Friday, September 15, 2017

Facing the Fear /// A Misdiagnosis Conclusion

Yes, we're here. We've finally reached the end of our journey. It is time to meet the final foe with courage if we wish to continue. Otherwise, we shall remain forever here.

A bit dramatic, I know, but it's true. Should we choose to leave fear to its own devices, we'll never be able to get anywhere in life.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's do a quick recap of the first two posts. In  A Misdiagnosis, I talked about how, when we deal with doubt in our writing, we label it as writer's block. When we do so, we don't treat it properly. Recognizing that we misdiagnose doubt is the first step to stopping it. In Swarm of Doubt, I went over three of the biggest doubts we face as authors: that we're not good enough, that no one will want to read our stories, and that we'll never get published. To identify the enemy is key, because then we know how to take it down.

In the last post, we uncovered that doubt has a power source known as fear. So how do we take on fear to ensure that our writing journey continues and doesn't come to a complete standstill? Let's find out together.

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Fear has been around for a long, long time, and to best it, we need to go a source just as old--older, even. That, of course, would be the Bible. When I was thinking about this post, one verse kept swirling in my mind: "Love will never invoke fear. Perfect love expels fear . . ." (1 John 4:18, The Voice)

Could it be so obvious? So simple? I believe it is. The way to break past fear is to know just how much you are loved by God.

Think of it this way. When you were younger, you had irrational fears: fear of the dark, of monsters lurking in your bedroom, of thunder. What did you do in those times when the fright was the strongest? You probably ran to your parents. Maybe they hugged you for a while. Maybe they whispered reassuring words in your ear. Whatever the case, those bad feelings would slip away when you were with your parents. Why then? Why not earlier?

Because you were reminded that you were loved.

God's the same way. When we deal with the crud life throws at us, whether it be worries about our family or career or education, we turn to Him. Maybe not right away, but we do. And when we fall into His embrace, knowing that we're loved and never alone, the fear dies. We trust that God will see us through.

That is the key. We know that God loves us and will look after us. We believe that everything will work out in the end. When we trust Him, we know He considers us more than good enough. We know that He gave us our writing gift, and because of that, our stories will get published, and people will read them.

Do you know just how incredibly much God loves you? The One who fashioned countless galaxies, who invented DNA, who designed the water cycle, who cared about the minute details of all living creatures . . . loves you. With a love so huge we can't even fully comprehend it. Know this love, and you will know peace.

To conclude, I'd like to quote Ambrose Bierce, who said, "A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it." These words are so true. Doubt is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe it's true, it will be true. Don't fall for the lies. Believe you're immensely loved. Trust that the future is a good one.

Face the fear.

Fell the giant.

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And that's the end of it. What did you guys think of this series as a whole? Should I do more of these inspirational posts/series in the future? What about this particular post? Any thoughts?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Music Monday #6

Welcome back to another Music Monday post! Cue the fanfare!


Today, I present to you one of my favorite songs from the third soundtrack I ever bought. (The volume on the video is a bit low, so you may need to turn your sound up.)

"In the Beginning" from The Bible
Composed by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe


If you didn't know, The Bible was a TV series that aired a while back. You may recall the controversy of the devil supposedly looking like Obama. Anyway, the directors were able to get not only Hans Zimmer to score the music, which alone is impressive enough, but also Lorne Balfe. Balfe has worked with Zimmer on numerous projects and is a fantastic composer himself. I'll eventually feature some of his stuff on my blog, because he deserves the attention.

I picked this album up at a local bookstore, and at the time, it wasn't quite my style. I had loved The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel, but this soundtrack had a different flavor to it. However, I instantly fell in love with "In the Beginning." There's something that's just quite beautiful and actually reverent about it. I mean, close your eyes and imagine the world being created by God with this music playing. You'll see what I mean pretty quickly.

You may recall that I enjoy making playlists for my stories. Well, back when there was the Five Enchanted Roses contest, I used this track as the love theme for my two main characters, Bella and Byron--Beauty and the Beast, respectively (and obviously, I imagine). I used it for one of the most poignant scenes between them, so that's another reason for why the song has a special place in my musical heart. I also used it for the end scene of my Five Magic Spindles entry.

Don't really have anything more to add. I hope you guys enjoyed the track as much as I do. Have a good rest of your Monday . . . or whatever day you're reading this!

So what did you think of the music? Did you find it awe-inspiring? Have you seen the TV series? If you have, was it any good?

Friday, September 08, 2017

A Writing Excerpt + An Apology

So I've got a busy rest of the week, and I needed something easy to post about, because I have to prepare it ahead of time. I figured, "Why not share a writing excerpt?" One might argue that I already do that with my Humble Beginnings posts, but that's awful writing. I need to prove that I'm actually good at what I do.

Before I get to that, I have to offer an apology. Lately, it's been taking forever for me to respond to comments. I've also been meaning to show some consideration and check out your blogs. But, to be completely honest, these last few weeks have been really hard. My new job's tough, and not because it's full-time. I could handle that. It's things like waking up at 5 in the morning and coming physically (and often mentally) wiped that make it difficult.

I'm sorry for not replying to comments as quickly as I have, and for not checking out your guys's blogs. Please have patience with me. I'm still struggling to make work and writing and family and relaxation and friends all fit together. Thanks for understanding. Hopefully things will look up in the future.

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On to the real reason you came to this post! You know that old story of mine I've been roasting once a month? Well, I've said in at least one comment on the first post that I have plans to reboot the story and write it much, much better. Depending on how well it does once it's published, I plan to do some spinoffs that take place in the same world. I thought I would share with you guys what I wrote a couple of years back as an excerpt--of sorts--of one spinoff. I simply titled The SkyRing Tournament. It's not perfect, but it isn't completely horrible either.

May you all enjoy this little look into my fantasy/technologically advanced world that I really need a name for. (I also apologize that the formatting ends up looking weird. Blogger and Word don't really like each other all that much.)

***

The roar was deafening.
Selyth looked around at the crowd. It was bigger than what he had expected, and he wasn’t sure if he liked that. It either means more people to witness my greatest victory . . . or more people to shake their heads at my worst failure.
He glanced up at the box where the Elites would be sitting. It was higher than the regular stadium seats, and the glass was tinted. He had no doubt that his father was watching from within, eyes like flint, staring mercilessly. He could practically hear the old man prattle in his head, “You must carry the family’s legacy in the tournaments. That’s what I was born for, and that is what you were born for as well. Even your son will one day be born for the very same thing.”
Selyth shook his head in disgust. SkyRing Tournaments required something more than most people had. It demanded more balance, more leg strength, more articulate control of one’s body. There was a sixth sense involved, a knowledge of subtle changes in the air currents and such. The training regimen was something that was to be devoted to if someone wanted to have a real chance.
He picked up his shoulder pads and put them on, over his gray shirt that was like leather chainmail. His pants were identical in color and were just tight enough so that they wouldn’t flap in the breeze. He grabbed his helmet, gave it a once-over, then nodded with satisfaction and donned it.
He glanced at the two items left: a broadsword and a knife. Weapons weren’t exactly mentioned in the rules, but pilots who played dirty brought them along. They would attack others, and so if those being assailed really wanted to survive, they had weapons for defense. Most of the time, they were just in case. Occasionally, they were needed, and Selyth could only recall a few tournaments where things became bloody. Tournament Officers were on standby, but it would be wise to still pack a blade.
He lifted the sword. Not too heavy . . . Balanced properly . . . He noticed the family crest on the hilt. A magnificent, dark blue bird of prey, known as a lyrak, stretched its wings proudly, beak raised almost haughtily. He spat on it and thrust the sword into the ground. I hope you saw that, Father.
He grabbed the dagger and attached the sheath to the inside of his right boot. Then he waited. Soon, an amplified voice boomed, “Contestants, bring your SkyRings to the starting line!”
Selyth flipped the gear switch on his SkyRing, which put it on hover mode. Once the disc lifted off the ground, he pulled it up and pushed it along in front of him. He left his station and walked to the two poles that held a banner in the center of the stadium.
The stadium was a massive, circular structure. The seating area was six feet off the ground and enclosed the whole arena. A glass dome could be raised if the weather outside didn’t suit the tournament, but such was not the case today. Selyth admired the stadium as a technological masterpiece, but he had grown to hate it over the years.
Depending on how today played out, he might never step foot in it again.
It was the last race in the tournament, and there were ten finalists. Eight were human, including Selyth, but the other two were different species. One was a creal, about four feet tall with leathery wings and skin the color of scabs. Eyes like that of a weasel darted around. Well, that one’s an interesting specimen. If I remember correctly, the creals keep to themselves.
The second was a terradox. Three black horns protruded from the back of his head and curved upward. On his neck, twin nostrils that resembled gills flared. He hoisted his SkyRing over his head, as if it weighed nothing more than a sack of flour.
The gray-scaled creature glanced at him, smirked, and kept walking. Selyth shook his head. Competition will be stiff today, you can bet on that.
He arrived at the starting line and lowered his SkyRing just enough so that he could climb on. His boots, which had rubbery soles that made for better grip, fit into the sockets at the center, slightly lower than the rest of the SkyRing. He opened a panel in front of him on the raised edge of the SkyRing and pressed a button. Clamps locked over his boots, holding them in place and ensuring he wouldn’t fall off easily.
The announcer, who was standing on a platform opposite the box for the Elites, was silent until everyone was on their SkyRings. Then he thundered, “Welcome to the final SkyRing tournament of the season!”
If the crowd had been deafening before, it could surely blow off one’s ears now due to the sheer volume. Selyth’s helmet did little to block the noise. It’s a wonder my ears aren’t wrecked . . . Then again, I don’t recall any pilots who have had their hearing go because of the tournaments.
The announcer let the yelling run its course before he began introducing the racers. Selyth ignored most of the names until he heard, “Nyk-graash of the creals!”
The crowd cheered, not as loudly as they had before but still a decent noise level. What does Nyk-graash mean . . . C’mon, remember your Toreth lessons. Ah, yes, it means “the stranger” or something. Wonder why he was called that. Selyth knew a former pilot who once said that the name of another racer could reveal a lot about them.
“Zunvix of the terradox!” The crowd howled wildly at the name, especially the section where several terradox were sitting. Zunvix means . . . “he crushes.” Pleasant. I’m staying clear of him; I’ve got no need for him to do any crushing of me.
“Selyth Lyrakan!” the announcer bellowed. Please, don’t say my name like that. You make it sound like an obscenity. The crowd didn’t think so; in fact, they cheered loudly for him, louder than they had for Zunvix. The terradox slowly turned his head toward Selyth, eyes narrowing. He snarled quietly, baring his teeth. I don’t want to see what you just ate, thank you.
After the remaining two racers had their names shouted out, the announcer said, “Jets on second hover!”
Selyth moved the gear switch to the next position. The second hover mode allowed the device to rise the maximum limit of ten feet; if one wanted to go higher, he had to activate the fly mode. The four jets on his dark blue SkyRing droned as they maintained the hover. He kept still as he waited for the others to be done. SkyRings were controlled by movement, and that’s why not many could use the rings properly. One of the other contestants was fidgeting a bit, causing his ring to rock back and forth.
“Ready?” the announcer asked. Upon the racers nodding, he continued. “Then . . . GO!”
Selyth leaned a bit, putting his weight to the front, and his SkyRing shot forward. He raced straight toward the opposite side of the arena, zooming over the trimmed grass and hard turf. Once he was close to the edge of the arena, he shifted to the left. The SkyRing turned left, and he began the first lap.
He quickly took note of the other racers’ locations. One was in front of him, and the others were close behind. Zunvix was in the middle of the pack, and Nyk-graash was the head of the group. Selyth knew that pilots in the lead were the first to be attacked, so he slowed and let most of the pack pass. He kept his distance from Zunvix, who glared at him suspiciously.
After the first lap was complete, hatches in the ground opened, and the powerful fans beneath blew hard. The contestants rose higher until they were about twenty feet off the ground, a comfortable viewing level for the crowd. The fans would continue to blow until the number of laps—unknown to the racers—was complete. Then a couple of fans would begin to power down. Only an experienced pilot would sense the change in air currents and use those fans to get low enough to pass underneath the banner.
But while the actual tournament was going on, the officials controlling the fans could shake things up with by adjusting the airflow even just a little. And you better be ready for when that happens.
He saw his first advantage: a male racer who seemed to be a touch off-balance. Selyth thrust his body forward, and the jets swiftly boosted to the top speed in hover mode. He zipped right by the man, close enough to almost clip the racer’s SkyRing. The pilot was caught unaware, and he tipped to one side. The SkyRing was thrown completely off-balance and spun like a leaf in a most violent storm. Selyth couldn’t afford to watch anymore, but he knew that if the pilot didn’t regain control soon, a Tournament Officer would bring him back to his station.
A moment later, the announcer shouted, “Loug is out of the tournament!” Thought as much. Today probably wasn’t his day. But will it be mine?
Up ahead, there was a skirmish going on. Two of the contestants were grappling each other fiercely. Their SkyRings bumped multiple times, and they had descended a ways. Selyth saw a disaster waiting to happen and pulled himself up. The SkyRing lifted just high enough to pass over the fighters. The two men jerked, startled, and moved away from one another.
Selyth kept an eye out for any more signs of trouble brewing in the tournament. The first few laps were essential in finding who was weakest, who was strongest, and who was most likely to crack sooner than later. He figured Zunvix would be the stiffest competition, and Nyk-graash would be a slippery little eel to catch. Another male pilot and the solitary female opponent also looked as though they would be tough to beat. The others, he wouldn’t have to worry about.
After several laps, in which he passed two racers and stayed ahead of the four behind him, he saw his instincts were correct. Nyk-graash seemed to be clutching a stout club next to his tunic. As he passed the man in the lead, he swiftly lashed out. The movement was but a flicker. The club struck the man in the back of the knees. The pilot toppled and almost fell out of his SkyRing. He should’ve checked his clamps to see if they were faulty.
Even though the man didn’t fall, he lost control. A black-suited Tournament Officer on a steely gray SkyRing raced to his side and grabbed onto him, keeping him steady. The Officer led him toward his station, and soon the announcer called out, “Kritom is out of the tournament!”
Two down, four behind that won’t catch up, and three ahead that will be hard to pass.
“Lyrakan!” Selyth spotted the woman heading toward him, a gleaming axe in hand. He recognized her in that moment. He had taken first place from her in one of the earlier tournaments. Now she wants revenge? Well, sorry, sister, but that’s not going to happen.
The woman threw the axe, which whirled at him in a deadly arc. He twisted to one side, and the axe nearly grazed his shoulder. He balled a fist and, when the woman was mere feet away, launched an uppercut. The woman’s head jerked back from the impact, and she careened through the air away from him. He glanced back in time to see the woman surrounded by Officers.
“Ushani has been disqualified!” the announcer bellowed. Yeah, but now my hand stings like Lurkem himself has sunk his fangs into it. The crowd yelled his name, obviously impressed with his theatrics.
He took stock of the situation again. The two racers who had been fighting before were at it again. They’re a lost cause, squabbling with one another. Now where are the other two back there? Both pilots passed him with a burst of speed. Oh look, there they are. Nyk-graash was in the lead, with Zunvix on his tail.
Suddenly, he sensed a shift in the air currents. Feels like . . . ocean waves. He dipped down a little. Get ready to crest the wave. At what he deemed the right moment, he jabbed himself forward and shoved his arms back to gain a bit of momentum.
The wave caught the other two human pilots off-guard, but he coasted right between them. At the top of the wave, he bounced up, causing his SkyRing to jump with him. The crowd thundered at the sight, nearly drowning the announcement that the two racers behind Selyth were out of the race.
More waves were coming, and he repeated his moves. He was quickly gaining on the remaining two racers, who weren’t handling the waves as well. Zunvix had gotten ahead as Nyk-graash clumsily traversed the boiling air currents. Selyth pulled up alongside and noticed the creal was switching the club to his left hand.
Geyser of air coming up on the right. Selyth lowered himself, and the SkyRing ducked down. A blast of air shot up on the right, propelling Nyk-graash to the side. Not giving his opponent a chance to reorient himself, he rocketed back up to the normal level and aimed a nasty elbow at the creal. Nyk-graash blocked the move with a wing, but he was still pushed back. It was all Selyth needed. He dove ahead, blazing back up to maximum speed and barreling toward Zunvix.
The terradox glanced over his shoulder and howled. One of his hands reached for something Selyth couldn’t see. He grabbed his own knife and readied himself. The moment he drew up alongside Zunvix, the pilot attacked. Selyth held up his knife to shield himself from a heavy overhand blow with a short sword.
Zunvix growled with a deep, hard-edged voice. “Fool of a human. My glory awaits. You will not be winning this tournament.”
“You think your victory is assured? You should think otherwise. You want glory as a tournament champion, and I want to escape the wrath of my father for a while. Who do you think has a stronger motivation?”
Zunvix’s unibrow lowered in thought. Selyth lunged with his dagger, knocking the sword out of the terradox’s loose grip. Then he pressed forward, moving ahead of Zunvix, who snarled curses. I need to get away from that lug. When is the tournament going to finish? Then he felt a slight change in the air flow. On the left . . . on the far side of the arena. They’re making us cross the longest stretch of ground possible.
As he approached the spot he had guessed would allow him lower himself back onto ground level, his body tensed. Don’t be nervous; there’s only a couple thousand people who could see you mess up. He rolled his eyes and nearly missed his target area. Biting back a vile curse, he shoved his weight down on the left. The SkyRing turned sharply, and he straightened.
He realized he had miscalculated by a small margin. He was partially on the dip and partially off. If he stayed there, he risked losing control of his SkyRing. He leaned to compensate, and the SkyRing slid into the dip. He was off-balance by a tad, and regaining that balance cost him precious seconds to maintain his lead.
He took off again, but his wrist was grasped firmly. Zunvix scowled at him, showing his black gums. “I will not allow your family to win yet another tournament.”
Selyth tried to pull away, but the terradox refused to let go. Zunvix’s arm muscles tensed visibly, and before his mind could totally catch up, Selyth was tossed away with the ease of someone throwing away a dirty article of clothing. His SkyRing struck the ground and rebounded. That’s not supposed to happen! The SkyRing hit the turf again, but it didn’t bounce this time. He tumbled along, boots still clamped onto the bottom of the machine.
He came to a stop just in time to hear, “Zunvix has won this season’s tournament!” The crowd bellowed, no doubt also booing Selyth and his embarrassing failure. Then the announcer shouted, “Nyk-graash has come in second place!” A moment later, “Waujy has come in third! Everyone else has lost . . . including our very own Selyth Lyrakan!”
Selyth groaned. He opened the panel on the SkyRing and pressed the button inside. The clamps let go of his feet, and he pulled himself out. He peered at the gear switch. Why is it on the off position? That sneaky terradox! He must’ve used his free hand to turn off the hover mode just before he flung me.
He turned to see he had landed just outside his station. The sword was still thrust into the ground, the lyrak mocking him. Spittle gleamed on the blade. Selyth groaned again at what he knew was coming once he got home.
Father will be furious.

What did you think of the excerpt, dear readers? Is this a story you'd be interested in reading? Do you have any questions/comments/constructive criticism? I'm all ears!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Monthly HapPENings: August

Guys, I'm doing it. I am finally starting a monthly sum-up post. Doesn't that just make you so excited?!

*awkward silence followed by a bit of coughing that's even more awkward*

Well, I'm happy to be doing these. And I included a pun in the title, so that makes it even better. I also apologize, once again, for getting this post up late. I think I'll just stop saying sorry at this point and inform you that if I don't post on Friday, it just means I'll post later in the weekend instead. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's hop right in!

(But I will also mention that I forgot to make a picture for this series, so that'll have to come in later posts. I may as well just throw in some kind of summery picture here.)

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August started out with a bang for me. My family had left our home on July 31 to go on vacation, and let me tell you, it was a lot of fun. I had needed to get away from work and take a moment to just relax. I can definitely say that's what happened. Whereas we've done a fair bit of shopping on previous holidays, this year we decided to only go out twice to shop. I think that helped make the vacation feel more relaxing.

A few highlights (at least, ones that come to my tired mind right now) from the holiday are in order. At a bookstore we went to, I bought the book Wrath of the Storm by Jennifer A. Nielsen, the last book in a trilogy. I thought I owned the other two, but when I came home, I found out I only owned the first book. It would've been nice to remember that earlier, but at least I got a hardcover book for cheaper.

Another highlight was when we went for lunch on one of our outings. We were planning on getting ice cream later, so I decided to get a plate of appetizers. You could choose four different kinds, so I had French fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and chicken fingers. I expected it to be small, but lo and behold, I got a big plate heaped with food. Needless to say, I had to pack some of it up.

I also bought five games for my New Nintendo 2DS XL, so I was quite happy about that. Other things I purchased were a couple of books and movies, candy, two LEGO sets . . . not much else. But my favorite moments were ones when I just hung out with my family. That's what made the vacation so great. It was nice to relax with my parents and sisters, with no rush for anyone to go anywhere. We could take things at our own pace and enjoy each other's company. (To get a more detailed look at my holiday, my youngest sister made a post about it from her perspective.)

When I got back home, I was hired by a local concrete factory to work there full-time. I worked my last couple of weeks at my part-time pump attendant job and began working at my new one. It's been interesting, to say the least. Becoming adjusted to the labor is tough. But hopefully that'll pass soon.

On to the media side of this month!

Bookish HapPENings

I actually read five books this month. Five books! That may sound lame, but you wanna know when the last time I read five fiction books in one month was? July . . . of 2015. Yeah, it's crazy, I know.


I finally finished this series while on holidays, and . . . wow. Just wow. When I read the first book, I wasn't sure if I could get into it. But the second book had me hooked, and now I love this series. Unfortunately, right now my brain isn't recalling enough about this book to give a proper review, but it was a great conclusion to the series. I adored the awesome characters and themes, and the way the series came full-circle--in a sense--on the last few pages. If you haven't read Overstreet's books, stop wasting time and go do it. He's got a different writing style than most, but I like it. His stories are well-worth the read.


While on holidays, I prefer to read books I know are going to be good. I took a risk with this one. I'd picked it up in the past and didn't finish it. I tried it again, because I had seen the fourth Uncharted game being played. And while this book wasn't bad, it wasn't great either. It was mediocre, which doesn't do the franchise justice. Like, the first chapter had no bearing on the rest of the story, other than the fact that it introduced Nathan Drake to us and allowed him to get some money to use for the main adventure of the novel. Plus, swearing was frequent, although it was never extreme. So consider this the book version of a summer action flick that's not much to write home about.


So several holidays ago, back in 2013 if I'm not mistaken, I started reading the Artemis Fowl series. It was bizarre, to be sure, but I enjoyed it. Well, at least enough to read the second book, which heightened my interest. I came to love these books even more as time went by, and I waited to read the final book (whose cover got me wanting to read the series) on holidays. I ripped through this story so fast. It was an epic and surprisingly emotional end to the books. Like The Ale Boy's Feast, the series comes full-circle with the end of the last chapter. I should actually do a review of this series sometime, because if you haven't read it yet, you need to!


The sequel to the amazing book called Knightley Academy, The Secret Prince is just as amusing and suspenseful as the first book. And both books are such fast reads. Honestly, they're pretty much perfect. But here's the thing: as I was zipping through the story, I was worried. This book had been published in 2011 . . . and my library had no other books in the series. So I eventually got the end, which left loose threads and a desire to keep reading the series. Except there's one problem: THERE ARE NO MORE BOOKS! Do you know how much this frustrates me? Six years is plenty of time to write one more story to wrap up the series, but nope! Why do that when you can leave all the fans hanging? Some people might argue that there really isn't a need for a third book, but with the twists in this story, I'd say that we seriously need another! . . . I need to vent about this to someone.


What got me hooked on this story is its premise. There's a comic book called Malice, which always seem to showcase kids who've gone missing. And when Seth and Kady's friend disappears, they begin to dig deeper and uncover something deeper and darker than what they first thought. I'll most likely post a review about this story in a different post, but I loved the unique formatting of this story. The creepy/horror also really captivated my interest. I'm glad I decided to pick it up, and I'll definitely be reading the duology's conclusion, Havoc, in the near future.

HapPENings on the Screen


I've seen this movie before, but my youngest two sisters hadn't. We had recently read the book, so we decided it'd be fun to compare it with the movie. Tracey joined us, and we watched it on our vacation. It was just as enjoyable as I remember it being. In fact, I'm even going to make a post sometime soon(ish) contrasting the book and the movie.


I watched more episodes of season 2 with my sisters. I have to say, the show's definitely getting better as it goes along. I'm digging the character arcs of the main characters, particularly Rumpelstiltskin's, since he's my favorite. I'm also getting close to being done!


I'm watching season 2 with my parents and two younger sisters. It's fun seeing the episodes again and noticing different things. Plus, we're getting to some super intense stuff, so that's a bonus too. Have I ever mentioned the villain of this season is really creepy? Because he is.


I actually watched the first Pirates movie twice this month. First, I watched it with Chloe when Tracey and Kaitlyn were having a day in the city. She loved it so much, she wanted Kaitlyn to see it too. So we watched it a couple of weeks afterward, and now they're fans of the series. I look forward to seeing more of these movies with them! They're so fun and epic, and it's easier to understand the plot when you watch them more than once.

Writerly HapPENings

Nothing in this category, sadly. I do have stories I need to write, but I didn't find--or make--the time to do any writing this month. Disappointing. I plan to do better in September.

Well, that's all from me. I'm sorry if this post seemed rushed, because I tried to get it up as quickly as I could. I plan to do better next time. Let me know if you've got any tips or suggestions.

What did your August look like? Have you read any of these books or watched any of these movies/TV shows? Did you do better than me in the writing category?

Monday, August 28, 2017

The First Lyrical Song /// Music Monday #5

It's that day again! You know . . . that one! The one with the musical stuff. On a day like Monday. Capiche?


To celebrate five Music Monday posts (what an achievement!), I chose to suggest a lyrical song to you guys. Lately, I've really been into video game raps, so I picked one of my favorites.

"Hanzo vs Genji"
Composed by J.T. Machinima



So this is a rap battle between two characters from an online fighting game called Overwatch. It's been quite the popular game, and is still going strong since it released in May of last year. If you're concerned about knowing the backstory of these dudes so you understand the references in the rap, don't sweat. The song does a good job of explaining their history. But here's the official video, just in case.



I really love the Oriental feel of some of the song's instrumentation. But the main chorus of the song is my favorite part. When the music gets muffled . . . I dunno. It's just an awesome effect. Speaking of which, another cool thing that they did was, when headphones/earbuds are being used, make Hanzo's voice stronger in the left side and Genji's in the right.

According to a comment on YouTube, Hanzo's cry of "ryuu ga waga teki wo kurau" means "let the dragon consume my enemies." Genji yelling "ryuujin no ken wo kurae" is him saying "the dragon becomes me." The exact translation is a bit iffy, since people were debating it. But that seems to be a close approximation.

I actually didn't really care for rap music until I started listening to J.T. Machinima, who actually is two guys: one who does the singing and one who does most of the writing and music video making. The guy's vocal prowess is amazing, because he can do a ton of different voices. While I can't condone or recommend all of their songs, since a good number of them have swearing, I do enjoy them for the most part. I'll probably feature some of their other clean songs on my blog.

Well, I don't have anything else to say. My apologies for the short post--unless you like Music Monday posts to be shorter? Let me know! I also put the video at the beginning of the post, due to a suggestion by Tracey. Is it a good change? (It's kinda hard to say this time around, since this song actually had a video to watch with it.)

Hope you guys enjoyed the music! Do you like or dislike rap? What'd you think of this song? Do you have any suggestions for these posts? Am I asking too many questions?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My Top 3 Favorite TV Shows

Yes, I am a day late. I apologize, for I started my new full-time job this week. Yesterday when I got home, I turned on my laptop, and stared at Blogger, waiting for a post idea to strike. But I was simply too tired, which is why I'm only posting now.

Today I'd like to talk about my top 3 favorite TV shows and why I love them. Now, I'd like to mention that I don't have cable, so I don't usually watch a lot of shows. I've seen various LEGO shows, Austin & Ally (due to the convincing of my younger sisters), and a few episodes of things like Duck Dynasty and The Clone Wars. I've even watched part of the Kirby anime series! But three shows I've viewed have stuck out to me as being my favorites, because they do a lot of things right. So why don't I stop wasting and get on with the list? (And before you ask, no, they're not in any particular order.)

No, Samsung did not sponsor me to show a picture of one of their TVs.

LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu

This is the show that got me hooked on TV shows in the first place. It's, obviously, based on the Ninjago theme. To be honest, I'm not sure if it were the toys that made me like the show, or vice versa. But when LEGO gave a teaser picture of a ninja with a skeleton in the background, I just knew this was something I'd be interested in.

So what's the plot of this show? Well, it starts off with a young man and his sister--Kai and Nya, respectively--who run a blacksmith shop in a small village. All of a sudden, an army of living skeletons (I'm refraining my nerdy side by not calling them Skulkin), led by the ferocious and four-armed Samukai, attack the village. They're looking for a special map, and their boss has ordered them to capture Nya. A mysterious stranger shows up to help in the fight, but to no avail. The skeletons get away with what they came for.

And thus, Kai meets Sensei Wu, who adds him to his small team of ninja with elemental powers. They must stop Wu's brother, Lord Garmadon, from finding four sacred weapons. This all happens in the pilot episodes! Things get even better in the next seasons, where there's stuff such as:

  • Snake people who wish to reawaken a giant serpent who will consume the entire land
  • Elemental Masters and powers like earth, lightning, nature, wind, and time
  • An ancient evil with an army of indestructible stone warriors
  • Great action sequences
  • An underground fighting tournament held by a lunatic with sinister motivations
  • Interesting characters with well-done character arcs
  • A phenomenal score (seriously, it's totally fantastic!)

The show isn't perfect. In the first couple of seasons, there are several instances where the one character is saying a line in the voice of a different character. (No idea how that happened.) Occasionally, there are plot holes and whatnot, but I still love Masters of Spinjitzu to pieces--pun intended. If you haven't seen this show yet, go do so. I get annoyed when people call it a kid's show. Just like its source, it's timeless and can be enjoyed by any age.

In fact, I think the writers eventually caught on that their audience included older viewers, because they started adding darker or more mature elements, if you will, though not in a bad way. Character deaths have become a thing; season 4's plot is actually one of my favorites because of the intrigue and suspense involved.

Did I mention the show's humor? Because that's awesome as well. One of my favorite bits is in the first episode of season 4. One character, upon arriving at an island, says, "I swore never to return to this place." Another character quips, "You know, you should never swear. It's a sign of weak verbal skills."

Do it. Watch the show. I know you can find at least some of the episodes online; all of the seasons are available on Amazon. It's a show that's worth your time.

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Once Upon a Time

This was a show that I thought I'd never watch, much less love. My sisters would fangirl over it constantly, and to be honest, it turned me off. Then I found out that, for one of my media classes in college, I had to watch an episode of Once.

Now, saying that I had to is actually not true. We could choose whether or not we wanted to watch the movies they suggested, though they recommended that we did. I had already seen the others, and I wanted to be a good student. With an unhappy heart, I told my sisters I was watching the first episode.

You should've seen me during those 45 minutes. I sat there with my arms folded, grouchy look etched on my face like I had sucked on a lemon for at least a few centuries. I was unimpressed to the extreme. But afterwards, I felt so bad. I knew I had reacted wrongly, so I apologized and told them I would continue watching because they liked it. But after a while, I actually began enjoying it.

If you don't know the plot, here's the long and short of it. Emma is a no-nonsense bail bond agent who has an unexpected guest one night. A young boy named Henry claims to be her son, and he carries with him a book of fairy tales--which he says are all real. There's another world where the Evil Queen set in motion a curse that brought everyone to Earth, where they live false lives in a town known as Storybrooke. Emma is to come and break said curse to give everyone their happy endings.

Obviously, things get a lot more convoluted as the show progresses. One thing remains truly constant: family. It's the biggest emphasis of the series. Characters will go great lengths to ensure that they get their family back, or so that their family is safe. It's an interesting plot point to choose to repeat throughout the show's numerous episodes.

I will mention that most of the CGI I've seen so far (I'm almost done the second season) is not very good. And there are some really cheesy/cliché moments. Not to mention the lesbian couple in season 5, and the frequent low-cut female tops. But despite its flaws, I still thoroughly enjoy the show.

Wanna guess who my favorite character is? It's Rumpelstiltskin, AKA Mr. Gold. I think it's his quirky-yet-sinister nature that intrigued me the most. He's a very complicated man, one reason for that being his representation of multiple fairy tale characters. There's just something oddly appealing about him, odd as that may sound. I also really love Charming and Hook--Charming because of his heroic nature and devotion to his wife, and Hook because he's a devious pirate and rogue. No further reason necessary.

If you enjoy fairy tales, you'd probably enjoy Once Upon a Time as well. I recommend you watch it ASAP, before it gets even more seasons and you make the excuse that you don't have time for it. As Nike would say, "Just do it."

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The Flash

I did say that this list was in no particular order, but I think this show might be my all-time favorite. What DC lacks in their movies, they made up for in their TV shows, or at least this one.

I don't know how we got to it, but one of my best online friends mentioned how he and his sister were watching The Flash and really enjoying it. I trusted his opinion, so I looked into it a bit, then took a risk: I ordered the first season off of Amazon. I figured that since I liked superhero movies, the show would be right up in my alley. Little did I know just how much I would fall in love with the series and its amazing characters.

The plot goes like this: Barry Allen is a CSI investigator for Central City's police department. His main reason for joining, though, involves a tragic incident in his life: the murder of his mom and accusation of his dad several years ago. Taken in by his father's cop friend, Joe West, Barry is determined to catch the killer.

Then one night, an explosion at the city's big lab grants Barry super-speed. He joins forces with the lab's tiny crew to take on metahumans and figure out the mystery behind the murder of his mother. But deep, dark, and deadly secrets abound everywhere, and things might be more complicated than Barry originally thought.

I love everything about the show, from the well-written plots to the intense action to the amusing banter to the emotional moments. And just as Once focuses heavily on family, The Flash places its emphasis hugely on relationships. I think that's one reason I love the show so much. It's not just about the typical superhero elements; it gets you invested in the characters and their interactions, so that the peril and tension is heightened. The music also adds a lot to the episodes. Blake Neely, who's composed for all of DC's shows if I'm not mistaken, knows how to create memorable themes and use them at all the right moments.

What's wrong with the show? Well, the first season featured a gay couple, who thankfully did nothing more than hug. Occasionally females don't wear shirts, and there's two scenes with (mostly) clothed characters making out. Season two removes virtually all of those problems, so good on the writers. Again, like the other two, I still love the show despite its flaws. The good points far outweigh the bad.

I could go on and on about this show, but I feel like I might accidentally spoil stuff. Suffice it to say that the first season was epic, and the second season took things up a few notches. I cannot wait for season 3. I pre-ordered it, and it's coming out on September 5th. (Yay!) You'll fall in love with all the characters and become emotionally involved in their struggles.

Could I pick a favorite character? Eh . . . no. You can't make me choose just one. For example, I really love Barry because he wants to be a noble hero, yet he has just enough awkwardness to make him relatable. Plus, his struggles are ones that you can easily get caught up in. But then I also someone like, say, Cisco, because he brings a lot of comic relief with his wit and pop culture references. Don't let that fool you. He's a deeper character than you might think.

And do I even want to start how many times I've cried/almost cried while watching this show?! It just brings on the feels like you wouldn't believe it. No other movie or TV show has done this to me. I am not ashamed to say that the waterworks have flown at least a few times. Even when I'm rewatching episodes, my throat still tightens up, and tears threaten to be released.

If you decide to watch only one of the shows I suggested, WATCH THIS ONE. I'm not joking. You may not even care for superhero stories all that much, and I would still tell you to see it. It has plenty of elements that allow for a broader audience than your typical action-packed hero flick. So stop wasting time and watch The Flash. You may just become a devoted fan yourself.

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There you have it! I apologize again for being late, but I hope the post was worth it. Have you seen any of these shows before? If not, are you now interested? Are there any shows you'd recommend to me? Tell all in the comments!

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Horror Continues /// Humble Beginnings, Part 2

You may recall the first Humble Beginnings post I did. It's actually my third most popular post (the Sunshine Blogger Award just a wee bit higher), and you guys seemed to really love it. I just knew I had to do roast my old story even more, because things get even worse.

Enough chitchat! Let's jump straight into and see how horrible things are this time around. (And this gif shows me when I'm done with this story.)

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No one in the city of Suez took notice of [the biplane]. In fact, no one was even suspicious of it's destination: a US aircraft carrier with a variety of different planes, helicopters, and land vehicles.

Are we seriously doing this right now? No one is suspicious of any of this? As of 2012, the city had a population of over half a million people. I'm sure not a single person was like, "You know, there's a foreign vessel in our waters, and it seems to be pretty busy, but no matter. I'm sure it isn't worth acknowledging. And when did aircraft carriers start transporting land vehicles? Plus, I'm triggered by the wrong use of "it's."

The two men handed [their ID cards] to the guard. He snorted. "Portal guardians, eh?" He turned to his friend. "I bet it was Stuart's idea to come back and 'report' to the big man. I always knew Stewy was a chicken." They both laughed.

Well, it seems the villainous dude has a weird choice in hiring people. I would that portal guardians would be a big deal, so why are these guards giving them such flak? Are they really so low on the food chain here?

Carl gritted his teeth. The guffaws of these baboons was really getting to him. "Listen, you jokers," he snapped. The two stared at the brawny, deeply tanned man. "We are bringing urgent news to the boss, and he's impatient. Plus, he sorely dislikes anyone delaying the portal guardians." He leaned in close and hissed, "Ever wonder what happened to the guards who delayed Dirk when he was going to tell Tarquin that the portal was moving from Lima?"

Baboons? Jokers? These are the best insults you have? Based on Carl's description--which we got while in his head, mind you--we can deduce he's the long-lost twin of Dwayne Johnson. Shouldn't the guards already know this stuff about their boss, though? And we don't actually get to hear what happened to the other guards? I guess hinting at violent stuff works really well on simple guards like these. (But I'd like to mention that Tarquin is actually a pretty cool name for a villain; it was actually the name of an Etruscan king way back when.)

The lights had been placed in human skulls, so the hall was ill-lit.

This is also pretty cool, albeit slightly morbid.

I'll spare you guys the details, because then we'd be here way too long, but I devoted one and a half pages of telling Tarquin's backstory. We're only thirteen pages in and we already know more about him than we do the main characters! The way I tell the backstory makes it even less interesting. It's just not executed well.

As for physical appearance, to say Tarquin was no Tom Cruise was an understatement. Besides being about seven feet high, he was bald and covered with scars.

I'm not sure if I find the celebrity reference absolutely hilarious or totally out of place. And it's tall, not high.

The regular soldiers made way for the elite [portal guardians] and lowered the ramp. The commander and commander-in-training got on one and led the squad toward the portal.

See? The portal guardians are indeed higher up, so why in heaven's name were the guards giving them such a hard time, especially when said guards are protecting the corridor to Tarquin's room? So if Carl and Stuart are really that much in charge, did they have to fly back to the ship? Couldn't they just make a judgement call and radio for backup?

Major David Sanders walked through the U.S. military base, looking for Brigadier General Lester Jackson's office. He had just gotten a call from Lester, who had wanted him in his office right away.

Finally! After fourteen pages and three chapters, we actually are introduced to one of the main characters, who decides to share his full name and rank, along with that of his superior. But was it really necessary to mention the call? And I'm also triggered by the inconsistent formatting of U.S., because not that long ago, it was simply US.

David was thirty-two years old, with dark brown hair and shining green eyes. Not only was he loyal to his country, he was a devoted Christian. He would openly show God's love through his actions and words, which most people appreciated.

No, no, no. This is not how character descriptions are supposed to go. It's as if I'm getting punched in the face by them while I'm reading, and then they're like, "Carry on." According to David's description, he's perfect and has no flaws whatsoever. I feel like I had to mention the "most people appreciated" line because of jerks like Alex.

David took a tack from the general's desk, drew his arm back, then launched it at the map. It soared through the air and landed dead center on [city I won't name because it's close to where I live and I apparently knew of no other cities when I wrote this]'s circle. "Right there," he said and sat back down.
Warren's jaw dropped and a flabbergasted look spread across Mark's face. "How did you do that?" Mark asked.
David shrugged. He didn't know how himself. All he basically knew was that his throwing ability was a God-given gift.

Is it even possible for someone to hit the dead center of those teeny-tiny little dots? I'm skeptical about its feasibility. (But remember it, because it's important later! Why else would I include this scene?) And of course David would only know that his gift was from God. This is a Christian story, after all! Now that I think of it, this meeting is far too casual for the military.

"So, David," Warren said, "were you ever a football quarterback? You got the arm for it."
"I've considered it many a time, but God called me to other things."
"So you're a Christian?" Mark asked. When David nodded, he exclaimed, "So am I!"
Warren was silent. The others guessed he wasn't a believer.

This conversation is so cringy. I can't even form words to properly describe how much I distaste these on-the-nose discussions. And that last sentence . . . that's a good thing to assume. "Oh, Warren's not talking? Ah, he must be a heathen." Obligatory "secular" character is obligatory.

David decided to change the topic for now. "You must work out, Warren. You got pretty muscular arms," he commented.
Warren grinned impishly. "I have once or twice." He rolled up his sleeves and flexed his biceps. David whistled.
 "I can do that, too," Mark said. He did, although there were no very noticeable effects.

Save me from the cringe, please! These guys are adults! They were specifically chosen to go find out what happened to the missing soldiers (which seems like a really small group for something kinda important). Why, then, are they talking about muscles like a bunch of teenagers? I'll tell you why: that's who they're supposed to be! No teen book that I've ever read featured main characters who are adults.

Suddenly, the radio crackled. "Alert, alert!" a soldier said. "We're under attack!"
Mark paused, frozen with fear.

Lester boasted how good you were, and yet here you are, afraid because the others are being attacked? This really shouldn't be too new for you.

Then someone spoke through the radio. "You still there, Mark?"
Mark didn't recognize the voice. None of the soldiers had a British accent. "Who are you, and how do you know my name?"

"I'm not going to answer either of those questions right now. I'm simply here to give you some convenient info because I'm in with the bad guys. None of them will notice this conversation I'm having with you. You'll trust me and, in the end, won't doubt a thing I say, even though I could be leading you into a trap."

All of a sudden, fury swelled in Mark's chest. "Then how do you explain the ambush on the deminers? You were amongst the shooters."
"I threw my shots off. Trust me."
The anger subsided. "Alright. So, how are we in the wrong place?"

First, NO! Not this garbage about sudden emotion. No one gets angry for, like, five seconds and then is cool. Second, did the other guardians not notice this dude suffering from the Stormtrooper effect?

"Look closely for particles of moving air. It will appear to be a mirage, but if you're the Chosen Ones, you will truly know if it's the portal."

You know, the "Chosen Ones" trope feels really disjointed in this story. I don't really pull it off all that well.

Warren looked ahead and gasped. A dead end was coming up fast. He made an one hundred eighty degree turn and slipped pas the jeep. The driver barely slammed on the brakes soon enough to avoid hitting the wall.

So I know this street was full of potholes and everything, but did the gunner seriously not shoot Warren or his dirtbike? And how narrow was this road? If it was narrow enough, the driver could've smashed the jeep into the bike. I think Tarquin needs to seriously re-evaluate his men.

As the light found [David], bullets soared through the darkness. One managed to puncture his shoulder blade. He swallowed the pain.

Well, at least we know one of the baddies has a decent aim. I expected the three heroes to be a lot more hurt by now.

"What happened to you?" Warren asked in a concerned tone, referring to the wound on David's shoulder. Blood had soaked into his uniform.
"Just a little bite from a bullet. Nothing serious," David informed, touching the hole and wincing. "I don't think it was a big gun. I'm pretty sure it was a machine gun."
"Thank goodness. A bullet from a big gun would've shattered your shoulder blade. In fact, you probably would've lost your arm," Warren stated. With that, their dirtbikes roared into the desert.

. . . Excuse me? What exactly did I just witness? I don't think I would say having a hole in your shoulder is a small matter. And then Warren rattles off a random fact he probably read on the Internet in a cool, professional manner. Then they just drive away. I just . . . I can't even.

[The jeep] rammed into [Mark's bike]. Instead of sending him over the side of the cliff, as the driver had anticipated, it propelled him forward.

Well, I guess common physics got the day off.

"Blast!" Carl snarled. The soldiers had discovered the portal, it had moved away, and his boss would not be pleased. What could be worse?

You could be a character in a terrible story filled with tons of mistakes. Oh, too late for you, I guess. Saying "blast" doesn't suit your character, by the way. Plus, if you hadn't wanted the portal to move away, Steward shouldn't have been given dynamite to throw at the ground near the portal in case someone was trying to go through. Why didn't you just shoot David before he got there? *covers my face with hand and shakes my head at the ridiculousness of this story*

That'll be the end of this post. Are you guys still enjoying this? If you are, let me know, and I'll make it a monthly series.