Archive | January, 2013

Movie Mention: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

29 Jan

It’s phenomenal. End of story. Seriously.hansel-gretel-witch-hunters-tops-weekend-box-office

I saw this Sunday night, and I couldn’t get over how fantastic every bit of it was. The characters are rounded–they’re, not only believable, but they complement one another tremendously. Jeremy Renner is a perfect sarcastic killer, while Gemma Arterton reclassifies the badass heroine every fantasy tale deserves. The movie, unlike many, isn’t full of cheesy CGI, but, instead, the characters are carefully constructed with beautifully (I should say “purposely ugly”) done makeup.

I would warn you, though, that the movie is much more gory than I expected it to be. (It is, however, rated R.) Gore doesn’t bother me, so I still enjoyed the flick a lot, but it’s definitely not for young children.

After being tortured by a witch in the woods, Hansel and Gretel devote their lives to hunting other witches, even if their lives are centered in the danger.

Watch the trailer here. (And, if you’re going to the movies, this one is worth considering.)

P.S I have exciting news about a reading/writing event coming soon!

~SAT

Relax & Read: Sailing Alone Around the Room

27 Jan

After Friday’s post about my poetry and nonfiction writing classes, I received a few questions regarding reading other genres. For instance, Ed Raby Sr. (blogger about one man’s quest to apply Biblical Theology to life), asked “Poetry was something I never seemed to get into. Do you have recomendation for a person who does not like poetry? Other than Dr. Seuss?”

I think this is a great question, because it represents every person who has asked me similar questions about expanding their reading palate into other genres. Personally, I’ve studied screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and (now) nonfiction. Each time I begin a new genre, I learn essential elements to writing I never considered before.9780375755194

In this case, poetry has taught me to say less but mean more. Writing poems enhances writers’ abilities of creating symbolism and delicate yet powerful prose. So, if you’re thinking about trying poetry, I wanted to recommend one of my favorite poets: Billy Collins.

Personally, horoscopes for the dead is my favorite collection of his, but I think Sailing Alone Around the Room is more eclectic while retaining a simplistic charm.

You can read some of his poems for free here:

But here are my favorite quotes from Sailing Alone Around the Room:

“I can hear the library humming in the night, / a choir of authors murmuring insides their books” (Books)

“But all they want to do / is tie the poem to a chair with rope / and torture a confession out of it” (Introduction to Poetry)

“No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted / out of a love poem that you used to know by heart” (Forgetfulness)

“it moved into the future / like the sharp tip of a pen moving across an empty page.” (The Wires of the Night)

I hope you take the time to read some of his words (he writes A LOT about being a writer) and enjoy his words as much as I have. If not, I hope you take the opportunity to read some free poems (because they are all over the internet) and fall in love with their structure enough to embrace their elements into your writing style.

~SAT

Back to School

25 Jan

I’ve officially returned for my spring semester at the University of Kansas!

As many of you already know, I’m studying to get my bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing. Because of that, I’m in two writing courses this semester—Poetry and Nonfiction. I’m really excited for what this semester will bring. I’m sure I will have the wonderful opportunity to connect with other passionate readers and writers (just like the magnificent opportunity this website has brought me by introducing us!)

For fun, I thought I’d share what books we’re reading in regards to these subjects. Maybe you’ve already read them, or maybe you’ll think about picking them up. Either way, I’m sure I’ll review them as time passes, and I hope you all can gain as much as I hopefully will from them.

Poetry Writing:

Well Then There Now by Juliana Spahr

The new black by Evie Shockley (I’ve actually already read this poetry collection, and it’s fantastic representation of generational shifts within the black culture.)

The Unmemntioable by Erín Moure

Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!   by Peter Davis

Nonfiction Writing: (I’ve never taken a Nonfiction writing course, so I’m particularly anticipating this one.)

How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish

Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction Judith Kitchen

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present by Phillip Lopate

Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction by Dinty Moore

Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction Works from 1970 to the Present by Lex Williford and Michael Martone

Today I read the first 51 pages of Spahr’s “Well Then There Now” and Sarah Levine’s essay “The Essayist Is Sorry for Your Loss,” (via Touchstone Anthology) and I already love them.

What required readings did you love the most in school? Which ones were the most helpful? I’d love to hear your answers. 

Happy Friday!

On January 24, it was my father's birthday! This (with our creepy glowing eyes) is our surprise party for him.

On January 24, it was my father’s birthday! This (with our creepy glowing eyes) is our surprise party for him.

~SAT

Movie Mention: Mama

23 Jan

I loved reading about all of your writing spaces on my last post. It’s interesting to see our similarities and differences as readers and writers, and I’ll be sure to find other aspects of our lives we can share soon. But, today, I wanted to suggest a movie to see this weekend!

1-Mama-PosterLast night, I saw Guillermo del Toro‘s new horror movie, Mama.

After five years, Lucas’ nieces, Victoria and Lilly, are found abandoned in the woods, and no one can understand how two little girls survived the harsh elements. Hoping to give them a home again, Lucas and his girlfriend, Annabel, take in the disturbed children–but the girls are more troubled than they could image, and it wasn’t the forest that changed them.

Not to toot my own horn (I’m sure you all are the same, as avid writers and readers seem to have a knack for it), but I’m normally really good at guessing plots, and I didn’t see the ending coming.

As always, the producer of Pan’s Labyrinth and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark delicately creates a twisted backstory for a complete and unique horror experience. If you’re looking for a scary movie to go see with friends, go out to the movies and watch this flick. You won’t be disappointed.

Check out trailer via IMDb here.

~SAT

Writing Tips: What’s On Your Desk?

21 Jan

As I moved the past few days, I got to reorganize and rediscover all of my old trinkets (or junk.)

Surprisingly, I had a lot of fun. I thought a lot about what my characters would find while moving, and I think that’s a great writing prompt to mess around with (I sure tried it out.) My favorite part, however, was recreating my writing space–clearing my desk before covering it all over again.

Interestingly enough, not much changed about my setup. The same objects were there, but they switched around (And that does help–believe it or not.) While doing this, I thought I’d share my work space, so you can see what keeps me ticking or even compare it to your own.

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I ALWAYS have my coffee (in fact, I spilt it all over my desk five minutes after taking this picture) and my basket of pens on the right. Behind that, you’ll see the boat frame. The picture is of my late mother. The statue on the left is a Demdaco Mother-Daughter statue I received at her funeral. I like to keep them close, because they push me forward. At the top of my desk, I have a photo of my brother and father, because they also inspire me to do my best. They remind me why I’m passionate. 

Everything else included from left to right: Dictionary, Encyclopedia, camera, flowers, book statue, more pens (because you can never have too many), iPod, stapler, notebooks, November Snow, Chapstick, gum, candles, nail polish, tacks, printer ink, and my outside computer drive (Something all writers should have.)

What do you have on your desk? How does it keep you writing and dreaming? Does anything distract you? When do you spend your time there? Where’s your writing space?

Think about how you could improve your writing space (or how you’ve already improved it.) I’d love to hear what your writing space is like as we can all learn from one another.

~SAT

Writing Tips: Being an Author: Pros & Cons

18 Jan

Yesterday would’ve been my mother’s 54th birthday if she hadn’t passed away on March 16, 2003.

My mother and I in 1992.

My mother and I in 1992.

Today, I’m dedicating this post to her, because she is the reason I have become so passionate about my writing dream. Her memory has pushed me forward, time and time again, ever since 2003, and my passion is very much driven by my inability to give up (as I want to succeed for myself and her) even when my career was looking nonexistent.

As a writer, you’ll have pros and cons, even after publishing. (In fact, this list will increase.) Some days, one outweighs the other, and that’s perfectly okay—temporarily—but don’t allow one to destroy the other.

So I’m going to share how I manage my pros and cons.

Writer’s Block: It happens. In this case, I truly believe there’s something wrong with your writing piece. It’s a matter of finding it. The best way I’ve solved it is to have conversations with my characters (or even the setting.) Figure out why they’d be unhappy, because your characters are very much your stream of subconscious, so if you’re unwilling—they probably are too.

Finding the Time: YOU CAN. I manage two websites. I’m a full-time college student, and I have family, friends, relationships, life, and my kitten to take care of on a regular basis. However, I still find time to write (a lot) and you can too. It takes sacrifice. You have to be willing to give up that Friday night every once in a while.

Overwhelming Passion: I’ve literally worked so hard on editing, writing, and organizing my vision was blurred. I’ve forgotten to eat, because I was so focused on writing (or too busy managing schoolwork with writing business), so it’s sometimes an art to put necessity before your passion (although you will learn quickly when you can’t see after staring at a computer screen for a week.)

Rejections/Criticism: Love it. I’m serious. There’s a difference between a “hater” and a “critic.” If someone doesn’t like YOU, they probably won’t EVER like your work. Don’t pay them any attention. However, a CRITIC is someone who gives you a fair chance. Even if you don’t like what they have to say, mentally take their side for a moment. Put yourself in their shoes to see if you can understand where they’re coming from. Chances are, you will, and you’ll learn SO much. Don’t feel hurt, because they’re essentially building you up to succeed in a better place.

Writing/Editing: Writing a novel isn’t easy. Writing an intelligible novel isn’t any easier. Writing will take a rigorous amount of passion. If you don’t have that, don’t write, because you’re writing for the wrong reasons. In regards to editing, it’s NECESSARY. End of story. A publisher won’t look at an unedited piece. It’s unprofessional and gives them a heavier workload. Edit to the best of your ability, have friends/family help you, and if you have money, consider hiring an editor.

Money: Not every piece of your writing will get published or make you money (Even if you’re already published.) In fact, you might write a 125,000 word novel, and your publisher doesn’t think there’s an audience. That’s OKAY. Concentrate on what you learned from writing it. Did you realize your characters aren’t differing much? Did your descriptions become more magical? If you can’t figure it out, give it time before returning. You’ll learn what that novel taught you.

Fellow Authors/Fans: This is MY FAVORITE PRO. You will meet so many bright and inspiring writers and readers to push you forward in your dream. The saddest part, for me, is running out of time to speak with all of you individually, but I try very hard (especially by e-mail), and I always will! By publishing, I’ve met authors: Elizabeth C. Bunce, Stephanie Meyer, Jodi Reamer, Greg Kincaid, Rosemary-Clement Moore, T.L. McCown, and more. I couldn’t be more thankful.

Writing Again: Have you ever read a book that was so good you almost couldn’t move on to the next one? This happens to writers too, except with their own work. You’ll get attached to your characters so much that it’ll be hard to let them go (whether you’re moving on to another piece or the next in a series.) Don’t be too hard on yourself. Write a small fun-piece in between. Give yourself a “writer’s vacation.”

If you have any others you’d like me to address, let me know!

~SAT

Movie Mention: Night Watch

16 Jan

I’m a sucker for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Thriller. Hence why I write that genre. In fact, one of the reviews for “November Snow” says,

This book was amazing. This book built up so much suspense, I couldn’t put it down. It is a mix of Adventure, Fantasy, Thriller, and Romance novels all in one. Great book for anyone. (William, Kindle Edition, 5 Stars)

Because I LOVE these genres, I strive to explore them in all types of art. I encourage other writers to do the same. Watch movies, listen to their soundtracks for music inspiration, and read novels, old and new. Today, I’m giving an example of expanding your palate by watching foreign films within the genre you enjoy. 220px-Night_Watch_(2004_film)_theatrical_poster

Night Watch (Nochnoy dozor) is a great Russian (English Subtitled) Action, Fantasy, Thriller movie to switch your inspiration up. Set in modern-day Moscow, Anton is stuck between the Dark and the Light when the Great Ones are discovered, threatening the apocalypse if they ever meet.

Or as Geser says, 

And so it will be, until a man emerges who is meant to become the Great One. And, if he chooses the side of Light, then Light will win. But, those, to whom the truth has been revealed, say that he will choose Darkness. For it is easier to kill the Light within oneself, than to scatter the Darkness around… The prophecies are coming true.

My friend and I found it on Amazon Prime, but you can rent it, and I’m sure it’s on sites such as Netflix.

Check it out (Or, if you like other genres, I really encourage you to try a foreign film in your genre to see differences, inspiration, and techniques that you can form into your own creations.)

~SAT

Writing Tips: Exposing Secrets

14 Jan

Ever since I posted “Writing Tips: How I Form Dialogue into Writing” I’ve gotten a lot of emails asking for other tips, so I wanted to talk about secrets.

We all have them.

Secrets can make us or destroy us—they can tear our relationships apart or allow us to succeed at our dreams. In reality, secrets can really form who you are by asking the question: Why are we keeping them? What is stopping us from sharing them? Are we afraid we’ll be rejected? Are we shamed? Could it ruin someone we love?

There is an infinite amount of reasons as to why we keep and/or tell secrets.

So what about your characters?

In my opinion, I think every character should have a secret. Even if the secret isn’t exposed in the novel, it will round them out and push them deeper into the plot.

However, your characters’ secrets don’t need to be exposed all at once. That’s a huge pet peeve of mine. Secrets should be stretched over the plot, enticing the reader to relate while learning more about your story’s characters.

As an example, I’m adding November Snow character notes below this. First, you’ll see their name, a brief description, and then the page number where their biggest secret is revealed. November Snow is 600 pages long, so pay careful attention to how the secrets span out. Who is exposed first? Why do you think that is? How do you think the timing effects the other characters (and even the reader)?

….

Serena, the heroine, is the Southern Flock’s second-in-command. She’s a 17-year-old bad blood, and her POV is challenged by her love for Daniel. (Page: 573)

Daniel, the male protagonist, is the leader of Northern Flock, and his 18-year-old POV struggles against society’s hatred for bad bloods. (Page: 459)

Calhoun Wilson saved Daniel’s life when he was five years old. Despite being a former solider, he protects the Northern Flock from the government. (Page: 282)

Caitlin: Serena’s best friends and practical sister. (Page: 527)

Henderson: The candidate running for president of Vendona. He believes in equal rights for bad bloods. (Page: 275)

Ryan: A young bad blood in the Northern Flock who’s body heats up like fire. (Page: 585)

….

I hope this shows how secrets can be revealed over a span of time—rather than all at the end of the novel. Some should come early, while others shouldn’t be exposed, but these characters’ secrets are essential to November Snow by defining the characters, their troubles, and their hope for beating them.

As I wrote in November Snow: “No one wanted to die with secrets in their grave.”

~SAT

As an extra: November Snow‘s highest rated quote on Goodreads: “I would only blame myself if something happened to you.”

If you’re interested in other quotes from November Snow, click here.

TV Time: Being Human

12 Jan

It’s great to see you all on Shelfari. I really love connecting with readers and writers further. This is why I want to take some time to thank one of my followers, Indiscriminate Critic, for finding my Goodreads page. Now, you can join me on that site as well by clicking here. I really like Goodreads, because you can connect, but I LOVE the neverending trivia quiz about the books you’ve read.

However, I’m here to write about the t.v. series “Being Human.” (Official website via Syfy here.)

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Season 3 premiere on the Syfy channel this Monday at 9/8c. I’m REALLY stoked, because I LOVE this show. It’s based on the original British supernatural series, and it follows the basic plot line the same (I watched both the American and British version of season one to see.)

“Being Human” is about three twenty-somethings attempting to live together–except they’re supernatural. Aidan is a vampire, Josh is a werewolf, and Sally is a ghost.

If you like supernatural, this series is for you. Even cooler, the Syfy channel posts all the old episodes, so you can catch up! Catch up on Season 2 here. It’s worth it. One of my best friends who lives far away watches it like I do, and we talk about it over the phone the next day. It’s a great show to try to predict and enjoy with friends.

~SAT

 

 

Website Wonders: Shelfari

10 Jan

Thanks for all the wonderful support for “November Snow” being available on Kindle now. I really appreciate it.

Aside from that, I’ve was really busy during that time and constantly on a computer, so my vision got a little blurry, and I had to force myself to take a little vacation. So if you’ve attempted to contact me, I’m a little late at responding, but I will soon! My vision is now back, and so am I.

During my Kindle-time, however, Amazon introduced me to Shelfari.com, a website which encourages readers to share what they have read, what they are currently reading, and what they want to read. This social site creates virtual bookshelves, and you can review, discuss, and recommend books to friends, readers, and authors alike. Joins groups of readers with the same interests, connect with your favorite authors, and find more reading/writing tips within the publishing industry. Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 6.03.27 PM

I really like this site, because you can also add BOOK EXTRAS, which include your favorite characters, descriptions, vocabulary, and quotes. I think that’s a great thing to have when reading a novel, especially in Fantasy and Sci-FI.

So check out the site here.

And follow me here, so we can see what we’re all reading and socialize about our passion for reading/writing more!

~SAT

As an extra, here’s favorite quotes from “November Snow” Book Extras:

“These children are our future. We were children once. All of us were. Bad bloods are an evolution. They are a mutation, not a disease, and we will all have these special abilities one day. Are we going to kill all of our children then? Are we going to kill our future? Because that is what we are heading towards. A dead future” – Alex Henderson

“I truly loved her for the short period time that we had been together. I felt as if she was part of my destiny. To see that destiny leave was the most unexplainable feeling. It was also the worst.” -Daniel Wilson

 

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