**For my most up-to-date happenings, check out my Tumblr page: sararaasch.tumblr.com.**

Monday, September 28, 2009

And I didn't even know it


There's this movie franchise, see. And it's been known to be a big deal. I'll give ya some hints.

Hint 1: Pirates.

Hint 2: Johnny Depp.

If you haven't guessed it yet...um...stop reading my blog and go watch some Johnny Depp movies. Now.

Anyway, because the most recent POTC movie was an overnight blockbuster smash hit (*coughsarcasmcough*), Disney in all its brilliant suck-the-life-out-of-everything-that-even-remotely-makes-money mindset has decided to make a fourth POTC. Yup. Yay, more Johnny, but at the same time...just say no, Disney. Just stop while you're ahead.

The news of the next installment in the series-that-started-as-a-stand-alone-but-got-twisted-and-pulled-into-a-series-because-it-was-popular is slowly leaking out into the depths of Internetland. Along with the leakage came this article over at the blog Film Is A Harsh Mistress that discusses the ups and downs of the Pirate-Fantasy genre.

--wait. What? A Pirate-Fantasy GENRE?

Dude.

All this time, I've been calling Stream Pirate simply YA fantasy. I thought pirates were just grouped into the same column as wizards and fairies. I never once suspected that my beloved swashbuckling stream pirates had their OWN GENRE.

But there it is. All official-looking (or as official as something on someone's blog can be). Pirate-Fantasy.

Three words: NEW. FAVORITE. GENRE.

Book review to come in which I resume my usual picky nature. Muahahaha.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In which Sara attacks with foam swords

Today I ventured into a land full of frivolity and excitement, leather and shields, mead and turkey legs: a Renaissance Festival. This is the *takes a break to re-count* fourth year my friends and I have made the excursion to the Renfest, and I tell ya what, it just never, ever gets old.

Fun things that happened, in list form:

1) Tomato-guy yelled at my friend Ashley, "Hey, dumb blonde!" Friend Ashley proceeded to hurl tomatoes at tomato guy. (Receiving hurled tomatoes was the reason tomato guy was there. He wasn't selling tomatoes. I mean, he was, but only to have them thrown at him...anyway)

2) Rose-selling pirate followed us around, asking me really inappropriate yet hysterical questions. For instance:

Pirate: "Do you want to be part of a pirate initiation?"
Me: "Yes!"
Pirate: "Want to know where it is?"
Me: "Um...yes?"
Pirate: "Doesn't really matter, because it's only going to be you and me, love."

Only at a Renfest do questions like this result in giggles, not restraining orders.

3) I got my fortune told. Apparently I can get answers to my questions in my dreams, will meet the man of my dreams if I draw up a list of qualities I want in him, and will inherit a bunch of money once a rich relative dies. I was following it, until the rich relative part. Firstly, I have no rich relatives. Secondly, I don't want anyone to die! Sucky fortune.

4) I watched Friend Ashley eat a sandwich that a performer made using only his feet. Mmm, that extra zest you taste is toe jam.

5) I did not, again, invest in one of the freakishly awesome swords they sell. Someday. And also someday I will learn to use said sword. One of my long unfulfilled childhood fantasies is to learn how to swordfight. I was a strange child. But, luckily, there are booths such as this one that allow me to expel some of my pent-up swordfighting needs:

video
(Me fighting Friend Ali. Those foam swords hurt. But afterwards, the guy turned to me and, while flicking his hand, said "My lady, your stray sword hit my knuckles! You've got quite an arm!" I beamed.)

If you ever get the chance to go to a Renfest, I highly recommend it. It's a world unlike any other. I mean, seriously, in what other part of the country could you partake in a conversation like this...

Sword salesman: "Prepare to be shamelessly and unabashedly flirted with."
Friend Ali: "Oh, that's fine!"
Sword salesman: "Oh good. Most people find it off-putting."
*few minutes later*
Friend Ali: *talking to a sword* "I'm in love!"
Sword salesman: "Please, my lady, we've only just met! But if you come back and buy this sword in a few minutes, I'll throw in myself for free."

...and not have people frown in distaste? It's a breath of fresh air. Sigh. If only all the world was a Renfest...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mood Music: Character Themes


I'm loving all these awesome songs you guys listen to! My song list is near to bursting now...

Next up: Character theme songs! Is there a song that made you squeak with joy when you first heard it because it so, so perfectly explained your MC (or any character)? Is there a song that you swear was written by someone who stalked you, read about your characters over your shoulder, then wrote a song about them?

I have dos songs for this one. The first is a song that I am absolutely in love with, partly because of the hauntingness of Natalie Merchant's voice, and partly because, well, it dead-on explains Yazoo Oxbow from Stream Pirate.



The second one is a song I only just heard today. I was driving to work when it came on the radio, thereby causing me to bounce in my seat while simultaneously steering with my elbows as I grabbed my notebook to jot down a few lines of lyrics so I could lyric search it later. I'm a safe driver.

Anyway, it fits Evan, my MC from White Like Ashes, beautifully.

Mood Music: Action Sequences


Ya'll have some great taste in love songs! And much happier tastes than myself...who knew there were happy love songs?

Next up: action sequences! This could be big, climatic battles or intense chase scenes or just about anything that gets your/the reader's heart pumping! What songs do you use to get you in the butt-kicking, heart-racing, feet-pounding mood? Do you have particular songs that you've choreographed battles to?

For action sequences, I am in LOVE with ES Posthumus. Especially:



The rise and fall of all their instruments just makes you want to swing a sword around and run over a battlefield, eh?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mood Music: Romance Scenes


My repertoire of snappy blog posts is running dry. Has been running dry, actually, since mid-summer. Alas, inspiration is not what it used to be.

Thus I shall venture into a widely discussed topic: music. We are all well aware that music and writing often go hand-in-hand. Whether it helps you get in the mood to write a particular scene or you let it play silently in the background while you work, music is a good source of instant inspiration. The espresso double shot of the creativity world, if you will.

In that vein of thought, I hereby dub this blog post the first in the Mood Music series. What songs do you play to set the mood for writing romantic scenes? Is there a certain song that will always kick-start your romantic juices (um...don't think about that for too long. It may get dirty.), or is there a combination that's different for each story?

I usually choose a variety of songs for each story, but there is one song that will always put me in that romantic frame of mind:



This just made me realize that most of my story couples have tragic ends. Hm.

So, fire away! Let's get those romantic juices flowing! (Okay, that does just sound dirty...)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Hear Voices


I've been diligently working on the sequel to Stream Pirate for the past two-ish weeks. I plotted it all out, start to end. I drew out a timeline of events. All's well -- that is, until I started writing it. It took me 8,000-and-some-odd-words before I realized something.

I'd written 8,000-and-some-odd-words in the wrong voice.

Before I decided to switch gears and aim for a Stream Pirate sequel, I was plucking away at White Like Ashes. For whatever reason, I decided everything I'd written was crap and that I should focus my energy on that sequel. But today I got frustrated (for the umpteenth time) and decided to open my White Like Ashes file, just for kicks and grins. And you know what I discovered? Well, two things, actually.

1) It didn't suck nearly as much as I'd let myself believe.

2) The reason I was getting so, so frustrated with the SP sequel was because I was writing it in Evan's voice (White Like Ashes MC) not Lu's (Stream Pirate MC).

Thus, I decided I was trying to tell myself something. Was I a normal person, the conversation would have gone like this:

"I should work on White Like Ashes, not Stream Pirate Sequel."

Because I'm not normal, it went like this:

Me: God, Stream Pirate Sequel SUCKS.
Self: Haha.
Me: You did something. What? Why? How?
Self: Haha.
Me: Gah! Why does it suck? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME??
Self: *snort*
Me: You're enjoying this too much. I'm going to ignore you and re-read that great mess I called another attempted WIP.
Self: Haha *snort*
Me: Oh-- wait-- this, this is decent. And Evan sounds awfully familiar...
Self: HA
Me: Dude! Evan wants me to keep working on her story!
Self: Yay, we win! Now bring me chocolate.

Thus, I shall work on White Like Ashes until I either finish it or Evan gets out of my head enough for Lu to get back in.

This situation made me think, though. As writers, we flip through voice after voice after voice, whether it be our MC's or secondary characters we're just trying to figure out. After years of story writing, it becomes almost second-nature to assume someone else's identity and "get in their head" (even though they're in ours...it's a weird loop). This ability to take on multiple roles and understand them to the point of being able to see why an MC would make certain decisions should make us very good people, um, people.

I, however, know the complete opposite is true for me. People terrify me. Not in a can't-ever-leave-the-house kind of way, but more sort of a wow-this-will-be-EXHAUSTING kind of way. Even though I can read people frighteningly well and should, in theory, be a very good people-person, I'm just -- not. And all these issues over proper character voices made me wonder why.

With the characters in my head, they're MINE. They aren't some random strangers walking past me on my way to class. They're people I've crafted and researched and molded, people I've spent large chunks of my time creating. And they won't ridicule me if I screw up (er, well, they don't ridicule me a lot). They don't -- can't -- leave if they get tired of me. They're very much stuck with me, and on most levels, they're under my control.

That, I think, is the single biggest difference between "real" people and the characters we fit ourselves into: control. We can be so comfortable with "our" people because that's just it -- they're ours. We give them traits and habits that have to follow certain pre-established human boundaries/stereotypes, but other than that, we have control. They can't do anything we don't see coming (usually).

But real people? They, too, have to fit into the certain pre-established human boundaries/stereotypes (like people who slouch, avoid eye contact, and mumble are generally shy/afraid/have low self-esteem), but outside of that, they can do ANYTHING. Anything. I don't know about you, but part of the reason I like writing so much is that I KNOW what's going to happen next. But real people? No idea. None at all. And that is what is truly terrifying.

Not knowing what people will do is one of the reasons being around large groups of people is so draining. I'm constantly trying to guess what they'll do next, what will happen, so I have some storyline to grasp onto (this also goes back to my need to be prepared). I realize how irrational this is; I can't possibly KNOW what will happen next, and trying to guess, over and over, until it exhausts me is just silly. What's a girl to do, then?

Instead of looking at everyone as people I'm trying to make into MY characters, I think it would be much healthier (and less stressful) to look at people as THEIR OWN characters. Maybe people would be a lot less terrifying if I treated them as a story I'm watching unfold, not a story I'm trying to unfold. If I just sat back, relaxed, and let the story happen.

It's absolutely easier said than done, but maybe, just maybe, it would help make a people-person out of this writer.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Following is a Highly Realistic Simulation

Hi, my name is Sara, and I'm an SD Addict.

What is an SD Addict, you may ask? Well, there's this show, see. And it's kind of the most FREAKISHLY AWESOME THING EVER.

But first let me lay the groundwork for why I am ADDICTED to this show.

I'm the person who always has Band-Aids, a flashlight, and a water bottle, ALWAYS, just in case. I'm the person who analyzes every room, vehicle, or location I enter for possible exits and what all the objects in that room/vehicle/location could be used for (barricades, weapons, insulation, etc). I'm the person who watches action movies, not because they're "exciting," but because I want to know how the actors get out of a high-speed bus that will explode if it goes below 50 MPH or how they outwit the madman who has kidnapped them. I'm the person who once got laughed at because I said the phrase "I read it in a book once," and then proceeded to tell the guy who laughed at me exactly how to make bread out of the simplest ingredients possible. Basically, I'm the person you want to be trapped on a deserted island with, because I'll have the life raft in my purse next to a flare and a length of rope. Because rope is always useful.

Suffice to say, I like to be prepared.

This is why the Spike show Surviving Disaster has me inexplicably and unavoidably ADDICTED. Not like my usual obsessions. This is a full-fledged I-could-eat-sleep-and-breathe-nothing-but-this-show-for-MONTHS-and-be-just-fine ADDICTION. I mean, what isn't completely amazing about watching a show that teaches you how to survive a plane hijacking? I want to know how to survive a plane hijacking! Or what about if your office high rise catches on fire? I want to know how to survive a flaming inferno! Or what about if you're vacationing on the coast and get caught in a hurricane? I want to know how to survive a hurricane!

There was really no reason for this post other than to shamelessly plug my latest ADDICTION. Also, I can't help but think that being prepared, in this world, is a good thing. Knowledge is power, and when that knowledge is pertinent to events that are happening right now, well, I'd say that's worth watching.

It also doesn't hurt that host looks like this.


Oh, and did I mention the next episode is about how to survive a home invasion? I squealed, yes, SQUEALED when I heard that. My parents are only a little bit concerned.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Late, Late, for a Very Important Date


School officially started last Tuesday. (Junior year! One more year until that ever-allusive diploma, then I will never, ever have to sit through another lecture/seminar EVER AGAIN! Oh, sorry, is my happiness showing?) Throughout the past however many quarters/semesters I've had, my writing life has come to a relative stand-still once school started. Classes swamped me, extra-curriculars took control, and the only writing I did was in random bursts of "Oh! That might make a cool scene someday, maybe, in the future." But this quarter, my syllabi tell me I will -- *gasp* -- have free time. Not lots, but far more than I ever have had during a quarter/semester before.

(Just saying this makes me look over my shoulder at my school books, fearing they will multiply now that I've jinxed myself. But syllabi are "contracts" with the professors, right? They can't be broken, right? Right?)

But adjusting to this type of quarter has been laden with guilt trips. I should be doing homework, I should be studying, I should be reading something for school, I should be getting ahead on work, etc etc. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't. I just know that if the paper I have to write can wait until next Monday, why not use tonight to pound out another chapter of my Stream Pirate sequel?

Because I've never before had to deal with time management as it related to writing during a quarter/semester (writing was never an option), it got me thinking. How do other writers manage their time? I know a lot of writer-moms who make both writing and mothering seem totally, totally manageable (but I'm still not convinced these women aren't secretly cyborgs with superhuman mother chips). Right now my plan of attack is to put my life in a list of priorities, and whatever comes up first is what I attack first. My list:

1) Writing.
2) Pippa. (Because, in my opinion, live creatures should always be in the top 5)
3) School.
4) Work.
5) Um, wait. I only have 4. Oh, except for family and stuff, but that goes without saying.

So, how do you manage your writing time? Do you shut yourself away and lock out the world for an hour each day? Do you sneak in bursts of writing whenever you find yourself near your laptop?

In the spirit of time-related stuffs, a trailer:



And because I'm shameless:



Is it just me, or is Dakota Fanning a little bit terrifying?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I have some skill with a pencil

*title said in heavy, deep Aragorn-voice*

Today, I had a few choices.

1) Do homework.

2) Work on the Stream Pirate sequel-that-is-now-a-trilogy.

3) Pull out my pencil and sketchpad and see if today was the day my drawing ability decided to wake from its slumber. Once a year, it seems, I have these great drawing revelations and can scratch down semi-decent looking renditions of things. But only once a year, for whatever reason.

Guess which one I chose?

Below is a sketch of a scene from Stream Pirate. Basic summary: Yazoo is saving Lu from a crocperson. I think what helped is that I based my drawing of Yazoo off of pictures of Philip Winchester. Pictures like this one.

And this one.

Okay, one more.

I could seriously stare at that man all day. But that would be weird.


PS: The crocperson is jumping out of a river, not flying. Just so you know.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Charging


Today begins the first day of yet another quarter here at mi universidad (I'm taking German now...maybe I should stop throwing Spanish into random sentences? Nah. Now it'll be random Spanish AND German. Muahahaha). And while just last night I was "excited" to get back to the grind of doing things, today I remembered what summer had un-taught me: my horrid dislike of large groups of people.

I don't know if it's a writerly trait or just a randomly assigned trait, but I am the world's biggest introvert. No joke. Right now I am hauled up in a corner of the building my next class is in, reveling in the silence, yet FREAKING OUT that I will, in one hour, be subjected to yet another large group of people. I've only had one class today, and already: exhausted.

I have an anti-stress enriched smoothie. Not helping. I have my laptop to focus my attention on other things. Lessening the blow, but not helping. What's a girl to do besides run into the nearest bathroom stall (hopefully a "Women" stall) and stifle the oncoming panic attack by calling the first number in my phone and crying at the sound of a familiar voice?

(No, I don't do that. Often.)

Stress is a part of all areas of life. Especially writing (need I mention agents, querying, editors, outlines, etc etc?). So, question of the day: what do you do when life seems to press in around you?

I shall leave you to your answers while I go find my next classroom and sit outside the door, counting how many people go into the classroom before me. Gulp.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lookie Look!


It's official -- I have a website! It's pretty and red and it made me realize I really, really need to get some authors photos taken...but it's there! Woot woot!

I have a question now though. On my website, there really is nothing that isn't on my blog. In fact, there is MORE stuff on my blog. More in-depth explanations of stories, more updates, not to mention the standard pictures, bio, and contact info. Here's the question: do you think it is sufficient for a writer to just have a blog? Or do you think a website is a necessity in the writing world too?

I shall leave you with that question while I go find out why Pippa is being quiet. Quiet puppies = destroyed trash cans and/or shoes and/or how-on-earth-did-you-reach-THAT?! Toodles.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

35.9%


Ouch.

If you're looking for a fabulous time-waster, go here. Lulu.com's Titlescorer takes some info about your title, plugs it into their fancy little, well, titlescorer, and tells you what the chance is of your title becoming a bestseller. The results are based on 50 years of study, 700 published novels, blah blah blah. It's slightly discouraging, but super fun all the same.

My results:

According to Lulu.com's Titlescorer, Stream Pirate only has a 39.5% chance of becoming a bestseller. Blind has a 63.7% chance, White Like Ashes a 69% chance. That makes Stream Pirate my lowest ranked title. Sad. I rather liked it.

PS: Random chuckle for the day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This is My Problem:


A) I wanted to read a lot this summer.

B) The closest B&N and/or other type of bookstore to my house is a half hour away. Not very far, but when I spend the rest of the year driving back an hour and forth an hour twice/three times a week for school, I don't like driving when I don't absolutely have to. That, and gas is expensive.

C) While I like ordering books online, I feel that buying them new in a bookstore supports the author more. I'm just cool like that.

A+B+C= I didn't read a lot this summer. As my lack of a book review since June has showed.

D) Now that fall quarter is upon me, I will be a mere hop, skip, and a jump away from a B&N whenever I go down for classes to mi universidad. (btw: googling "mi universidad" brings up a lot of links to the University of Michigan...oh, wait. "mi"="MI"="Michigan". I'm not blonde, I promise.)

E) Now that I will have access to a bookstore at regular intervals through the week, I will *gasp* be buying a lot of books to catch up on all the many, many, MANY books I did not read this summer. Bad, Sara, bad.

F) I'll start classes the same time I'll start buying books. This, along with the newly resurrected Stream Pirate sequel, may cause a conflict of interests. But I'm okay with that.

D+E+F= I need book suggestions! What have I been missing? I know it's been a LOT. Apparently there's some book called Catching Fire, or something, and it's kind of a big deal, or whatever. (BUT: I did start The Hunger Games and hated Katniss so, so much I couldn't finish it. She drowned a CAT! Did that not disturb anyone else? When they do biographies of serial killers, they always go back to their childhood and discover how the five-year-old used to chop squirrels to pieces in their backyard or DROWN CATS. I'm just saying.)

Anyway, I have compiled a list on my own, but dude, I need more. A lot more. Throw in any titles I'm missing. Please. I want to have so many books sitting beside me as I do my homework that my homework gets scared, shrivels up, and runs away.

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
As You Wish
by Jackson Pearce
Sea Change
by Aimee Friedman
Shiver
by Maggie Stiefvater
Wings
by Aprilynne Pike
Strange Angels
by Lili St. Crow
Shrinking Violet
by Danielle Joseph
Fire
by Kristin Cashore
Once a Witch
by Carolyn MacCullough
Paper Towns
by John Green
Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher
Stray by Rachel Vincent
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Big Deal (on My 150th Blog Post, btw)


If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know one of my favorite writing peeps is Natalie. I mean, seriously, people. She can DRAW. Like, really draw. And she writes about cyborgs and elves and dragons and NINJAS. To a girl who writes about pirates, that's like the yin to the yang, so to be speak. Anyway, suffice to say Natalie is made of awesome. But we already knew this.

To further enhance just how made of awesome she is, you should visit this blog post of hers. Yeah. Not only does she DRAW and write about NINJAS, she's now repped by NATHAN *wait for it* BRANSFORD. Nathan Bransford. Name sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? Oh yeah, he's just that agent who runs this blog and gives insanely awesome writing advice and has 1,985 followers and is worshiped by every newbie writer with or without a blog. Yeah, just him. We shouldn't be, like, FREAKING OUT WITH INSANE OHMYGOSH HAPPINESS for her or anything? Nah, not us.

(Correct answer: Wrong. We should TOTALLY be freaking out for her.)

THE Nathan Bransford and THE Natalie Whipple have now joined forces. Dude. Throw in the ninjas, and the world will never be the same again.