Thursday, October 31, 2013

Come Along, Pond.

Even though I've stayed at home all day, I still wanted to dress up as someone for Halloween. So I chose an easy costume, that doesn't even look like a costume!
Today I was dressed as Amy Pond from Doctor Who. I kind of mitchmatched two of her more popular outfits... Jean skirt, with a plaid long-sleeved top, and leggings.

(Sorry it's sideways... I can't fix it!)

You can see my new haircut too! On Saturday I got my long hair chopped off shorter than it's ever been!


(Yes, I did turn into Geordi LaForge for this blog post.)
Anyway... I've been busy editing and formatting and doing After the Twelfth Nightish things today. If all goes well, I will self-publish tomorrow! I'm not sure whether that will be in the morning or evening... or even if it will happen at all. So far, we're on schedule, but you never know what will happen.
NANOWIRIMO! It starts TOMORROW! I can't decide if I'm excited or nervous. I am excited about Saturday when I'll hopefully be able to a regional event nearby! AKA, go write with a bunch of other NaNoers.
So what is my NaNo project?
The second book in my spy series. The plot for this one is that Daniel and Varina must go undercover and uncover a diabolical plot to destroy the government (though, personally, I think the government is doing a pretty good job of destroying themselves. They don't need anyone else... But hey, maybe in Daniel and Varina's alternate universe, America is headed in a better direction? You never know!)
More on it later... Tomorrow, or Saturday... or some other time during November.
Live long and prosper!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The early masterpieces of Abbey.

I can't wait to be a mother simply because I LOVE the way kid's brains think. I love the stories kids come up with... I was reminded of this while watching some BoredShorts videos last night... They are probably most known for their Kid History/Kid Snippets. They have a newish show, however, called Kid Masterpieces. They are children's stories read by a distinguished elder:

It got me thinking about my early stories... and I though I'd share a few of them with you! (Don't worry, I'll take out the spelling errors, for there are many.)

The first one is called Book 1 Princess Cassidy. Judging by the hand writing and the story content, I'm guessing I was around seven or eight when I wrote it.

Once upon a time in a far away land, in a castle, in a hallway, in a room, a Princess Cassidy lived. She was a unicorn with a golden horn. Such an elegant, beautiful horn. One day, she went out for a walk in the garden. Then she found herself out of the garden. She went through a bush into...

I'm not sure what happened, but I never finished the story. (This one was complete with a period after each word).
Next is The Tia Book. Tia was our first dog. We got her from my aunt and she was only with us for a year before we had to put her down. This one was written about the same time... when I was seven or eight. This one I dictated to my mom who wrote it out for me.

Once upon a time there were three dogs. A big dog, a medium-sized dog, and their team leader was Tia, the small dog. Do you know what their names were? The big dog was called Rainbow Bluey, the medium-sized dog was named Smart Reddy, and their team leader was just plain Tia.
One day they got lost in the forest. Then the team leader, Tia, saw light! They went to the light and there they saw big dogs, little dogs, medium-sized dogs, fat dogs, skinny dogs... it was a whole dog festival!
So they at last got to a place where people would give them food.
Then their team leader saw a little black poodle that looked sad.
The other guys of the team leader Tia, said, "Why are you looking so sad and worried?"
"Because this poodle looks sad," answered Tia. "What is your name?"
"Well, my mommy didn't name me much, just Alexander P.," said the black poodle.
"Why don't you come with us?" asked Tia.

This one wasn't finished either... Did Alexander P. go with team leader Tia? The world will never know.
Next is Abbey's Dog and Cat Book. This one is probably from when I was six or seven. Possibly five... but I doubt it.

Dogs and cats. I love them.
I wonder how dogs and cats think?
I like dogs and cats because Mommy is allergic to cats, but I don't mind.
Dogs and cats can't go to church, but they can stay at home or in the car.
Dogs and cats can't read books, but we can read books to them, and mouse books to cats and kittens too.
I wonder if dogs and cats can ride the school bus?
I wonder if dogs like mice and cats like bones?
Dogs and cats can't write, but we can draw pictures for them.
Remember to put a collar on your dog and cat. Put your name and phone number on it.
See you later, Alligator.
After awhile, Crocodile.
I love you.

Here's some stories out of a writing prompt book that I wrote when I was eight.

Underwater Adventure
I put on my scuba gear and jumped into the sea. As I was going down, I saw an octopus. I said hi. To my amazement, he said hi back.
"(indistinguishable word) this talks. Shh," said the Sea Queen. She was a real mermaid and her horse was a sea unicorn. It was really just a sea horse that was gigantic with a horn.
After meeting everybody and having tea with the Queen and a ride on her sea unicorn, it was time to go. I said bye and left.
The end.

The First Day of School
The first day of school was going well until the hamsters got loose. We chased them down the hall! Where did they go? Ahhh! They were in the closet! I got one!
"Help! Help!" cried a young girl. She was on the floor crying. The hamsters were stampeding on her so I helped her.
"Josh! Josh!"
"What? What? The hamsters!"
"Josh, they're in the cage."
"I must have been day dreaming."
The end
(Not a true story)

Balloon ride!
I bought a bunch of balloons, and suddenly I started up. It was scary. I had to hold on tight.
I saw a whole bunch of birds. They popped the balloons and I went down, down, down and landed on a great big bird.
I rode on it for awhile. Then it dropped me into the neighbor's pool.
I had quite a wild ride today. First on the balloons, then the bird and the air. It was a wild ride.
The end.

Space Adventure
One night an alien invited me to a party at Rigaly Hall. There were all sorts of animals there. We were on a different planet. The name was something like Super California Surfer Expert On The Ocean.
Well, about the animals. There was a giant slug with two front arms. It's name was Jabba the Hut. And there was a Wookie named Chewbacca. And a guy all dressed in black. His name was Darth Vader, King of Bad Guys. He had a red light saber.
Then suddenly I was in bed. It was all a dream.
The end.

The one above had some really cute spelling errors... Wookie was Woky and Darth Vader was Dark Veder. He didn't have a red light saber, but a red life savr.
This next one is called A Bad Day for Mr. Johnson. I'm not sure exactly when I wrote it... but it was sometime between 2007 and 2010.

I was right there in the classroom when it happened: the teacher ripped his pants. Oh yeah, I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Ginie the hamster. You could say that I'm the teacher's pet. Ha ha ha. O.K., enough funny business. Back to the story.
It was Wednesday, 1 p.m. sharp when it happened. Mr. Johnson ripped his pants. The class was doing math when the teacher dropped his chalk. He bent over to pick it up and his pants ripped.
Personally, I thought his purple and pink polka dotted shiny underwear was funny. Everyone in class wanted to laugh, but they knew better.
Lucy took her school books and used them as pants to bring him to the principal's office.
Mrs. Langly, the vice principle, gave him some pants that were Principle Jacklin's. They were too big, but they would do for now. Then Mr. Johnson went home to change.
Oh, I forgot to tell you something. The principal always keeps an extra pair of pants in his office.
When Mr. Johnson came back, he told the class that his mom made him wear that underwear, and anyway, his wife didn't have any other clean underwear because she had just had their first child.
At the end of the day, he thanked Lucy for her help and, of course, she said, "Oh, no problem, Mr. Johnson."
So that's the end of our story of the bad day for Mr. Johnson. Come back some other time for another story. I'll be here!

This next story is one of the stepping stones to get to my Daniel and Varina stories. It's about me and my cousin (the one who plays Minecraft and likes Star Wars). It was written in 2009, judging by the hand writing. (Reading it now, it reminds me a lot of Get Smart, which I hadn't even heard of yet in 2009. Also, my apologies to Herge for stealing some of his characters...)

By Abbey
"Agent 24kqs4? Agent 24kqs4, over."
"Yes? This is agent 24kqs4 speaking. Is that you, boss? Do you have a new mission for me?"
"Yes, Agent 24kqs4. I have a new mission for you. The famous Castafoire Emerald has been stolen. Go to her house and snoop around. Go, Agent! Go! And don't forget, I don't want you to be seen. Over."
Outside under a big open window:
"Ahhh! (A note on the side of the page says "Tell everyone when agent 24kqs4 says 'ahhh,' he's falling) This is not going to work. Oh, hello Abbey (Abbey is my friend, she can't talk). What are you doing here? Oh, the boss sent you to help me. How kind of him!"
"Woof woof!"
"Oh look, Abbey! It's a little dog! Let's keep him! Maybe he can help us get in this window."
"Grrr. Woof!"
"Ouch! He bit me! A rope, good idea, Abbey. Still, let's bring the dog with us. He might bark and give us away if we leave him down here. I will call him Spot because he has a large spot on him."
"Agent 24kqs4, are you there? Is Abbey with you yet?"
"Yes, she is, boss. What do you want?"
"I just found out that the priceless emerald is hidden in the house somewhere. Good luck agent. I have to go."
Inside next to a big vase:
"Well, Abbey, we're inside. Better start looking for the emerald. You head that way. I'll look around here, with Spot. Now let's see... If I were an emerald, where would I be? Good idea, Spot! In the vase! Ugh, uh hu. There, I'm up! Hey! Ho! Spot, stop shaking the vase! Ahhh! Bad dog, Spot! I fell in! Ow! I sat on something sharp. Let's see, where's that flashlight... Here it is. Lights on. He, he, he. Oh! The emerald! Abbey! Abbey! Come help me out. I found it!"
"Found what? Who's in there?"
"Who's that speaking?"
"I am Madame Castafoire's butler. And oh! Here comes Madame now."
"Who's in there, Nestor?"
"I don't know yet, Madame."
"Who's that? A new maid servant?"
"No, that's my sidekick, Abbey. She can't speak."
"Oh. And who are you?"
"I am Agent 24kqs4. I work for the spy agency down the street. I was sent here to find your emerald. Now, if the Madame would be so kind as to let me out of this jar, I can ask her if the emerald I sat on is hers."
"Oh, yes, of course! Nestor, let him out."
"Woof, woof."
"Hello, Spot, Abbey. Nice to see you again. Hey, Spot, give me that back! Spot!"
"Agent 24kqs4? Come in, please."
"Yes, boss?"
"I forgot to mention, if you see a small white dog with a brown spot, don't take him along. His master wants the emerald."
"Too late, boss. He just got away with the emerald."
"Oh? Well, that's too bad. I'm sure Madame Castafoire will be sad about that."
"Oh, no actually," says Castafoire. "It's a fake."
"So that's what she meant by priceless," said Agent 24kqs4. He was having coffee with Abbey and the boss.
"Help! Help!" a voice cried from outside. "A dog just stole my diamond!"

I didn't realize until I started typing the story out that the first "he/she said" doesn't come until the very end... xD
This is an excerpt from a paper I wrote in 2009 about the 6-traits of writing curriculum.

I had the honor of visiting my friend's school last year. She had the 6-traits (of writing) hanging up in her classroom. I asked her about them and she said she wasn't studying them! Can you believe that! Not studying 6-trait, yet have them hanging in your classroom? Personally, I think everyone should study the 6-traits (and the Constitutional Convention). Because of 6-trait and one of my favorite book series, I have chosen the career of an author (for now). I owe a tremendous lot to 6-trait.

Obviously I owe a lot to the Constitutional Convention, too. What in the world does that have to do with anything? xD My mom and I laughed so hard when I read that to her last night.
And finally (I've saved the best for last), a story entitled Life is Good as a Pea. I have no clue when I wrote this, but it was more than three years ago.

Life was good as a pea. When I was young, I lived in a pea pod. It wasn't so crowded then. My mom fed me and my brothers and sisters sugar through out belly buttons until we got fat. Once we got fat, it was stuffy and real crowded. I wanted to get out of there and see the human world.
One day, my dream came true. We were picked. It was fall, when all fruits and vegetables get picked. We were very green and round. We were very eatable also.
The human picked us. Then she opened our pods and put us in a bowl. It felt good to get out of the stuffy pod. Pretty soon, there were more peas in the bowl until it was almost to the top. Then there were no more peas to put into the bowl. She put us in the freezer to save us for later.
Brrr, it was freezing in there. I was glad my brothers and sisters and other peas were there to keep me warm.
One day in the winter, the nice lady fed us to her family. I am telling this story from inside the nice lady's stomach. Life is still good in her stomach. Maybe I'll write another story once I get digested.
The end.

WOW! Talk about a plot twist! Actually, that's often how my stories end up... You start reading it and it's just a nice story (informative too - the peas getting fed sugar) and then at the end it's like, BLAM! They got eaten.

It's fun to look through old writings... You can see the Then and Now parallels. When I was younger, four elements were in nearly every story I wrote. Once upon a time usually started the stories... and everything ended with "the end" even if it was a report or a serious paper. It took my mom ages to break me of that habit, especially since I wasn't too keen on breaking it. Often I would put in "oh, I forgot to tell you something" at least once into the story as well. And "one day" is as common as "oh, I forgot to tell you something."

There are several other "chapters" of my earlier writing that perhaps I'll go into one day... One is the effect the Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter had on my writing. You have no idea how many unfinished Warriors stories I have lying around. One actually got finished, tapping out at 25ish (written) pages, the same number of (typed) pages that After the Twelfth Night was on it's first draft! (To be fair, the first draft was only Part 1. The other two parts didn't come until NaNoWriMo 2011).
The other chapter is my first finished "book" that was longer than five pages long. Someday I'll type it up (it's about 16 pages) and post it here... but not tonight.

Do you have any early writings you would like to share? Or any funny writing stories from when you were a small kid? How about things you did in your writing as a child, but don't do anymore (other than spelling mistakes and such)?

Live long and prosper!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Approacheth.

Every year I look forward to Halloween because it's the one day in the year that I can dress up and no one will care. Usually I spend Halloween at my friend's church, or at my own church. This year, however, I think I'm just going to stay home... Mostly because I really want to watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown on TV.

Dressing up and Charlie Brown aren't the only Halloween traditions that I keep, though. Oh no. A big tradition (that I'm officially naming a tradition today) is that I must watch Garfield's Halloween Adventure.

(Candy, candy, candy, candy, CANDY, CANDY, CANDY!)
A little known fact about me is that I love Garfield the Cat. When I was younger, I read every single one of his comic books up 'til the 49th or 50th book. Since then I haven't been quite the fan as I once was... but sometimes, when I need a light read, I'll pull out a Garfield book (or a Calvin and Hobbes) and just read it. And whenever I can get my hands on a newspaper, I always turn to the comics.
In the 80's, several 30 minute shows of Garfield were made... There was one for Halloween, one for Thanksgiving, and one for Christmas. There were also a few depicting Garfield's travels...
Anyway, it's a great series with great music. The Halloween one is a great mix of funny and scary.
Garfield and Odie go out trick or treating and decide to go across the river to get even more candy. Their plans, however, are thwarted when Odie throws out the oars and they end up at a spooky old house. A man inside tells them a fearful tale of vengeful pirates and a hidden treasure somewhere in the house. The pirates a set to return from the grave that very night to reclaim their lost loot...
The ghosts are very scarily animated and even know, they creep me out.
Anyway, it's a great video... It's not on youtube anymore, sadly, but I found it elsewhere.
I kind of lost where this post was going to go, because I got busy doing other things.
What d you do for Halloween?
Live long and prosper.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The good things about American Girl.

Despite it's decline (see last blog post), American Girl still has a lot of endearing qualities.
First of all, the dolls are the most lifelike/beautiful that I've seen from a selection of eighteen inch dolls. There are so many different dolls to choose some - lots of variety - which is pretty cool. There's a doll for everyone!
The curly blond-haired MAG looks totally different than Felicity who looks totally different than Kaya.

The stories/accessories/outfits of the historical characters are so... historical! You can really learn a lot! Plus, the books are very well-written (including the mysteries and the history mysteries).

The dolls are so photogenic...

Plus, you can do all sorts of fun stopmotion/live action video things with them.

(from the episode City of the Edge of Forever)
Mostly, though... their stories are amazing.
Live long and prosper!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A (small turned big) rant directed towards American Girl.

Ever since 2006ish, American Girl have gone downhill in my opinion. For one, the dolls have become EXTREMELY expensive. They've always been expensive... $82 in the 1980's, when Pleasant Company first came out with Samantha, Molly, and Kirsten. But now prices have raised to $110 for just the doll and her first book.
Secondly, I feel like the company is less about "letting your inner star shine" and teaching history, and more about appearance and selling things. Nearly every single outfit has some sort of pink in it, even the historical outfits. Plus, the quality (not to mention quantity) has gone down as well. Now, you can buy pants, a shirt, shoes, and a hair clip for $30.

(My mom made me pants like that for free! $30 is a lot for a plain shirt, and a plain pair of pants. I could buy myself a new outfit for that much money! Either that or 3-10 new books, depending on the thrift store/second hand bookstore)
Pleasant Rowland, who started American Girl back in 1986 did so for two reasons: One, because there weren't any dolls on the market at the time specifically for 8-12 year olds. Two, to teach history to girls of that age range on a personal level, through stories told by the point of view of eight-year-olds.
I love American Girls for their stories. I think that they are incredibly historically rich for the projected age-range, and even for older people like me. I feel like the American Girl company of today is more about selling the products of their My American Girl (Just Like You) dolls, than giving us wonderful historical dolls.
After all, they have retired two of the dolls that come from some of the most important time periods in American history.
I'm talking about Felicity, from THE WAR FOR INDEPENDANCE! The creation of our nation as we know it! Sure, her stories still live... But the doll and her outfits, the visual aids that go with the presentation, are gone.
The second doll I'm talking about it Molly McIntire. American Girl is retiring her within the next few months.
(My Molly)
Molly comes from World War Two. Her stories, too, will live on... but I wonder, how many girls still read the historical character books? I'm sure lots do... But I'm also sure that a lot of girls would rather read the My American Girl books, and just play with the dolls.
Samantha has also been retired. She doesn't come from a super important time period in history... There were no wars or anything in 1904. But 1904 was during the Industrial Revolution. Things were changing. Edith Wharton was either writing or trying to get House of Mirth published... George M. Cohan was in New York trying to make it big... Debussy was composing... things were being invented... Women's roles were being questioned... Lots was happening. And Samantha's stories are a wonderful representation of that era. Every one who reads her books falls in love with Sam and her character.
So what dolls have "replaced" the historicals that have been retired?
Julie Albright from 1974 came out in 2008. I've never really been fond of Julie... Just because of personal preference. She's a rather simple-looking doll, with straight blond hair and brown eyes. Plus, I'm not overly fond of the face mold... I don't like the big-lipped dolls (an exception with the ethnic dolls like Josefina and Addy).
Plus, I'm not sure that 40 years ago should be considered historical... The 1970's certainly is an interesting time, and I did really enjoy Julie's books, and her collection is sooo funky. It's super cool. But, still... the '70's wasn't that long ago. Are they trying to say that my mom is historical?
Rebecca Rubin. I see her as Samantha's replacement. For one, she's from only ten years after Samantha - in 1914. Instead of portraying an important event in history, I believe that Rebecca's storyline deals with her Jewish roots, and her passion for theater... I'm not sure, I still have to read her books.
After Rebecca, Marie-Grace and Cecile came out. They are unique in that they are friends, but they are both the main characters in the books. I haven't read their books either... but I know that they live in New Orleans in the mid-1800's during the yellow fever outbreak. They are alright... Their outfits are crazy and represent what I know of New Orleans well.
The latest doll American Girl has come out with is the one I'm most happy about... Caroline Abbott. Though, like Julie, she is a rather plain-looking doll... her story is set during the War of 1812, a war that not too many people study a lot about. I thinks that's rather cool.
Anyway, a lot of that is my personal opinion...
On top of all that opinion and the expense of the dolls and their accessories, it slightly annoys me that the My American Girl's come with codes to put them online. What are they, Webkinz? (Although I think that Webkinz is owned by Mattel too... I'm not sure).
And the final part of this rant...
Do they even read the books? Kit is my main example. She doesn't like pink. She's a tomboy. She says in the first book that her mom redecorated her room in pink with frills, and she doesn't like it. She moves up to the attic when they open up their house to be a boarding house... She misses her room, but she doesn't miss the frills.
Yet, somehow, American Girl has managed to retire most of the outfits from the books, and replace them all with outfits from the movie (which I don't mind so much... some of them are cute). Of course, they also replaced the outfits with PINK clothes! On Kit Kittredge!
Look at this outfit:
It's pink, and it's lacy, and it's frilly. Not to mention it's kind of fancy for the Great Depression. Kit's family is barely making it, even with the rent from the borders. They have to sell eggs for a few extra cents, and Aunt Millie's thrift secrets help them lots (such as cutting toast into triangles to make bread last longer). Sure, Kit's mother could have made Kit this dress... but material probably would have cost money that the Kittredge family did not have.
And how about Kit's new PJ's and bedspread? They are both pink. I liked her old bedspread better... It was blue and shaggy, like something that the Kittredge family would have in the '30's. Her new bedspread is not only pink, but it looks like a comforter you could buy at the mall today - not something the Kittredge's would have, unless Kit somehow stole it out of her old room (right out from under Sterling and his mother).
Anyway... I'm going to stop ranting now. I still love American Girl, especially the books. So...
Live long and prosper!
(Woohoo, for Doll Trek!)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Two reviews in one post.

I've read two YAish books in the past two weeks and I thought I'd do reviews on them! Enjoy.

Title: City of Ember

Author: Jeanne DePrau.

Synopsis: Those who are left of the world's civilization live underground, in the failing City of Ember. They know nothing of the outside world and know only that more and more blackouts are happening around the city, that the food is running out, and that trouble will inevitably fall.
Lina and Doon are students at the school, and they receive their assignments - their jobs for the rest of their lives. Lina is happy to be a messenger, running all day long. Doon is happy to work in the pipeworks, near the generator. He thinks he can fix Ember's problems.
The two discover a set of instructions... could it possibly lead out of the city? Could it possibly save Ember, and solve all it's problems?

My rating: 8 out of 10 stars.

What I didn't like/things you should know: I can't really remember anything specific... I'm sure there were one or two little things, but I really can't remember.

Things I liked: This is a really good book. The plot is really cool, and I really liked the characters. Doon and Lina were well done. Even baby Poppy was portrayed as a little baby would have been!
The author created an amazing underground world. The people didn't know what the sky looked like, or the sun, or grass. They didn't know about animals. Their underground world functioned on it's own, and it was really cool. The world building was magnificent. The writing style was really cool too.
I don't know why I couldn't get through this before... It's a wonderful book.

Would I recommend this book? Yes!

Title: The Clockwork Three

Author: Matthew J. Kirby

Synopsis: Giuseppe is a street musician with a cruel owner who beats him and demands all his money. All Giuseppe wants is to go back to Italy, to his brother and sister. When he finds a green violin that earns him more money than he could have ever dreamed of, Giuseppe thinks he might have found a way to pay the fare home...
Hannah is a maid at the Hotel, and she is assigned to be the personal maid of a strange woman and her Russian golem for the duration of their stay in the city. Hannah finds out about a treasure and becomes is desperate to find it to save her family from being thrown out of their house, and to pay for medicine for her sick father...
Frederick is an apprentice clockmaker with big dreams and a past that haunts him. He must work past his painful upbringing and learn to trust others...
These three children meet each other seemingly by chance, but each holds the key to the other's problems.

My rating: 8 out of 10 stars.

What I didn't like/things you should know: There are some fight scenes... mostly having to do with Stephano, Giuseppe's ward, who is a very cruel man.
Also, the woman Hannah works for is said to commune with spirits and read palms and such. She does this in two or three scenes.
I wish that the author had told us which city the children live in, and what year it was. Since places in the city - like streets and parks and rivers - had names, I felt that it was kind of incomplete that the city itself didn't have a name.
Another petty thing like that... I wish that the author had told us how old Hannah's sisters were. Were they babies, toddlers, or eight-year-olds? I couldn't tell.
And a final petty thing... There were some really odd descriptions that made the book feel like it had been translated from a different language.

Things I liked/my general thoughts: Oooohh this is a good book! It has mystery and action and a hint of Steampunk. I thought all the pieces of the story fit together wonderfully.
The characters really became my friends. My favorite was probably Giuseppe... Because he's Italian, a musician, and I LOVE the name Giuseppe. I'm stealing it for a character in my NaNo novel.
I really liked Yakov, the Russian bodyguard/golem of Madame Pomeroy, too.

It was super cool how all the characters were friends... There was no romance/love triangles. That was nice. It was just some kids being friends. They all helped each other and cared for one another.
There were great secondary characters too... such as Alice, and Walter (I wish I knew what happened to him), and Pullman, and Mr. Branch. I really liked Mr. Branch. And Reverend Grey.
The author really seemed to know his city and his setting (despite the lack of a city-name). He had characters running down familiar roads and giving each other directions. Plus, there was a super cool chase scene on a roof (reminded me of Mary Poppins).

(I apologize for all the Sherlock pictures.)

The world-building (city-building?) was really great, as was the character development. At times, the plot did seem a little thin... and the solutions seemed a little too easy for all the trouble the characters went through earlier in the book, but I think that's true of real life. And, actually, I do that quite a bit in my own writing. My characters go through tons of horrible stuff, and then the answer is right in front of their face the whole time.
It was super cool to see the different class structures in the novel... You had Madame Pomeroy, who was very rich and mystical. There was also Mr. Twine, the rich hotel owner. Then you had Giuseppe, who was starved and beaten on almost a daily basis. There was Frederick, who wasn't super rich, but he was well-fed, taken care of, and doing what he loved - building clocks.
Ah, the clockwork... Clockwork had a big part to play in this book. Frederick is trying to build himself a clockwork man, but he can't figure out the head... until he comes across - but you'll have to read the book to find out. It's pretty cool.

Would I recommend this book? Yes! I think that Miss Jack would really really like this book. I highly recommend this to her.

Guess what arrived the other day? The trial copy of my book! Eeep! It's so exciting! I was so worried that something might be wrong (like the cover being blurry) but thank goodness everything looks amazing! All the insanity and craziness and anger and stress that editing brought on is made up for in holding the book in my hands.
My dad took a video of it for my mom, who was out of town when it arrived. You can watch it to, if you like. (I editing out parts that showed my mailing address... and also the awkward silence parts. Ignore Rosey's whining in the background. Hee hee. Music is by The Beatles... Paperback Writer...)

Live long and prosper!

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm still alive.

I have successfully survived to the next stage of editing.
We sent off for my trial copy today! Huzzah! Now I get a week break while I wait for the copy to arrive... And I'll use it to (hopefully) write my outline for NaNoWriMo, and get TONS of schoolwork done!

You know what I love? World War I. It's so fascinating.
Guess what?
Paul McCartney has a World War I music video! It's SUPER cool... It's about the Christmas Truce of 1914, when men from both sides got up out of the trenches and met in No Man's Land to play football, exchange chocolate, laugh, talk, and share pictures and letters from loved ones.
Live long and prosper!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The one where Abbey does math volentarily?!

So the other night I touched on the awfulness of editing... Now I'll mention one of the fun parts.
It's great to go through with mom not only because she's super helpful, but also because we laugh a LOT. We'll come across a funny scene and both burst out laughing... Or we'll come across some horrible sentence that makes absolutely no sense or some bad typo and we'll laugh and laugh and laugh...
There's lots of fun times.

Abbey is using math in the real world!
My mom and I did 27 pages of After the Twelfth Night in an hour and a half. I was curious to know how many hours it would take for us to finish editing. We're on kind of a tight schedule because I'm sending for my trial copy on Monday and we have to get through the rest of the book before then...
Well, I did a quick calculation and put my findings into an algebra problem! O_O And I came up with the right answer! I can't believe it! Math is actually helping me in the real world! Before, I was always skeptical about how math (beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division - the easy stuff) would help me in the real world... Now I know.
So here's my equation:

We have 216 pages left to do, and so far today, we've been going at a rate of 27 pages every hour and a half.
Turning that into an actual problem... (I couldn't find a division sign, so pretend that the dash means "division")

216/27 = 1  1/2x
I'll give you a minute to figure it out for yourself, if you are so inclined...

Now here's the process and the answer:
To simplify the above problem, you divide 216 by 27, which comes out to 8. Then you make 1  1/2 into an improper fraction and you're ready to solve. The equation now looks like this:
8 = 3/2x
Next, we have to get x by itself, so we take 3/2 by its reciprocal (2/3). And what you do to one side, you have to do to the other... So you take times 2/3 which comes out to:
Finally, divide 16 by 3 and you get...
5.33333333... (and the three's go on forever).

So, it will take my mom and me 5.3 hours to finish this edit, if we continue to do 27 pages per hour and a half (she says it's 18 pages per hour... but I haven't figured out how she got to that).
To make the equation even more complicated, you could add in that we have two days to get these 216 pages done... But I don't want to figure out how that works.

Mind you, I still see most word problems like this:

I haven't completely gone over to the dark side. I'm just happy I could figure this out!

Did you figure out my problem?

Live long and prosper!

Friday, October 11, 2013


The Common Man Should Read Beowulf Essay

By Abbey
Oct. 3 2013 
   Writing comes in many different modes: novel-writing, newspaper articles, email, essays, poetry, and more. Poetry, like writing, has many forms. There are the juvenile poems such as the writing of Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein, designed to educate and entertain children. On the other end of the spectrum there are epic poems from hundreds of years ago. One such tale is that of Beowulf, who must defeat several monsters which threaten lives and property. Scholars like J.R.R. Tolkien have studied this heroic story; but Beowulf is not only for the learned. The common man should read Beowulf.
   Opposition to reading this poem starts with the argument against all classics: the book is too difficult to read. Admittedly, because Beowulf was written before the tenth century, the language is different than today’s language. This is not a bad thing, nor is it a reason to forgo reading this epic. On the contrary, Beowulf’s extensive vocabulary and awing use of alliteration challenges the reader’s word-hoard and word choice. Not only could this help in every day conversation, or when writing a story or paper for school, but when filling out college or job applications.
   Beowulf, in addition to expanding vocabulary, also teaches about history. The poem is set during the first few hundred years of the Anglo-Saxon nation; 500 or 600 AD. It gives insight into the life of upper-class Saxons. The men were brave warriors, while the women provided food, drink, and gifts for conquering thanes. At celebrations, mead flowed generously and a bard was always on hand. “They sang then and played to please the hero, words and music for their warrior prince, harp tunes and tales of adventure.” (Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heany, page 71).
   Just as the bards in the book repeated bygone tales, Beowulf itself was passed down orally for centuries. It’s age-old theme of good vs. evil captivated audiences centuries ago and still does the same today. The plot of Beowulf pits the hero against several evil monsters. The first is beast Grendel, followed by his equally terrible mother. Finally, Beowulf must slay a dragon. In each instance, there is an epic struggle between the two parties, but good always prevails. Though the common man doesn’t often face such villains as the ones Beowulf has to contend with, man often has to battle between good and evil.
   Even the common man should read Beowulf, for it is not just for scholars. It encourages better word choice, which everyone can benefit from. Additionally, the reader can learn what life was like for the upper-class Anglo-Saxon. Finally, Beowulf’s timeless theme of good vs. evil will always appeal to man. Though there are many types of writing, and many types of poetry, Beowulf is a prime example of both.

And now my review:

Title: Beowulf

Author: Unknown. The translation I read was by Seamus Heaney.

Synopsis: The warrior Beowulf must face three beasts.

My rating: 8 out of 10 stars.

What I didn't like/things you should know: There are some somewhat descriptive battle scenes, but nothing too graphic... I can't really think of anything else.

What I liked: The language! Oh my word! There is so much alliteration in this story... It's absolutely brilliant. And just the way it's translated - it's great! Wonderful.
I've said before that I'm not a fan of poetry... but I really liked Beowulf. I think my mind is slowly being changed.
The story was pretty cool... It had a very Lord of the Rings feel to it. Although, really, I should say that Lord of the Rings has a very Beowulfish feel to it because Tolkien studied Beowulf and wrote an essay on it. He even added a nod to Beowulf into The Hobbit.

...until one began
to dominate the dark, a dragon on the prowl
from the steep vaults of a stone-roofed barrow
where he guarded a hoard; there was a hidden passage,
unknown to men, but someone managed
to enter it and interfere
with the heathen trove. He had handled and removed
a gem-studded goblet; it gained him nothing,
though with a thief's wiles he had outwitted
the sleeping dragon; that drove him into a rage,
as the people of that country would soon discover.
-Beowulf (pg. 151 of the Seamus Heaney version)

He gazed for what seemed an age, before drawn almost against his will, he stole from the shadow of the doorway, across the floor to the nearest edge of the mounds of treasure. Above him the sleeping dragon lay, a dire menace even in his sleep. He grasped a great two-handled cup, as heavy as he could cart, and cast one fearful eye upwards. Smaug stirred a wing, opened a claw, the rumble of his snoring changed its note.
-The Hobbit (pg. 206 of whichever version I own... It's during the Inside Information chapter)

Something super cool about the Seamus Heaney translation is that it actually has the Old English version on one page, and the modern-day English on the other... Here is what the Old English looks like:

Plus, the cover is super cool! The chainmail.

Would I recommend Beowulf? I would! Especially to fans of Lord of the Rings. And especially the Seamus Heaney translation.

Live long and prosper!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Please remove me from my novel before I hurl it across the room and kill it.
My mom and I have been editing literally all afternoon. We've gotten through Part One, but we still have the other two parts to get through before Monday, when I'll send off for my trial copy.

I'm a bit worried that it won't all get done on time. But with God everything is possible, and I'm relying on him a lot to keep my stress level down. I have a peace that everything will work out.

In other news... I am SO excited for NaNoWriMo! Know why? BECAUSE I GET TO SPEND TIME WITH OTHER CHARACTERS!
I love Antony and Antonio and James and Sebastian and all the other characters in After the Twelfth Night... But I've been with them pretty much all summer. Pretty much for two years. I realize that's what being a writer is all about - spending lots of time with the same characters... But when it gets down to going over the book five times in a row checking for spelling mistakes, formatting errors, and generally just making sentences sound better... it gets a little tough to love your novel.
So I'm very excited to spend some time with Daniel and Varina this November.

Who else is excited for NaNoWriMo?

Live long and prosper.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Deleted scenes from the trailer.

Initially the After the Twelfth Night trailer had three extra scenes in it that I cut because they weren't needed and didn't flow with the rest of the video.
The first scene is actually a scene from Twelfth Night, that shows how Antonio was arrested and put in jail.
The second is of Antony helping Antonio up from the ground after the "lucky explosion."
The third is of Antonio promising Olivia to "go find her missing husband."

The song is Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles, which I do not own. Well, I own the CD it came on... but I don't own the actual song.
I thought it fit nicely, because these scenes, as a result of being cut out, are now lonely...?

Live long and prosper!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Editing Saturday

11:22- Got my music.

It makes me feel powerful.
You're probably thinking, now Abbey, didn't you just say you finished editing? Yes, in a way. My mom and I finished editing Part 3 on paper, so now I have to type all our edits in. I have about six chapters to go. I'm hoping I can get it done today!
So here I go!
Listening to: Queen of the Night Aria from Mozart's Magic Flute!

11:48- An interesting tidbit... When I was writing Part One of After the Twelfth Night, I listened to a lot of Sarah Brightman. In particular, I really liked her song 'The Journey Home.' When I was brainstorming titles for the book, The Journey Home was the most prevalent choice for awhile. I don't think I ever admitted that to anyone, though... Somehow it just didn't fit, even though I loved it. Then we came up with After the Twelfth Night, which fits the book perfectly.
Another title option was The Thirteenth Day, because, you know, the book takes place AFTER the TWELFTH Night. But we decided that, though brilliant, The Thirteenth Day sounds too much like a horror story.
Last sentence: SPOILERS! But the last word that I typed was 'plunder.'
Listening too: The Phantom of the Opera by Sarah Brightman and Antonio Banderas (who knew Puss in Boots could sing?)

12:29- Somewhere I saw a quote that said something along the lines of "It's not a good story without a dragon." For some reason I think Tolkien said it but I can't find the quote anywhere... Anyone know which one I'm talking about?
Anyway, I'm taking the person's advice and putting a dragon into After the Twelfth Night.
Last sentence: "It was wood, with a red painted dragon slithering across the lid."
There you go.
Listening to: Song of the Lonely Mountain by Neil Finn.
And now it's over so I'm going to change songs and maybe genres. Hmmm... And also, get some lunch! I'm starving and the food in the Crock Pot for dinner smells AMAZING.

1:24- Woohoo! Just hit 85,000 words! That's exciting. I don't think the book has ever been this long.
Last sentence: After hiding the pendant and undressing, Sebastian blew out the candle and crawled into bed.
Listening to: Haydn's Sonata No. 38 in F major. "And I believe I know which key you will sing in: 'F' Major! Hee hee hee!"

3:00- Easy come easy go... I'm back down to 84,500 words after deleted a huge chunk of plot that doesn't go with the editing plotline.
Last sentence: “Tell us all about it when you get back!” Robert said
Listening to: Paul McCartney's new song New!
3:20- Today has been an interesting day for editing. My dad and my uncle are coming home from a trip to the Grand Canyon so I've been doing a mix of cleaning, editing, and watching videos on youtube. I think I shall stop editing soon... I've almost done four chapters today! Huzzah.
Last sentence: Curtains of cobwebs hung down in tatters, their former occupants dead and gone many years ago.
Listening to: My wake-up call song; I like to go into my mom's room and wake her up with this:

3:27- Well, I finished chapter twelve! And I think I'm done for the day.
Last sentence: “What do we do now?” asked Antony hopelessly.
Listening to: Still listening to the Dvorak Dance.

What did you all do this fine Saturday? Is it fine where you are?

Live long and prosper!

Thursday, October 3, 2013



Too late, Vala. I've already gone crazy.

Hee hee hee... mwahaha... hahaha...


And now we have to start on the second round.

AKA, we'll go back through the entire book fixing things... and then I'll upload it to Lulu and send off for a trial copy. Then we'll go through that and change things... then we'll go back through it AGAIN. And then it will be ready.
Hopefully we can get all that done in the next 28 days.

Live long and prosper!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

After the Twelfth Night book trailer and cover reveal! (Thus the panic beings)

Hi everyone! I have been looking forwards to this day for the past week! It's October 1, so that means I get to show you After the Twelfth Night's trailer and cover!

So first a little bit of history, because I'm evil and want to prolong the waiting... Personally, I think book trailers are kind of odd, because it's a book, not a movie. And I wasn't going to do one. But then I thought 'hey, dolls!' and the trailer was born. I have more to talk about, but I'm going to save that for another post (or several) on how I made the trailer.
Now a note on the new cover... I had an old cover. Most of you have probably seen it. But I wasn't happy with it. It wasn't a POW cover. It was a someone-threw-that-together cover (which is pretty much what I did way back when). So I asked my dad if he could draw me a new cover and he said yes! (He's the best dad in the world, by the way.) That's where the new cover comes from. Perhaps I'll talk more about that in a later post too...

Now, the trailer!

The new cover:

Thank you SO much, Daddy, for investing the time to make this for me! And for putting up my incessant questioning whether you were going to work on it. It means the world to me.

As you can see, I have chosen the name A.G. Werff to publish under...

And now that these two big loads have been lifted (the trailer and cover) I can start panicking. Editing is far from being over with, plus I have yet to plan my NaNoWriMo novel! AH! Only 31 days! Until NaNo and publishing!

 Live long and prosper!