Monday, October 29, 2012

Super late Monday Confessions...oops.

I confess...that this blog may be a bit devoid of decent posts during the month of November. I really need to force myself to step away from the computer in order to focus on my writing for NaNoWriMo...

I confess...that I've been trying to finish up my second recipe compilation, and working on it has made me ridiculously hungry!

I confess...that the most exciting part of my weekend was probably buying new collars for my dogs at Target yesterday. Wendy's is white and red with hearts and the word "Rescued" on it, and Rigby's is a sort of teal and blue with bones, and also says "Rescued". Yay doggie fashion! haha.
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Review: Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

My first thought upon finishing this book? "Wow. So this is what Stephenie Meyer based Twilight on."


 Now, we all know how much I love Twilight (note sarcasm). I'm sure that if I'd read Interview with the Vampire before reading the Twilight series, I wouldn't have found myself cringing over the similarities. But the thing is, I've never much cared for the whole vampire phenomenon, and when the Interview with the Vampire movie came out I was a bit too young (in my parents' eyes) to watch it. Therefore I didn't see the movie until 2009 and didn't suck it up and read the book until just recently.

Now, as much as the movie adaptation of Interview with the Vampire made me raise my eyebrows, I have to say that I enjoyed watching that far more than I enjoyed reading this book. Was it the worst thing I've ever read? Nah. Were there things I liked about it? Sure. But none of those things was the characters, and for me that's a big problem. I've heard that if one reads more of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles books, one gets a better idea of Lestat especially...but as a stand-alone, he annoyed me, Louis frustrated me, and Claudia just weirded me out.

And then of course there are the Twilight similarities. Old vampire in handsome young man's body - check. He's whiny and questions his life as a vampire and basically hates being one - check. He even spends an extended amount of time as a "vegetarian" vampire - check. Are you seeing what I'm seeing? (That being how Stephenie Meyer so obviously modeled Edward Cullen after Louis, of course.) Shoot, Louis even has very troublesome romantic-type feelings toward Claudia, who he constantly thinks of as "a woman trapped in a child's body". I mean, you can't tell me that's not somewhat similar to what all happens between Edward and Bella!

I know, I know, I know. This is a book review for Interview with the Vampire and I need to get back on track. The fact of the matter is, considering the length of this book, nothing happened. No, seriously, there were maybe three "conflicts" throughout, and each of them took up several pages, but the rest of the novel was just Louis whining about being a vampire, whining about Lestat, whining about Claudia, whining whining whining. By the time I was halfway through I couldn't stop thinking Ughhhh I'm only halfway through!?!

The book does make you think, though. And Anne Rice's grasp on description is admirable. Not sure I'm convinced about checking out the rest of her vampire books, though. 2.5/5 stars
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday, Inspired by Dragon*Con: The Fan Fiction Question...and 50 Shades of Grey

If there's one thing that I can say got brought up over and over and over again during my writing seminars at Dragon* is, sadly, 50 Shades of Grey.

I think I probably should have expected this, but maybe a part of me - a very large part - hoped that we could, I don't know, rise above. I didn't like the Twilight series, and I know where 50 Shades came from, so I've always known that the chances of me reading it are, well, slim to nil. Especially as the more I hear about it, the more it seems to glorify abusive relationships even more than the Twilight series does.

But I digress - because while this post is in a way about 50 Shades of Grey, it's also...not. About it, I mean. Or at least, not about its content.

During one of those now-infamous (to my few regular blog readers, anyway...haha) Dragon*Con seminars/panels, it was mentioned that although 50 Shades of Grey was originally written as an alternate-universe fanfiction using Stephenie Meyer's characters, it is not and never was copyright infringement. Now, I'm not completely versed on the ins and outs of copyright infringement, so please don't ask me exactly why it isn't that. The point of this discussion wasn't to delve into how far fan fiction has to go to be copyright infringement, but rather the light that the publishing of 50 Shades has shone on fan fiction as a whole. On the very idea of it, and on the legal boundaries that it pushes (to say nothing of the boundaries it pushes with existing characters and story lines that other authors have created - I still can't help but cringe when I hear the term "Snarry", and if I were you I would not Google that, trust me).

You see, despite not being able to call 50 Shades copyright infringement, the fact of the matter is that it was written as fan fiction. The author took the story down from all of the free fan fiction websites, as well as from her own website, changed her characters' names from Edward and Bella and Jacob to Christian and Anastasia and Jose, and has since made oodles of money off 50 Shades and its two sequels. (Thankfully she didn't seem to have to make many changes to the stories themselves; as they are "AU's" there were apparently enough differences between the two series for 50 Shades' origins to be brushed aside.)

Now, in the vast world(s) of fandom(s) there is a sort of "unspoken rule" that fan fiction authors do not do what they do to make money. They do it for fun; they do it for their love of the characters and stories they emulate. And is the rule about not making money really, completely, unspoken? Because almost every fan fiction piece out there has a disclaimer on it; most of the time these disclaimers say things along the lines of "I don't own any of this, it all came from the great mind of [insert original author's name here]". And many, many times these disclaimers also say that the fan fiction writer is not doing this for any sort of compensation or personal gain.

As I mentioned above, 50 Shades of Grey shines a light on fan fiction as a whole - and that light is not good. There are already authors out there who speak out against fan fiction - Anne Rice is vehemently against it, for instance, and George R. R. Martin has made it clear that he thinks it's a waste of time and wishes people wouldn't write Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thrones-based fan fiction. I'm not going to give my opinion just now because honestly my opinion on fan fiction as a whole doesn't much matter; I'm not a published author [yet? ;)]. But is it possible that 50 Shades of Grey could cause just as many - if not more - problems for the publishing industry, should copyright laws be revisited in response to all of these new questions?

It's certainly something to think about - and to possibly be concerned about, whether you are a fan fiction writer who wants to keep doing what you do for fun, not profit, or whether you are an aspiring author who is worried about protecting your own original work. Pin It

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Confessions

I confess...that I acted a bit silly Saturday night, and I still feel like a fool today. That, and I'm still exhausted today. Sigh.

I confess...that no matter how often I'm reminded that "all good things must come to an end", that never makes me any less disappointed when they eventually do.

I confess...that apparently so long as I don't have a computer in front of/around me, I'm actually pretty darn good at focusing and getting some writing done, as was proved Saturday evening.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

I've *finally* done it...

...opened an online store, that is! :)

(Come on, what did you think I was going to say?)

Now...I'm not the most crafty person, so my store will mainly include gently used/like-new items that I purchased and ended up having no use for. For instance, at the moment three of the four items that I've listed are a leather Dale Earnhardt Jr. jacket that I wore no more than 5 times, a "Sexy Marie Antoinette" costume that I never wore at all, and a pair of Waterford Crystal Champagne Flutes that somehow never got used ::shrug::

To wit:

That said, the fourth item I've listed on my store is a "simple" Microsoft Word document..."simple" in quotes because really it's a sort of cookbook! In other words, a compilation of over 100 recipes - all of which I have cooked more than once, edited, and "perfected"...and then organized into an easily printable document!

There is surely more to come with my store, and I'll likely update my blog about it whenever I add a particularly interesting item. So go ahead and check it out, let me know if you have any questions, comments, concerns, critiques, what have you :) Pin It

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review: Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

I'll admit, part of me was excited for this last installment of Gregory Maguire's Wicked Years series - mainly because I was ready to see it all wrapped up, and hoping that it would be in a neat little package.


I should have known that Maguire would give his readers no such thing ;)

On top of that, I was no more pleased with Out of Oz than I was with Son of a Witch or A Lion Among Men. I just feel that the new characters introduced in the second, third, and fourth books of this series were...unlikeable, at best. Out of Oz's main character, Rain, interested me no more than Liir did when he was introduced in Son of a Witch; and in fact she interested me less than Brr the "cowardly lion" did while I was reading A Lion Among Men. What happened to the amazing characters that Maguire peopled Wicked with? In fact, the best part(s) of Out of Oz featured none other than Glinda.

Thankfully Maguire did give us answers to quite a few questions that had been raised by the previous installments in this series, but one revelation in particular seemed a bit over the top. I can't say more without revealing a huge spoiler, but suffice it to say that personally I think Maguire could - and should - have used what he created in the first three books of the Wicked Years to round out the series, rather than throwing in so much new information in Out of Oz. 3/5 stars Pin It

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Confessions

I confess...that my 500th post last night was a bit of a last minute realization. Oops? ;)

I confess...that I've pretty much officially decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, and I'm kind of nervous about it! Partly because I'm not the best at sitting down and writing a minimum number of words every day, and partly because participating in this means essentially abandoning the original fiction I've been working on all year - for an entire month. But at the same time, I'm excited to be involved in this, err, endeavor :)

I confess...that my band is thinking about changing its name and its become a source of contention for me. Sigh. Pin It

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Welcome to my 500th post!

Well, it's been a crazy busy weekend, and honestly I'm posting this entry very quickly because it's already 9:15 PM on Sunday night and I have a lot of crap to finish before I can go to bed tonight. Such is my life, these days...

Now, first things first, most of my free time lately has been dedicated to the aforementioned CONVENTION OF ICE & FIRE, for which I'm one of the organizers!

So far we've sold over half of our Dragon tickets (we're down to 13 from 32!). We still have plenty of Stag and Iron tickets left, though :) (and we will be able to give those who purchase Stag tickets a chance to purchase Friday night dinner, thus making the only differences between their package and the Dragon package the priority seating at the dinners and the size of the gift bags)

Rooms and cottages at Ravenwood will be open for general booking tomorrow to those who have purchased tickets to the convention, so obviously that's the next big step in our whole planning process. At the moment it's really all about promoting the thing, but I must admit that I'm looking forward to selling enough tickets/having enough rooms booked so that we can focus more on the schedule.

Speaking of ASOIAF, yesterday was "Robb & Cersei's Excellent [RenFaire] Adventure" at the Carolina RenFaire!

Made some minor adjustments to my Cersei costume, by the way ;)
Angry Robb is angry with his turkey leg.
I'm hoping to make some sort of silly YouTube video about our day at the RenFaire...we'll see. One good thing is that I got some information from some vendors and we handed out several flyers for the Convention of Ice & Fire. I tell ya, if anything organizing this convention is certainly helping to hone my marketing skills!

I know, I know, not much of a brou-ha-ha for my 500th post. But I will say that this convention is *very* important to me. Not only do I enjoy the series, but I love the fandom as a whole. I love the people it's introduced me "Robb" (also known as Matt) above, Valerie who is the other organizer for our convention, the amazing people who have volunteered to help out with the convention, the awesome people who stopped us at the RenFaire yesterday to talk about Game of Thrones and our costumes, the inspiration the books themselves have given me - in too many ways to list just now.

And now it's nearly 10 PM (yeah, I got distracted watching Titanic on Cinemax, what of it?) and I still haven't finished half of what I need to do before going to bed. So I'm off, and there ya 500th entry, almost entirely about my new "obsession" - our Convention of Ice & Fire in April 2013! Pin It

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Review: A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire

A Lion Among Men is the third book in Gregory Maguire's Wicked series, and though I've had it on my Kindle for quite some time I kept putting off actually reading it. You see, Wicked is still to this day one of my favorite novels, but to be honest I was pretty disappointed with the second series installment, Son of a Witch. Well, A Lion Among Men was, thankfully, better than Son of a Witch...but it was still no Wicked.


I would say that the thing that I didn't quite "get" about this book was how the lion ever came to be called cowardly. Of course we know that Wicked took some beloved characters and turned them topsy-turvy, but in a very well-written, enjoyable sort of way. While I liked this book, I still can't help but think that the only thing Maguire truly got right about his version of the lion - "Brrr", as he is named in this novel - was that he was a bit of a dandy.

It was certainly refreshing to see a bit more of Oz and its history, especially through the eyes of a different character, and yes - in reading this book you will gather answers to some of the questions that were likely raised in your mind while reading Wicked and Son of a Witch. That, combined with the fact that as frustrating as he can be Brrr really did draw me in as a character, bumped up my rating just a bit. 3.5/5 stars
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday, Inspired by Dragon*Con: To Review, or Not to Review?

Okay, okay. I know I've already mentioned - several times - how pleasantly surprised I was at the amount of discussion and the number of ideas produced by the Online Interactions panel that I attended at Dragon*Con back over Labor Day. And one part of the discussion that I took note of is actually quite fitting for me to post about just now - because it dealt with book reviews and whether writers or aspiring writers should post negative ones, and at the moment I've been plowing my way through book after book - so quickly that at the moment I have at least four reviews to post here on my blog.

Sadly, nowadays it's pretty rare that I find a book that I truly believe deserves even a 4 out of 5 star rating - 5 out of 5 stars practically never happens. To be honest, though, I'm hard to please...and that is why I write book reviews. Because whereas I may not think a book was that great, I feel that a well-written review may make someone - or some people, plural - understand that it's more my not enjoying the book because it's simply not my idea of a good read, rather than because it's badly written or whatever.

Unfortunately, it seemed to be the general opinion - maybe not of every single person on the panel/in the room for "Online Interactions", but certainly of the majority of them - that writers and aspiring writers should only write positive (or possibly neutral) book reviews. Thankfully, I think I've only written two book reviews, ever, in which I trashed what I'd just read - both having to do with working for Walt Disney World, and mainly because they were not only badly written but contained such incorrect information that I could not bring myself to keep quiet. Not knowing that people out there would read these books and possibly - even probably - take what they were reading at face value.

I mean, listen: I know that writers put their hearts and souls into their work. And I know that if I ever publish something I'll have done the same, but there will still be people who don't like what I've written. Because no writer can control how people feel about their work(s). But I don't want people to be afraid to critique me because they write as well and are afraid to alienate themselves, and I hope I'm not alone in feeling this way. Pin It

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Confessions: Random is as random does.

I confess...that I was supposed to go grocery shopping yesterday, but I ended up being far too lazy and now am looking even less forward to having to do it today.  

I confess...that I'm pretty darn tired of the attitudes of some of the people in our neighborhood in regards to those of us who walk our dogs. I carry waste bags with me and pick up their poop, and I do everything in my power to keep my male dog from marking plants. I'm not a bad neighbor, I'm not a bad dog owner, and my dogs aren't bad dogs, so I'm really tired of random people stopping me and berating me because heaven forbid Wendy dribbles a bit of pee on that person's lawn.  

I confess...that I got invited to an "Apocalypse Disney Princesses" group for Dragon*Con 2013 (which yes, is a crazy amount of time away, but what can you do) and I'm super psyched about it. I'll be costumed as the post-apocalyptic version of Aurora, who is very Kill BIll-esque and also gets to carry a glass of wine/champagne. As anyone from D*C knows, carrying around a drink in costume is my specialty XD Pin It

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Book Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

Sadly, I heard decent things about this book from a few people...but after reading it and wondering if I was just being overly critical, I looked at the Amazon reviews and understood that wasn't the case.


To begin, I have to say that the main character - not-so-aptly named "Jane" - was simply not likeable for about 70% of the book. Unlike some reviewers, though, I do think that she seemed to grow and change a bit throughout the story, though I will agree that the ending could have been better written in order to continue showing this growth and change.

The thing is, Jane's supposed "obsession" with Pride & Prejudice/Jane Austen is barely even mentioned outside of her owning the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice DVDs. Other Austen works are mentioned only in passing, and this was, in my opinion, nothing more than bad development of this particular plot point - which is kind of a major plot point as it's the reason Jane is sent to Austenland in the first place.

On top of that, I have to ask - what was up with the painting thing? We were given little to no information about Jane's day job at first, and we never read anything about her having been any sort of painter or artist - until suddenly she gets to Pembrook Park and not only starts relating everything to painting, but then actually begins painting...and the reader is just supposed to believe that she used to paint all the time, without any backstory about her being an artist - to that extent, at least.

We were also given little asides about Jane's past boyfriends that were completely unnecessary - most weren't even amusing or in any way realistic, and to me it just felt like filler. Perhaps it was supposed to be comedic relief, but again - they simply weren't amusing enough to be true comedic relief. That said, there were a few things that I was pleased with in this novel - mainly, the history, customs, and clothing of the Regency period were obviously very well-researched (even if Jane's discomfort in said clothing was glossed over as if it didn't happen at all). And there's a little twist at the end that I wasn't quite expecting, and it left me feeling a bit refreshed - until the main character reacted like her old self would have and completely undid all that learning and growing she'd experienced at Pembrook Park.

I think that the premise of this novel was a good one, at least to an extent, and I wish that the author hadn't followed so many silly tropes and basically undid all the good she accomplished with the high points of her story. 2/5 stars.
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Monthly 101 UpdateS: August & September

Well, I was so busy getting my Dragon*Con posts up at the beginning of September that I totally missed posting my August update for my 101 in 1001 list! Though to be honest it's really not that big of a deal because, well, between August and September I only completed three goals total :-/ I did however finally make a bit more progress on some of the goals I'd started working on quite some time ago - namely  "Read at least 50 books I haven't read before" and "Put together another recipe book/binder". In fact I likely could have finished the latter if I'd actually focused on doing so, but I suppose that's another story for another time.

As for what I *did* finish...

Attend another Star Wars/general comic type convention

I'm pretty sure I don't need to go into any more detail about Dragon*Con than I already have ;)

Mow the lawn

I suppose I should have taken a picture or something to prove that I actually did this, but no, I'd never mowed any yard before - and yes, I mean this literally, get your minds out of the gutter, folks. So anyway, I'd never mowed a lawn/yard before...until August of this year. And now I've actually done it twice. So there! ;)

Record 10 more general videos and post to YouTube

I've actually posted most of the videos that are on my YouTube channel here already, except for this one - which actually wasn't even the last video I posted, but as the most recent video that I uploaded was from Dragon*Con and I've already embedded it into a previous blog entry, no need to post it again I think. So here is a promotional video that I made for the band I was in from May to September of this year. I'm honestly not sure what's going on with it right now - sadly enough - because we're all on crazy different schedules and last I knew only had one show scheduled for October anyway, but I suppose it was fun while it lasted and who knows, maybe things will pick back up again for us sometime ::shrug::

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday, Inspired by Dragon*Con: Growing up without an Internet Haven

So I mentioned in one of my many Dragon*Con posts that I attended the "Online Interactions" panel scheduled by the Young Adult Lit track, and in doing so I was actually inspired by some of the discussion to write not one but two blog posts...and this is the first of those posts, going up on "Writer's Block Wednesday" because I'm really in writer's block mode right now...sigh.

Anyway, at said Online Interactions panel one of the panelists began discussing how she didn't fit in at her school when growing up. She explained that she found a sort of haven in the internet, a place where the things she was interested in attracted others as well, a place where she was able to meet friends and truly feel a part of something. Now I am of course paraphrasing this, but in general it made her less scared to be open about who she was and about her interests.

This made me think. A lot. Maybe too much ;) You see, I grew up without internet. I mean, we had dial-up starting when I was maybe fifteen, but I had next to no idea how to use a computer at the time and only ever signed on late at night (when I wasn't supposed to) in order to chat with friends via instant messenger. And by friends, I mean people who I already knew in real life.

The thing is, it wasn't until much later - halfway through college, really - that I met *most* of the people who I call my true friends. And most times we didn't seek each other out; they were people who ended up as my neighbors, completely by chance. People I ended up working with, completely by chance. I grew up feeling always out of place, and to be completely honest I've felt out of place many times since then. Still, if I hadn't randomly run into and become friends with so many of the amazing people that I know, would I have always continued to hide who I was, and my true interests?

I didn't have the haven of the internet back when having it would have mattered. I had the books in which I buried my nose, my personal journals, the notepads in which I scribbled my stories. I had X Files on TV on Sunday nights, and Star Wars and Jurassic Park on VHS. Mostly I watched these all by myself; generally I had no one with whom to discuss Mulder and Scully's relationship or argue over which original trilogy installment was the best.

I envy that girl her internet and the experiences and friends she gained from it. I'm not saying I would change anything, because I'm sure the friendships I have are closer - and I appreciate them all the more - for the fact that I didn't have any haven like that when I was younger.

But I do have to wonder what, if anything, would be different had I known that type of online community - or even a similar group of friends to the ones I have now - back when I was 14, 15, 16, and even beyond. Pin It

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Confessions: The Disney Edition

I confess...that I'm running on an average of 6 hours of sleep a night from the past week or so (less for the past few days, thanks to this Disney trip I've been on) and I'm just not sure how much longer I can keep going on empty.

 I confess...that I still have moments when I miss living in the Orlando area/working for Disney, but at the same time I know - deep down - that I don't ever want to move back here.  

I confess...that I was supposed to do this trip on a shoestring and didn't exactly succeed. Oops. Pin It