An Official Disappearance

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I haven’t been around the blogosphere much lately, anyway, but still, I have the persistent habit of announcing my little plans to the world. So, here tis: I will be disappearing from the Internet from now on to the end of November except for NaNoWriMo or other story writing related postings.

Why? Obviously, there’s Nanowrimo. I will be writing my fantasy novel (I cannot for the life of me come up with a good name for it) or my two contemporaries. I might co write a novel instead if my co writers are so inclined.

On top of that, I reeeaally need to brush up on my French. Like, I desperately need to but I have zero percent motivation to do it. Ha! I should write 50,000 French words for Nano. That would totally help my skills, although it would put all co-writing thoughts out of the question. I hardly know if I’m ambitious enough for that but a nice word counter widget and a synopsis and support group should help me much more than if I tried to tackle French 3 all on my own.

That’s a thought. And I’ll need a lot of time for that. So, in a sense, this is my Internet ban post and my declaration of productivity plans.

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Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award

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I was nominated for this award by ErinKenobi. Thanks, Erin!

The rules: Answer questions, make up new questions, display the icon on your blog, nominate bloggers, and notify them.

First off, the questions – my favorite part:

1. How many times in a day do you look things up online, on average?

Uh … this is a tough one. Some days I don’t look anything up, some days I look many things up. I’d say, an average of once a day.

2. What is the strangest thing you have ever said to anyone?

I don’t recall. I often say this to my family though, “You look like someone I know.” My father always replies, “Um, yeah … maybe because I’m your father?”

3. Since my dad is having us watch The Avengers and all the movies leading up to them… who’s your favorite Avenger? 😉

I’m sorry to say I have never watched the Avenger movies! But based on costume, my fav is Black Widow. Hawkeye has a cool ability. Captain America would prob be my fav in personality.

4. Which Avenger are you most like, in your opinion? In your friends’ opinions?

I took two quizzes and they both say I’m Hawkeye. So, I guess I must be like him!

5. If you had to pick one–just one–fictional character to be caught with in the middle of a natural disaster (or a nuclear war, take your pick) who would you choose?

Hmm … maybe Sir Percy Blakeney? He’s compassionate and saves strangers’ lives so he’d probably help me out and he’s incredibly brave and resourceful. But the main reason I’m choosing him is his humor. What would I give to speak to the infamous English fop!

6. Oddest thing you’ve sung in the shower?

I sang the description on the shampoo bottles once.

7. What is the biggest thing you’ve had malfunction about your account or blog? (Mine is the elusive “like” button which I have often complained about.)

I can’t change the date of my posts (or schedule them) on the WordPress iPad app. That’s all I can really think of.

8. Favorite kind of fruit?

Oranges. I love nuts too.

9. What book/movie/poem/short story has made the biggest impact on you lately?

The Count of Monte Cristo. I just finished it yesterday and ack! It is soooo good. Just thinking about it makes me feel the pain all over again. I have to say, it’s my fav book along with Les Miserables.

10. And, last but not least, what was the funniest thing you read recently? Please share

I read the prologue of this story. I couldn’t stop laughing!

And now for my questions:

1. What’s your favorite drink?
2. How many hours do you sleep everyday?
3. Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram?
4. What’s your favorite color?
5. Do you speak French?
6. Werewolves or vampires?
7. Love triangles or chosen ones?
8. Country music or rock?
9. Do you have any sisters? Tell me about them! If you don’t have one or don’t want to, describe your ideal sister.
10. Left handed or right handed?

The nominees (I assume they have to be female bloggers):
Uh, well … This is bad, I know, but I’m going to cheat and as usual, say that anyone reading this can consider herself nominated. And if you accept the nomination and link me to your post, I’ll give you a prize!

Go on, then. Accept.

100 Questions

I found an old post from Rachel Coker’s blog and thought I’d try my hand at these hundred questions.

1.    Are you outgoing or shy?
Um, probably shy. I have mild social anxiety. I can be pretty crazy and jokey once you get to know me, though.  

2.    Who are you looking forward to seeing?
My brother

3.    Are you easy to get along with?
Haha. I don’t know. You’ll have to ask my family.

4.    What kind of people are you attracted to?
I like funny, easygoing people, in particular, especially when they like books, writing, or music.

5.    Do you think you’ll be in a relationship two months from now?
Definitely not.

6.    Who was the last person you had a deep conversation with?
My elder sister

7.    What does the most recent text that you sent say?

I don’t text much. It probably said “okay” or “yes” (in response to something my dad wanted me to do).

8.    What are your 5 favorite songs right now?

Don’t be so mean! I can’t possibly answer that.

1. Enough to Let Me Go – Switchfoot

2. The Best of You and Me – Number One Gun

3. Uncanny – Anberlin

4. More Anberlin songs

5. More songs

9.    Do you like it when people play with your hair?
Nooooooo!

10.  What good thing happened this summer?
I finished all my schoolwork except for math. It was not very memorable. Another summer is coming soon, though.

11.  Do you still talk to your first crush?

No.

12.  Do you like bubble baths?
Never tried em. I don’t imagine I would.

13.  Do you like your neighbors?
Yes.

14.  What are your bad habits?
Procrastination and laziness

15.  Where would you like to travel?

Gosh, I’d like to travel so many places. I want to explore different places in NZ, Australia, the USA, England, France, Rome, Canada … the list goes on. If I really had to choose … probably I’d go somewhere in NZ or to France.

16.  Do you have trust issues?
Yes, I can be very suspicious of other people.

17.  Favorite part of your daily routine?
I like writing and reading (of course).

18.  What part of your body are you most uncomfortable with?
My chin and jawline. I was born with a very round face and now that I’m no longer underweight, it really stands out when I smile. I mean, I should really learn to love it someday but it’ll take a while.

19.  What do you do when you wake up?
I eat breakfast.

20.  Do you wish your skin was lighter or darker?
I’d say lighter. I always thought pale skin was so cool. I’m quite happy with the way I am now, though.

21.  Who are you most comfortable around?
My brother (commonly know as my twin) and my elder sister

22.  Do you ever want to get married?
It depends on if I ever meet someone I want to spend all my life with.

23.  Would you rather live without TV or music?

TV. I already do.

24.  Have you ever liked someone and never told them?
 
Yes.

25.  What do you say during awkward silences?

I laugh nervously or say “um … so, yeah.”

26.  What are your favorite stores to shop in?

I like book stores, clothes stores, and shoe shops.

27.  What do you want to do after high school?

I want to get a job (in youth work?) and hopefully travel a bit once I have enough money. Just getting a job would be awesome though.

28.  Do you believe everyone deserves a second chance?

Yes, without a doubt. However, we do need to be careful around shady characters. Sure, I believe everyone should get a second chance when they mess up, but not a second chance to hurt you.  

29.  If you’re being extremely quiet what does it mean?

I’m thinking. I’m usually thinking, though.

This is my typical face:

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30.  Do you smile at strangers?

Yes, when we make eye contact.  

31.  Trip to outer space or bottom of the ocean?

I’d say … outer space.

32.  What are you paranoid about?

Wasting my life away and people reading my stories

 
33.  What was the color of the last hoodie you wore?

Black

34.  Ever wished you were someone else?
 
Yessss. It wasn’t Gollum, though.

35.  One thing you wish you could change about yourself?

I wish I was the sort of friend who brings a smile to everyone’s life. I suppose technically I could be like that, but I don’t think I am.

36.  Favorite makeup brand?

Whatever’s cheapest. Those are Rachel’s words but I totally agree.

37.  Favorite store?
Kmart?

38.  Favorite blog?
I can’t possibly choose.

39.  Favorite color?

Black, white, and blue (Yeah, i know that’s cheating)

40.  Favorite food? 

Icecream, chocolate, peanut butter, and oreos

41.  Last thing you ate?

Salt crackers

42.  First thing you ate this morning?

Banana bread

43.  Ever won a competition? For what?

No, unless the singing competitions we used to have where my dad was judge counts.

44.  Been suspended/expelled? For what?

No.

45.  Been arrested? For what?

No

46.  Ever been in love? 

Yes, with music and books

47.  Are you hungry right now?

No

48.  Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter

49.  Twitter or Tumblr?

Twitter, maybe? The Tumblr platform confuses me

50.  Are you watching tv right now?

No. I don’t have a TV

51.  Names of your best friends? 

Sorry, I can’t say them for privacy reasons.

52.  Craving something? What?

Eater

53.  What color are your towels?

Blue and maroon

54.  How many pillows do you sleep with?

One

55.  Do you sleep with stuffed animals?

No. I threw my old hippo away, to my dad’s dismay.

56.  How many stuffed animals do you think you have?

None

57.  Favorite animal?

Horses!

58.  Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate 

59.  Favorite ice cream flavor?

Ripple? Coffee? Chocolate peanut butter?

60.  What color shirt are you wearing?

Black

61.  What color pants?

Purple

62.  Favorite tv show?

Um … um …

63.  Favorite movie?

The Return of the King, probably

64.  Favorite character from Mean Girls?

I don’t know

65.  Favorite character from Finding Nemo?

I like the little fish – Nemo, right?

66.  First person you talked to today?

I haven’t spoken to anyone today.

67.  How many sweatpants do you have?

I’ve got three pairs of trackpants, if that counts.

68.  How many sweaters/hoodies do you have?

Too many to count

69.  Last movie you watched?

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs? Les Mis?

70.  Favorite actress?

71.  Favorite actor?

72.  How are you feeling?

Happy.

73.  Do you type fast?

No. I can but my thoughts always come slowly

74.  Do you regret anything from your past?

Yes, yes, and yes.

75.  Can you spell well?

Yes, evin if I doo say so meesilf.

76.  Do you miss anyone from your past?

Not really. I kind of miss an old friend I had from school because she was really nice to me.

77.  Ever broken someone’s heart?

I hope not.

78.  Have you ever been on a horse?

Not yet

79.  Do you like your online friends or your real friends more?

I’m sorry to say this to my online friends, but nothing can replace my IRL friends.
 
80.  What should you be doing?

Drinking cod liver oil. Blegh.

81.  Is something irritating you right now?

No (unless it’s the prospect of drinking cod liver oil)

82.  Have you ever liked someone so much it hurt?

I have liked someone so much, it hurt when they were upset.

83.  Who was the last person you cried in front of?

My family

84.  What was your childhood nickname?

I’ve never had one.

85.  Are you listening to music right now?

No. I would have but I didn’t want to disturb everyone who was sleeping by sneaking to get my headphones

86.  Do you like chicken noodle soup?

Yeah

87.  Do you like Chinese food?

It depends on the type. I prefer Western

88.  Favorite book?
Les Miserables

89.  Are you afraid of the dark?

No (unless I just read And Then There Were None)

90.  Are you mean?

I don’t think so … :/

91.  Can you keep white shoes clean?

Probably not!

92.  Do you believe in love at first sight?

I believe people can “fall in love” at first sight – you know, that craziness that lovesick people have. But I believe that kind of love is not enough. Love is also a constant choice.

93.  What makes you happy?
Laughter, friends, the great outdoors

94.  Would you change your name?
I wouldn’t change Tara. I never really liked my surname, though (sorry Dad!).

95.  Favorite lyrics right now? 

Live, I wanna live on fire./ Die, I wanna burn out brighter/ brighter than the northern lights/ I wanna live to feel the daylight/ The more I live I see/ This life’s not about me

96.  Do you sleep with your doors open or closed?

Open

97.  Night or Day?

Probably day, but I love the romance of night and the stars

98.  Favorite month?

Decemeber, because of Christmas

99.  Dark, milk or white chocolate?

Dark chocolate
 
100. Was today a good day?

It’s been awesome so far and I’m sure it will be awesome.

101. What’s your favorite quote?

Aagain, that’s an impossible question. But I’ll leave you with one I like: Be careful of health books. You might die of a misprint. – Mark Twain

Feel free to answer the questions on your own blog!

 

Beautiful Books October

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This month, Cait @ Notebook Sisters and Sky @ Further Up and Further In are hosting the linkup Beautiful Books. Check out the links to learn more. In short, I’ll be answering questions about plotting in preparation for my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel.

That means, of course, I’ve got to have a novel ready to be written.

I have a few options. I could talk about the novel I’m already writing. I know (and trust) it best. On the other hand, using my Nano novel would be a good way to motivate me to, you know, actually write it.

So far, I’m partial to using either my dystopian or my two contemporary scripts/novellas. Dystopian would be cool but it’s all rather implausible so far (one of those “that would never happen!” stories). And while I haven’t had a good experience writing contemporary yet, those ideas are more fully formed, so I guess I’ll talk about them today!

1. What came first: characters or plot idea? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

The plot ideas for these two came first, which is rare for me. It almost always starts with the characters. This is an exception.

I’d say I’m a cross between the two. I know my main characters and study them. I write a pitch. I write a brief summary. But I make many changes while I write and add new characters and events.

That said, I have written both completely “pantsed” and meticulously “plotted” novels. They didn’t go all that well.

2. Do you have a title and/or a “back-cover-blurb”?

Yep. (Gasp!) I actually have working titles! One is called “I Crashed My Friends”. The other is “My Technological Lover”.

3. What wordcount are you aiming for when your novel is finished?

If I wrote them as novel(las), I estimate they’ll each be about 40,000 words. I will probably write fewer, though, since I’m a “barebones” drafter. As scripts, they’ll be shorter – around 100 pages, perhaps?

4. Sum up your novel in 3 sentences.

In ICMF, Martin is driving during a bad car crash in which he’s injured and his three passengers and friends die. He struggles with the crushing guilt of having “killed” his friends, so to speak. This is the story of his pain, how he comes to terms with what has happened, and the relationship between him and his friends’ bereaved parents.

MTL is about a girl who falls in love with Siri. It’s going to be hilarious to write.

5. Sum up your characters in one word each.

Well, the girl is quite obviously crazy.

6. Which character are you most excited to write? Tell us about them!

ICMF is a study in the human psyche and relationships. It’s some heavy and painful but really interesting stuff. There’s Martin and his guilt and sorrow. There’s his mother who loves him unconditionally. There are the other parents, grieving over their dead children. There are the friends themselves who have left their mark on the world despite their short lifetimes.

7. What about your villain? Who is he, what is his goal?

I haven’t got a villain. I rarely have villains.

8. What is your protagonist’s goal? And what stands in the way?

9. What inciting incident begins your protagonist’s journey?

10. Where is your novel set?

Auckland, NZ, where I live.

11. What are three big scenes in your novel that change the game completely?

12. What is the most dynamic relationship your character has? Who else do they come in contact with or become close to during the story?

Hmm, I already answered that in #6. But that’s a great question. I love writing complicated relationships.

13. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

It’s a secret!

Okay, actually I don’t know for sure. Martin definitely becomes more resilient and less carefree.

14. Do you have an ending in mind, or do you plan to see what happens?

I expect to have happy(ish) endings. But I only expect it.

15. What are your hopes and dreams for your book? What impressions are you hoping this novel will leave on your readers and yourself?

It would be nice to get these stories published. But I have no definitive goals. I’ll do what’s best for the story.

I hope my stories will make readers think. I hope they will make readers laugh. And I hope they will be the sort of books to leave a mark. As for me, I want to laugh and cry and just have a good time, and, above all, write “the end”.

What do you think of my stories? Are you linking up for Beautiful Books? Tell me about your books or link to your post!

Homeless Characters

It’s a very real problem.

I’ve got this character called Brent, a struggling artist who lives on the street.

That’s not the problem, though.

This is it. You see, I have many characters I’ve met throughout the years from an assortment of my stories. The manuscripts I have trashed (figuratively and literally), the plots I’ve come to see as quite horrifically embarrassing, and I’m no longer interested in the settings. But the characters … the characters remain. And I love them too much, it would be sad not to tell their stories.

There’s Brent, dejected and cynical, rejected by his father and trapped by poverty. There are the many characters from my dystopian trilogy and high school contemporary: Ethan, a people pleaser who learns to take a stance the hard way; Tirine, brilliantly cunning, slowly but surely working her way to power; Dyra and Jared, mortal enemies who douse each other in ice cream (Haha, I just realized they would make the cutest couple. It’s official – I ship them.); Isaac, mischievous, fun loving, and obsessed with cars; the terribly shy baseball geek, Ming; petite Natalie who can never stop talking; Cecily, determined to make the world a better place; and Gary, a lapsed Christian who goes to the dark side so slowly, not even his wife notices.

From my old stories, there’s Cyril White, a textbook ISTP; Connelle, a handicapped swimmer, and her French hating boyfriend, Terence; dreamy Leslie with a hidden strength and his twin Lillian – the girl kicks some serious butt!; there’s one violent, terrible, broken man and his starving son; Eleazar and his unlikely friend, Mick; a petty bookish professor – dear, dear Loche! I have so got to write about him; actress Maddie and the crewman Tyler, a young dysfunctional couple; and nerdy Daphne and the self righteous Ryan.

I have all these characters and no story worthy of them.

(See how awfully worried I look?)

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(I suppose I could put them all together. It would make for one seriously epic monster of a tale.)

Killing Your Darlings (And How Insanely Real Characters Are)

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Writers joke about how psychotic they appear, what with their delight in torturing their characters. Alas, that stereotype is not true for me. Hurting my characters is one of my biggest “writerly” problems.

But conflict is essential to stories and conflict presupposes a struggle which presupposes pain. If I wrote fairy tales, it would be easier, I’m sure. Unfortunately, being absolutely crazy, I write tragedies.

As much as I love to cry (over fiction, I mean), I love to feel the bliss of a couple hopelessly in love and laugh along to the good natured bickering of a happy family. But I just know (and it always proves true) that the lovers will be parted before the marriage and the family will be split by misfortune. And my story is even more painful, for people lose both lives and souls.

As the author, you’d think I could change that, right? Uh, well … not really. The characters do what they do and the events happen as they happen. Bending reality would be false.

I believe the only thing that enables me to continue writing is the constant reminder: “These people are a figment of my imagination! Such things never happened for real! If I wanted, I could just change it. These people don’t exist!”

These sentences are full of error. For one, I couldn’t change events and characters without ruining the essence of the story. Secondly, while my characters aren’t real in one sense of the word, there are people going through the same kinds of struggles who are very real indeed. And of course, pulling myself out from the story world is hardly a good idea.

But at least it keeps me sane.

Writing is painful (that explains why I’m not writing my story now. Hint: I’m at a death scene). Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The way characters walk into my head and simply bloom before my eyes; the way they choose their own destinies as if they were human; the way all the minor characters clamor for a bigger role; the way they refuse to be as bad as I planned they would be – it’s an absolutely magical experience.