Saturday, November 18, 2017

It's Finally Happening! /// Beautiful Books - Digital Pulse

Have you ever wanted something, but never knew you wanted it? And then when you do get it, you're like, "I've been wanting this my whole life without knowing it, yet feeling like something was missing in my life! Thanks for taking your jolly sweet time." (I have no clue what on earth makes time jolly or sweet, but those are unimportant details, so don't ask me about them.)

One of those things that you've wished for since the dawn of time my blog is . . .

A Beautiful People post!

*insert some stereotypical cricket chirping here*

Oh, c'mon! You know you have. Sadly, I've barely talked about any of my stories here, or even writing in general. Sure, it's one of my most-used labels, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what I could post on the subject. That's why I have chosen today to share with you more juicy details on my Rooglewood contest entry, titled Digital Pulse. (Some credit goes to Tracey for helping me come up with that title.)

Though, there is a second reason why I decided to do this now, and it's not a good one. I've been feeling stumped with this story. Whereas I had loads of inspiration for Of Beauties and Beasts and even more for Darkened Slumber, Digital Pulse has been severely lacking ideas. Actually, let me correct myself. It's not necessarily a lack of ideas; it's more of a difficulty to get into the flow of the story. I can count on one hand how many times I've written, and what I have penned just feels so rough.

Now, I know you need to give yourself permission to have a cruddy first draft, but I still hate the feeling. At this point, it's not something I'd even want to turn in, because--in my mind--it looks like I'm still a novice writer. Which is probably true, but whatever. And time is running out. I have to attack this story with all the speed and fury I can muster if I even hope to send it in.

I'm getting sidetracked. For those of you who don't know what Beautiful People is, it's a blog series created by Cait from Paper Fury and Sky from Further Up and Further In where you get to share your stories and characters with other people. It's actually a great way for people to brainstorm and encourage one another, so kudos to them for starting it in the first place! Normally, you answer questions about a character of yours, but around this time of year, you get to talk about whatever project you're working on.

This is, like I said, my first entry in the post series, or whatever you wanna call it. I'ma just gonna copy Tracey's idea by answering the questions from last month as well as this month, just for hoots (and inspiration). So it's like I'm playing Twenty Questions, except not!

. . . I'll just stop the intro right about now.


October Questions

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

If you know me, you know that music--soundtrack music in particular--often inspires my story before I've even written the thing. Digital Pulse was no different. "Blackout" by Two Steps From Hell gave me an image of an epic battle between a superhero and a cyborg, and things just kind of took off from there. You may think that's totally random or weird, but that's how my brain works. I've had the idea for a while; I'm going to say it's been floating around in my brain at least a year, maybe two. Crazy, right? It shouldn't be hard for me to write this thing, but it is somehow. It doesn't make sense.

Describe what your novel is about!

You may recall I briefly shared a description of it back when I posted about my juggle of all my ongoing stories. Allow me to share with you a more detailed synopsis.

People have certain ideas about what the future and superheroes look like. But the future is bleak and unkind to most, and Ryder would not call himself a hero. He has no special powers, only the gear that is available to him in the world's capital of technology. Most days, he just feels like a garbage collector, hunting down rogue A.I. constantly.

The one person he can truly relate to is an android named Ceinwen, who is more human than the others. They are both products of a lab, and so their understanding of one another goes deep. Ryder knows if he lost his only true friend, he'd lose everything good in his life.

Then everything goes wrong. Ryder is called to deal with more rotten A.I., but what he discovers is a gang of crafty cyborgs and androids, led by a man who calls himself a figure of the past. And during the ensuing fight, Ceinwen is kidnapped. Ryder will stop at nothing to find her and get her back, but there's just one major problem.

He has what is called the bjorn strain, a disease that cripples him physically and emotionally. If he cannot bring it under control somehow, either it or his enemy will surely be the death of him.

Well, I may rambled a bit there, but that's basically it! Having this all here helps me to remember all the cool stuff I have planned for Digital Pulse. I really do think this post is going to help me get my fire back.

What is your book's aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

I actually just started a Pinterest account so I could find pictures to use for this. Nothing fits perfectly, or at least how I'm envisioning things in my mind. But I'm finding better pictures than I would on Google Images. So here's just a few to give you an idea of what I'm going for.


Introduce us to each of your characters!

Ryder (the prince): A tough-as-nails, no-nonsense hero armed with gear from his home, Titanium Research Facilities. He is the first in their line of enhanced human warriors. He suffers under the horror of the bjorn strain, a side effect of the experiments performed on him. A bitter past lies underneath the surface, but he hides it away under his uncaring veneer.

Ceinwen (Snow White): An android created with a perfect body and powered by a unique source. She is more human than others, but speaks very matter-of-factly. She is Ryder's only friend and has loved him since she first saw him. She has to put up with many tests and experiments at Titanium.

Jasper (the huntsman): The leader of a gang of cyborgs and androids known as the Metal-Shadow Gang. He hails from a historical time period, and he serves the Master with the utmost loyalty. A brute before, his strength has only increased, and he is more machine than he is man. Time will tell just what he wants with Ceinwen, but by then, it might be too late.

Selah (the mirror): A sentient computer program with an added sense of humor. She is like a much more sophisticated version of Siri or Cortana. Under Ryder's use, it is her duty to help him locate Ceinwen as fast as possible.

Doctor Neville: The head of the seven scientists who created Ceinwen. He's one of the kindest facility members to both Ryder and Ceinwen, but is forced to perform tests everyday on the latter.

Director Colby: The leader of Titanium, who takes a high interest in Ryder, though not in a good way. He wants to continue developing enhanced warriors and sell them to other countries. He sees Ryder as a weak specimen for suffering under the bjorn strain.

It's not a huge cast of characters, but you can't afford one in a story with a 20,000 word limit. And also, thanks to this post, Selah is now an official character! That alone makes doing Beautiful Books worthwhile.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

I like going for walks and listening to music as a pre-writing ritual. It helps me clear my mind of other things, then focus solely on the story and all my ideas I have for it so far. Some of my best ideas come from my walks. After that? Well, I must reuse an old meme, because Shia LeBeouf sums it up well:

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What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

I'd have to say simply writing Ryder and Ceinwen. They are so different from my other couples. Takeshi was an honor-bound samurai prince, and Emiko a sweet princess. Byron was a pirate scarred by the past; Bella was a headstrong young lady who broke down his walls. While Ryder could be most compared to Byron, this story isn't about a beast transformed by love. It's about a hardened man struggling with his demons and wanting to save the one good thing in his life. Ceinwen is A.I. for crying out loud! That alone makes her fun to write. And the fact that she's more human also makes her more relatable as a character.

I'm also looking forward to tying in this story with my previous two. If anyone's read Of Beauties and Beasts, they'll probably have recognized some references already. (You guys don't know how excited I am to extend all these retellings into a seven-book series. It's gonna be epic!)

List 3 things about your novel's setting.

1. I felt like not many stories take place in Canada, so I decided that the location would be Prince Edward Island, or PEI for short. #LifeLessonsForYouNon-Canadians

2. I also felt that if a story takes place in Canada, it's not necessarily an important place or anything. Therefore, PEI became the world's leading center for new technology.

3. While I wanted Digital Pulse to take place in the future, I didn't want to make it so extravagant that it seemed impossible. Thus, the year is 2107, but technology for most people is limited to autonomous cars. The government keeps the best A.I. and leaves the rest for various jobs. These units are much susceptible to going rogue, as they are of a poorer quality.

What's your character's goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Ryder's main goal is to rescue Ceinwen. That much is obvious. But many things stand in his way. He has to actually hunt her down, for one thing, which is a big enough problem. There's also the minor issue of the Metal-Shadow Gang, who have some dastardly scheme up their metaphorical sleeves. And if that's not enough, he has to deal with the bjorn strain. It gives him a "high," if you will, causing him to go into berserker mode. But the hangover comes, and it leaves him unable to move and heightens emotional pain. So yeah, there are a lot of obstacles.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the book?

To be honest, this part isn't totally clear in my mind at this point. That may sound crazy, but it's true nevertheless. What I do know is that I don't want Ryder to become a softie by the end. He's still going to be no-nonsense most of the time. But I think he'll come to the realization that he has to accept the horrid things that happened to him in order to move on, hoping that those things will end in some kind of good somewhere along the line. Does that make sense? I think whatever transformation he goes through will feel more organic when I just write the story.

What are your book's themes? How do you want readers

No life is without tragedy. We are all the same in that way. What makes some people different is that they come to terms with those hardships. They let themselves become refined and grow stronger in the storms, and they cling to the belief that all things will work together for good in the end. They may not see it in the present, but they can look back one day and know that they did not believe in vain.

So when the last chapter is finished, I want readers to be challenged to look at their own lives and recognize that maybe they've let past adversities get the best of them. They've become crippled to the emotional, or maybe even physical, pain and scars those tragedies left. I sincerely hope they can find a way to move on and not be held back by bitterness or resentment.

Dang! I'm actually starting to really like this theme!

November Questions

Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

You know, before I started writing this post, I was just really not feeling Digital Pulse. But I think I'm getting my fire back. It had better be a pretty big fire, though, because my story is sitting at 1,181 words. Yeah, it's pretty sad. I've only got a little over a month to finish it, so here's to hoping! *raises a glass of chocolate milk*

What's your first sentence (or paragraph)?

I'm copying Tracey again and doing the first three paragraphs.

The world was cold and dark.
That was her initial perception. Light began to flood her corneas, and she sensed the temperature rising to twenty-three degrees Celsius. There were voices--four male and three female, all within a proximity of five and a half yards. What felt like a hanging frame kept her stiff, feet flat on the smooth floor.
It is though I have just been born. It was a peculiar thought, since newborns tended to not recognize the moment their life began. 

That's a little glimpse into Ceinwen's POV. Like I said, she's going to be fun to write.

Who's your current favorite character in your novel?

I can't just pick one! My four major characters--Ryder, Ceinwen, Jasper, and Selah--are all great because they're all so very different from each other, as well as many other characters I've written. That's my answer, and I'm sticking with it.

What do you love about your novel so far?

With the Rooglewood contests, I've always tried to use different genres, or even genre combinations, that I have never done before. So I love that this story is a sci-fi superhero mystery tale. I also love my unique main characters, and how I'm going to tie my fairy tale retellings together. So . . . I guess pretty much everything?

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Not that I'm aware of. If I do, you'll be the first to know. (No promises, though, so don't hold your breath.)

What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end--and why?

I'd probably have to say the end. Tying everything together is just something I enjoy doing. Then there's the detail about having the final battle, which is always fun because you can go big and extravagant . . . if it fits the story, anyway. But one of my top reasons for liking the end the best is because that's usually where things get the most emotional. And I'm one of those cruel authors who likes to give his readers emotional pain. Anyone who's read my past two entries would most likely agree.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

Well, this question is a mouthful and a half. Lemme see . . . I don't really eat snacks when writing. If I need brain food, I'll grab a candy, but that's it.

And of course I listen to music! I usually go for either a new album that I want to listen to in one sitting (if at all possible), or something that fits the mood of the story. Last time I wrote, I looked up a YouTube playlist of sci-fi battle music. But I've also found that listening to Antti Martikainen's album Synthesia is a really good choice.

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I usually just write whenever, but I tend to write later in the day, especially in the evening. As for my writing space, it's not really anything to write home about. So I won't bother showing it.

How private are you about your novel while you're writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I need to work better at being like Batman, because you can't always rely on other people to give you a boost, if you know what I mean. I definitely love having a cheer squad to encourage. That's probably due to me doing the majority of my writing on the former LEGO Message Boards, where I often had users complimenting me. That, and words are one of my top two love languages, so . . . *shrugs*

What keeps you writing even when it's hard?

Multiple things, actually: a playlist for the story, other people encouraging me, the thought of someone being able to read and enjoy my story, long walks with just me, my music, and God . . . that sort of thing.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

Oh boy, that's a tough question. I don't know if I can say that these are my top three tips, but they're three tips nonetheless.

1. Give your characters conflicting values. If you have a guy who says, "My family is everything to me," but also says, "Power is everything to me," you're going to get some serious conflicts. He'll have to choose between the two at least once, and it won't be an easy decision. Doing this creates a lot of suspense of the readers, because they don't know which value will win out in the end. *suddenly wonders if any of my characters in this story have conflicting values*

2. Try your hand at writing different kinds of characters. It's what I have strived to in each of my stories. Kayne in The Tournament of Convicts is an over-exaggerated version of me that I relate to very well. Brixton in Maelstrom is more of an opposite of me, yet I still really like him. Verak from a co-authored project I'm working on called The Darkest Dawn is a good brother who gets really dark, so in some aspects, I relate to him and would fear being in his position. I could go on, but what I'm saying is never write just one type of character. Readers will get bored of that.

3. Don't be afraid to kill off your characters. I do that all the time, and I think it's one of the most effective methods to give your reader an emotional experience--so long as you do it right. There are things that need to be avoided when it comes to character deaths, but I won't go into it now. (I eventually want to do a post just about this topic.) Suffice it to say that you need to JUST DO IT! dispose of a character every now and again, even though it may hurt.

And that is finally it! No more questions to answer. Before I close off this post, I just want to give a big thanks to Cait and Sky for creating Beautiful Books. I came into this kinda despising my story, and came out wanting to write like a hardcore maniac . . . or something. Basically, you two have helped put the fire back in my writing spirit, and I cannot thank you enough.

Are any of you guys entering (or have entered) this last Rooglewood contest? If you're doing NaNo, how's that coming for ya? Have you participated in Beautiful Books? Should you need a second wind, you have to give it a whirl! I'm definitely doing this more often.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Honor the Fallen

Today's post is going to be both a bit shorter and more serious, but I feel like it's an important one. November 11th, known as Remembrance Day in Canada and Veteran's Day in the US, is where we honor the fallen. We take the time to remember those soldiers who entered the battlefield, the men who bore weapons against the enemy. Some of them, by some miracle, survived, while around them lay the bodies of comrades and friends.

Honestly, one day is not enough to be thankful for our soldiers. We should be grateful for them every day of every year, because if they had lost, our world would be so much different today. Just imagine what our lives would be like had the Allies lost World War II. That alone should be enough to make you appreciate the freedom fighters.

I think being a soldier is one of the most Christ-like occupations. The reason I say that is because of Jesus's words in John 15:13 (The Voice): "There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends." That's exactly what Jesus did. He sacrificed Himself on the cross as the greatest expression of the most powerful love. Men of the army follow His example, whether they acknowledge it or not, by sacrificing themselves for their country and the future generations, even when we don't even know them.

But why? Why do honorable people who serve in the armed forces have to die in order that others may live? Why did Jesus even die for us, when surely there could've been some other way?

It's because freedom has one currency, and that's blood.

Without the shedding of blood, true freedom is not bought. In order for someone to stand tomorrow, someone has to fall today. I hope that every soldier who died on the battlegrounds that war stained with blood caught a glimmer of what the future would be. I hope they knew that their efforts were not in pain, that they weren't just another tally in the KIA count. I pray that they saw a beautiful future of liberty, one where people don't have to cower in their houses and run from tyrants.

Obviously, our life now isn't perfect. There are still people in the world who cower and run. There are still tyrants who seek to squash freedom. In fact, we have squandered our freedom at times. But we can change. The world can change, but it starts with us. Just like it started with the soldiers charging into the maw of death.

I'd like to go on a bit of a side note here and venture to say that we as Christians have sometimes been a little comfortable with our lives. We've been okay with staying seated instead of taking a stand. Jesus wasn't always a "nice guy." While He told His disciples to be as wise as snakes and as gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16), He also said that He came to bring a sword rather than peace (Matthew 10:34). These statements, you'll notice, are made in the exact same chapter. He's the guy who caused a ruckus in the temple by overturning tables and driving the people out (Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-16). He's the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), but He also has a double-edged sword in Revelation 1:16.

What am I saying? Christians need to understand that there is a time to stand and fight rather than sit and wait it out. There is a time to make waves rather than go with the flow. There is a time when silence is yellow rather than golden. We have to spot those times when they arise so that we can follow suit.

I'm not saying you're going to be asked to die. But surely we can follow the examples of all the brave men and women who've gone before us and acted selflessly in the face of impossible circumstances. Our sacrifice may not be our lives, but if we love others, we'll be willing to sacrifice what we can: time, money, popularity, or whatever else it may be. Because that's what true love does.

So while today is a day of remembering our veterans, let it also forever be one where we choose to honor their lives by sacrificing something for someone. It's what they did.

It's what Jesus did.

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Let's just take a moment of silence to honor the fallen.

Monday, November 06, 2017

THE DOUBLE WHAMMY /// Monthly HapPENings: October + Music Monday #10

Okay, guys, don't panic . . . but we have a real problem here. Either 2017 decided to skip October, or there's a thief out there who steals months. Or maybe October was struck by lightning and is now the fastest month alive. Whatever the case, I want my October back. It was here and gone faster than I thought possible.

Oh! You noticed the title, did ya? Well, allow me to explain myself. On Friday, I was having computer problems. By the time I got everything solved, I was too lazy to write my post. Saturday was another lazy day with zero motivation, and when Sunday rolled around, I thought to myself, "You know, rather than having a post two days in a row, why not just combine them?" I know, I'm incredibly smart, you don't have to tell me.

And for the third time in a row, I am without an official picture. So you know what that means?

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In case you didn't infer it from the picture I aptly chose, winter has come to Canada. During the last few days of October, we got our first snow. This is a panorama of what my backyard looked like on the morning of the 26th.


As for life in general . . . you know that job I mentioned I got back in August? The one at the concrete factory? Well, they always have less work in the winter, so they lay people off. The 13th was my last day, and I've been on the job hunt ever since. While I sometimes feel discouraged about the whole ordeal, I'm believing that it simply means I've got a better job waiting for me.

I didn't really do anything else that was terribly interesting this month, aside from hanging out with my family more. So let's get on to the rest of the post!

Bookish HapPENings

*twiddles fingers nervously* So . . . books! Books are . . . great! Man, if you can't even finish one book in a month when you have all the time in the world, you must be a really weird person . . .

OKAY! I admit it! I finished no books this month, just like September. How is it I've been on the same book from, like, the middle of August until now? I swear, guys, if I don't finish the book I'm reading by the end of November, you all have permission to mock me to your hearts' content.

HapPENings on the Screen


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I watched The LEGO Ninjago Movie when it came to my local theater, and lemme just tell you: BEST. LEGO. MOVIE. EVER! So far, of the three films, it's grossed the least amount of money . . . but sometimes the movies that are less popular in theaters are the best ones. (Like one might argue that Tangled is better than Frozen, even though the latter grossed more.) It was filled to the brim with more irreverent humor, epic action sequences, and a lot of heart (I almost cried at one scene). Plus, it referenced/playfully poked fun at the TV show, which made me love the movie more. And Lord Garmadon was my favorite character. Justin Theroux did such an excellent job of voicing his character; at times, he sounded almost exactly like Mark Oliver, the actor who played Garmadon on the show. (My thoughts are everywhere right now, so once I watch this movie on DVD, I just might have to give it a proper review.)

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Kaitlyn, Chloe, and I watched this one together, and I still stand firm in my opinion that it's the best movie in the Pirates franchise. Besides all the stuff I've mentioned in the past about these movies, this one gave some more depth to the villains--at least, that's what I felt. I never thought I'd feel sorry for Davy Jones, and Lord Cutler Beckett's final moments were done perfectly. I also appreciated Norrington's character arc from the first movie to this one. Once again, what I had first thought was a convoluted plot actually made sense this time around. Now I just need to finish watching the fourth film (which I only got to see most of) and see the fifth.

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So DC and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship. While Marvel consistently makes great movies, DC . . . doesn't. Don't get me wrong, I loved Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel. I actually didn't hate Dawn of Justice, but I love making fun of its logic. ("Why did you say that name?!") Movies like Suicide Squad, however, are awful. So I wasn't expecting great things from Wonder Woman. Lo and behold, I was surprised. I actually enjoyed the movie! While it was easy to draw comparisons to Captain America: The First Avenger (a world war is going on, the hero uses a round shield, and there's a character named Steve), it still had its own distinctions. Cap, in his debut, was a hero to the soldiers and had a large special ops group, where we only get to really know Bucky. Diana, on the other hand, is a hero to civilians, and her band of mighty men is much smaller, consisting of four men who are all distinctly different from one another. The characters, action, plot, and score were all very well-done. If you're looking to watch a good DC movie, this one will satisfy your craving . . . aside from the fact that Diana could do with an outfit that has, shall we say, more material.

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I already watched Spider-Man: Homecoming in summer, when it came to theaters. I loved re-watching it, though. Tom Holland is, in my mind, the perfect Spider-Man. He actually looks like he belongs in high school, and he's nerdy while not being overly so. It's also cool to see how Tony Stark has matured since the early days. And Vulture was an awesome villain with a suit that was just as awesome. Yeah, all the characters in here--even the ones you don't like--were great in their own ways. I give this movie the "Best Spider-Man Flick" award.

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My sisters and I are still watching season three of Once Upon a Time. I'm still enjoying the change of scene, even though Neverland sometimes reminds me of the jungle in Gilligan's Island. I'm intrigued as to where the plot is going, what with Peter Pan's scheme and all. I'm also liking Hook even more, but I wonder how the love triangle between him, Neal, and Emma is going to end. Probably not well. And I've found out just how much I hate to see the Charmings fight.


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Well, I can definitely say that The Flash is still my favorite TV show. This season has been excellent at creating conflict amongst Team Flash, and I've already been hit by a number of plot twists and jaw-droppers. In my last Monthly HapPENings post, I mentioned how I can't wait to see the main villain of this season. Well, he's shown up . . . and he's definitely looking devilishly epic. That's all I will say about him, because I don't wanna spoil anything for you guys who haven't seen this season yet. And as for the plot, things are not looking too good for the heroes. *rubs hands gleefully* Ah, I can't enough of this show!

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My youngest two sisters and I are watching the Tournament of Elements season together. I recently bought the two newest seasons and the TV special, and we decided to re-watch the two seasons that came before them. It's one of my favorite Ninjago seasons, with suspense and intrigue abounding. I still love this show's humor and characters. You can tell there's some good chemistry between the actors.

Writerly HapPENings

Well, I think I beat my measly 32 words last month. For October, I wrote a whopping . . . 328 words! It's better than September's word count, but it's still not good enough.

At this rate, I'm not sure if I'll be submitting my Snow White story. I'm going to have to really buckle down if I want to. (By the way, my story's name is now Digital Pulse, for you curious bunch.)

And now, for the other part of this post!


Our track for today is . . .

"Cradle" from Spiral Knights
Composed by Harry Mack


I discovered the game Spiral Knights on Steam earlier this year. It's a free-to-play MMOG, so I figured I would check it out. I downloaded it, booted it up, and was greeted by this music. I instantly knew I would love this game.

I love the art style and gameplay, and the music just adds an extra oomph to it all. This song is so relaxing and peaceful. Actually, not many of the tracks--at least from the first of the two albums--can really be classified as intense.

I'm not sure how to describe this game's music. It's not full-on retro chiptune, but there's something kinda old-school about it. I honestly don't know what it is. I can tell the music is all synthesized, but I still really enjoy it.

Okay, my fingers are getting tired, and this post is getting long. I'm going to end it off here. Sorry for making the Music Monday side of things shorter this time around. I hope you still enjoyed the post! Oh yeah, and we hit 10 Music Mondays. Whoop whoop!

How were your Octobers? Did they speed past ya as well? Have you played Spiral Knights before? Would you guys like it if I added a video game heading to my Monthly HapPENings posts? And finally, if you happen to be knowledgeable about all things music (especially about leitmotifs), I'm gonna need your help on the 20th!

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Bibliophile Sweater Tag /// The Who-Did-The-What-Now Tag?

Quick: what's a blogger's favorite game to play?

Tag!

BA-DUM CHING!

I know, I know, it's a dad joke. But ever since I went to college last September (as in, the one from 2016), it's become my speciality. It's how I charm the ladies. That, and with my good looks.

But you guys didn't come here for my dating advice (although I'm sure that would make for a fabulous and popular post). I'm here because Tracey, that Internet infamous sister of mine, tagged me. The tag was created by the legendary Mary Horton, and she tagged Tracey. So I'm part of the third generation of the tagged.

Seeing as my first tag I did, The Sunshine Blogger Award, ended up being my third most popular post, I figured it wouldn't hurt to do another. But before we get to the rules and such, what on earth is a bibliophile? *looks it up on the Merriam-Webster dictionary* Oh! Someone who loves books! I guess I count, then.

Rules:
  1. Give the person who tagged you a never-ending supply of cookies (or just thank them - either works). *searches my pockets* Uh, I only have a few Kleenexes (#NotSponsored) on me . . . So a thanks will have to do this time. Ahem. Thank you, Tracey. *sits back down and sees everyone staring at me* What? Is that not good enough? Fine, I'll put a little more effort into it. Ahem. THANK YOU, O MAGNIFICENT SISTER OF MINE, FOR TAGGING ME ON THIS MOST AUSPICIOUS DAY THAT SHALL FOREVER GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE DAY I WAS TAGGED BY MY ELDEST SIBLING! Better?
  2. Answer all the questions and use the blog graphic for this tag somewhere in your post. That shouldn't be a problem . . . hopefully. What happens if I don't follow this rule? Do I get blog detention or something? I'd really like to know the consequences of disobedience. I mean, who's going to enforce these? *shrugs* Just asking what everyone is clearly thinking.
  3. Pass along this tag to at least five other people. I shall contribute to the fourth generation! Let it never be said that I don't care about the children of the future.
  4. Wear a sweater (okay, this is optional . . . but why wouldn't you want to??) Since when was an optional rule a thing? As for wearing a sweater, I'm wearing a sweater/long-sleeved shirt/thing, so I suppose that counts. But what if I was living in Hawaii or the Sahara Desert or something? Then I'd be forced to wear a sweater when it would cause me bodily discomfort! How rude to demand such a thing.

Now that we got the obligatory stuff done--wait, not quite yet! Hang on just a sec . . .

I must admit, this is a really sick graphic! Kudos to you, Miss Horton!

Perfect! Now we're finished with all the obligatory stuff. Let's get on with the bookish pictures!

Fuzzy Sweater (a book that is the epitome of comfort)


I'm copying Tracey a bit here because I'm also choosing a book that includes a whole series. I love Andrew Klavan's novels. They're quick reads with snappy action sequences, witty dialogue, and loads of suspense. If you haven't read any of his books before, WHAT'RE YOU WAITING FOR?! This was the first series of his that I read, and it still holds a special place in my heart. Now I want to sit down and reread this book. If I decided to spend more time reading, I'd probably finish this within a few days.

Striped Sweater (a book which you devoured every line of)

The copy of this book that I read had a different cover, but I like this one more.

Tim Downs is an author with only about nine books to his name, but they are all really good books! His Bug Man series is absolutely phenomenal and hilarious. This book, though, was a really suspenseful book--so suspenseful that I read the majority of it in one afternoon. Yeah, I know, it's pretty crazy. When I think of books that I blazed through, this one always comes to mind first. Although, to be honest, I don't remember much about the book. *adds to my mental "read again" list*

Ugly Christmas Sweater (a book with a weird cover)


Okay, it's not ugly, per se. It just looks like a video game that hasn't been quite perfected. Don't let that fool you, though. I actually picked this book up because, at the time, I thought it looked really cool. And I guess I kinda still do, but maybe that's because I know the great story the cover hides. I actually remember more from this series than I do for most. I had flipped through this book two or three years ago, and while I noticed more mistakes than I had during my first time reading it, it still appeals to me immensely. (And yes, the covers, while still looking like video games, do get better. In my opinion, anyway.)

Cashmere Sweater (the most expensive book you've bought)


Like Tracey, I don't remember the most expensive book I bought. But, like Tracey, one of my most expensive books is this one, costing $25 in Canada. It was only available in hardcover. John Flanagan is one of those authors whose books are worth dropping a bit more money on. I can't really comment on this book, since I've only read the first three books in this series so far. But the Brotherband Chronicles is just as entertaining as Ranger's Apprentice was!

Hoodie (your favorite classic book)


I'll be completely honest here: I don't read a whole lot of "classic" novels. However, when I do, Jules Verne is one of my favorite authors. I had to once read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for school, and I decided to voluntarily read this book beforehand. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a fun romp with action, adventure, wit, and memorable characters. This is probably one of the best classics I've ever read! (Right up there with The Lord of the Rings, of course.)

Cardigan (a book that you bought on impulse)


When I was on a trip with my college class earlier this year, I found this book and immediately picked it up. Why? Because it's Jennifer A. Nielsen, of course. No other reason necessary. I've read her Ascendance Trilogy and loved it to pieces (well, I should specify I've read the first two books, but still). So upon seeing another book written by her and reading the back, I knew I had no choice but to buy it! If you haven't read any of her books, you haven't fully lived life yet.

Turtleneck Sweater (a book from your childhood)


Of all the books my parents read to me as a child, this is the one I remember the best. It's a story about how an elephant was never chosen for anything at school one day. He tells his mom about his horrible day, and she always says that she'd choose him. It's an adorable story, one that was brought to my remembrance after watching an episode of The Flash called "The Runaway Dinosaur."

Homemade Knitted Sweater (a book that is Indie-published)

Erm . . . uh . . . I actually can't answer this question. I'm 95.307% sure that I haven't read any indie books, and if I have, they were completely unmemorable. But I never wear homemade knitted sweaters either, so I guess it all works out in the end.

V-neck Sweater (a book that did not meet your expectations)

Since when were V-neck sweaters a thing? And even if they were, would they still be immodest? Don't most people wear shirts underneath their sweaters? Why wear a sweater without a shirt? That's like eating a burger without a bun. It just doesn't work. Mary! We need to have a discussion about your bibliophile sweater logic! . . . Unless I'm just a totally clueless dude who doesn't know that V-neck sweaters exist and that people don't wear--you know what, I'll just stop now and get to the point of this category.


I really wish it wasn't Eoin Colfer who was going into this slot, but he's going to have to. I absolutely love the Artemis Fowl series. It's one of my favorite series of all time. So I went into this book expecting that same awesomeness . . . and was disappointed. It did not feel like it was written by the same author who penned the world of Artemis. I won't give my full thoughts here, as I'm planning on doing a review of it at some point. Suffice it to say my expectations were not met.

Argyle Sweater (a book with a unique format)


This book has got to be one of the most unique I've ever read! Because the book deals with a world in a comic book, scattered throughout it are several pages of comic panels. (I noticed some of were scenes that were easier to tell with drawings rather than words.) It also makes use of different fonts occasionally, like when the villain Tall Jake talks. Again, this is another book that I'd like to do a review on if you guys are interested, so I won't spill all my thoughts here.

Polka Dot Sweater (a book with well-rounded characters)


When I think of well-rounded characters, this book comes to mind pretty quickly. I actually don't remember a ton from this book, but I do know that it's one of my favorite books, if not my favorite book, by Bryan Davis. There are a lot of great characters not only in this book, but in the whole series. One of the characters I remember most is Leo, who's like a dark Starlighter or something with epic powers. You need to read both this series and its companion YA series. They're fantastic books, in more ways than one!

And just because I found a missed opportunity in this tag, I'm adding one category . . .

Itchy Sweater (a book that looked good at first, but betrayed you later on)


This book could've gone under either the Cardigan or V-neck category, but I had other ideas for those, so I needed to make my own. This book cover captured my interest when I picked it up, so I decided to purchase it. I didn't fully enjoy it when I read it, though. The writing was lacking that spark, that extra oomph. You know what I mean? It just wasn't spectacular. And the note at the beginning . . . *shakes my head, tempted to laugh* It said that Satan's name wasn't capitalized because they felt like it would be empowering him. (I kinda see where they're coming from, but he's a defeated enemy, so capitalizing his name is just good English.) Looking at the publishing company's page, I cringe, and I think I may be seeing even more clearly why I didn't care for this book.

Well, it's time to pass on this bibliophile sweater to the next generation. But who am I to limit this gift to five people? I care about all the children! So I say whoever wishes to do this tag, you may do so, and feel free to add my category. (Because I'm not lazy and I clearly know who has all been tagged already.)

And that's the end of it! I hope you enjoyed this splendid tag as much as I did. In all seriousness, my heartfelt thanks to both Tracey and Mary. You guys saved me from having to come up with a post this week.

What did you guys think of my phenomenal post? (Yes, humility is my middle name.) Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with the categories they were put under? Oh, and by the way . . . tag, you're it! Get it? Because this is a tag? Ah, never mind.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Music Monday #9 + An Announcement

About halfway through the afternoon, I suddenly remembered what day it is today.


I know what you're thinking: how could I forget such an important day? And my answer is: I don't know. But to make it up to ya, I've chosen a really good song. (At least, in my mind I think it's really good. You might disagree. *shrugs*)

"Eclipse (Extended Mix)"
Composed by MDK


MDK--Morgan David King--is an electronic music composer who's from Canada. (Lucky us!) I discovered him because one of the YouTubers I watch, DanTDM, used to have MDK's song "Press Start" as his intro music. MDK's style is very different from most electronic music I've heard, and I'm the only person I know who loves his work. While I cannot recommend all of his stuff (due to some swear words), most of his songs are clean.

One of my favorite things about his music is when he combines the electronic beats with the orchestral genre. He doesn't do it in every track, but when he does, I get excited. Why? It's a very unique mix, and one that he succeeds at.

While this one isn't fully orchestral, the opening piano and acoustic guitar let you know this is not your everyday electronic track. In fact, that aspect of the music doesn't come on until about 45 seconds in. Then the female vocals and electronic elements are added. I'm not sure how to describe them, but I'm a fan of them.

Something else that makes this song stand out for me from his other songs is the emotion behind it. While the majority of his pieces are either epic powersongs or whacky dance music, this one is neither. This one is more bittersweet, like saying goodbye to an old friend. The mixture of sadness and hope is quite poignant. I definitely wanna use this in a story playlist at some point.

I don't know what else to say. Sorry if this feels like a rushed post, because it kinda is. I will, however, give one announcement before. I have started my own Spotify account! I've linked my profile here so you can guys can check it out.

So far, I only have one playlist of my favorite songs. If you just can't wait for Music Monday to roll around every two weeks, you can check this playlist out and satisfy your musical craving. It's currently at 70 songs with over 4 hours of music, but it'll expand quickly, I can assure you. I will probably add my story playlists onto there, so you can check that out as well. Just thought I'd let you guys know in case you have Spotify accounts as well.

That's all for today, folks! What did you think of the song? Have you ever listened to MDK before, or even heard of him? Do you use Spotify? Is it worth upgrading to Premium?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Romance Approaches /// Humble Beginnings, Part 4

Welcome back to Humble Beginnings, the post series that takes your childhood works of art and rips them to shreds because they're not actually art! While that may make you feel sad, don't worry. It's all fun and games here.

source; this guy looks like he's constantly dancing to the music I'm listening to

No book is without its sin. (And yes, that was a parody of CinemaSins's tagline thingy.) My old story, which does not have name, is no different. So I think it's time we go back to those time-worn pages and mock them for the fourth time! Are you ready? Then let's do this thing!

This was the same Smits they were looking for?

No, it's a different one. Because Smits is a name you hear all the time.

"Anyway, we, which includes me and soldiers by the names of John, Alex, Xander, and Nathan, fell into this world. The tank landed on some fire blossoms, which sprout flames when something falls on it. We managed to get away with our info laptop before the tank blew up. Justin, a teenage boy, was responsible for the rescue of the computer. He claimed he was immune to fire. Actually, he is."
David frowned. "How is that possible?"
"I'll leave that story for him to tell."

So first off, there's something about Smits's recap that just makes me laugh on the inside. Maybe I'm getting this image of him calmly telling this outlandish story. Then he doesn't know to say "them" instead of "it" when talking about the flowers. And finally, what's the purpose of waiting to tell them about how Justin is fireproof? Why can't he just tell them now? He doesn't seem to have any good reasons for not doing so.

"They're called ptorelin leaves. They are extremely bitter, but they have miraculous healing qualities." He handed one to David, who accepted.

Deus ex ptorelin leaves. What a convenient way to fix David's bullet wound.

 "Is there a tingling in your shoulder?" Smits asked. When David nodded, he said, "Take off your shirt. You'll want to see this."

Get ready for Smits to say "You'll want to see this" more in the future. It's his favorite sentence in the world.

"I'll be right there," Smits replied. He grinned at the others. "You will want to see this."

See?! Two pages later and he's already running out of creative things to say!

For your info, I've skipped a good chunk of this chapter because it involves a lot of uninteresting info dumping. As in, the dumping itself is uninteresting, not the info. *shakes my head* I often wonder what I was thinking when I wrote this story.

A city rested next to a beach. A port housed many ships. The city stretched far and wide. An enormous castle sat in the distance.

This was the best description I could come up with? It's so bland, so tasteless. It's like taking a drink of water, expecting it to be nice and cold, and it turns out to be room temperature instead. No one likes that! (And if you do, I have to question your childhood.)

Mark, too, was noticing the people, but his eyes were picking out a certain group: the young maidens. They whisper-talked to one another, giggled, and pointed. Most smiled at him, and he smiled back. Then there was more whispering and giggling. He liked the attention. And then he saw . . . her.
She was graceful, with long auburn hair and sky blue eyes. She wore a simple white dress, decorated with golden lace. The dress was cinched at the waist and revealed her slender form.
Mark watched her daintily pick flowers. She looked at him and waved. Mark tried to wave back, but it's hard to wave when your arm feels tied to a block of steel. The girl tittered.

Yep, believe it or not, your boy tried adding a bit o' that timeless romance flavor to this messed-up curry he was concocting. (That has to be one of the weirdest sentences I've come up with in my entire life.) As you can clearly see, I was phenomenal at it! Can't you just how beautiful this girl is as she *cough cough* daintily picks flowers and titters at Mark? Ah! To find such a lass is to find truest love. I'm going to have to hunt me down a flower-pickin', titterin' girlfriend. I'll be back . . . oh, I don't know, NEVER! Because I'll NEVER find one because they don't bricking EXIST because this story LIED to me.

*takes a deep breath* I'm okay, I'm okay. Don't worry about me. Let's see what happens next, shall we?

David had by then observed that Mark was gone and asked, "Where's Mark?"
Smits looked back and chuckled. "He's meeting Michelle."

The name of beauty, I tell you! Doesn't it just invoke images of a girl who picks flowers oh-so-daintily and titters at the male species? . . . I'll shut up now.

David wheeled around. "I'll get him." He went over to the two and gave a little bow to Michelle. "Hello, madam."
"Hello, good sir," Michelle sweetly replied, giving a curtsy.
"Please excuse my friend's behavior. He has just--"
"--never seen a beauty as beautiful as you," Warren finished, coming toward them. "Now, if you don't mind, we must take the Slack-Jawed Wonder with us so we can continue our lovely stroll." With that, Warren gently took Mark's shoulder and led him away.

I'm not gonna lie: Warren's dry sense of humor is one of the best things to come out of this story. It's definitely an aspect of him that I'm going to keep when I reboot the series.

"Have a good day, miss," said David politely.
"You too, sir," she replied. As the three men walked back to Smits, she laughed, something she obviously did a lot.
The dazed look left Mark's eyes, and he turned to Warren. "Slack-Jawed Wonder, eh?" 
 Warren shrugged. "Would've you preferred something like the Gaping Gentleman?"
 "No thanks," Mark said.

Well, there you have it. The first "romantic" scene, and not the last one, I assure you.

There was a little room in between the portcullises. "Is that room for capturing enemy troops?" [David asked.]
"Indeed. You don't want to get caught in there. With the flick of a lever, several large saw blades lower from the ceiling, spinning. It is rare for someone to survive."
Mark frowned. "That would make a gory mess." 
 "It does," Smits simply said.

Sounds a little grisly for the good guys, if you ask me. *shrugs* But there's something I find amusing about Smits's response. I have no idea why. Is something wrong with me?

Mark found the food very interesting. First, there was the meat. It was black and quite tender. It tasted like bison, with a touch of garlic. There was an assortment of colorful, tasty vegetables. Then there was a big loaf of bread, fresh from the oven. Last, but not least, there was glazed scones with fruit for dessert.

I'm oddly starting to feel hungry . . . am I the only one? But I apparently had issues when it came to knowing what words to use around plurals ("was" when I'm talking about scones).

"So, since we're here, what are we supposed to do?" David wondered.
"We would like you to join us in a war," Smits said hesitantly.
"One that's been going on for approximately six thousand years," Samuel [the High Elder] added. 
Warren frowned. "That's too long. Why so lengthy? How did it start?"
"The reason for the length of this war has eternal significance," said Samuel. He reached down, picked three copies of a book, and passed them to the soldiers. "Read it now, for this cannot wait. If it waits, then it could be too late."
The friends knew that if the situation was so dire, then they'd better start reading. So, they began.

Okay, first things first: Mark, David, and Warren literally have no reason to join the war. Yes, they may be soldiers already, but there's no motivation to fight. They should be clamoring to get back home as soon as possible, realistically speaking.

Secondly, they're just going to read this book at the dinner table? What's everyone else going to do? Stare at them until they finish? Because that would be awkward and weird.

Thirdly, if things are really so pressing, don't have read about the reason for the war! Just go ahead and tell them, for crying out loud.

Now, I know this post is a bit shorter than the others in the series, but there's a reason for that. We've just reached the end of the chapter, and I know the next one is going to have a lot of juicy pieces of writing. I decided to cut it off here instead. Hope that's okay!

So what're your thoughts on this post? Is it still entertaining? (I know I'm still loving it like crazy.) Didn't I masterfully craft a romance scene? Is it proof that I should simply write romance novels? (That would be so weird.)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Future of a Franchise

And now, we present to you another exciting blog post from the self-proclaimed Internet famous Josiah Dyck! Staying hip and relevant, he has decided to talk about one of the biggest movie series in the history of the film industry. If you haven't heard of it, you've been hiding under a rock in Antarctica for the past four centuries. It's known as . . .

source

Wait a minute: you're telling me this was no surprise to you? The post preview shows this picture? Curse you, spoilery previews!

All joking aside, we were recently given an official full-length trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth episode of the third top-grossing franchise of the world (bested only by the Marvel Cinematic Universe and J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World). Let me tell you, I am HYPED for this new film. If you haven't seen the trailer, well, stop wasting time and--if I may be so bold as to reference Nike's motto and the Shia LaBeouf meme--just do it! Of course, you may be trying to keep the movie as spoiler-free as possible, and I respect that, in which case you should not just do it.

For those of you who haven't yet watched the trailer, or would just like to see it again, I've taken the liberty to add it to my post. Get ready for some spinal shivers.


source

Now I've seen that some people think this going to be a carbon copy of The Empire Strikes Back. (Did you catch the totally intentional pun in there?) After all, The Force Awakens had a similar plot structure to A New Hope. One person even said he would quit watching the franchise if this happens. I, however, have a theory about that, and to do that, we need a bit of history.

In May of 2011, George Lucas, head of the Lucasfilm company, met with the CEO of Walt Disney, Bob Iger. Debating retirement, Lucas was looking to sell the company and its massive Star Wars franchise. 2012 rolled around (you know, the year where the world was scheduled to end because of the good ol' Mayan calendar), and Disney announced that it was indeed buying Lucasfilm for the grand sum of over four billion dollars. (This info comes courtesy of a quick visit to Wikipedia.)

Now we hadn't gotten a proper Star Wars episode since Revenge of the Sith was released in 2005. The prequel trilogy had gotten a lot of hate, so I'm sure there was some nervous anticipation when Episode 7 was slated for a 2015 release. This is where my theory comes in.

I know Walt Disney is a massive company. I mean, they can shell out over four billion for a company and its immensely popular film series--so popular it has everything from books to TV shows to toys to video games. Who doesn't know characters like Darth Vader or Yoda these days? So while I'm sure Disney can afford to lose money, they definitely don't want. No sane person in the film industry says, "Let's spend thousands upon thousands of hours and dollars to write, film, and edit a movie that'll bomb in the box office!" Disney was walking on eggshells. The Force Awakens would make or break the trust diehard fans had in them.

They needed a safe solution, something that would show they knew how to handle the Star Wars universe. So what do they do? They create a film that's new, but hearkens back to A New Hope in order to bring back the nostalgia and heighten the appreciation for the latest addition to the franchise. It's a smart thing to do, really. And if you think that they shouldn't have used this method, consider that A New Hope is the 68th top-grossing film of all time, and The Force Awakens is the 3rd.

So they've made a hugely successful movie and have earned the trust of the fans. Now what? This is where things get riskier. They need to dive into some new water. They have to create an original movie to test just how loyal people are. Thus, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story appeared last year, bridging the gap between Episodes 3 and 4. While not as popular as its predecessor, it ended up being the 22nd top-grossing film, which is still really good.

Where does that leave us? Well, Disney has proven that they can handle the Star Wars franchise just fine. Honestly, I don't think we have anything to worry about concerning The Last Jedi, provided Disney doesn't make Finn and Poe a couple. The movie is in good hands, so we can rest assured that it'll turn out great in the end.

Already some have compared it to Episode 5 after seeing the trailer, saying that Luke training Rey is like Yoda training Luke. Even if it has similar plot points, who cares? I don't! I'll probably love the movie either way.

In a video adults reacting to the new trailer, one guy put it very well. He said that while you have people who saw the original trilogy when it came out watching the sequel trilogy, you also have a new audience who didn't grow up with the first episodes. He believed that it was like passing the nostalgia down to the next generation, saying that it was his childhood and it could now be their childhood too.

I quite agree with that point. Disney wants to capture a new audience by giving them things that were great with the old movies, while building upon the foundation of the franchise and creating compelling characters we love and hate. With all the technology at their disposal, they're making these films look better than ever, which certainly doesn't hurt. In the end, Disney is shaping the series to be the best that it can be, and as a Star Wars fan, I'll be following every step of the way.

As for my thoughts on Disney's approach to the franchise, you can take it or leave it. It's just a theory--a film theory! (And no, I was sadly not sponsored by MatPat or The Film Theorists to say that.)

(Also, a quick sidenote: I promised to be showing off my new phone's camera for this week's post, but I worked a lot of overtime and wasn't able to finish up the post. I want it to be as good as it can be, so you'll have to wait just a little longer before you see what I have in store for you. Thanks for understanding!)

What did you guys think of the new trailer? Are you a diehard fan, a casual viewer, or a disinterested individual? Do you agree or disagree with my theory? Where do you hope these movies to go next? Let's talk Star Wars and get hyped together!