Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Follow Me on Bloglovin'?

Since Google Friend Connect is (apparently) going away tomorrow, I decided to see what Bloglovin's all about.

So, just so you know, you can now follow my blog with Bloglovin.

I mean, you could before, but you can do it now too, if you want.

What is Bloglovin'? Well, I don't exactly know yet. Other than the fact that it's a way to read and follow blogs, and that they intentionally dropped their 'g'.

To claim my blog I had to write a post and insert the above link. It follows that the post will be about Bloglovin.

Neat way to advertise, I think.

I've Been Tagged...

I was tagged by Rissi from Scribbles, Scripts, and Such. It's rather providential, because even though I've been working on a review of The Hunger Games since Friday, I still haven't been able to finish it, due to being sick with some sort of lung infection/virus. So this is a nice, simple post to do, and I promise to have that Hunger Games post finished by the end of the week.

The Rules

1.) Post these rules.
2.) Post 11 random things about yourself. (although this one can be optional)
3.) Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
4.) Create 11 new question for the people you ask to answer.
5.) Go to their blog and tell them they have been they have been tagged.

Here are the eleven questions from Rissi:

1. Is there an author whose works you admire? If so, why? 

There are so many! I especially admire Agatha Christie, just for the sheer volume that she was able to write during her lifetime. Her mysteries almost always stump me.

2. How did you get started blogging?

I used to keep a journal, which got me into the habit of writing out my thoughts. Then, when I discovered blogging, I thought I want to do that. But I didn't want my blog to be the same as my journals - a rundown of my day or bits and pieces of my life. I wanted it to be a place where I could write about things I care about, the kind of things that I can talk about for hours on end. Which is why I decided to have a writing-themed blog.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Random Updates

I have a couple random bits of news that are too small for individual posts.
Visual Aid ;)

  • I finished reading The Hunger Games, which was really good. I stayed up way too late reading it (till 2:30, I think). It was an eBook, so I could read it on my iPhone without having the light on. I was going to write a review on Thursday, but I didn't have time. Expect a review soon, though.
  • I came across this article the other day (on the CollegePlus website, I think) on how to handle awkward situations. It was both funny (the tips were given by an ex-con man!) and practical (very applicable to real-life situations).  
  • Just watched both seasons of Downton Abbey. Maybe I could do a review on it. I haven't done any movie (or in this case, TV series) reviews yet. 
  • Speaking of movie and TV reviews, I've started following this excellent movie review blog.
  • I've joined the A-to-Z challenge. It should be fun. I haven't planned any of my posts yet, but I have some ideas.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WriteChain and the A-to-Z Challenge

One of my favorite writing tools right now is an app called WriteChain. This is the screen that greets me every time I open the app:

Once I've entered in my writing total, it becomes a session and I can write notes about it.

I can also edit my preferences. I've set a goal to write 400 words a day.

It's free and incredibly simple to use. And it's motivating to see the number of words add up, especially since I'm handwriting the first draft. 

In other news, I'm thinking of joining the April Blogging From A-to-Z challenge. Basically, it's a challenge for bloggers to write twenty-six alphabet themed posts in the month of April. The goal is to write a post every day in the month of April except for Sundays.

It would be a good writing exercise. Although I don't know if my (currently eight) followers would appreciate having their reading list flooded with my posts. 

Have you used or heard of WriteChain? 

Have you entered or heard of the A-to-Z challenge?

Let me know by commenting!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Green World

This poem was inspired by the Tears for Fears song Mad World. I jokingly switched out the phrase "happy birthday" in the song for "happy earth day," and then thought that perhaps it could be an environmental song, with the chorus "green world" instead of "mad world." 

The poem is from the perspective of a disillusioned environmentalist who is discovering that perhaps things aren't really as bad as we've been led to believe.

Green World

Based on the Tears for Fears song “Mad World”

All around me I see propaganda
– Just recycle and the earth will be saved.
Their schemes are grand and getting grander;
‘Buy our products, Armageddon will be delayed.’
And the fears are being stoked and fanned;
‘Ozone layer has a great big hole.’
They date pollution to the dawn of man
Population overflow.

And I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
There is no global warming, we have made a big mistake
I find it kind of funny; I find it kind of sad
They’re running round in circles; we already have a
Green world, green world

Grown men waiting for the day they feel good –
Happy Earth Day, Happy Earth Day
Try to keep Mother Earth in a good mood;
So pick up garbage, go pick up garbage.
Go to school and you’ll learn evolution
They’ll tell you we were monkeys, we were monkeys
That we’re both the problem and the solution
So use weird light bulbs, ban all plastic bags.

And I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
There is no global warming, we have made a big mistake
I find it kind of funny; I find it kind of sad
They’re running round in circles; we already have a
Green world, green world.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trinity Arts Festival

This year I entered a couple of poems in my church's annual arts festival. One of them is kind of gloomy. The other is a rewrite of the song Mad World.

One of the requirements was that each piece had to have a short description by the author. This is what I wrote for the first poem, Adeste.

I started this poem with the idea of a paradox: what if a person felt extremely cold in the middle of one of the hottest places on earth? Why would this be? Then I had the idea that maybe it was a spiritual feeling, rather than a physical one. As I wrote the poem, I began to realize that the struggle between the speaker and the elements represented the inner turmoil of a sinner who has just begun to realize that salvation comes from God alone. The last two lines tie in the theme of helplessness without God.
Since Adeste is rather long, I'll save the other poem, Green World, for another post.


In the wide, barren wasteland 
So yellow and orange
The cruel sun - unmerciful sun!
Which struggles to warm me;
I cannot be touched
My heart is like ice
The wind whips by around me
Brushing my face
Touching my hand 
Striving to warm me
It is all hot air
I cannot be touched
They call this a desert
I cannot get warm
They call a city crowded
I have stood in one
So lonely, so lonely
I cannot be touched
The fine grains of sand
Sinking beneath my feet
Carry me gently downwards
Hardening beneath my weight
So have I been
Sinking, drifting downwards
Hardening my heart
My heart that is ice
Save me
O sun
If you can
Warm me
O wind
If you will
Carry me away
Soft sand
Even though
I will never get warm
I will sink into oblivion
Unless Thou comest quickly
Unless Thou comes to free me

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted to read this book slowly. I didn't want the series to end, or to leave Percy. But I had to find out how everything was resolved. I was hoping that Percy would live, that Luke would be redeemed, that Grover would achieve his purpose, that Annabeth would (finally) figure out who she really loved, and that Kronos would be defeated (practically a given, but still...)

Well, the book didn't disappoint. The action was a little slower than in other books (because there were more battle scenes, all in one place), but the tension was kept up until the very end. There were at least three important deaths, lots of backstory, and one thrilling resolution. The humor persisted throughout the book, putting hilarious twists on even the darker scenes.

My only complaints: the book ruined my two favorite mythological heroes, Sysiphus and Prometheus. Also, Percy encourages the gods to take responsibility for their children; not a bad thing in itself, but it seems to also paint ther continually having illegitimate kids as a good, or at least not a shameful, thing. And then, of course, the whole Greek gods/ illegitimate kids thing is... a bit awkward, to say the least.

But Percy is an amazing protagonist. He's funny, smart (but sometimes clueless) and just overall a likable guy. I liked him better than I ever liked Harry (although that could be due to the series being written in the first person).

Overall, it was an amazing series, one that'd I highly recommend to anyone who wanted a good, funny fantasy story, and a thrilling read.

I might look into Rick Riordan's other Camp Half-Blood series, although I don't think it will be the same without Percy's wonderful narration.

View all my reviews

Monday, February 13, 2012


I just read T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land and thought I'd try my hand at some more abstract poetry.

Red, the richest color
The deepest, the truest
The color of blood, of love
Of sacrifice
Of all the deep emotions known to man
Of pain
And fire
Of hearts ripped in two
And two hearts bound together

Lord, let me be deep like that
Let me be crimson deep
Inspire in me
The fiery red of passion
To be
A grateful slave to
The deep and wild
Fierce bittersweet rushing
Wondrous love
The endless reservoir
Of Your grace

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Artist, His Friend, and the V8 Drinker

This afternoon while shelving in the fiction section I came across two guys sitting at one of the tables by the window. The first one was (or at least aspired to be) an artist. He was dark, looked almost Indian, although he sounded distinctly American (and by Indian I mean actually from India) and had a sketchbook full of drawings that he was showing to his friend. The friend was fair skinned and had a close buzz cut. He was telling the artist (in a very low voice) about his troubles with his girlfriend. The artist listened sympathetically the entire time. After the friend finished his story, they began discussing the artist's sketches again. (Something which I think the artist was very eager to resume).The artist showed his friend a sketch that he wanted to frame. After I heard this I had to move on.

Across from them, at another table, two girls were sitting. They had laptops, lots of books and papers, and were talking in another language. The girl who was wearing a pink jacket had an enormous bottle of V8 Splash that she was sipping from. I mean enormous. I couldn't believe she was drinking that large bottle all by herself. I believe they were both college students.

I also came across a man who asked me where the Lightning Thief series was. (I didn't tell him it was actually called the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series.) Since I'd just finished reading the series, I was able to lead him straight to the Rick Riordan section. I felt like such a professional.

Or maybe I'm just turning into a librarian...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lauren and the Post About Titles

I searched for "titles" and this is the first picture that came up.

I recently came across a blog that linked to this blog. It's not about titles, but about covers (the author designs book covers) but it got me thinking about titles - in particular, fiction titles, the titles of novels or short stories or films.

I've always had trouble choosing titles. Either they end up being really obscure (I titled a short story, "An Exception") or they're way too obvious (e.g. The Story of Simon King) or they end up sounding like picture book titles ("Gwen's Bad Day").

One thing about shelving books at the library is that you see a lot of books, and, if you're paying attention, you see a lot of titles. I mostly pay attention to the fiction titles (the non-fiction books have really boring titles like "How to Knit ____", or "Why I'm a Hindu", or even just "Gardening."). I've been making (mental) notes on all of the titles, and I think I've found a way to categorize titles into six basic types.

Just before I wrote this blog post, I did a search to see if anyone else had made a list of the types of titles, and all I found, besides articles about what types of land titles there are, was this article here. It describes two types of titles, descriptive and suggestive, but it deals with both fiction and non-fiction titles, whereas I want to focus on just fiction titles.

Type 1: So-and-so and the/with the/who did/at/of such-and-such. 

This sort of  title reveals the main character of the story and the object/objective/important phrase, location, or theme of the story. It can be a long title, but I can think of more examples for this kind than for any other (except maybe type 2).

Some examples are Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (or Philosopher's) Stone, Anne of Green Gables, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the Man who was Thursday, Pride and Prejudice, the Fellowship of the Ring, Murder on the Orient Express, Rose Lortz's Road from the West, and Wives and Daughters.

Type 2: The adjective + noun or possessive noun + verb.

This title describes the main character, location, theme or special object. It's a pretty common title because it's so simple. It tells you either the name or identity of the main character, or focal character, as well as an adjective describing them, or a verb describing an action they will take.

Of the recent books I've read, some examples are the Lightning Thief, and the Squire's Quest. Other examples that come to mind are the Hunger Games, the Three Musketeers, Great Expectations, His Last Bow, and the Two Towers. Also, the movies The Incredible Hulk, The Dark Knight, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Type 3:  Dramatic/mysterious/ironic noun.

These are the one word titles. Twilight is a recent example. It's both a dramatic and a mysterious word, even though I'm not sure what bearing it has on the story.

Other examples are the Inkheart trilogy, Agatha Christie's Curtain, Christopher Paolini's Inheritance and Brisingr, both The Odyssey and The Illiad, and the movies Inception, Up, and the new Pixar movie, Brave.

Type 4: The tale/ballad/legend/story/adventure/song of [insert main character or theme here.]

This kind of title seems almost redundant - I mean, the reader knows that this is a story, so why say "the story of the protagonist?" However, it is a popular one. It's simpler than type 1.

Some examples are the Adventures (and Memoirs, and Return) of Sherlock Holmes, the Tale of Desperaux, the "Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber" (Hemingway), the Legend of the King, a Tale of Two Cities, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I also think that Diary of a Wimpy Kid goes into this category.

Type 5: Main character's name - pretty self-explanatory.

Think Eragon, David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, Pollyanna, Hamlet, Julius Caesar. Or any of the recent superhero movies: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, as well as Hugo, or Sherlock Holmes.

Type 6: The random/creative title, sometimes taken from a phrase in the book or from another work of literature

This is the category to place all the other books that don't fit in the first five categories.

Some examples are Around the World in Eighty Days, Gone with the Wind, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Rosencratz and Guildenstern are dead, as well as I Serve.

Even after I've said all this, I still don't know what to call my current work-in-progress. Right now it's going under the general name The Twelve Worlds, which I'm thinking is more of a series name than a book name. It's still a little early in the process to be worrying about that, though, since I'm barely three chapters in.

 Can you think of fiction titles that don't fit in any of these categories? Did I miss a category or place a title in the wrong one? What's the title of your story? Let me know by commenting!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Shelving Away....

I realized today that I won't be shelving at the library very much longer. I'll most likely be quitting this summer. It's kind of sad.

I know I made fun of shelving in my last post, but I really have enjoyed it. The full, heavy carts. The warm, quiet library. The smooth, colorful books. It's all very peaceful, soothing, and relaxing.

I have to admit that I wasn't entirely truthful in that last post. I gave as tip #2 "Only shelve early reader nonfiction if you feel like you don't have enough suffering in your life." But I only know that from hearsay. I've never actually shelved early reader nonfiction - until today.

Yes, I thought it was time to do what I've been avoiding for so long.

So I grabbed the heavy laden cart with a steely resolve in my eye. (What is a steely resolve, actually? Does anyone know?) Anyway, whatever it is I had it in my eye. It itched, like when an eyelash falls out and gets trapped beneath your eyelid. I stood there for ten minutes rubbing at until it finally came out. Then I was bleary eyed and couldn't read any of the numbers.

No, just kidding about the steely resolve bit. I sorted the cart with no mishaps, except that my foot fell asleep from kneeling down and sorting the bottom row of books. The thing about early readers, or any juvenile books, is that the books are a lot thinner, which means there's a lot more of them on every cart.

After I had sorted every book into the correct or mostly correct order, I tenaciously trudged into the children's section with my cumbersome cart. I think the librarian gave me a sympathetic look when she saw me, although it might have been a grateful one.

So I shelved from 289 (Unitarian churches) to 947.08 (Russia after 1885). And it wasn't actually that bad. The shelves were short, so I didn't have to reach up too high. I sat on the floor most of the time and worked from there. The books weren't in the precise order, but they were spaced fairly well apart, which makes it easier to put new books in.

And now I've done it. I have to say, there's no feeling like the one you get when you put the last book away on an enormous cart. It's satisfaction, exhilaration, and freedom, all rolled into one.

I was going to take a picture of the early reader nonfiction section to include with this post, but unfortunately I forgot to. So you'll just have to imagine it.

[insert imaginary picture of early reader nonfiction section here]

On the plus side, I've put in about a hundred hours at the library, so that should be a good reference on my résumé.
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