy beam.

“Ah…nah. I actually just spent a few minutes across the street there…” I immediately wondered if this was the right thing to say.

The wallet was briskly snapped shut and presented to me. “I see.” She made eye contact. “Now you go run off and have a nice night, alright?” A quirk of the head. Impossible grin plastered in place. She lifted her hand and did the synchronized-4-finger-buh-bye-ee wave.

I half-cringed and half-grinned, wiggled my fingers farewell, and nearly bolted out the door. As I darted, I quickly opened the wallet and scanned through the many pockets. It seemed as though everything was still in place. Another final, deep breath and I slowed my pace to my usual stroll.
I think I’ll wait a couple weeks before going back there.

—-

Despite the uncomfortable social situation I found myself in, something very unrelated, completely unexpected, but positive did happen. It turned out that one of the two dollar bills that I got at the bank was a Where’s George bill. I got to look it up online at WheresGeorge.com and I found out that the bill had been previously used just last Saturday to purchase a Spicy Gespacho Sandwich from The MidTown Bennigan’s here in Sarasota. I decided to go ahead and enter my own data into the travels of this two-dollar bill. Now whenever someone looks up my bill online, they’ll be able to get a little peek into my own adventure.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

DnD Campaign

How it Started

Everything started when a lone sorcerer with low charisma and a close-combat ranger decided to follow a strange dream premonition that involved fire. Together, Iolande and Logan traveled to a random ghost town, which still has no name. So, of course, upon finding there was no one in the area, it was suggested they go to the bar and see if anything was available.

It would have been, except a strange human bard (in possession of a magic ring that could change his gender, and also in possession of a demonic monkey named Frodo) had already consumed everything in the entire kitchen. After explaining that he’d taken all of the alcohol -and mind you, it was very good, too bad you missed it- he introduced himself as Necrim FreValmont at your service. And so, he joined their party.

They stepped outside, and a goat-man barbarian was randomly standing in the middle of the road. And so, he joined their party.

Friday, October 21, 2011

5 basic facts about you

  1. My full name is Jill Marie Hackett.
  2. My eyes are a dark brown.
  3. I’m 5’7” and weigh 130lbs.
  4. I always wear sandals, even when it’s cold or raining outside.
  5. I presently prefer glasses over contacts, though I used to wear contacts all the time.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do you like to dream? Do you find dreams interesting?

I love to dream. It’s one of the primary sources of my creativity. Every night when I dream I get new ideas, process old ones, turn ordinary things into something vibrant. Dreaming keeps me going, in a way. If I didn’t have such an abundant source of inspiration for my stories, I think I would be very sad.

Dreams are extremely interesting to me, as well as extremely personal. I think they mean something to the individual. My dreams are my subconscious trying to tell me something. Or- maybe not “tell me something”, but it’s definitely me thinking extremely freely, and sometimes I learn something about myself or my feelings that I wouldn’t have known without my dreams. That’s why I tend to keep the important dreams to myself, and sometimes I feel really uncomfortable listening to other people tell the stories of their dreams when they feel like dreams don’t mean anything. When I hear other people tell their stories, I sometimes feel like I’m listening in on something secret that wasn’t really meant for my ears. I dunno, it’s strange I guess.

To me, dreams are a tool. I use them to explore ideas that I’d never be able to come up with when I’m awake. I like to repeat dreams several times in a night so that I remember them when I wake up. Sometimes I like to repeat a dream so that I can lead it in a new direction and see something new, something that I didn’t think of the first time. Dreams aren’t always about me, they’re sometimes about the people around me, the places I’ve been, the things I want to do. And since the dream is so metaphorical to begin with, it turns out that the dreams are stories that anyone could relate to, and that’s why I love dreaming as my first tool for story ideas.

I hope that made sense.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Have you ever had a prophetic dream?

Yes, but I don’t claim to be a prophet. My prophetic dreams are really just when the clues are starting to fit together. When I’ve seen a pattern for a few days in a row and suddenly when I’m sleeping, the pieces start to slide together and my dreams tend to predict what will happen next. It’s a symptom of knowing your friends, your family, and yourself really well.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Favorite animated film

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi) (2001)


THIS MOVIE. OH MY GOODNESS. I DON’T EVEN. I LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH.

I’ve watched it sixteen times. Not nearly enough if I can still keep count.

I don’t know why I love this movie so much. Well, I do, and there are so many reasons I love this movie that I just- my heart- it explodes with love for this movie.

Why I love Spirited Away

1. Chihiro is adorable.

Look at that face. Look at it.

2. Haku is such a badass.


Any dragon is a badass in my book.

3. I love this world.


And this is just the OUTSIDE.

4. The soundtrack is AMAZING.
Click here to see a recording of the orchestra

5. Yubaba has the most amazing sidekicks

WHAT IS UP WITH THAT BABY?

6. These guys:

ffffffffffffff.

7. The dialogue is perfect.
Chihiro’s Father: Look, Chihiro! There’s your new school!
Chihiro’s Mother: It doesn’t look so bad.
Chihiro: It’s gonna stink. I liked my old school.
Door Knocker: Aren’t you even going to knock? You’re the most pathetic little girl I’ve ever seen.
Zeniba: I’d like to help you, dear, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s one of our rules here. You’ve got to take care of your parents and that dragon boyfriend of yours, on your own.
Chihiro: But, um, can’t you even give me a hint? I feel like Haku and I met, a long time ago.
Zeniba: In that case, it’s easy. Nothing that happens is ever forgotten, even if you can’t remember it.
8. It’s a heartwarming story.





9. No-face.


He’s a silkworm and it’s really cute.

10. It makes references to…
a. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
b. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
c. The Birds (1963)
d. Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
e. The NeverEnding Story (1984)
f. Castle in the Sky (1986)
g. Luxo Jr. (1986)
h. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
i. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
j. “Ranma ½” (1989)
j. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
l. Alien (1992)
m. Princess Mononoke (1997)
…and more.

11. It is referenced in:
a. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)
b. Darkness Falls (2003)
c. Finding Nemo (2003)
d. “Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Library (#2.10)” (2006)
…and more.

12. The dubbing was directed by Pixar’s John Lasseter.
Lasseter is such a fanboy.

13. This movie kept Director Hayao Miyazaki from retiring.
Oh BBC… Gotta love this interview though.

14. First ever anime film to be nominated for and win an academy award.
For reals.

15. I just freakin’ love this movie.