Friday, December 31, 2010

My Big, Fun, Scary List 2011

Hey everyone! It's New Years Eve, which means that across the country, people are coming up with lists of New Year's Resolutions. But I prefer to think of them under the name they are given on the NaNoWriMo website: "Big, Fun, Scary lists". It's not so much a list of resolutions, because I've noted that MOST lists are of all the bad habits people want to break. My BFS (Big Fun Scary) list is something different, I hope. It's a list of all the exciting experiences I want to have during the year 2011. Some things might be scary and some things might not be easy, but I hope that everything on this list will help me broaden my horizons, step outside my comfort zone, and become a better person.

So, without further delay


1. See Coldplay in concert.
2. 10,000 hours.
My uncle read this theory that the secret to success is 10,000 hours of work. I want to try it, and although I KNOW I won't get 10,000 hours of time in one year (are there even 10,000 hours IN a year?) I want to get started, and make a dent. I want to put aside an hour or two each day to dedicate to something. It'll probably be writing, but who knows? It could be something else entirely. We'll see.

3. Submit a novel that I've written and revised to a publisher.
4. Make a list of songs to learn to play on the piano and/or guitar, and learn them. (I'll post this list later, once I've made it.)
5. Begin the awesome 365-day devotional book that my friend Katie got me for Christmas. Stick with it and finish it by next year. In general, become closer to God and figure out where He wants me to go.

Wishing you the best of luck with your own big, fun, scary adventures,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Book Review: The Book Thief

The other night, I finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and it is one of the most exquisitely written books I have ever encountered. The prose gave me chills; the metaphors and imagery were beautiful. The narrator was amazing, and the voice of the book, although not entirely humorous, was still amusing in its own dark way. The emotion was raw and unfiltered, the scenes at the end so powerful they made me cry.

I want to point out that the last book I truly bawled over, like I did this one, was Aslan's death in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, which I read when I was nine or ten.

Markus Zusak is truly a master, and this book goes beyond all levels of a must-read.

Okay, now, for the less exciting stuff - ratings, because I know it's nice to have a heads up.

This book is definitely meant for upper-grade/mature readers, but that's mainly because of the subject matter. The book is set in Nazi Germany, and some really heavy issues are dealt with. War and death are main themes, and most of the books that the main character reads are pretty dark. There's also a suicide by a supporting character and a refusal to leave home during an air raid but another minor but recurring character. The main character has repeating nightmare's about her brother's death. It took me three nights to start the book because I didn't want to read it after dark, after I'd started the first page, but once I became familiar with the characters, I was fine. Still, a little creepy at first.

Violence - prominent. None of it's EXTREMELY graphic - some pretty gruesome things are mainly mentioned and not described in detail. Air raids, losing limbs/fingers (a supporting character); dead bodies.

Sex - a nonissue, really. A (somewhat detailed) description of a boy forced to strip down to be examined for Hitler's supreme race of Germans, and then later a character thinking about that boy, naked, but only once or twice, and not graphic. No actual sex at all.

Swearing - mild swearing, but mostly in German; a translation is given once or twice, but after that it's just the German version.

Overall - these things should NOT deter you from reading the book. They all fade into the background compared to the beautiful, amazing, wonderful story.

Monday, December 13, 2010

On Surveys

Before I begin, for the record - I won NaNoWriMo. Barely. But I did, and so now I get a 50% off coupon on Scrivener, the most WONDERFUL writing software in the world. Ever. Seriously, you need to go check it out if you're a writer. It's amazing. It totally aligns with the way I think - I plan on index cards and write in scenes, and it allows me to do that. Plus, it has setting and character sketches and folders for research, and scriptwriting templates that I know I'm going to adore during Script Frenzy.

Okay, now, onto the actual post.

I am freakishly fond of surveys.

I know that sounds weird, but it's true. I LIVE for the day when the NaNoWriMo survey goes live. I just completed it - and I'm sad, because there were only nineteen questions and now I have to wait until April - May, really - for the Screnzy survey. At the beginning of the month, the ML for my region sent out surveys for where the best places to have write-ins were, and I had a blast taking them. I also had fun taking the survey she sent out at the end of the month.

I don't know WHY I like surveys so much. I get excited to see all the new ideas that are possibilities for next year's NaNoWriMo, and I guess I think that by taking the survey, I'm doing my little part to improve the site. I want to let Lindsey and all the others at OLL know that they are running the most awesome event in the world, and they should continue to do so, and I'll do everything I can to help them.

Oh, and I like giving my opinions. So much so, that I've actually formed opinions on the survey. So, I think there should be a survey on the survey. Of course then you get into a downward spiral about whether there would have to be a survey on THAT survey, and it would be endless surveying and ticking little round boxes. Now, I would just have a BLAST with that, but I understand that other people might get bogged down. So here's the only thing I feel is important to say about the survey -

I think there should be a few more boxes where you can give original opinions about ideas - not just checking how strongly you want them. For example, a program that lets you do NaNoWriMo in other months of the year is great, but I think that, for THAT, you should be able to set custom goals. I also think that it shouldn't be as big of a deal as the actual NaNoWriMo - You should be able to set a word count goal, but you shouldn't have to validate and you shouldn't get winner goodies - it'd basically consist of a graph, statistics, and your winner bar turning green when you completed your own custom goal.

Of course, the only reason I want an alternative-month NaNoWriMo is for the graph. I haven't found a suitable alternative in any of the softwares on either of my computers - my current one, a Mac, or my old PC. The daily targets in Scrivener might do it for me, when I buy the actual version; or, I think my best bet would be the website where you write 750 words a day, but I wish there was a slightly higher goal than that - not as high as NaNo, something like an even 1000.

If I was a computer geek, I'd just write my own software that would give me a graph and a customizable goal. (Or, perhaps, it exists. If it does, alert me to this fact immediately, I shall go buy it. Actually, ask for it for Christmas.) But unfortunately, the only thing I can do is a bit of halfway-not-so-terrible CSS and HTML.

I've gotten completely off topic, haven't I? Oh well. Post can be summarized as follows -

Scrivener rocks, go buy it, now.
NaNoWriMo is awesome and I want to steal their wordcount graph.
I have an unhealthy obsession with surveys.