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,