Monday, October 31, 2016

Flowers and War // October SS





Arlo hovered close to Mina's head. 

"The sun is shining and the flowers are out!" His tail nearly hit Mina in the shoulder as he zoomed downward. 

"Watch it, scale face!" Mina dove out of the way. 

Arlo landed in the grass. "Oh, sorry. But I love the spring time!" He beat his dark red leathery wings like a butterfly and whooped. 

Mina watched the dragon bound through the meadow and dive through large patches of flowers as if they were leaf piles. She rolled her eyes and trekked onward. 

"Mina," Arlo said. 

Mina kept walking. She didn't have time for this. They needed to reach the woods by sun down if they were ever going to arrive at the encampment. 

"Mina!" Arlo sang. "Mina, Mina, MINA!" 

A gust of wind blew the stray hairs around her face into her mouth. She clutched her sword hilt and dug in her heels to keep from stumbling forward.

Arlo landed a bit clumsily before. "You never stop for the flowers."

"Why should I?" She tried to get around him.

"Because they're glorious." He kept in her path.

She crossed her arms. "Move out of my way."

"They could make you smile?" He nabbed a mouthful of them. The poor, trampled flowers looked out of place in his snout. He looked more like an absurd red cow than a dragon. "Mphee?" He grinned around the flowers which only made him look more ridiculous. 

Mina managed to squelch her smile with a deeper frown. A practiced skill since traveling with Arlo. She brushed past him. "Arlo, we've got to get to the encampment."

He sighed loudly, and his clumsy feet thudded after her. "I don't want to go to the encampment. They always look at me funny."

If he didn't obsess over foliage, they wouldn't.

"Mina?"

Mina growled and turned on him. "What?!"

"What's wrong?" His scaly brow had creased. 

"Nothing."

"Yes there is. You're not usually, this, well, I mean you are, but-- but, uh. . ." He walked beside her now. "Well, you know what I mean," he said quieter.

"It's of no consequence."

"Everything's of consequence."

"Look, I can take care of myself."

Arlo halted for a pace. "I'm. . . I'm sorry. I didn't mean. . ." He took to the air.

Mina swallowed. She didn't want to make him feel bad, but she couldn't tell him. And it it was of no consequence. She'd been a warrior for ten years now and trained since she was a child. Nothing bothered her. She was fine. Absolutely fine.

But wasn't Arlo like a. . . friend? 

She gritted her teeth. Why did she keep thinking about this? 

Hours later the sun soon dipped behind the woods. 

They were a few paces from the trees now. Arlo landed. He kept some distance between them.

He had been crying. Great. Of course, it was her fault. Nobody would've known he had been. But Mina knew him, she could tell. She clenched her teeth. He was sensitive; she didn't know how to talk without hurt someone's feelings. Just ignore it. He'll be over it in five minutes when he'll notice the color of the sunset. 

But she was so tired of acting the tough one. 

No, she was the tough one. 

Agh, she was going to regret this, one way or the other.

Mina sighed. "Arlo?" Her voice sounded hesitant and unfamiliar. 

He gazed at her with his head still down. 

"I, I just. . ." She pressed her lips together. What was she supposed to say? How? This was why she never talked about it. "Yesterday, at the barricades, um, I. . ." She shook her head. 

"What?" Arlo stopped and made her stop with him. 

"I had to. . ." She fingered the hilt of her sword. Why was she being so dumb? She frowned at herself. "Well, it's nothing new! It happens all the time. I just, I mean I was trained for this and it shouldn't bother me and. . ." 

Arlo nodded. "I see."

She took a deep breath. Her boots had grass stains on them. People said talking about things made you feel better. But why did she expect that talking about killing people would be the same?

Arlo stepped close and craned his neck around her. 

"Wha--"

His jaw bumped against her back and drew her closer. His gnarled paw rested gently on her shoulder. "It's called a hug, Mina." His voice sounded choked. 

Mina stood stiffly. She couldn't-- remember-- being hugged. She looked up at the sky. She was not going to cry. That's what Arlo did, like he was now. She wasn't going to, okay, maybe she was. Just a little. 

Mina rested her head on Arlo's shoulder. 



.:



PS-- Sorry about the background change. I'm trying to find something less, uh, fluffy, without making the background black.

Monday, October 17, 2016

a Mad Tea Party // link up Alice in Wonderland style

In case none of you knew, I created this Alice in Wonderland link up in honor of Mad Hatter Day. i thought I'd better join the link up before it ends [on Oct. 19]. If you want to join to, here's the original post. I'll throw in some old photos from earlier this year.


http://ashleyg-inserttitlehere.blogspot.com/



1. How many hats do you have? 

A whole DRAGON HOARD! 

Okay, but really? You want me to count them all? That's like counting sheep; I'll fall asleep.
Oh, fine.

About a dozen.


2. If you saw a white rabbit would you
a. ask him the time of day
b. follow him down his hole
c. fetch his gloves for him
d. paint the roses red





3. Who are you? 

What do the ambiguous "they" say? 

To define is to limit. 

Don't stick me in boxes, man. I don't fit.


4. At parties, your preferred choice of entertainment is
a. a recitation of You Are Old, Father William
b. croquet, of course! You always win
c. dancing the Lobster Quadrille
d. tea, a tea party with you, yourself, and the dormouse

The dormouse is probably my spirit animal.


[Not to be disappointing, but my hair isn't this long anymore.]

5. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

I haven't the faintest. 


6. Your thoughts on talking?
 
a. You can talk, when there's somebody worth talking to
b. It isn't manners for you to begin the conversation
c. The flowers talk too
d. You prefer talking to yourself

It's really hard to decide. There's so many good choices! What genius made this tag? *cough*


7. Define or describe a jabberwocky.


Well, they have teeth and claws. They make most awful burbling noises and they don't take kindly to vorpal blades. That's for certain. 






8. Your thoughts on words?
 
a. You should say what you mean
b. Words have a temper. . . particularly verbs, they're the proudest
c. When you make a word do a lot of work, you always pay it extra
d. 'Glory' means 'a nice knock-down argument'

Verbs think they can do everything. Which is precisely why we have confusing things like gerunds and infinitives. Verbs pretend to be proud, but in truth they're jealous of other parts of speech [particularly nouns] and want to steal their form. Participial phrases are the worst of the lot.


9. Have you spoken with Time recently? Are you on good terms with him?

Never. I'm always loosing track of him, and he's determinedly against me.




10. At school, you learned
 
a. French, music, and washing
b. the different branches of Arithmetic -- Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision
c. Mystery, ancient and modern
d. Laughing and Grief

Although I did learn a bit of Arithmetic too, most Distraction. I still excel at that.


11. Who stole the cherry tarts? 

*wipes crumbs from face*
Cherry tarts? The tarts are gone!? Who would commit such a crime?




12. Your favorite poem in AiW is
 
a. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat
b. The Jabberwocky
c The Walrus and the Carpenter
d. none, you'd rather repeat a piece written entirely for our amusement

 Don't ask me to sing it for your unbirthday though.


 


13. Choose a come-back.
a. Your hair wants cutting
b. I shouldn't know you if we did meet again; you're so exactly like other people
c. Who's making personal remarks now?
d. Off with your head!



14. The best advice you'd ever given/heard
a. you've a right to think
b. you're sure to get somewhere if you only walk long enough
c. everything's got a moral if you can just find it
d. speak in French when you can't think of the English for a thing, turn out your toes when you walk, and remember who you are!
 
 I rather like d. but I don't know French, so I suppose that advice is useless to me.


15. What best describes you?
a. you don't know; you've changed several times since this morning
b. you breathe when you sleep and you sleep when you breathe
c. you're murdering time
d. you wouldn't be here if you weren't mad


I really want to say ALL of them, especially d. But then again, I procrastinate all the




16. Do you know the conversation between the Unicorn and Alice?

Why I'm so glad you asked! In fact, it's one of my favorite parts. I'll sum up from the book for you.

Unicorn: What is this?

Haigha: This is a child! We only found it today. It's as large as life, and twice as natural!

Unicorn: I always thought they were fabulous monsters! Is it alive?

Haigha: It can talk.

Unicorn: Talk, child.

Alice: Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too! I never saw one alive before!

Unicorn: Well, now that we have seen each other, if you believe in me, I'll believe in you. 


Is that a bargain?
[*hint* You should join the link up! I'd love to read your answers.]

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Get to Know Your Novel

So today, how about a post with sustenance? Unfortunately, I've been working on the Oddball trilogy for six years. :P It's sad, I know. But the upside is that I've a lot of experience with the characters and the world of the story. So what if you don't have six years of history between you and your cast? What can you do before you dive into the first draft?

I've compiled a list of prewriting suggestions to get to know your novel because everyone knows that introductions are always the worst. [First impressions, man. So misleading. Just ask Jane Austen.] And hey! It NaNoWri is next month [if you do that sorta thing]. I'm actually giving you some tips on time for once.

1) Find inspiration


 Obviously


I know. It's completely unheard of, isn't it? Who would've thunk? One day, it just knocked me on the head. Hey! I need to find inspiration for this story!

*cough* So considering that 1) this point is fairly self-explanatory, perhaps even instinctual and 2) too obvious to bother listing so why am I wasting my time, I'll not elaborate here. I usually just make a pinterest board for my WIP, but I'd love to hear what everyone else does.

2) Be a studious reader

Of course, being a good writer is being a good reader, we all know this. Gosh, Ashley! Stop being so obvious! 

But how will reading help you get to know your own novel? Be on the look out for the tone of different books, the techniques they use to accomplish that tone, the style of the writing and how it enhances [or perhaps detracts from] the story.

Considering that, think about what tone you're going for and what style will best suit your story. What are some of the techniques you can pick from books with a similar tone or style. Plus, if you have a specific setting, like WWII France, present-day Japan, or a character with maybe a mental illness, or say their blind, books with the same setting or with characters who deal with similar issues are great for research. 

Reading as researching is the best.
 

3) Brainstorming goes a long way.

When brainstorming, you can be completely immersed in creating and exploring. You want to navigate this book like a pro. People do different things when they brainstorm. They exercise, go for walks, wash the dishes, whatever. Some people can brainstorm while they're working. Writing has always helped me brainstorm. As I get the ideas down, the writing keeps my brain flowing and, while I'm at it, all the ideas get written down so I don't forget them later.


 


4) Write, write, and write some more.

This is more like an extension of #3. When I say write, I don't just mean the stuff that's actually going into your book [yeah, but do that too]. Do writing exercises just to get to know your characters and the story more. Write scenes that happen before the story begins, after it ends, scenes that won't be featured in your book. Write from the viewpoint of a non-POV character to see what your characters look like from someone else' perspective. Write a scene in first person instead of third person. Simply have fun and experiment. What if you were to spend a day with one of the characters? What would you do, what would you talk about? Know so much more than the readers will ever know.

5) Rule your universe.


 

Trust me when I say developing the world of the story before writing the first draft goes a long way. Most of the problems I run into while first drafting can be fixed with more world-building. Developing the world after writing as opposed to before writing is the difference between driving in a foreign country where you can't read the street signs and driving in your hometown where you know exactly where that hole-in-the-wall coffee shop is and exactly when you need to leave to be there on time; you might even have the cycle of the street lights memorized. [Don't look at me like that. I'm from a small town.]


 .


I'm not necessarily saying that you need to make a literal map unless that helps you. Know the different cultures inside out. Why they do what they do. Where they live. The climate. The change of the seasons. The folklore. The disposition of the people and what they think about other people. Everyone's favorite place to go. The bad side of town. The history. Not all of this will go into the book, and please do not dump it all in there, but it will help you navigate the world of the story. It's your metaphor map. 

I write fantasy and. . . weird stuff. So sorry if the above world-building advise has fantasy overtones. But even if you write about the here and now, you still need to know the world of your story. It may be more familiar to your audience, but even real places have different atmospheres. Your characters might hang out at their favorite snow cone shack or maybe they enjoy hiking. Whatever. Just be sure you know the number of the fastest pizza delivery service. WHAT ELSE WILL YOUR CHARACTERS LIVE ON?! You gotta feed the cast.

6) Characters are key. 

This jumps off from #4, but for some reason I thought that it'd be nice to give you a break in between and throw world-building in your face. *cough* I like to keep you on your toes.

Actually, in the prewriting stage, I think knowing the world of the story is more important than knowing your characters. You can get to know your characters as you first draft [first draft is totally a verb], but the worldbuilding is harder to "feel out" as you write? Or it is for me at least.

...


 I rarely come up with brilliant world development. . . stuff while in the midst of writing. [If anyone does though, raise your hand because I think you're totally cool for being capable of that.]

 So enough about my weird conundrums. Similar to but not the same as world-building, knowing your characters will help a lot. Knowing them inside out helps enormously. If you know them and how they will change through the course of the story, then you have direction for your story. 

I have the urge to turn this into a Characters Create Your Plot post. But, no, it's too much. I'll sum up. 

If the story is about your character [quite a revolutionary idea, that] then your character's choices are what take your story from point A to point B. If you know what motivates your character, you have a clearly idea of what choices they'll make when you throw them into whatever situation you plan to torture them with. 

So find out what motivates them. What do they want? What makes them tick? What is their history before the story? Most importantly, what do they care about, what do they love, and what makes them angry, what do they fear? So, you know, apply #3 and #4 to characters [and world-building]. 



7) When in doubt, do a little plotting. 

But, Ashley, you just wrote a marginally ranty point #6 in favor of characters over plot.


Well, yes. (gif)


I wrote in favor of character and plot merging into one. Plot and Character are not either/or things. They go together. While I for one think, that character and plot should drive together seamlessly, they are still different things. And, yes, plot is still important.

 Besides, there are outside forces that effect your characters' lives. Because that's life. You had to stay late at work because somebody didn't show up to relieve you because they had something else going on in their lives. You have no idea what, but it happens. A car wreck happens. An earthquake happens. Some-king-decides-to-invade-the-country-during-the-middle-of-your OTP's-kissing-scene, happens. Unexpected plot points happen all the time in our lives, and sometimes there's no foreshadowing from our perspective. 

So yeah, plot too. But don't ask for my advice on plot. I'm still trying to figure how to merge character and plot properly. Although, I do try to make some kind of plan.


.


Where do you go for inspiration? How do you prepare before you write a novel? Or do you dive in head first? And, hey! Do you have any nifty plotting tips for me?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mad Hatter Day // a Mad Tea Party link up

What am I supposed to say by way of introduction? Oh, yes. 

How d'ye do? *shakes hands*

Strangely, I tend to find things out via Instagram. Even when global disasters happen, Instagram is like my evening news? [Sorta] So yesterday I found out from Cait @ Paper Fury's insta post [follow her insta; she's frabjous!] that there's a MAD HATTER DAY?! Why was I not informed of this sooner? Why is this not a national holiday or something? 


 Just A Little Warm-Up | Flickr : partage de photos !:

HATS! 

MADNESS! 

Oh, in case you wondered, such a day happens to be today. The 6th of October [apparently Britain celebrates their madness on a different day]. You can read more about it here

So I found some quizzes for you. Much fun. There's a which AiW character are you quiz. Most of the test-your-knowledge quizzes were very easy, but this one was excellent and I actually learned something.

To celebrate, I have a last minute link-up for you. Tag style. So let me throw some riddles at you, and I'll leave it open until the 19th of October. [Some of the references might be more obscure because. . . I've read the book too many times.]


http://ashleyg-inserttitlehere.blogspot.com/


1. How many hats do you have?

2. If you saw a white rabbit would you

a. ask him the time of day
b. follow him down his hole
c. fetch his gloves for him
d. paint the roses red

Make it up as you go:


3. Who are you?

4. At parties, your preferred choice of entertainment is

a. a recitation of You Are Old, Father William
b. croquet, of course! You always win
c. dancing the Lobster Quadrille
d. tea, a tea party with you, yourself, and the dormouse

.:


5. Why is a raven like a writing desk?


6. Your thoughts on talking?

a. You can talk, when there's somebody worth talking to
b. It isn't manners for you to begin the conversation
c. The flowers talk too
d. You prefer talking to yourself

  :


7. Define or describe a jabberwocky.


8. Your thoughts on words?

a. You should say what you mean
b. Words have a temper. . . particularly verbs, they're the proudest
c. When you make a word do a lot of work, you always pay it extra
d. 'Glory' means 'a nice knock-down argument'

 Cool Canvas Print:


9. Have you spoken with Time recently? Are you on good terms with him?


10. At school, you learned

a. French, music, and washing
b. the different branches of Arithmetic -- Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision
c. Mystery, ancient and modern
d. Laughing and Grief

11. Who stole the cherry tarts?


 :(:


12. Your favorite poem in AiW is

a. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat
b. The Jabberwocky
c The Walrus and the Carpenter
d. none, you'd rather repeat a piece written entirely for our amusement


  :


13. Choose a come-back.

a. Your hair wants cutting
b. I shouldn't know you if we did meet again; you're so exactly like other people
c. Who's making personal remarks now?
d. Off with your head!


...:


14. The best advice you'd ever given/heard
a. you've a right to think
b. you're sure to get somewhere if you only walk long enough
c. everything's got a moral if you can just find it
d. speak in French when you can't think of the English for a thing, turn out your toes when you walk, and remember who you are!

 .:


15. What best describes you?

a. you don't know; you've changed several times since this morning
b. you breathe when you sleep and you sleep when you breathe
c. you're murdering time
d. you wouldn't be here if you weren't mad

16. Do you know the conversation between the Unicorn and Alice?


.


*whispers* If you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is it a bargain then?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Life Update because I know you care // Starting Sparks

SURPRISE! #notdead


SHERLOCK (BBC) ~ Season 3, Episode 1: The Empty Hearse. Sherlock in disguise as a French waiter. [Video/GIF)


Yeah, so. I'll make this quick because people are nagging me to do things. Actually, technically all of society, culture, whatever entity name you want to give "them" is screaming at me to be some kind of productive citizen in life by their own standards. And I'd just rather not.


Music, people, music


Mostly because I'm "supposed to." If it weren't for that, then I'd probably be a productive citizen if there wasn't such an. . . unspoken outcry for it.

Am I even making sense? 

Aw, well. So my life has mostly been consumed by work and college. Weekends are dedicated to study. I pretend like I try to have some sort of social life? Or like I want a social life? I don't know. I do sort of need friends because I want to do things, but I'm scared to do things by myself. Even though I did actually go to some swing dancing thing the other night. I came close to chickening out to an estimated 9.3 million times, but I don't know anyone who would go with me. So I took the beginner lesson and sat and watched people dance for the remainder of the evening. And I felt mildly guilty because I should've been studying. But I was also angstily rejoicing because I didn't want to study at all. 


 #books #work


I love learning, but I can't stand school this semester. There are too many people. *shivers* And I don't have time to do the things I want to do. Like blog. Read. Write. Talk with you wonderful people. Practice guitar. Watch movies. Stay home and do WHATEVER I WANT!

*cough* You get the point. 

I'm also working in the writing lab at the college now. So I second guess everything that I read and write [excluding this post, because I am not going to let myself]. I end up over-analyzing even the things that I know are right, so I then get things wrong.

I have to study.

So it's a new month! Starting Sparks is here. So have the button.



The prompt for October. We need more dragons in life.

 .:


Have a great week, month, LIFE! And write like a fiend!


 How are you? Are you and life on speaking terms or at odds?