Thoughts On: Scrawl by Mark Shulman

Time for another review! Don't worry, I'm not reviewing Nicki Minaj. Expect most of the works discussed here to be Young Adult books.

Recently, I checked out SCRAWL by Mark Shulman, which got nominated for a local award.

Tod Munn is a bully. He scares students out of their lunch money, hangs with his "droogs", and overall builds up a bad reputation. Circumstances are against him, like how his mom seems to not love him, and he hates his step-father. On the other hand, he gets good grades and is quite the speller, but nobody notices it...

After an unexplained incident, Tod's friends are send to yard work? Him? He has to stay in detention every day for a month with Mrs. Woodrow, the guidance counselor. There, he has to "scrawl" his story in a notebook. While at first he is quite reluctant, the notebook provides a way for him to uncover his inner injustices...

What stands out in SCRAWL is its version of a school. It's set in no city in particular, but its certainly an inner-city school. Students have to go through metal detectors and go pass sentries, cater to the blind inclusion program...I don't remember if it's a middle or high school (if the book ever even says it), but it's able to anchor my suspension of disbelief.

Writing While Cold? Brr...

You know how molecules slow down when they become cold lose thermal energy? The same thing happens to my writing energy.
USB gloves? Lucky.
I'm not sure about you guys, but I can't write when the temperature's too low for comfort. For me, I have to submerge myself into the mind-set and get comfy before I can let the words flow.

Sometimes this is easy (like typing on the bus. More on that later), and other times, it's hard. One variable is heat.

When I'm cold, I tense up. I develop goosebumps. My focus shifts to the cold, and then I can't write. Like how the air pulls the thermal energy out of my skin, my writing energy goes with it. Suitable metaphor, isn't it?

Sometimes, I wear my jacket (which I do all the time, sometimes in my sleep if it's cold enough), but the sleeves often get in the way of writing (unless I'm leaning back like I am now, but that only happens once I get into the mind-set) and it's a pain pulling them up when they slip down.

I'll be relieved once it gets warm enough I can write in the car again in the mornings and evenings.

YOUR TURN: How does temperature affect your writing?

My dad read this over for me. He interpets this as a complaint about how he reduces the temperature to 65 at night. I was not thinking about that when I wrote this post. Honest.

Writer's Update: Pennies Down the Drain

Sorry for the Writer's Update being a bit late, so to say. Let's say a burst of writer's block hit me at the wrong time, and I ended up not typing it until the stroke of midnight. Something I shouldn't do, but I was wasting time playing around with a game called Roblox. I'm considering doing a review show on that game one day. Wouldn't that be nice? If I get to recording a few episode, I'll post them here, but only because they're considered fiction, in a way. As in, I'm pretending to be someone else when I'm doing the review.

Disregard that.

Now, my reading. First of all, I'm doing fine. I got two books knocked out recently: Scrawl and The Cardturner. The latter I received in the mail, sent by Kenda Turner (once again, thanks for the giveaway!) It was quite an interesting read. It changed my perception of bridge enough that I want to look up the rules and figured out what was going on in the book.

Expect a review soon. Or a few. I also downloaded two e-books on Amazon. Both were free and both were promoted on blogs. It pays to have a lot of blogs on my blog roll. I'm approaching forty. Sooner or later, I'll hit seventy-five and even one hundred, and I'll have a large enough of a pool to have a nice weekly round-up.

Of course, it pales in comparison to Mystery Writing is Murder's Twitteriffic, which has 2200+ blog being watched on Google Reader. I'm probably not going to be that daring. I would want to read a lot of them, and it would probably pain me to have to chose one.

Okay, we're meandering from the main topic. That's what I get for typing this at the stroke of midnight where I'm at risk of typing over. 750 Words has that effect on me.

Now, my actual writing.

It's doing better than last week, but I procastionated through President's Day weekend. My mom forced my siblings and I to clean up the house, but not a lot of production got done. There's something about the lazy weekends that delievers a major blow to my productivity. One of these days, I'll need to find a way to get through that. Any ideas?

But writer's block aside, I had been struggling with my narrator lately. His name is Bryan, if you don't know yet. The problem is mostly with his motivation. How does he tick? One of his main plot goals is to "open up Finn". You know, your average "My Fair Lady" plot with a bunch of twists. But there are two problems associated with it.
  1.  How plausible is it?
  2. How does it go hand-to-hand with the fantasy elements? Namely, Bryan and Finn hunting down Manifestations and running into other psychics later on?
I did some brainstorming on both. But one of these days, I need to do some revisions to clarify Bryan's motivation. The problem with Act I was that I rushed it. It's only about fifty pages. I could put in some a couple more scenes without making it so the Fun and Games doesn't kick in until halfway through the book, which is a pet peeve of mine.

Speaking of Act I, remember that agent I won a critique from? Apparently, she's done with it, but she's busy this week. We'll arrange a conference call soon. I should prepare for that. What questions should I ask her? And should I test out Google Call, since my cell phone isn't that reliable?

Those questions will be answered--nah. I won't resort to cliches.

Thoughts On: Paranormalcy

One book I read recently is PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White. It was one of those cases where I saw a book in more than one area, I didn't know what else to read, and I was plain old curious. So I picked it up, expecting it to be one of those paranormal romances with vampires.

I was right about the romance part, but no vampire-werewolf love triangles here. Oh, and the vampires are ugly.

PARANORMALCY is centered around a teenage girl named Evie, who has the ability to see through glamors. Meaning, she can see what a "paranormal" looks like. This ability gets her stuck with the ICPA, an organization which hunts down and capture paranormals like vampires and werewolves.

And then a shape-shifter breaks in. And then she finds out she might not be quite human. And then a mysterious force starts killing off all the paranormals.

Go ahead and blame the faeries.

Shortening Copyright

Now time for something from my buffer. Bear with me as I stand on this soapbox.

No pirates mentioned here. I just liked the image.

 I shall start by mentioning that I signed this petition.

It might sound crazy, considering I’m an aspiring writer, but I think copyrights should be shortened. Keyword: shortened. Not eliminated. Our society isn’t at that point where we can abolish copyrights. At the moment, however, copyright in general is long. Currently, the maximum length is 100 years or so, including after lifetime.

Copyright doesn’t matter to a dead author. While the family might benefit, copyright being lengthened over time is mostly for the distributor’s sake. For example, Disney is earning money on works whose creators are long gone. In the end, it matters mostly for the distributor. While we need them to sell our work to the crowd, there is always shady business sneaking in some of the industries.

Meanwhile, with works on within the public domain, fans of the works can’t use elements from those works as easily. And unfortunately, copyrights are abused. YouTube videos are unrightfully taken down even though they didn’t violate any rules.Piracy is a problem because of limited access by the distributors. And then there’s SOPA, PIPA, and even ACTA.

Some people want copyrights gone all together. As I explained above, that’s not exactly reasonable. So a compromise: Reduce the maximum copyright time to fifty-six years, as proposed by the petition linked above. By the time fifty-six years past, the author had plenty of time to reap their boons. They’re also less bound to share their works with fans freely. The distributors also have plenty of time to profit from it.

So, go ahead. Sign the petition.

Weekly Round-up: 2/17/12




Thoughts On: Roman Holiday (I Liked It)

I had changed my plans for today. Instead of doing a post on copyright, I'm instead going to introduce an essential part of this blog: reviews. Expect lots of them, because don't you love a little insight?

To admit, I didn't watch the Grammys. Instead, I went against Lamar Smith's wishes and watched a few clips. Not from YouTube, since copyright laws are always vehemently enforced after an award's show, but on other sites. To copyright holders, YouTube is the only video host out there.

Enough of that. Let's move on to the Grammy's most controversial performance: "Roman Holiday"

Roman: So pretty, and witty, and gay--Err...I mean, I slay!
Me: I see what you did there!

You know, the one where an entire church was brought on stage to exorcise Nicki's male alter ego, Roman? It's like what "Like the Prayer" was like back then, although I doubt the Vatican is going to ban Nicki over it.

Here's my opinion: I liked it.

 -braces self for Internet whiplash-

Phew. Nobody tried to behead me over that. YouTube commenters can be harsh at times.

But seriously, despite of its copy-cat look and its usage of religious themes, I liked the song itself. In fact, I think the chorus has the strongest emotion of any song I heard from her so far.

Think about the theme of the song: Roman is different, and his mother Martha is brainwashing him to "cure" him. Remind you of anything? There's a reason for the religious imagery. I doubt it's completely meant to be a "take that" against religious extremists, but I doubt Nicki was not thinking about this while recording "Roman Holiday".

All the version of the chorus shows the conflict between Martha and Roman. Martha wants to change Roman, while Roman wants to stay the same. It's a classic "insistence vs. resistance" conflict. But from the time the glass shatters, I sensed desperation in "Roman's" lyrics in the chorus, which is nicely combined with some violins which signify that things are going down.

Oh, and Roman's "I hate you"? Disturbing and chilling.

Oh, and the last line? "Forgive me, mother". This is a complete reversal from the angriness he displays throughout the song. In the end, it's a tragedy. 

If you consider "Roman's Revenge" and "Roman in Moscow" into the equation, with the bit about Roman and Slim Jimmy in the music video of "Moment 4 Life". Nicki Minaj had told us a story. 

"Revenge" is Roman's Rise (Act I). "Moscow" is his Rebellion (Act II). "Holiday" is his Reversal (Act III).

However, most people were probably busy gawking at the performance instead of keeping the song in mind. It took me a couple of days to form this opinion.

Roman is a troll. The more you feed him, the bigger he gets. In the end, Nicki will have the last laugh, despite how many times you dislike "Stupid Hoe". Beside, that video broke the record for most views than twenty-four hours. You might think it's a sad, but only time will say if Nicki will last for generations or fade from the spotlight.

WRITING ADVICE: If any type of media manages to trigger enough a strong enough reaction to get you to talk to someone else about it, it did its job. If anything, the worst case scenario here would that everyone forgets about her performance, like M.I.A.'s gesture at the Superbowl.

YOUR TURN: What are your thoughts on the performance of "Roman Holiday"?

If you think I'm overanalysing, I am a little bit. What I'm trying to convey is the fact that in the end, this is entertainment.

Writer's Update: Welcome, Followers

Hello, all!

Most of you who is reading this post probably either decided to follow this site after any of the three blogfests I partaked in, or you're coming from TV Tropes, Either way, welcome. Last week, this blog was staggering. After a jolt of inspiration and luck, I finally managed to get this blog off running.

Eight posts are currently drafted, excluding the Weekly Round-ups and the Writer's Updates. If I post four times a week, I'm pratically set for the month.

For those who are still confused, this blog is about my life as a writer, how I see media as a writer, and observations I apply to writing. Although I'll post writing advice I got from other places or from reading books, this isn't the blog's main purpose. I am not published or otherwise have a job in the publishing industry, so I'll refrain from parroting often-stated advice for the sake of a fresh perspective.

Now, you might notice I accidently posted two posts yesterday. Let's say I accidently scheduled one for 2011. I fixed it, but it was already on the blog. I'll be more careful next time.

The Many Surfaces of Long-handing

Computer crashes are always a pain. The long-hand eviqulent is losing your paper or having liquid render it illegible. For the former, I have a file clip.
One of the many choices a writer has to make while writing long-hand is how to keep the paper in long place and piece. It's always a challenge. In the end, it's all about taste.
Here are some of the methods I used over the years:

  • Pros: Paper is safetly bound, no surface is required, easy to transport.
  • Cons: Paper can't be rearranged, onc out, it's out, paper is limited, can induce OCD.
Rubber Band:
  • Pros: Appealing, most "flexible".
  • Cons: Most risky method.
  • Pros: Paper can be safetly bound, can be rearranged, can have dividers, often have folder pockets.
  • Cons: Rungs in paper can be torn, rings break, can be bulky, doesn't stack well.
  • Pros: Paper can be rearranged, multiple folders can be stacked, thin.
  • Cons: Can be overstuffed, cheap folders can succumb to weight, corners fold.
  • Pros: Same ad notebook, but more portable.
  • Cons: Paper can be ripped out more easily, back-sides can't be written on.
Manila folder:
  • Pros: Paper can be rearranged, folder can be written on, cheap.
  • Cons: Paper can be lost without file clip, folder breaks apart over time.
My preferred method is the manila folder, as indicated by the picture. Again, it's all about taste. I like the feel of it, and it doesn't damage papers quite as easily. I can create dividers too.

If you look carefully, you can see that the text
looks quite familar.

Ironically, I wrote this post in a Moleskin.

How do you store your long-hand paper?

YA Highway Blog Lovefest: Take a Bite Out of This!

I swear this is the last blog hop/blog fest/love fest I'm doing. After this post, it will be business as usual. Instead of Writer's Update, I'm going to have a post related to long-hand. Thursday? Something from my buffer.

Let's celebrate the fact that it's Valentine's Day! :D The art classes are selling buttons in the cafeteria, and I'm sure some of the girls and boys are going to get creative with their lockers. Usually, locker decorating is reserved for birthdays. Oh, and valentines. Don't forget those. It's not elementary schools but I'm sure at least one girl is going to make mine.

The following is inspired by YA Highway's Blog Lovefest. Every Wednesday, they present a question for followers to blog about. But they're having one Tuesday specially for this week.

This valentine is addressed to one of my favorite series: THE CHRONICLES OF VLADIMIR TOD. (click picture for full size)

Origins Blogfest

Yes, I'm doing another one of these right after finishing one. Take this sledgehammer. You have permission to kill me now.

Finished? Time to move on from melodrama to your literally scheduled blog post. As in, I wasn't the one to press the "Publish Post" option. You Blogger users know what I'm talking about. Eh heh heh heh...

Wait, isn't there a banner contest somewhere?

Welcome to one of 190ish stops of the ORIGINS Blogfest. Basically, it's all about the origin stories. Not that kind! The writing kind! Namely, the moment where I produced that spark that made me the (aspiring) writer I am today.

If you either had been reading this blog for a while or you are one of the people binging the archives, you may remember this post:
Back then, I was a small kid with large pipe dreams. Now I’m an average-sized teen with a large aspiration, but I’m wiser than I was back then. I tried writing a novel, and crashed and burn doing so. That story, which resides on my shelf stacked under all my old school folders and other old writing stuff, is embarrassing. Let’s say that my inexperience and my small pool of inspiration muddled it up.
I may post it one day, but not now. Right now, I’m reassuring myself that at least my story is more…refined than some of my classmates. Peer editing can be hard without flipping on critique mode.
I think I got an A on the phase biography I wrote about my first real short story. Meta, much?

Of course, it would be cheating linking that post and running off. Sit down, men and women. Story time...

Books We Love Blog Fest

Okay, I found this at the absolute last minute. Since I feel pumped for blogging, and I happened to be at the right place at the right time, I might as well be a part of the "Books We Love Blog Fest"!

I got to admit, I can't chose one book I love the best. And considering today's the deadline, I might as well draw from my mind and pick out the most memorable ones.

In no particular order.

1) Most Unconventional Book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Hmm...the Grim Reaper as a Lemony Narrator, frequent proclamations of bold, an alternate viewpoint of a popular event in literature, a breath-taking picture book in the middle...yep. It's an unusual display of prose. It's a simple tale about a German girl in Nazi Germany, but this slice-of-life turns is quite breath-taking.

Writer's Update: The iPhone

I'm wondering how efficient it would be if I decide to do some blog posts on the iPhone. Perhaps I should start doing that for the little things in life. Such as the fact I have a journal next to me I intend to use as a planner yet I keep forgetting to.

So, I downloaded this Blogger app. Sorry for not posting and dropping the Daily part from the title. One day, I am going to get this blog going. I just have to get pass this writer's block.

But I do promise I'll keep doing the Weekly Round-ups. Expect that to be a stable staple.

Yes, this post was composed 100% on the iPhone.

PS: Since the iPhone messes up the ' in "Writer's", I cheated and fixed the title on the computer. However, the picture I took gave me an idea...

Weekly Round-up: 2/10/12




    Weekly Round-up: 2/3/12

    There are now thirty blogs on my watchlist. Expect more variety as I find more and more blogs interesting enough to include in the round-up. My goal is to have the best of the best only.

    On a similar note, I notice that The Other Side of the Story and Mystery Writing is Murder are two of the most linked in my round-ups. They do produce good and unique content. I'm still sorting out the criteria.