Blogging 101, Day Nine: Inspire Yourself

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For day nine of the Blogging 101 course, Michelle W. asks us to write a post inspired by your About page or widget. The idea is that your About page (which you should have upgraded on day eight) is just the “beginning of your story”, and that you can use the information you came up with for your About page as a way to speak to the key themes of your blog. Seems straight forward? I didn’t think so. I read through the assignment post several times before I started to write this and I’m still not entirely sure I know exactly what Michelle is going for. It’s not really such a confusing concept, I suppose; I think it’s just that it feels a bit obvious to me…like, since I mentioned in my About page that I’m a writer hoping to become published, chances are that I’m going to write about writing and publishing.

In the end I decided to ignore most of the bulk of Michelle’s post (sorry, Michelle…you’re doing a great job, seriously) and just focus on the actual assignment sentence: write a post inspired by your About page or widget. To that end, I thought I’d reference my About page to write a little more detail about myself, my background, and my intentions:


 

Growing up I was was always a nerdy kid. I loved school, especially math, and I absolutely loved reading. I used to kick the crap out of any reading challenges the school put on during the summer months, and I’m sure my parents spent upwards of $2000 on Babysitter’s Club books for me, not even to mention all the books they bought me through those Scholastic book fairs. I didn’t have a whole lot of friends, but the ones I had were the best friends in the world and I grew up with a large extended family including several cousins of my age, so I wasn’t exactly lonely.

Some of my favorite things as a kid were RPG video games, Star Wars, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now that I’m an adult some of my favorite things are RPG video games, Star Wars, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But don’t worry…I’ve expanded my interests. I also now love zombie shoot-’em-up video games, Star Trek, and True Blood. And of course I’m just teasing. I love all of those things, but I have plenty of other favs, including a more-recent obsession with Doctor Who, pretty much anything that happens within the Marvel Universe, and tea in a great variety of options. Mmm. Tea.

Though I was always an intellectual kind of kid growing up, I leaned more and more to the artsy side of things as time went on. I took piano lessons for years before eventually moving on to the guitar. My bedroom walls were often papered in my own drawings, which were mostly of my favorite video game and anime characters. In the third grade, after writing a short story for a project, I decided I wanted to be a writer, professionally. Things went a little sideways in high school when I realized that I also wanted to have some kind of financial security, and so I chose a more technological profession, but I’m still working on that whole writer thing, seriously.

What else is there to know about me? I prefer jeans, t-shirts, and ponytails, but sometimes I get super girly and like to play around with nail polish and cute shoes and whatnot. I love laying in the warm sun, but I also kinda dislike being outdoors in general because I can’t turn off the part of my brain that tells me I should be doing something. Oh, and I’ve got a thing for dragons. McFarlane has made a wee bit of money off of me.

My husband and my three-year-old daughter are the most important people in the world to me, and though it may only be a pipe dream I would love to someday be able to live on my writing so that I wouldn’t have to regularly leave them to work out in the Alberta oil sands. I’m currently in the process of running the final edits on my zombie apocalypse novel, and once that is sent off to the printers I plan to get to work on a project that I’ve been working on for a decade, completely revising it into a YA series. It is my sincere hope that by the time I hit forty (that’s ten years from now) I’ll have at least five self-published books and a healthy following on this blog. So feel free to tell your friends (*hint hint*).

All in all, I blog because it’s fun, I love interacting with readers and writers alike, and it keeps me writing even when I feel like I can’t write. How’s that? Feel like you know me now? 😉

A to Z Challenge: A Review

First, I want to give a bit shout-out to all those who are involved in the running of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It’s got to take a lot of time and dedication to keep track of so many participants, making sure that non-participants are removed from the list, and ensuring that participants get the attention they deserve. Kudos!

Second, a double-huge shout-out to all my fellow participants who made it (sometimes kicking and screaming) to the end of the challenge. Some of those letters were pretty difficult, but you did it! You rock! 😀

Third, a triple-huge shout-out to all those who stopped by my blog during April and commented on my posts. I had some great conversations this month, met some cool new friends, and gained a number of new followers. I hope you all stick close by, because it’s been a blast, and I’ve been truly happy to meet you all. 🙂

The challenge has been a great deal of fun, and I got a lot of great comments on my 26 posts, so as part of this review I present a list of links to each of my posts in case anyone missed anything or is just dropping by now and would like to check a couple of them out.

Day 1: Ariel (the Little Mermaid)Day 2: Buffy Summers (the Vampire Slayer)
Day 3: Castiel (the Monster-Fighting Angel)
Day 4: Deadpool (the Lunatic Assassin)
Day 5: Eric Northman (the Viking Vampire)
Day 6: Freddy Krueger (the Nightmare Demon)
Day 7: Gau (the Wild Orphan)
Day 8: Han Solo (the Cocky Starpilot)
Day 9: Iron Man (the Smarmiest Avenger)
Day 10: James T. Kirk (the Star Fleet Captain)
Day 11: Kefka Palazzo (the Magitek Monster)
Day 12: Lisse (the Child of the Dystopian Future)
Day 13: Magus (the Lost Wizard)
Day 14: Neville Longbottom (the Heart of Gryffindor)
Day 15: Other-Mother (the Other World Evil)
Day 16: Peter Parker (the Spider-Man)
Day 17: Qui-Gon Jinn (the Jedi Knight)
Day 18: Ryuk (the Shinigami)
Day 19: Sherlock Holmes (the High-Functioning Sociopath)
Day 20: Tyrion Lannister (the Exceptionally Clever Imp)
Day 21: Usagi Tsukino (the Sailor Senshi)
Day 22: Victoria MacKinnon (the Lost Princess)
Day 23: Winchester Brothers (the Monster Hunters)
Day 24: Xander Harris (the Lovable Sidekick)
Day 25: Yuki Miaka (the Girl from Other World)
Day 26: Zelda (the Hyrulian Princess)

In case you somehow missed it, my theme for the challenge was “Fictional Characters”. Each one of these characters, even the ones chosen out of duress of very difficult letters, holds a special place in my heart for one reason or another. The TV shows, movies, comics, cartoons, and video games mentioned were overwhelmingly a great part of my childhood, and in some cases an incredible part of my adulthood. If you’ve got the time, check some of them out. You totally won’t be disappointed.

And finally, before I sign off, I wanted to share with you a couple of the blogs that I’ve come across during this particular challenge. I came into contact with so many awesome fellow bloggers this past month that it’s impossible to mention them all, but these are a couple of the ones I fully plan to keep tabs on even now that the challenge is over.

A Scenic Route – Kirsten is a fellow writer who blogs about her “journey into noveldom”. This month she wrote a wonderful series of posts with the theme “Backstage at the Blog”, in which she gave some wonderful tips, hints, and ideas for fellow bloggers, in addition to sharing info about her own blogging journey.

Sophie’s Thoughts and Fumbles – Sophie is a writer of many genres who uses her blog as a place to talk about reading, writing, all the topics in between, and whatever else she so desires. She is also the brains behind the mini-challenge that a few of us participated in in addition to the A to Z challenge: the Supernatural A to Z Challenge. She wrote about ghosts and ghoulies this month, and while I didn’t often comment on her posts because my WordPress reader doesn’t make it easy for me to deal with other blogging websites, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the creepy creatures that she posted.

Alex Hurst – Alex is one of my favorite new people because she is fun, bubbly, and friendly, and we apparently have a great deal in common. The fantasy writer spent the month talking about different aspects of writing and being a writer. Her post “J for Jargon” cracked me up because so many of the definitions she came up with were SO TRUE.

I would love to share some more blogs, and perhaps I will in the future, but this has been such a busy month that I simply do not have the time it would take to go through all the wonderful blogs I’ve found during this challenge. However, if you’re really, truly interested in finding some great new people to follow, check out the A to Z sign-up list and just start clicking. There are literally hundreds of wonderful blogs amongst that list.

And now, with all that aside, I must say adieu, and take a much-deserved nap. Cheers everyone! ❤

A to Z Challenge Day 5: Eric Northman (the Viking Vampire)

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Before we go any further, I’m going to ask you not to judge me. The fact that he’s a vampire and he’s sexy as hell should not dissuade you from reading the rest of this post. Please, continue on.

A lot of people are probably apt to include the Sookie Sackhouse novels (which spawned the HBO television show, True Blood) on the long list of “Vampire Romance Novels that I Would Not Touch With a Fifty-Foot Pole”, but I think that’s an unfair assessment. I understand entirely if you’ve developed a bad taste in your mouth for anything involving vampires, and yes, there is an outrageously large quantity of god-awful vampire literature out there these days, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be willing to give something a chance every now and then.

I gave the Sookie Stackhouse novels a fair chance because I genuinely enjoyed the first season of True Blood, and I’m glad that I allowed both versions of this story into my life because they have – in my opinion – a very healthy mixture of sexy romance and “Holy crap, these vampires are crazy, heartless, evil monsters!” One of the characters who exemplifies this is Eric Northman, the thousand year old vampire who was turned back when he was still a viking prince. He’s my favorite character in the series for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he is played on the show by the extremely handsome Alexander Skarsgård. Depending on which medium you partake in – the books or the show – things are a little different, but in both versions Eric can be a deliciously sexy romantic one moment and a vicious, torturous killer the next. That, if I’m being perfectly honest, is exactly how I like my vampires. I won’t hang my head in shame and try to hide the fact that I enjoy the sexy vampire trope, but I also like my monsters to be monsters, so I thoroughly enjoy this mixture that author Charlaine Harris has put together. Many of the characters in the books/show (not just the vampires, but the other supernaturals as well) fall into this sexy/psychopath category, but Eric is my favorite amongst them because of the extremes in his personality. There are moments during which he seems to be the most loving, protective, emotional individual in the Universe, and then the next moment he’s tearing apart an entire room full of people. He is an amazing blend of swoon-worthy and frightening-to-the-core.

Regardless of your feelings toward the “new” generations of vampires, I would definitely suggest both the books and the show. Give them a try…you might be pleasantly surprised.

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“What I’m Currently…”

Since yesterday was such a serious topic, I though I’d be a little more lighthearted today. I think it’s time for an installment of “What I’m Currently…”

“What I’m Currently Watching…”
At the moment I’m about halfway through season five of True Blood, with intentions of watching season six. I’ve already seen season five, but I’m re-watching it in order to rekindle my memories of what happened since I recently read a slew of the books that the show is based on (the Sookie Stackhouse novels). The two mediums take very different paths, so it’s hard to keep track of both at once.

That said, I love the show as much as I love the books. Whereas the books are written entirely from Sookie’s point of view, the show tells the stories of all of the characters – the humans, the vampires, the shifters and weres, and everything in between. There are several completely unnecessary characters in the books who have their own whole subplots in the show. There’s even one character who dies in the first book, but in the show he’s a very important character and is, in fact, one of my favorites. It all works out very nicely.

I realize that vampires and other supernatural creatures are not for everyone, but this show is worth giving it a try, in my opinion. For one thing the vampires are not flighty, sparkly, perfect examples of sex gods and goddesses who can do no wrong. Yes, there’s some romance involved in the show, but the vampires are also cruel, dangerous, and occasionally downright evil. Even the vampires that we’re meant to like regularly plot, kill, and torture, amongst other things. It’s a nice change of pace to have vampires who are protagonists but are also still monsters.

The show has a lot of other good points, but I don’t need to list them all here (*cough*incredibly hot actors*cough*). Just trust me on this one. Give the show a chance if you haven’t already.

“What I’m Currently Playing…”
I’ve finally gotten around to playing Soul Sacrifice for the Playstation Vita, and I have to say that I’m hooked. At first I was a bit confused because it’s one of those games that just throws you into the fray without explaining anything, but bit by bit you get filled in and everything starts to make sense.

At the core the game actually has a very simple premise: kill monsters and either save or sacrifice their souls to affect your character’s health and defense, or magic and attack power. Adding to that are a whole host of “offerings” (which boil down to your magic spells), “sigils” that you can equip to affect your stats, and the ability to sacrifice your own flesh (in the form of stat losses and the like) in exchange for one-time bursts of power to defeat difficult enemies. The whole thing is wrapped up in a strange but very interesting story.

To evidence just how interesting, I spent over two hours just reading all the background info on how each of the monsters became monsters in the first place. Two hours.

“What I’m Currently Reading…”
Make way for the Queen of all nerds. Though I haven’t touched it in two weeks because it’s too clunky to bring out West with me, I’ve been working my way through Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide. My husband got me a whole slew of these kinds of books for Christmas because I indicated that I’d like to learn more about different superheroes because I’m an enormous nerd.

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Evidence!

The “Avengers” edition of these books gives bios and short histories of any Marvel character – hero or villain – who has ever been involved with any of the Avengers storylines. It really is quite interesting (if you’re an enormous nerd) but I have to say that the best part of reading this book is when my three-year-old daughter plunks down next to me and starts exclaiming, “Look! It’s IronMan! Look! It’s Hulk! Look! It’s Thor!”

And finally,
“What I’m Currently Thinking…”
…is that I’ll have plenty of time to watch, play, and read, now that I’m unemployed again. Ha ha ah ha ha ha…*sob sob*

(Just kidding, I’m not actually sobbing, don’t worry!)

Currently Reading and Playing

I didn’t make these part of my goals for 2014, but I hope, this year, to read more books and play more video games. If that sounds like a huge waste of time given all the other things I have to focus on, let me reiterate a tad: I hope, this year, to read more books and play more video games instead of wasting time on the kinds of things I usually waste time on, like checking my Facebook feed fifty times a day.

I got a "few" new books over the holidays.
I got a “few” new books over the holidays.

I’ve been letting my books and games pile up for quite a while now, and with the new year and the fact that I’m going to be spending a lot of time on airplanes in the near future, I thought it was a good time to declare my desire to work on those two piles. And in honor of that, here’s a quick review of what I am currently reading and playing:

Currently Reading:
Dead and Gone (a Sookie Stackhouse novel)

Honestly, I didn’t know that these books existed until a friend of mine introduced me to the True Blood TV show. I’m not a great lover of the wave of “tame” vampires that are storming the nation, but I have to admit to loving True Blood, and so last Christmas my parents bought me the boxed set of books. I whipped through them in a flash, only to find out that the boxed set was not, in fact, all of the books…just the first so many. So this year my hubby bought me the next four in the series.

These books aren’t going to be for everyone, of course, especially if you’re not a fan of vampire romance, but that’s not the whole point of the books, like so many others. No, these books are actually quite well written, have a delicately interwoven plot of dozens of characters and twisting, turning story-lines, and are filled with lots of danger, adventure, and mystery. And yes, a fair little bit of romance. Really, these stories have everything. And I must admit, the author has surprised me on quite a few occasions. Pretty much every one of these novels has some kind of main mystery involved in the plot (who killed who, who planted the bomb, who kidnapped such-and-such) and I can’t honestly say that I’ve been able to guess any of the endings yet. Maybe that just speaks poorly for my own cognitive skills, but as I’ve been known in the past to work out the ending of a book/movie/TV show/video game well before anything began to be revealed, I personally think it speaks more of the author’s writing skill.

If you can’t stand the idea of any vampire ever being a good guy, stay away from these books, but if you’ve got a bit of an open mind and enjoy reading about supernatural creatures of all kinds, give them a try. Personally, I’m hooked.

Currently Playing:
Tearaway (Playstation Vita)

I didn’t know much about this game before hubby picked it up for me for Christmas, aside from the fact that it was made by the same people who did Little Big Planet, but I am definitely glad that I got to give it a try.

The game-play is very unique, cute, and fun. The game utilizes both the rear and front touch screens of the Vita, as well as all the buttons as well. You play as both the messenger, Atoi, and yourself as the mysterious “You” who lives outside the game world. Atoi is controlled by the main buttons, and “You” interact via the touch screens. For example, when certain types of ground appear in the game, “You” can touch the rear screen, which makes your finger burst through the ground in the game. You can then drag your finger back and forth around the world to knock out the bad guys, known as Scraps.

There is a lot more interaction as well, including taking photos of yourself for use in the game, using your finger and virtual paper to create papercraft items for the characters’ use (one little squirrel asks you to make him a crown), and tilting the Vita back and forth to move various platforms and obstacles.

All in all the game is just adorable, amusing, creative, and lots of fun to play. It’s the first game that I’ve beaten in quite a while because I just couldn’t put it down, and now I’m busy going back and collecting all the extra little bits and pieces. Seriously, if you have a Vita this one is definitely worth a go. It’s by far one of the most innovative games I’ve seen in a long time.

                                                       

Hopefully in the following months I’ll have more books and video games to talk about, but in the meantime, please share with me! What are you reading or playing?

The Countdown is On

October means a lot of things for a lot of people. It means that Summer is over and Fall is beginning. It means putting away tank tops and shorts and skirts, and breaking out sweaters and jackets. It means crunchy leaves on the ground, and less sun throughout the day. It means buying (or making) costumes for the kiddies, and giving out (or begging for) candy. It means spooky movies and ghostly TV specials.

And for myself it means the countdown to National Novel Writing Month.

Chances are that most of the people reading this blog will have heard of NaNoWriMo (as we call it) before, because in past years it’s become incredibly popular and well-known. But just in case you don’t know, National Novel Writing Month is exactly what it sounds like…it’s a challenge, which falls in November, for all writers across the globe to attempt to write a novel in one month. Since novels can vary dramatically in length, the number we use is 50,000 words. If you can write 50,000 words entirely within the month of November, you “win” NaNoWriMo.

This will be my sixth year participating in this yearly event. Of the five years I’ve already done, I “won” four times and came pretty damn close that one other year (last year). This year I hope to wash away the lost of last year and bag my fifth win.

2013-Participant-Facebook-ProfileNon-writers and skeptics don’t tend to “get” NaNoWriMo, but it is really quite the inspirational event for writers. For a lot of writers the challenge gives us the motivation – the little boot in the arse – we need to push ourselves into super-writer mode. The community over at the NaNoWriMo website is an amazing thing to behold, and throughout the month participants get pep talks and advice from published authors. Many NaNoWriMo participants have gone on to have their novels published as well, which proves that this isn’t just an event for posers. Thousands upon thousands of writers, young and old, participate in this event. Thousands upon thousands of people can’t be wrong, right?

This year I have high hopes because it’s looking like I’m still going to be unemployed through the month of November (not to say that that’s a good thing, but you know what I’m saying…), meaning that I’ll have more time to write than any other previous year. I hope to note only “win” by hitting the 50,000 word mark…I hope to totally demolish the 50,000 word mark. In fact, this year I plan to up my goal word count to 75,000 words. Life is nothing without goals, right? 😀

So what am I going to write about this year? I haven’t 100% decided just yet, but I am seriously considering writing a vampire novel. No, not a Twilight clone, or a Vampire Diaries knockoff… I’m talking about real vampires: powerful, evil, frightening, bloodsucking monster vampires. While I enjoy a sexy vampire as much as the next True Blood fan, I think it’s about time the world was reminded of what monsters are supposed to be all about…scaring you half to death!

Do you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If not, why not? If so, what are you thoughts on the event? If you are a participant, please feel free to leave me you username for the site! I’d love to add a few more writer buddies!

I’m here, I promise

I don’t attract many visitors to this blog, so I’m sure no one has actually noticed, but on the off-chance that someone has…yes, I know there hasn’t been any “101 Blog Post Ideas” posts in the past two days. I had so much to do on my days home that I couldn’t find the time to write the posts in advance. I had hoped to pluck a couple out at the airports during my layovers, but as luck would have it I took sick and spend my layovers hacking my lungs out and trying to stem the flow of my nose. On top of all that I was sent to a different camp than usual on my first night, only to be sent back to the usual one tonight. As I type this I should really be in bed, but I’m just so annoyed with the entire situation that I feel like staying up and watching as much True Blood as I can before my eyelids give out. So here I am, explaining this all, for the two or three people who will actually stumble across this post.

In conclusion, the “101” posts will continue tomorrow, for as long as the camp internet continues being less terrible than usual.