Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Night Cap-off: Writer loves the Outdoors

I think what every writer needs to do is step back from the busy lights of civilization and go back to the basics: aka go camping, go hiking, go canoeing, go wandering in the wilderness and get in touch with nature.

I just returned from a 4-day canoe expedition today. Despite the horrific outhouses, and aching muscles from driving a loaded canoe into a fierce headwind with eyes squinted against the rain, it was an amazing experience.

Flushing oneself out of screentime, slacktime, and just civlized-time really makes you THINK and FEEL, you know? The bare basics of humanity - thinking and feeling. And thinking and feeling is exactly the tools you need as a writer. Every writer should take a step back and just admire and awe. It's only after a profound realization of accomplishing something, seeing something, experiencing something - anything from stormy wind and rain to a sunny day or a cute seal popping out of the water - that you become a person. And then you can write it down. Write it down in a way that expresses your innermost profound-ness.

I don't know if I'm making sense. You really have to go out there and see for yourself: bobbing in the middle of a still fjord on a wooden canoe with slanted rain and fog covering the shoreline is both a powerful image to paint and a powerful image to write.

So grab your notebooks, get our there, and smell the roses for your pen depends on it!

Survived the canoe expedition!

Halfway through Hunger Games! I now know what the hype with this book is all about. It really is a good book. The main character is purely enticing, I just find myself seriously caring about what happens to her. I dunno, she's admirable, I guess, for stepping up for an almost death sentence in place of her sister. Plus the whole hunter thing, and just the concept of the corrupt and cruel Capitol entices me. I like corrupt and cruel places of power...hehe...

LIGHTS just released a new EP with all her acoustic goodness. LIGHTS is an awesome Canadian indie-ish singer/songwriter of the dreampop genre, but personally her acoustic work on the webcasts are pure golden. Thanks for the compilation of great acoustic tunes, LIGHTS!

My favourite track HAS to be "River", or maybe it's just because of the canoe expedition: :)

Lyric sample:

Out across cities I see buildings turn into piles
and watch the world in wonder, as mountains turn into tiles
and trees loosing their leaves and their faces becoming tired
i wish i could discover something that doesn't expire
come stumble me

take me river, carry me far
lead me river, like a mother
take me over to some other unknown
put me in the undertow

THE FINALE OF DANCERS!!!!!! I have vowed to finish the first draft by the time school starts. ITWILLBEDONEITWILLBEDONE!!!

See above.

Have an amazing weekend, anyone who reads.

And tell me all about your nature endeavors :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

The word "UPDATE" is overused... The Bush, zero taxes, and the Book Heaven on Earth.

Because Juliet wanted it bigger.

Ok so I realize I haven't blogged in more than a week.


In an effort to make this blogging thing a habit I will take the Pledge To Blog Harder.

I have been struggling through the wilderness. Ok, not yet, but I will!

Starting tomorrow I am completing my qualifying journey in the Adventurous Journey component of the Duke of Edinburgh Award - silver level. On a canoeing expedition. 4 days. 3 nights. Different campsite each night. Pit toilets. Did I mention canoeing??? Fun..

Don't get me wrong. I love the outdoors. I'm Canadian, after all, and I'm BRITISH COLUMBIAN (burrrrn!!). For those of you who saw those Vancouver 2010 Olympics, one of my favourite commercials was the one where they show a dramatic montage of remote wilderness and snow-capped mountains while the guy says: "This is OUR backyard! OUR playground!"

So yeah, I'll be traversing into my backyard, simply put. Just pray that I'll survive.

Portland, OR and pilgrimage to THE BEST BOOKSTORE EVA!!

So recently I spent 4 days in Portland, OR with the fam. (*Note: It was 99 degrees which to a Vancouverite equals Total Sweatage.) Did some cross-border shopping with plenty of success ($160 luggage case with 2 free tshirts FTW + NO TAX BOOYA!!). My province is currently run over with the HST which is like a 12% tax on basically everything, so being in a tax-free state was amazing. I mean, I look at the price tag and go "$, with tax that would be...hold on! IT'S JUST $9.95! No strings attached!"
"The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown.

Now, for all you writers and readers out there I have an announcement for you that will make you squeal. Portland has an amazing used and new bookstore in downtown called the Powell's City of Books. And it's just that. A city of books. Think about it: a bookstore spanning an entire city block, with a maze of rooms, stairwells, floor-to-ceiing shelves, and a MAP to show you where to go.

I was breathless.

Oh, by the way, I bought 5 books in the States since books are so friggin' expensive here (just check the CAN number on the back and the 2 currencies are almost equal now). I'm finally reading Hunger Games, after all that excitement on the net. It's really good...

Um..what else?

The 2010-2011 school year course list has arrived in the mail! *bawls* I am NOT ready for Gr.11. They say it's worse than Gr.12, dude. At least the government gave me $250 for post-secondary education because apparently I was a "good citizen" who got "good grades" last year (can't remember). So that's good!

I got a printer! (Finally.)

And uh...

I'm terribly jealous of my friend (the same one that drew my Dancers characters) because she's roaming the Maritimes and the east coast for 3 weeks.

<--our hotel neighbour

I reorganized my shelf so it's 2 books deep now (teehee), putting all the classics I never read in the front so when educated minds come in they will think I am a classy (another teehee).

Note the placement of Dickens compared to the hint of Twilight above-left to it.

Summer is ending, and I feel like I've done nothing.

Next post will probably not be here until Friday. No computers allowed in the campsite, nuh-uh. But stay tuned.

Just downloaded Lights' Acoustic EP. It's hecka good listen.
I AM GOING TO SEE X JAPAN LIIIIIVE!!!!! More on that later.

Painting so far!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Night Cap-off: artistic rendering of characters! An awesome community...and the biggest bookstore on earth???

So I will starting a tradition where I will cap off the good stuff that's been happening in my week!
It is now Friday the 13th, 10:48pm Pacific Time.

Highlight of the week!
GOT AN ACCOUNT AT INKPOP. This is an awesome writer's community. Made 10 friends in 3 days. The peeps actually read your work with QUALITY COMMENTS, and everyone has pretty good quality work that doesn't disappoint! The swapping initiative is very useful too. I'll read yours. You read mine. I'm looking forward to more inkpoppin' in the coming weeks.

Plus, I got a professional rendering of my characters! See below.

Read of the week
I'm still on The Passage by Justin Cronin. It's an amazing book, so human, so intense. But it's huge. And I've only read about an eighth of it because of the good stuffs on Inkpop and it makes a good support to stand up my canvas since I'm too poor for an easel :(

Tune of the week
Definitely "Lull" by Andrew Bird. Incredible song.
Sample lyric:

I'm all for moderation
But somtimes it seems
Moderation itself can be kind of extreme
So I join the congregation
Join the softball team
I went in for my conformation
Where incense looks like steam
I start conjugating proverbs
Where there once were nouns
This whole damn rhyme scheme's
Starting to get me down...

I'm also into the extended version of "Butterfly fly away" by (yes) Miley Cyrus and her dad Billy Ray. Don't get me wrong. If she did more of those songs her "mature" image would even be BETTER. It's a mature song. Actually. It's about single parenting and growing up. They guitar is beautiful too. You should check it out.

And I'm into a few Metric tunes. Gold Guns Girls and Sick Muse. Canadian Indie FTW.

Major upcoming event
Will be going cross-border shopping in the States. And going to the biggest bookstore in the world.

Writing Status
I actually started on the 2nd draft of Dancers before finishing off the first draft. As for the first draft, Kain has an exam to pass, a lady to impress, and a battle to win. Kaira on the other hand is finally starting to grow up.

Ok, I have a confession. I actually wrote a chapter and a half of a book idea. About aliens. But I will stop now. All my attention is for Dancers and Dancers alone!


My fantastic friend, neighbour, no.1 fan, and technically my patron designed her interpretation of the Dancer characters! It's finished. AND HERE IT IS:

She is a good artist, no?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Diggin' deep through the boxers to find hidden treasure. (YA Highway's RTW)

"Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link in the comments!"

This week's topic comes from a prompt at SCBWI:
What does your character hide in their underwear drawer - or other secret location?

My second Roadtrip Wednesday, yay!

Well, the first thing I thought when I saw this topic was - "uh oh, I have no idea what my characters would hide in their underwear drawers! Does that mean they're not developed enough???" *panicpanicpanicpanic-at-the-writer's-disco....*

So I started thinking...

Kain, the 16 year-old socially awkward questor in my current fantasy WIP, has a lack of self-confidence (well, at least in the beginning, before he finds out he makes a cunning thief...) yet dreams big. And since he's looking forward to a rebellion against a corrupt government, perhaps an assortment of secret documents on how to rule the world may be found...once he manages to murder the current leader. Too bad in his era there's no such thing as pictures, but if there was, probably a photograph of the sister he hasn't seen in 10 years. They never had a good relationship though, since she got kidnapped by aforementioned corrupt government because of him... Despite the convincing argument that she is now part of the dark side, Kain still thinks she's family, and only family he's got.

Kaira, the other main character but working for Kain's enemies, probably has more secrets. On the outside, she's an ass-kicker who burns up restaurants she doesn't likes. In her secret chest however, hidden inside a secret wardrobe in a secret room connected by a secret passage, I expect to find a stash of romantic novels. And possibly an assortment of spare battleaxes and scimitars that shoot out if someone gets too close to the drawer...

Wow, this was actually difficult to think about. Guess I have some characters to interview!

Send me any links to your own RTW. And thanks YA Highway for making me think critically today!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Imagination and storytelling can be brought alive by using the entire spectrum of arts.

This is probably gonna be a longer post than usual, and once and for all, I'm going to talk about writing. Actually.

I'm gonna be talking about writing and storytelling in relation with other arts, visual and auditory in particular.

visual arts

I think I started out as an amateur artist before becoming a writer (I'm no artist anymore). When I was a kid I'd make up stories in my head and draw them out. So drawing was a way for me to bring to life my ideas exactly how I saw them, or at least almost exactly, because I suck at realism.

I use art nowadays to meet my characters. I find it's only after you draw them out that the picture in your head comes becomes real and there - like Sam, with his toque and blonde overgrown bangs, skateboard in hand, oversized Tshirt; oh, and he's 5'10" and skinny. I believe drawing your characters, your settings, and even your action scenes seriously help you "get into" your fiction project.

You can use any medium. Sketching is the easiest because all you need is pen and paper. I'm currently working on an acrylic-on-canvas painting. It's the 3rd painting I've ever done in my life and it's not going to well...although I am very satisfied to see the picture in my head elsewhere.

A great tool is Photoshop. The results are fantastic, although it is not easy to use. A good friend of mine (who actually convinced me to write Dancers, my current novel project) is currently designing my characters on Photoshop the way she sees them. I can tell we don't imagine them exactly the same way already, but that's another interesting point in writing, isn't it? Different people have different imaginations. Different people have different perspectives.

Visual arts is a fantastic way to get in touch with your creations. Especially for you fantasy-lovers. My personal project Dancers is a tale of dragons, demon slayers, dangerous quests, and old-fashioned kung-fu fighting set in a background much like ancient China or feudal Japan. (I'll talk more about it in future posts). You don't have to be amazing at art - as the side image shows my lack of artistic ability - but the love and inspiration to do it plays the most vital role.

auditory arts

Another good stimulation of the imagination is music. Music puts you in the mood of the book. Music makes your book look like a movie in your head. Music blares in your background while you hammer away on the keyboard. My suggestion is, find a piece of music, or put together a soundtrack, to go along with your project.

My "soundtrack" of choice for Dancers is a song called "Thousand years of love" (千年之戀) by Taiwanese group F.I.R. (Yes, it's in Chinese and I don't understand most of it, and my book has nothing to do with thousand years of love oddly enough.) However, the music - not the lyrics, the MUSIC - really colours in my imagined setting for Dancers. It reminds me of martial arts films akin to the French-dubbed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon I saw yesterday at midnight TV, and that's the type of movie that's playing in my head as I write Dancers.

Music makes scenes cinematic.

I'm a person who leans more towards music than lyrics, so a few instrumental pieces are lining up in my soundtrack also. Find your preference, and find your soundtrack!

In short, visual art and music breathes life into my characters, paints vivid images of my settings, and adds energy and excitement into the development of my plot.

Of course, it'd be unhealthy to spend too much time in either of these activities, because we all know that WRITING is the most important art in this trio of storytelling!

So share any stories you have as writers who use other tools than writing to incarnate your imagination!

Stay tuned. More writing-related posts like this will be coming up. I'm still trying to get a firmer handhold on the cyber writing world and my new computer...


The Sandwich Arts.
(Nothing to do with literature and plenty to do with feeding the writer).