Hiiiiiii

Phew!  Wow.  A month flew by, didn’t it?  Well, it did for me.

I got a freelance VFX compositing job this month and have been working on that along with taking care of friend drama.  I got overwhelmed and behind on everything at home, but at least I still managed to write.  I get to commute on the train to this little job, which gives me a good hour and a half writing time through the day.  Thanks to that I was able to rewrite the first two chapters of my webcomic in my notebook.  It’s so much better this time around!

I also hermited this week and got caught up on all the home stuff, just so you don’t worry about me.  I’m fine now.  🙂

I’ve been slowly getting better at wielding my longsword, and am using the money from this job to start building up my sword fighting equipment, like shinguards, chest padding, and a motorcycle jacket with lots of protective plastic plates.  I’ll have to get a picture of myself in it once it all shows up.  HEMA is turning out to be a more expensive hobby than I expected, but it’s so much fun and well worth it.  Two weeks ago I got a cramp in my right arm from clicking a mouse so much in a position I’m not used to.  While rubbing I noticed I had some muscle mass there.  I then rubbed my left arm and discovered it had less.  I’m getting sword arm.  Now I need to start practicing things left handed to balance myself back out!

Spring Hike 2014 – Timpanogous Cave and Alpine Loop

On May 31, 2014 I went on a hike with my father and husband to Timpanogous Cave.  It was a very nice little spring morning on the shady side of the mountain, which was good since we’re all (except my hubby I guess) kind of out of shape and going up an incline is hard.  We stopped for a lot of breathers.  Taking pictures is a good excuse to stop and breathe, so I took lots of them.  Have a look at some!

IMG_0002_2

Some kind of plant growing out the side of the rock wall.

IMG_0005_2

Bird in a tree!

IMG_0010_2

Some yellow flowers.

IMG_0011_2

It’s a tiny tunnel.

IMG_0021_2

A pretty purple-pink flower.

IMG_0027_2

Millipede!

IMG_0039_2

My dad taking pictures.

IMG_0045_2

Look at the contrast of the shadow side of the canyon versus the sunny side!

IMG_0066_2

I liked how this broken-off branch stump looks like a cloven hoof.

We hiked all the way up to the cave.  It’s kinda up there.  The cave was pretty cool.  Too dark for pictures inside, but beautiful and fun and we had a fantastic tour guide.  Something I found extra cool about this cave was that it had a door!  There was a door in the mountain!

IMG_0072_2

It looks so cool! I want a story with a door in a mountain now.

IMG_0074_2

Close-up of the door.

We took long enough in the cave that the sun had moved over the mountain and we walked in the sun on the way down.  Lots of animals ran around and I had fun getting pictures of them.

IMG_0007

Lizard!

IMG_0010

I like the shape of this tree.

IMG_0011

The other side of the cool tree, with my hubby in the background taking pictures of something.

IMG_0021

Some pretty little yellow flowers.

IMG_0029

White flowers.

IMG_0032

Pretty red flowers.

IMG_0040

The red and white flowers together.

IMG_0041

Dangling flowers.

IMG_0046

There were a bunch of humming birds, but they’re hard to see sometimes. I hear them humming and buzzing around and then they zip by so fast. This is the best picture I was able to get of one. We stopped and stood and watched the humming birds for a while, and this little guy came and drank from flowers only three feet away from us. It was pretty cool.

IMG_0048

Chipmunk!

IMG_0054

I am so pleased with my chipmunk pictures! He sat still for a very long time chewing away on his grass seeds.

IMG_0055

Om nom nom.

IMG_0060

They’re so cute. 🙂

IMG_0061

Yummy nummy grass!

IMG_0066

And then there was a squirrel!

IMG_0068

He was really close the the trail, so I was able to get some nice detail shots for reference.

IMG_0075

Tree roots get everywhere.

IMG_0084

Lichen! Did you know that lichen is made of a fungus with algae living in it? It’s a combination of two different kinds of life.

IMG_0091

More lichen. It looks so cool! I love the colors and patterns and textures.

IMG_0095

Sedum.

IMG_0115

Moss!

IMG_0136

My dad taking a picture of me.

IMG_0157

A thing in the ground.

IMG_0162

I love her outfit!

After the hike my dad drove us around the alpine loop.  Back in the day when he and my mom dated he would drive her around this highway on a Sunday afternoon.  It was really pretty.  Here!  Have some pictures:

IMG_0186

Backside of Timpanogous, I think.

IMG_0189

I liked the composition of this. I noticed this while I rested my arm on the ledge with my camera on.

IMG_0190

Simple mountain road up in the mountain tops.

IMG_0191

Lots of pretty pretty aspen trees!

IMG_0192

Even more pretty aspen trees!

IMG_0193

More pretty trees!

IMG_0194

And some meadows!

IMG_0196

I love mountaintop meadows.

Ta-da!  That was my pretty weekend hike and drive with my Dad and Hubby.  I would do it again.  I must hike more this year!  It’s the only hike we managed in 2014.

Writing Notes #3 – LTUE – Tips for Writing Fantasy (& Writing in General)

This past weekend I went to LTUE (Life, The Universe, and Everything) a writing conference in Provo, Utah.  I went to many helpful panels and took lots of notes.  I plan to share them all with you!  First off, some notes on writing fantasy:

Why fantasy?  Because it’s cooler.  Because dragons.  (That was one guy’s go-to answer for everything.)  Because it’s a safe place to explore things that are touchy in real life.  It lets you see the interior of a character better than most other genres.

How do you avoid tropes?  It’s all about execution because there are no original ideas.  You can’t avoid tropes.  Just write the best story ever.  Write the best trope ever.  Romance publishers look for specific tropes, so depending on your genre tropes are a good thing.

My own thoughts – Personally, I don’t even bother worrying about tropes.  I focus on making amazing characters and staying true to them.  Everything else will follow.  Forget about tropes.  Go forth and be free!

Things not to do?  Don’t do something convenient, like deus ex machina.  Need to have a smart way to figure things out.  Don’t start too big and overwhelm yourself.

Things to do?  You can write a short story or a stand alone to develop your skills.  When getting advice use your own filter and take away the stuff from others that will work for you.  Always keep something with you to write in so you can keep track of you ideas and never forget them.  Start working.  Sit down and do it.

A Cup of Valentine’s Sugar

Valentine’s has never been a big holiday for me or my husband.  Our very first Valentine’s together as significant others was during the school week and we had big projects to do in our 3D Art class, I think it was the wearable art project.  We worked on our homework that night.  On that project we learned that Wal-Mart can run out of elmer’s glue by two in the morning, at least when a project requiring lots of glue is going on at a college.  We went on our little Valentine’s date on the weekend after we finished the project.  He also bought me a discount rose from the day-after sale.  I still have the little tall square vase it came in.

Since then we haven’t done much.  It’s just another day of the week, but sometimes we would go out for dinner.  This year I went to LTUE (Life,The Universe, and Everything) a writing conference in Provo.  I signed up for it and realized later that it occurred on Valentine’s day.  I didn’t think much of it since Valentine’s hasn’t been a big deal.

I’ve been wanting a Pyrex glass 1C measure since my Anchor one is loosing all its markings from getting washed for five years. My Pyrex 8C measure gets used almost as much as that little Anchor one and isn’t losing any of its markings.  My hubby doesn’t like spending money unnecessarily, so I figured he wouldn’t want to get a new 1C measure when I have one that still functions.

I came home from LTUE and found a towel & ribbon wrapped package on the banister.  Inside was my new glass measure cup with a ziploc baggie of sugar in it.  He got me a cup of sugar for Valentine’s day!  I thought that was super cute and I felt very loved that he got me something even though I didn’t quite need it yet.  I love him!

Writing Notes #2 – FanX 2015 – Your Health as a Writer and the Future of YA Writing

I went to a couple writing panels the other weekend when I attended Salt Lake Comic Con Fan-Experience.  I figured I’d share my notes with you on two panels that I found helpful.  🙂

Writing and Your Health

As writers, sometimes out health goes out the window as we focus on our next big story or editing or sending queries to agents.  This can have big bad consequences which can affect us physically and mentally and hurt our writing.  It’s important to stay in good health so your writing career can move forward without obstruction from your body.

Let’s start out discussing the physical aspect of health:

Sitting for too long is bad for your back and causes back pain.  Get up from the chair and move around every fifteen minutes or so.  Give yourself a break from sitting and keep yourself moving.  You can sprinkle household chores throughout the day to help with this if you’d like.  Use a timer or reminders or something to establish the habit if you need.

Be proactive about your health.  Eat right, rest adequately, and be physical.  Remember to use moderation.  The saying “no pain no gain is false.”  You can gain a lot and stay healthy by moving around without hurting yourself.  Find something that’s fun for you, like rock climbing or something.  Personally, I’m learning H.E.M.A. (Historical European Martial Arts) focusing on the longsword.  It’s super cool and is research for one of the book series I plan to write.

All the writers on the panel strongly recommended walking, at least one thirty-minute walk every day.  It’s great for clearing your head and giving you time to think without distraction.  Also, some of them love to dictate their stories while they walk.  They recommended Dragon as a good dictation/transcription program.

Also, STRETCH!  Stretch our your back and your arms to avoid back pain and carpel tunnel.  Learn the proper stretches and use them on a daily basis.  Ric Meyers recommends Peng Shui to take care of your body and mind.

Now the mental aspect:

Cheree Alsop told us about how writers use up their dopamine faster.  Creativity wears the brain out, so take care of it.  Some foods you can eat to reboot your dopamine levels are: pumpkin seeds, dark colored fruits and vegetables, bananas, almonds, and sesame seeds. Exercise helps as well.

You can’t read other people’s minds, but you can read your own.  Read it and go deep.  Learn to identify your emotions and how/why your behaving. Understand yourself, that way you can know what to do to take care of yourself.

Embrace what’s unique about you and be excited about what you do.  That way you can be happy in life.  Keep a realistic positive outlook.  Love yourself.  Collaborate with yourself.  Be your best critic and your best editor.  You are the best help to yourself that you can ever have.

And as a cool side note, Ric Meyers told us that Kung Fu means “Human achievement.”  So basically, Kung Fu is all about improving yourself and becoming a better human being, not just a martial art for beating people up.

Future of YA Writing

YA is big and booming, so you have to make sure you get yourself out there and build yourself a tribe of followers.  You know you’ve made it when a group of followers give themselves a name and become your tribe.  Social media is key to this.  Blog, Tweet, etc., do everything and network.  You need to start marketing now, before you’re done writing.  This way you can build your reader base and get a head start before you’re even published.

It’s important to have a website where your fans can get information.  Even better, have a website that gets updated with something on a regular basis so that they know you’re still alive and care about them.  Having a word-count tracker can be cool so that they can see you’re making progress.

Start an email list and send out emails. EMAIL MARKETING IS SUPER IMPORTANT.  Your reader base will die without it.  Let people know what’s happening and update them about your work.  They need to know when something new of yours is coming out so they can read and buy it.  This is a bit trickier when you’re writing for children, so get the parent’s emails.

The YA market is the market where the readers start choosing to read the books themselves instead of being given the books by their parents or teachers.

Also, when dealing with kids, you have to protect them from other people trying to abuse the tribe.  Police your social media and forums and make sure people stay appropriate to keep it safe for your young audience.

I hope these notes are helpful to you!  I know I need to start practicing everything I learned from them.

-Writing Senpai

Art Direction for Comics & Stuff – Notes from FanX 2015

I went to a panel about good art direction for comics/screenplays/etc.  It turned out to mostly be a panel about being art-directed by an art director, but I did manage to pull out some tidbits of advice for figuring out art direction on your own.

First off, you’re trying to tell a story through pictures. What’s it about? Make sure the art focuses on that.

Be creative. Figuring out the art style is the first step after the story is written.  It is affected by final format, meaning TV vs. Movie screen, paper size, or unlimited internet canvas.

Research. Pull from nature. Pull from other cultures. Find things you can reference and flirt with in your style.

Don’t forget all the props!  There will be a ton of them.

That was about it.  I hope that was helpful in some way.

Salt Lake Comic Con Fan-X 2015

This year Salt Lake Comic Con decided to do their Fan-Experience convention the last week of January.  It took up my whole weekend.  I slept almost the whole day today trying to catch up on rest.  I don’t know why it got me so tired, but it did.

Overall, this Fan-X wasn’t as good as the previous one.  At least, that’s what I think.  The show floor was a ton better than last time, but the panels weren’t very good, and I mostly go for the panels.  I love the show floor, don’t get me wrong, and I spent more money than I should have, but going around the show floor takes less than an afternoon.  I need something else to do!

They did have some good wonderful actors come.  I cried when I failed to obtain a ticket fast enough for the Doctor Who Ultimate Experience panel with Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Billie Piper, but at least I got to see the two ladies in their own panels.

Oh!  And I got to see Carrie Fisher and Nichelle Nichols.  That was kind of big.  So the actor panels were fine, although I would have liked to see more of them, but the rest of the panel selection was meh.

Also, since it was winter times the cosplays weren’t as great, and there weren’t as many of them.  There were a few epic amazing ones, though.  Here, have some pictures!

IMG_0002

Toothless!

IMG_0006

This girl had a Wheatley that moved his lit-up blue eye. I want one.

IMG_0004_2

I think this might be one of the most adorable father-child cosplays ever. A Jedi Knight and a baby Ewok.

IMG_0008_2

Okay, I don’t know what these cosplays are from, but they’re awesome. Just look at those wings! I bet they took forever to make.

IMG_0011_2

And not only that, but the wings fold up!

IMG_0019

A pretty good Astrid and another Toothless. Different person.

IMG_0021

Me and Bee from Bee and Puppycat. I love that youtube show from Cartoon Hangover! You should go watch it.

IMG_0022

Samus from Metroid and Lighting from Final Fantasy XIII.

IMG_0023

This lady had an amazing evil Elsa cosplay. I love it!

IMG_0024

Look at that beautiful spiky staff and snowflake armor!

IMG_0001_5

This person was a fantastic borg. I failed to get a picture of her from the front, but she had a spinning thing in front of one eye complete with LED lights. She looked just like the “real” thing.

IMG_0021_2

It’s people from Up! The little boy was Russel, but you can’t see his little boy scout outfit in this pic. I was trying to get a good pick of the house stroller and his mother’s Kevin get up.

IMG_0023_2

More awesome cosplay! Here we have Gamora and Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy, and some person I don’t know.

IMG_0024_2

A gorgeous Princess Celestia! I think I saw her at the last convention, but was unable to capture a picture. I’m so pleased I was able to get her this time!

So there we have the bestest pictures I took of cosplays.  There was also a guy dressed up as Deadpool pretending to be a missionary complete with missionary outfit, name tag, and “Book of Deadpool.”

Now I’ll share a couple pictures of celebrities from panels.  Just a few.

IMG_0010

Karen Gillan

IMG_0015

She was so sweet and cute. I think she was my favorite actress panel.

Karen had a bunch of little kids ask her questions.  She was very sweet to everyone and said everyone’s names back to them.  She’s also perplexed by America’s 24-hour gyms.  She plays many parts, but is most known and loved for her role as Amy Pond, the 11th Doctor’s companion.

IMG_0017

Nichelle Nichols

Most known for her role as Uhura in Star Trek the Original Series, Nichell Nichols was also a sweet lady.  She’s very proactive and supportive of women and space exploration.

IMG_0005_3

Billie Piper

Billie was a pop star, but always wanted to be an actress.  She finally got her chance and broke into acting with the Doctor Who reboot as the 9th Doctor’s companion Rose Tyler.  She was nice as well, but seemed a little tired.  Probably because they kept her up late with the special Fan-X red carpet dance party until one in the morning the night before.

IMG_0011_3

Carrie Fisher

Princess Leia made sure our thirty minutes with her were as packed with fun as possible.  She even started with a bang.  The first thing she did was ask the audience for a Coca-Cola.  Someone brought up a diet one and she whined.  Then someone came up right behind the first guy and gave her a shiny red can.  She made out with that guy.  Not just a little kiss, a make-out kiss that went on for at least thirty seconds, maybe a minute.

IMG_0015_3

About half-way through the 30 minute panel her dog came running up from backstage and sat with her.

IMG_0016_2

I don’t remember what she was laughing about.  She was pretty funny the entire time.

IMG_0018_2

Her dog’s name is Gary. His tongue is twice as big as it should be and he’s missing all his teeth on one side, so it always hangs out. It’s pretty cute.

And now a couple random pics:

IMG_0004

They had a giant Baymax out front.

IMG_0001_4

They also had the Weta troll statues from the Hobbit.

Overall it was okay.  I met a bunch of new art friends and bought some cool stuff.  I got some awesome leather stuff from Crimson Chain Leatherworks, like a belt pouch with a cool clasp and a holster for my longsword!  I can’t wait to see them again at Salt Lake Comic Con in September!  I also bought a super cute Nightfury rose necklace from Carmendee Design.  Go check out her stuff and give her money and love!  She handcrafts the necklaces with a lot of dedication and love.

Oh yeah!  And I went as a Gryffindor student on Saturday with my friends and took my sword along to be the sword of Goddric Gryffindor.  It’s the first time anyone has asked to take my picture.  That was pretty cool.

Description Part 3 – The Senses

Now to discuss the senses.  We human being have five of them: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound.  Most of us are more visually based, so we often see things described that way.  That’s fine, but if we want to make our description rich and unique we need to remember to use the other senses.  More senses give us more chances to use specific details that can liven up the story and voice.

For example, at one point in Inkheart, Mo describes the moment when he read some characters out of a book and into the real world.

Her father looked at her.  “They came out,” he said.  “There they were, all of a sudden, standing in the doorway to the corridor outside the room, as if they’d just come in from outdoors.  There was a crackling noise when they turned to us–like someone slowly unfolding a piece of paper.

I’d like for you to note that last detail, the sound of the characters moving, “like someone slowly unfolding a piece of paper.”  Funke took a plain sound and a plain movement and combined them into an interesting description.  You don’t expect people to sound like paper when they move, but here we have characters coming out of a book not yet fully in our world.  Of course they sound like paper.  It makes for a much more satisfying description than just, “they turned and looked at us.”

So think about the other senses while you’re describing things.  Does the wind taste like dust?  Does the ground feel like Jello? Can the characters hear the cicadas in the trees or children laughing?  Do they choke on the sharp scent of vinegar?  All these sensory details build a world for your character to live in, and help the reader feel like they’re really there in the story.  They make the place real.

Referencing from Description by Monica Wood and Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Hello 2015!

I’m considering today my first day of the year.  It’s the first day my hubby goes back to work, and therefore the first day of a regular-ish schedule.  I got up at 7:30.  Thirty minutes later than planned, but hey, I got up!  I figured out how to work the treadmill my parents got.  Took longer than i thought, so my planned 30 minutes for exercise this morning turned into an hour, and my new little iPad lost my internet, so things went different, but hey, I exercised!  And I will exercise more at lunch and in the afternoon!  Yay!

So I guess it’s the time of year for resolutions and goals.  I pretty much failed at all my goals for 2014.  The only one I got close to was exercising daily.  I managed that for three months, about, then fell off the wagon with NaNoWriMo in November.  Oh well.  I did make progress on my stories.  That’s important.  And now I don’t have to work at a job job, so I can use all my days every day for being productive on projects and stuff!

So my big goal/resolution for 2015 is to make every minute count.  To master my self-discipline and be productive every day.  I must write, draw, and do something productive every day, starting from today!  And exercise.  That’d be good too.

I’m also rewriting my webcomic and restarting it sometime this year.  Finishing the “2nd” draft of Ian’s 1st story, rewriting Chook’s story, and planning for the next stories after those.

What are your resolutions and goals this year?