Saturday, December 25, 2010
Ah, the Reindeer Games. This had to be my favorite time of the year. I thought about the years that have passed as I sat in the reserved cushioned chair outside. The steam from my cup of hot chocolate filled my nose as I watched a light snow fall come down onto the stage in front of me.
It’s become more of a tradition then a job to me at this point. My family worked nearly every day at the Rudolph Ranch up in the mountains getting our team ready just for this moment. I started helping them when I was six and went straight for our Rudolphs of course. They were my favorite as any kid might say just because of their title. Over the next few years I shuffled through all four of our groups. I got tired of all the mathematics that it took to teach the Rudolphs about navigation, and the Dashers, Comets, and Blitzens involved way too much running and muscle strength. I liked the Dancers and Prancers at first but my sister and younger brother started to hint at my lack of coordination with their choreography. Soon I found that my place was with the Vixens, Cupids, and Donners. I liked to pay attention to the detail that had to go into the flight. I helped them learn to check everything to keep it all in top shape from the reins to the sled.
Every three years we would take the top of our groups, one of each title, to the Games and hope for the best. On Black Friday, while everyone else is out tearing up stores, we were out in the North prepping our team. On the first day they test them out together as a whole just to see what they’ve got. Then each day afterward they do the groups individually, putting each reindeer in groups with the others from different teams. Then at the end of the week they have the ceremony where they officially name nine of the reindeer after the originals that are forever repeated in children’s stories all over.
Finally, after years of hard work and determination we got to sit in the winner’s circle. Our Dancer and Prancer were called for the job. It has been so long since any of our own flew the sled that I was too young to barely remember. When we heard their names called we nearly went hoarse screaming so loud. We went forward to the stage to meet the Head Elf and Mr. Clause himself so they could present them with their medals.
And now we sit here, sipping our drinks close to midnight on Christmas Eve, waiting to see this year’s team pull away. I looked back at the seats behind us and the other trainers that have a reindeer on the team and remembered all the years that we were up there somewhere watching them fly. It was still fun there but it was something else being so close and knowing that one of them is ours.
The surrounding lights turned down and the stage lights brightened. The crowd hushed with all of their attention now turning to a door that opened and the reindeer proudly stepped into the view. Then the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts calling the names of their favorites. I tried to stay humble as I heard many Dancer and Prancer fans. Then the moment we were all waiting for came.
Mr. Clause came out and the crowd started up all over again. It was like they could do this all night. He laughed and waved to the crowd but once he climbed into that sled you could tell that he was all business. He grabbed the reins and shouted the words that no one could hear because they all were yelling it themselves.
“Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen. On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen. Now Rudolph guide us to the top of the porch, to the top of the wall. Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!!”
Of course they all knew the words from the famous story staying true to the book and only modifying slightly to include Rudolph. No sooner than the last command to dash away was called did disappear into the sky. It still amazed me how quick they were. It didn’t even take them a minute to get out of eyesight. That left the elf on stage to wish them Merry Christmas and us all a good night.
Our cheers faded and we went to find our beds because when the excitement is over then sleep was right around the corner. We made sure that our other reindeer were comfortable and went directly to our own beds in the hotel because we all knew that Santa doesn’t come until he knows we’re sleeping.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
So I would like to talk about the 12 things in my life that reading and writing gave to me, minus the partridge in a pear tree:
12 thousand new friends
I have made so many new friends just through the shared love of writing. Whether you're in real life or here in the Internet life I appreciate you guys so much for inspiring me and keeping my creative fire burning.
11 hundred lost pencils
I promise, it's like every time I turn around I can't find a pencil. Even if I was just using it then it would be gone in two seconds. I'll blame it on a tiny pencil thief.
10 hurting fingers
From typing to writing and back to typing these fingers keep moving and they can get a little tired. I've mentioned that I write by hand before. That wore my hand out this past month especially.
9 ways to procrastinate (at least)
I can find any reason to drop what I'm doing and read a book. And when I start reading I can spend forever in the pages no matter what has to be done. Is it wrong that I find that fantastic?
8 half empty journals
Probably more than that really. I like finding journals from when I was a kid and seeing what it was that I thought was so important back then. They were never full though, always had a bunch of empty pages sitting at the back.
7 days of 'vacation' a week
Have you ever heard someone say something about escaping into a book? How you can go anywhere when you have something to read? That's true. I lose track of time when I'm in a good book and even when I'm writing. I'm not thinking about anything that's going on in real life, just what's in my own made up world.
6 dollars of library fines
Unfortunately that's not a grand total. That's more like a bi-monthly thing. I told you I have problems with procrastination...
5 GOLD PLOT BUNNIES!!
If you do NaNoWriMo then you know what I'm talking about. OK, so I don't know if they're really gold and I don't believe there are only 5. When I get those creative juices flowing it's like plots populate my brain like bunnies reproducing. It's fantastic and horrible all at the same time. How am I suppose to write all these ideas at once!?
4 favorite snack foods
Chips, hot chocolate, tea, and candy. Anything hand held. Enough said.
3 hurting body parts
Most recently it has become my wrist. I may have carpal tunnel. Yea... Then when I'm staying up late reading or writing I usually get a headache and that's followed by a stomach ache. No fun.
2 sore eyes
Reading for a long amount of time can be really bad on my eyes and usually leads to one of the three things before. Not to mention looking at a computer screen for just as long when I'm typing something up.
And a binder full of short stories
The binder I have full of my stories from years ago till recently is one of the things that I love the most. It not only shows just how much work I've put into what is now going to be my career but a reminder of how I have so much fun with it. Most of the stories that I have in there is from before I ever thought of writing as a career. I see those and I remember why I do what I do.
What's a few of your twelve things that writing has given you?
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I pushed hard that last day. It wasn't until someone suggested that I start typing that afternoon that the words really started pouring in. I never thought that I was that fast at typing. I have always been a hand writer and always will be, but somehow when I was typing the words just came out all that much faster. I managed to get just over 14k words in just that one day.
I don't like that I didn't make it all the way, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't happy with the epic number of words that I pulled off. I didn't quit, I kept writing till the very last second and got way closer to the finish line than I thought I would. I'm proud of myself. If you didn't finish this year, then I'm still proud of you too because you tried or at least got started. Congratulations to the ones that did win! And to those who didn't join us this month I do hope you'll be able to do so next year.
Anyways, thank you guys so much for putting up with my sporadic posts. I know I haven't been posting like I should because November has been such a crazy month, but we will now return to the regular schedule this month. I'll see you all next Saturday! :)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Any who... 30k. That's where I'm suppose to be. Where am I actually at? Just broke 15k an hour ago. This is going to be a long month. Actually, it won't be and that's the problem. It will only make me insane... Even more so than usual.
But it's OK because I think I've figured things out. Today is another of my personal NANO MARATHON DAYS! Last time I tried that I did a ten minute sprint (seeing how many words I can write in that time limit) ever 30 mins. It got me the daily word requirement which is good but I needed more if I'm going to catch up. So I was reminded by someone on the forums about something that Mr. Chris Baty himself said in his book No Plot? No Problem!
He suggested that you take a day where you have time 2 hours of spare time at least three times during the day. Get up early, eat, then write three times in 30 minutes blocks separated by 10 minute breaks. (So 30 mins writing/10 mins break /30 mins/10 mins/30 mins)
After that you can go do whatever you want. Then come back after lunch and do it again and the same after dinner. If it goes well you should get about 6k that day. Awesome, right? I write by hand so I think I'll be doing good to get 4k.
I figure it like this.* At the end of my first round I got 1087 words. If I get that the next two times I'll have 3261. If I get that for the 7 days of my Thanksgiving Break I'll only have 3000 a day to still be able to win.
*This should not be confused with me liking math.
Ugh... This is starting to look improbable. Not impossible, just improbable. But I'm not giving up! And neither should you. Let's keep going! I better get back to work.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I started off fine. I was on track every day and I thought I was doing pretty good, but Friday night I didn't reach my goal before midnight. You see, me and my sister have this bet going on that I will owe her a dollar for every day that I'm behind on my word count. (And just a side note in case she reads this, from where I'm at now that bet seems highly unfair. We will have to rewrite the rules of this thing.) That was when the motivation stopped driving me from that end. I had stacked up all these days that I was doing good and then it stopped. Don't get me wrong, 50000 words is still my main motivation and goal. I'm going to carry on but maybe not so hardcore.
It was a bitter sweet moment losing that four day streak of awesomeness. The next day my allergies caught up to me and I didn't feel like writing a thing. So you know what? I didn't. And it's OK. I told myself that I had 5 hardcore days of awesome so I deserve a day of rest. Sunday was a write-in so I went and wrote 2000 words that day taking me over 10,000 and only a day behind!
Where am I at now? Let's not talk of such things... OK, so I'm at 10,255. Not bad and not great if you like to be on schedule. But who needs a schedule anyways.
Hope you all are doing well on yours. Onward toward 50k! After a piece of 10k celebration pumpkin pie. :)
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Surprised to see me? It's Monday you say? Well, I neglected to mention that I will be trying to post here every so often during November to let you know how I'm doing and to see how you're doing! Surprise! And now I'm about to pass out.
Yesterday was Halloween of course so I went trick or treating with some relatives and some little ones. I got home at a pretty good time actually. I had enough time to get comfy with my notebook and a little coffee as I waited for the minutes to pass to midnight with a pencil in my hand. As soon as it hit I started writing. I think I got a few hundred as a head start but now I'm proud to say that I'm ahead! 1774 words on day one. Complete awesomeness for me anyway. I'd say I'm off to a good start.
Anyways, how are you doing?! My NaNo friends, are you on schedule, ahead, behind? How'd you spend your last free day? Non-NaNo friends, how is what you're working on?
Off to sleep while I can now. Keep those words coming!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
About twelve years ago Chris Baty and a few friends thought it would be fun to see if they could write a novel in a month. That is the day NaNoWriMo was born. National Novel Writing Month is a challenge where you try to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It is NOT a competition. You’re not going against anyone and no one’s going to judge your writing when you’re done. It’s just you and that empty page… or Word document... or typewriter paper.
50,000 words in 30 days. That’s 1667 words a day. That may sound like a lot but let me tell you that it’s not impossible. Last year was my first time participating and I never wrote anything that long. I never thought I could. But I won. It was down to the last hours but I did it. I edited and printed that book out later and I have never been happier to be holding that much paper in my life. I had so much fun doing this.
My friends thought I was crazy, family was cheering me on, and everyone on facebook was confused by all the numbers when I would post my word count. I also discovered an entire group on the site from my city that gets together regularly throughout the month to write. I never knew many people that wrote, people who I could talk to and they know exactly what’s going on because they’re going through it too. I was so happy to find a group of like minded people. I just went to a Kick Off information meeting today and it was great seeing old friends and new faces.
I got so much from doing this last year! Inspiration, motivation, and a manuscript that I never thought I’d have. This month I’ll be all about quantity and not quality. Worrying about making a perfect first draft is what stops people from writing sometimes and NaNoWriMo takes that worry away. If you have ever thought about writing a book, check out their website, sign up for NaNoWriMo and give it a try.
Any NaNoers here already? Are you ready? Are you excited?! I know I am. Well, I’m excited anyways. :)
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I became a fan of reality shows recently. There’s a few of them that I try to remember to watch online when they post them (because my dad doesn’t really like them so I can’t watch them on tv). What I noticed during my video surfing is that there is a game show for everyone. Almost. I’ve seen shows for artists, gamers, chefs, designers, and singers, but where is the one for authors?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there is one. So that got me thinking, ‘Hey! What’s up with that?!’ Then I thought about it some more and realized that, as insulting as it might sound, writing isn’t that fun to watch. Seriously, I’ve written in public and no one stopped to look at me. I’ve written with at least ten other people around me doing the same and still no one stayed to take pictures. Well, there was one person with a typewriter that I found really cool but that’s beside the point. So I picked my brain a little more and thought about what could make writing interesting to watch and here are some challenges I came up with so far.
Poetry Jam – Contestants must write a poem and perform it in an ‘open mic night’ type of setting.
Children’s Book – Contestants will write a kid’s book and work with an artist to do the illustrations. Kids from different schools will vote on what book they like best and would like to keep in their classroom.
Internet presence – Build the biggest fan base that you can on facebook, twitter, or whatever.
Book trailer – Create a super exciting trailer for any previous or future project.
Book release party – I think this would be the official end of the show event where the winner is named every season. I don’t know about everyone else, but one of the things I think of when I’m daydreaming about the day that my first novel has a date to come to stores is the big ole party I’ll have just before midnight.
These are just a few ideas. Of course we’ll have to switch it up every season so we’ll need more ideas to work with but I’d say this is a good start. If anyone knows someone in the television business (or has a bit more ambition than I do) please feel free to take this idea and run with it. All I ask is that you notify that it’s in the works and invite me to the season finales as a VIP. But we’re still missing a name. How about The Release Date? Authors Unleashed? I don’t know. That’s all I’ve got. How about you? Have any name or competition ideas? Well, while you guys are thinking about that I’ll be working on my acceptance speech for the ‘Greatest Game Show Idea’ award. Don’t worry, you’re all definitely included.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Eat, Pray, Love: One woman’s search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia – Elizabeth Gilbert
I thought that this was a fantastic book. It’s an emotional roller coaster just reading it and I can’t imagine actually living the events. What made it even better for me is that I love to travel and traveling alone is something I’ve heard that everyone should do. I was a little leery about that idea, I still am to be honest, but if I were to ever work up the nerve to go that far alone I can only hope that I meet as many funny, witty, and insightful people along the way.
I do have to say that, although it grabbed my attention at the beginning, near the middle it started to slack for me but then it picked back up near the end. But overall it was a great read.
Eat, Pray, Love was also recently made into a movie titled the same as the book. I haven’t gotten the chance to see it yet but I just might have to check it out.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I was still in junior high or middle school back then. Mom was getting ready to drop me off and we were late, as usual. I remember being in my room, just getting dressed, and Mom called to me from the living room. It was something like this:
“Come here! Get in here! Quick!”
She probably knew that this would be a historic event of sorts, something that I’d want to remember. So naturally I come running into the living to see the television showing a camera feed of two tall buildings, one with black smoke billowing from it. I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking or what was being said but I do remember watching as another plane came and crashed into the other building.
I went to school and I seem to have a faded memory of radios being on in the classrooms so we could listen to the news. There might have been a television too. What stayed with me the most was a bit of conversation I heard from some classmates.
“What if this is the rapture!?”
“If this were the rapture then we’d all be gone by now.”
My sympathies go out to those who lost someone that day and overseas.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
What does this do for a writer though? I just finished my first week at a new university. Exciting? Yeah. Tiring? YES. It’s all I can do to be writing this post instead of going limp on the couch. Plus it’s the first time I have to travel any distance to get to school. Add the travel time to the other obligations the day requires plus homework, studying, extra credit that you know you need, random life occurrences, and what’s that thing that most people do every day? Uh, oh that’s right, eating and sleeping. I forgot about those.
This is where I want to give parent/writers a big, virtual, gold star. Now, I’m not a parent but this is what I imagine a day might be like. Get kids up, get kids dressed, feed kids, make lunches, get kids to school, grocery shopping, changing diapers, coming home, clean house, get kids from school, take kids somewhere, bring them back, make sure homework is done, bathe them, stop fights, argue, hug, change, and put them to bed. Did I get everything? Probably not. Moms and Dads have a lot on their plates.
That being said, where do we put our writing time? It’s a little tough when something in our real life is constantly calling our attention and if we don’t time it right then something gets the short end of the stick. Too much attention to writing can cause school work to slip our minds. A late night means getting to class late and not being able to pay attention. I know I do that.
This is what I told myself about my schedule: Do things early. Simpler said than done, I know, but hear me out. If I can do my homework during my break between classes instead of waiting till I got home I’ll have the time when I get home to write. Study a little everyday instead of hardcore studying the week before the test. Cook meals ahead of time so all you have to do is pull things out of the fridge or the freezer and heat it up. Give it a try.
Have you tried this before? Did it give you more time? What do you give up for your writing time?
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I recently finished the first edit of my novel (also known as its new working title Trouble in the Gene Pool. Woot!), and included in these edits was finding out where I wanted to break the pages into chapters. This may sound backwards to a lot of you. Maybe you outline the story with chapters before you start so you know where you want to end with each one or even if you don’t outline at all you may still have a feeling for what your chapters are once you get started. But before NaNoWriMo I never wrote a story long enough to need chapters, so this is new territory for me. I just wrote how I knew.
I don’t know if this is normal or not, (because most of the things I do aren’t), but I happened to have had a book from the library at the time so I counted the words on one page then counted the pages. By multiplying the number of words by the number of pages it gave me a general idea of how many words were in the chapter, which turned out to be around 2000-2500 I believe. (That’s how you know I like writing. It makes me do math and I don’t mind.) This book was a new Young Adult that I heard about in one of the library’s newsletters. Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines I think was the one, which was a good book. But I digress. I kept that in mind while I separated my words into sections, looking for that perfect spot to stop or leave a little suspense. I ended up around the 2500-3000 range a lot.
I realize that chapters are going to be different for every book. Books for younger kids may only have a couple pages per chapter and thicker young adult books could be 10-15 pages long. What’s average for you? Is there a certain amount of words or number of pages you go for as you’re writing? As a reader, do you ever think a chapter is too short or too long? What’s your chapter ‘bull’s eye’?
Saturday, July 24, 2010
The first thing I thought when I saw this book was that its cover is really cute. The bright blue color and the yellow star and green stick figure with a dress tell you the title without using words. It’s a book that I wanted to be good so that the cover isn’t wasted.
After actually reading the book, I wasn’t disappointed. I liked it a lot. The characters were like-able, or hate-able depending on who we’re talking about, or both sometimes but I’ll save that for you to figure out when you read it. I was a little surprised that I found myself attached more to Leo than Stargirl, the one the book is named after. I guess you could say that it’s more his story than hers.
Anyways, I think Spinelli did an excellent job on this. It’s a short read, good for those who think they might not have time for thick books. It’s good for kids too. It might sound cheesy but it does convey the message that it’s ok to be ‘weird’ or different as long as it’s what you want and it makes you happy. That’s a message we all need to hear sometimes.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Midnight Sun – Stephenie Meyer
That’s right. Twilight’s Stephenie Meyer IS working on Midnight Sun!
If you haven’t heard about Midnight Sun, it’s going to be Twilight in Edward’s point of view. A few years back Meyer found out that the first chapter had been leaked and was so upset about it that she wasn’t sure she would finish the book. Her website (stepheniemeyer.com) now says that she is working on it but it’s nowhere near finished yet.
Dark Flame (Book 4 of the Immortal Series) – Alyson Noel
The Immortal Series starts with the book Evermore. Ever is a sixteen year old girl who lost her family in an accident. Since that accident she gained abilities including hearing other peoples thoughts and seeing their aura. Her efforts to hide these abilities labeled her as a freak at school until a boy named Damen showed up. He was the only one who could make the noise in her head stop. She knew there was something familiar and special about him but she just didn’t know what.
I really got into these books. I got done with the third and looked up this one only to find that it wasn’t out yet. Now that it is finally out I’m just waiting to get my hands on it.
Meanwhile, book 5, Night Star, comes out on November 16th, 2010
The Scorch Trials (The sequel to The Maze Runner) – James Dashner
In the first book, The Maze Runner, Thomas woke up in a dark box only knowing his name. The box opened and he met a group of boys in an area called The Glade. Only the young boys kept this place going with only one objective in mind, find a way out the Maze.
This is the type of book that drives me crazy, in a good way. I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what exactly was going on and now I’m left with that feeling without the second one to relieve me.
His blog (jamesdashner.blogspot.com) says that the hardback edition will be released on October 12th.
“Book 4” of the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) – Christopher Paolini
The Inheritance Cycle follows the story of a boy named Eragon who found a dragon egg and, in turn, learns more about the history and the future of Dragon Riders.
The latest installment of the Cycle, Brisingr, came out in 2008. I’ve been waiting for this one a LONG time! There has been no release date set, not even as much as a title to go with. I will definitely have to reread the first three now.
Anyways, the most recent I can find about its progress is from one of his websites (shurtugal.com) that posted a newsletter from Paolini a while back that said “this is going to be a newsworthy year for the Inheritance cycle, with lots of big announcements coming up.” Another site (suvudu.com) had an interview with the artist that does the cover art for the Inheritance Cycle and he says he’s finished with Book 4’s cover and the title lettering. Does that mean the title has been settled on too?
I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Open Secrets (The final installment of the Forbidden Bloods Series) - Evelyn Burdette
This series began with Silent Screams, following the story of twin sisters, Claudia and Melina Grimwood. On their 16th birthday they found out about another world that they were about to become apart of. They were moved out of their home in California to live at Nicholai's Academy in the Canadian Rockies, a school for vampires, witches, werewolves, and shapeshifters.
These books are actually self-published so they're not on any store shelves unfortunately, but you can order them online. For more info on how to do that go take a look at her blog (evelynjanelle.blogspot.com) . I really encourage you to do so, it is an excellent series.
What are some books you’ve been waiting on? Is there anything that’s been keeping you waiting on the edge of your seat?
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Anyways, if reading were involved you could bet that I would want in. Mom would read me bedtime stories. I’d participate in the summer reading program at the library and I could always be found with a book on me, sometimes two. I didn’t like to be at the end of a book and not have another one to immediately start on, especially if I was in the car. I find even now that it’s hard to fall asleep without a book to go to bed with. I told you, I’m addicted.
After reading, writing closely followed. I used to try to keep journals, but I’d end up only writing a few days, forgetting about it for a few months, coming back then finally just letting it go. Then I started writing short stories.
The first story I can remember writing had something to do with an alien spaceship that landed in the middle of a baseball field and was found by a bunch of kids. What can I say? I was young. As far as I know it’s unfinished and lost in the only way that kids can lose things. My first finished story was about someone that fell down the spillway at the lake and managed to survive and had to find a way out while finding more than a lost pair of sunglasses.
When I got to college I got into journalism and found out it wasn’t really my kind of thing. But I also got into a writing club, though that didn’t last long because I was finding it hard to get there regularly and then I believe the club ended itself. It was there that I heard about National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org). NaNoWriMo is a challenge that takes place in November where you make a commitment to writing 50,000 words that month. We’ll get more into that when the time comes. I didn’t get on to their website right away, it wasn’t until last year that I finally signed up and participated. That’s how my first novel was born. Now it’s in that first editing/revising/rewriting stage. Slowly but surely it’s getting there. I hope to be done going through it before summers over.
That’s my story. What’s yours? Did you like to read as a kid? When did you start writing?
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Hi! Thanks for visiting Scribbles and Shorts! My name is Sarah, and I’m pretty excited to start this blog. I hope it’ll be as much fun for you as it is for me.
The posts you’ll see on Scribbles and Shorts will be all about reading and writing, from summaries of different books to short stories posted just for fun. We’ll even get into things you might think about as an author like where ideas for plots come from, where you find the time to write in your busy schedules, even where you like to write.
I would love feedback on any of these subjects, so please, comment away! I want to know what everyone thinks, not just tell you what I think. Suggest a book you want to know about. Give me a topic for a short story you want to see me write and post. Everything will be kept PG of course. Constructive criticism is appreciated too. Do you think I’m doing something bad? Don’t just say ‘this is dumb!’ Tell me what it is that's dumb! I’ll take all comments into consideration. I also wouldn’t mind if you told me what I was doing good. :)
Another thing I thought I should mention is the ads over to the right. I hear that a lot of people don’t like to see ads and that is completely reasonable. I understand that they can be annoying, but I think these seem pretty unobtrusive. Ignore them if you wish.
Anyways, thanks for coming by! I’ll be posting at least twice a month, probably every second (2nd) and fourth (4th) Saturday. See you then.