Guest Post!

Hey everyone! Sorry once again for my absence around the blogsphere as my September continues to be busy! I just wanted to let everyone know, in case you need a fix of me (hmmm… that sounds kind of wrong…) that you can check out my guest blog post today on Asti’s blog, A Bookish Heart! It’s about why “older” adults read young young adult books. Hope you enjoy!

Recently I attended a writing conference and finished watching Fringe season three, so I should be posting about those when I have the chance! And of course I’ll give you part two of my experience at the Star Trek convention in Nashville! Also when I have the chance, I’ll get back to the books with a double review of What’s Left of Me and Once We Were, both by Kat Zhang (I actually haven’t finished the second book yet due to busyness, but I should soon). Stay tuned!

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Because his name is September, and he’s staying tuned.

Round-Up and Blog/Life Update

Round-Up is my very occasional feature where I share my favorite story and media related articles from the interwebs with you! 

Divergent Trailer

If you’re interested in the Divergent movie, you’ve probably already seen the trailer for it, but if not, enjoy! I have kind of had low expectations for the movie, but the trailer looks pretty good I think! I like Divergent and Insurgent both but I don’t LOVE them the way most people do, so I probably won’t be as picky as some about how exact the story is, so hopefully I will enjoy the movie.

Strong Female Characters

buffy

I tweeted about Sophia McDougall’s piece on why she hates strong female characters as well as Erin Bowman’s agreement with the article and her take on the issue. You should check them both out, but the premise is the question of why can male characters be portrayed in a great many different ways but that female characters are basically either “weak” or strong. I like my characters to be smart, interesting, and at least not a complete push-over, regardless of whether they are male and female. I do believe there are differences between men and women and how they are wired, but none of those differences can constitute why women characters are to be perceived SO differently than male characters. They’re interesting reads, so check them out if you haven’t already!

Blog/Life Update

My September is crazy busy, folks. I have plans for every weekend, work, and a mini-vacation with my husband planned. I haven’t been too good about blogging ahead of time, so if my posting suffers this month, this is why. And same goes with commenting on others’ blogs. But I am quite excited about everything I will be doing this month! And I will certainly try to share some of these things as I go through the month!

I recently had the chance to see Kat Zhang at a local bookstore when she was doing a signing. I heard about it when I went to buy the paperback of What’s Left of Me, since I am reading and discussing it along with some other blogging friends. I also found out that she would be selling the sequel, Once We Were, two weeks early at the event, so that was further motivation to check it out! It was real low-key, and I had the chance to talk with Kat briefly and she signed both of my books. She was nice and I appreciated her taking the time to talk to me. I think I’ll be reading both books this month!

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Oh, and it’s my birthday month, just to put the icing on top of everything else. 🙂

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I may or may not use this picture every time I talk about birthdays from now on…

What’s going on in your world this September, or what media related stories have stood out to you this week? 

The Versatile Blogger Award!

I want to thank Shanelle at The Tracery of Ink for nominating me for this award! I’ve been nominated for other awards before, and truth be told, it’s hard to always come up with people to nominate, but after seeing who I nominated for the Liebster Award back in May, I realized I have since befriended some more wonderful bloggers that I think are deserving of this award. So here’s the skinny…

1. Display the Award Certificate on your blog. (It’s on my About page now.)
2. Announce your win with a post. Make sure to post a link back to me as a ‘thank you’ for the nomination.
3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers. (I’ll be nominating 6; I had more in mind but other bloggers ended up nominating them instead!)
4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have linked them in the post. (I’ll tweeting everyone.)
5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.
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BTW, if you’ve been nominated for this award before, or for another one recently, or if you don’t really do the award thing at all, and don’t feel like going through all the hoopla, that’s OK! You won’t hurt my feelings one bit. I just wanted to let you know I enjoy your blog and like the variety of content you post! Woot! Here’s my nominations:
Now, 7 “interesting” facts about myself:
1. I almost always have some sort of obsession at any given time. Right now, that obsession is with the TV show Fringe. I should be starting season three by the end of the week! Can’t wait!
2. I had my first car, a 1999 Honda Civic, for 7.5 years, and earlier this year finally had to give it up, but was quickly consoled with my “new” 2010 Honda Civic.
3. My favorite band of all time, and has been for years, is Switchfoot. My current fave that I spend the most time listening to as of late, however, is Phillip Phillips, which is sorta strange considering I wanted Colton Dixon to beat him out on American Idol. I saw him live though and it was like a jam session. And saxophone. Yes. I just love his style.
4. I like my burger with cheese and ketchup only as a general rule, though bacon, onion straws, and barbecue sauce are other possible toppings I’ll take.
5. Outside of the US, I have traveled to Mexico, England, Jamaica, and The Grand Cayman.
6. I have managed to make it this far in life without working in retail or food service. Here’s hoping I can continue down this path, but I certainly know there are no guarantees.
7. I think ET is a creepy movie and I don’t like it. I actually don’t care for a few “classic” films.

Weekend Blog Update

I don’t normally do this, but I wanted to give everyone a head’s up for some of the upcoming posts on the blog here, with a special emphasis on one in particular. First off, while I generally try to follow the schedule of blogging every other day, this week I will be posting three days in a row on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday! Here’s what you have to (hopefully) look forward to:

Tuesday: My Top Ten Movie Adaptations 

This was a hard list to compile, as there are so many books-to-movies I love, but of course I have been sharing some, and will continue to do so, on Wednesdays with Awesome Adaptations. But for this list I reserved my absolute favorites, and while many of these books and movies have been discussed on this blog before, I think it’s a nice range of genres.

Wednesday: An Awesome Non-Fiction Adaptation

Here’s a hint: Wednesday’s post will be about a movie featured on the previous day’s Top 10 list, and I will delve deeper into the differences between the book and movie (complete with book quotes and a scene from the movie!).

Thursday: Choosing the Losing Love Triangle “Team” 

This was the post I really wanted to highlight, as it is a part of a larger event taking place. 

A Novel Idea is hosting Love Triangles 101, a fun discussion event all about the dreaded (or desired?) love triangle we find frequently in stories, particularly in young adult books! I will be discussing the woes of choosing the losing team, but be sure to check out the other bloggers involved in the event as well (click on picture for event schedule). I’ll be sharing the day with one of my favorite bloggers, Asti from A Bookish Heart, so definitely be sure to check out her post on the same day! Other posts I am looking forward to: Signs You’re in a Love Triangle, Love Triangles from Literature to Film, and Love Triangles in Jane Austen. 

Next Weekend: Star Trek 101?

After all this, I will probably be taking a break until Saturday or Sunday, and by then I hope to be ready for my Star Trek post! This is actually for all you non-Trekkies who feel uncertain about the series. As some of you know, I am a big fan of the series, but this only came about in the last few years after I married my husband. Though he introduced me to some Trek while we were dating (namely The Original Series), he waited until we were married to expose me to the vast majority of it. We would have watched more while dating, but after watching the first few episodes of The Next Generation I said NO WAY. It was just not good in the beginning! I’m no glad he made me give it a second chance because the show grew and developed, and not only did I come to love that particular incarnation of Star Trek, but the subsequent series of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise as well. (Oh, and we did watch the animated series as well but… no comment.) And of course there are the movies, most of which I have a love-hate (or just hate-hate) relationship with, but more on that later. 

In order to help prepare me for this particular post, I would love to know from Trekkies, what episodes of Star Trek would you recommend to someone who has never seen the show? And to the non-Trekkies, what are some of your conceptions or ideas of Star Trek? If you’re not interested in the show, why not? Be honest, and this should help me pick episodes that would be the right fit to ease your ideas and help you realize that it’s actually awesome! 

Blog Facelifting

Since I have started this blog in February, I have been relatively pleased with the look of it, especially for the great deal of $0. Sometimes I look at blogs and envy the blogger’s design skills (or perhaps their friend’s design skills), but overall I am generally content. But then this weekend I had the itch to maybe try to make better graphics for my blog.

True story: I really considered majoring in graphic design in college, but I did not. Sometimes I wish I had. But sometimes I wish I had majored in psychology and gone to grad school right after, so what can I do? It’s all in the past.

I have Photoshop Elements, which I primarily got to edit pictures I take.  I can’t do a lot with it, really. The aforementioned editing of photos quickly came to me learning about these things called “actions” that basically does it all for you, and then seeking out free actions for Photoshop Elements to install and use. (Side note: This is fine if you’re taking pictures for fun. But in the name of all things Canon and Nikon, don’t call yourself a serious photographer just because you’re you’ve got a DSLR and can run your pictures through actions. Real photography/editing takes more knowledge and effort. I think actions have a place for sure, but they don’t fix bad lighting and such. Rant over.) And I certainly don’t know how to “draw” anything with my computer (or in real life for that matter). I was not sure what I could do beyond this:

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The speech bubble is provided as a preset shape through Elements, of course, not drawn by myself.

But I decided to play around with it. I also looked into different fonts. I had some fun with it:

font-choicesThe decision to play with fonts and graphics largely came into play after I accidentally discovered a Premium WordPress theme that I loved and felt was so perfect that I almost considered shelling out $75 for it. Almost. But for now, this is too much of a hobby for me to justify it, I decided. But just so you can see how cute it looked, here’s the free live preview I captured:

on-a-whim-themeI also played around with the extra fonts you can get by paying $30, but they weren’t what I wanted. So again, I decided to play around just to see what I could come up with. I was surprised when I came up with this:

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As you might have noticed, I decided to go with the Maiden Orange font (found through Font Squirrel). The arrows were also a pre-drawn shape with Elements, but with a little bit of creativity, I had made a chevron pattern, which goes nicely with my Twitter background I might add:

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(Side note about my Twitter account: That it neither my Nikon nor my cat, but I do own a Nikon similar to that one and a cat who looks similar to that one, who I think would nom my camera if given the chance.) I am attempting to create a sense of coherency among my social networks, which is why you see the same profile picture everywhere, so I was pleased to have found a way to include chevrons. I also liked the idea of not majorly changing anything, but keeping things simple with the gray/teal color scheme.

I have also been playing around with how I include quotes in my reviews. “At first, I would just bold them and put them in quotation marks,”  sometimes after the “Quotable” section marker seen above. Then I decided I wanted to connect them with the story…

theselection-reviewgraphic3But I thought maybe I could still do better. So this is what I came with for now:

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Elements did not have pre-drawn quotation marks, so instead I just typed quotation marks in the Maiden Orange font and chose a very large font size for it.

So now I have a few new graphics, so what? My blog design itself it still basic. But I still appreciate its modern, clean look, even if it’s the most exciting or eye-catching thing ever. One thing I would like to change is my header, but I’m still working on how to insert a graphic up there that doesn’t look funky.

So you may notice these minor changes, from the new quote blocks to my new sidebar image to my new star graphic which will be going from this:

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to this:

3stars2It’s just all a part of a slow blog evolution process. As the blog grows I try to find ways to improve my post content and decided it was time to face-lift the look as well. If I am ever so fortunate to become a published author, I do intend to seek out a professional web designer and buy my own domain name and all that jazz, because as much as I love Suzanne Collins for bringing us The Hunger Games, her website is not cutting it:

suzanne-collinsAnd I’m sure there will be more changes for my blog to come.

What changes have you made to your blog or considered making to your blog?

Liebster Award!

I want to thank http://bookpapercut.wordpress.com/ for nominating for this blog award!  The Liebster Award is passed on by bloggers to new blogs worth reading, and the criteria for this is they have 200 followers or less.

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Recipients of the Liebster Award must:

  1. List 11 Random Facts about you
  2. Answer the questions that were asked of you (By the blogger that nominated you)
  3. Nominate 11 other blogs for the Liebster Blog Award and Link to their Blogs
  4. Notify the bloggers of their award.
  5. Ask the award winners 11 questions to answer once they accept the award

So here’s the deal, when thinking about blogs to nominate, I went through my own criteria:

  1. In addition to appearing to have less than 200 followers, I thought a “new” blog should also be less than two years old. 
  2. I only wanted to nominate blogs where I have maintained some communication with the blogger, that is, we both follow each other and for most of these, we generally comment on or like one another’s posts fairly frequently.
  3. I also wanted to nominate those that I thought would want to talk about the award and pass it along, but if I nominated you and you do not wish to talk about it, that is totally OK and I will completely understand.

So with all that in mind, and even though I follow more than 11 blogs and more than 11 blogs follow me, I only have 8 nominees instead of 11. Please don’t hurt me! This blog is only in its fourth month, and I am still developing relationships with bloggers. So without further ado, here are my Liebster Award nominees:

http://www.therewerebooksinvolved.com/

http://mysticcooking.wordpress.com/

http://thepagethatbooksbuilt.wordpress.com/

http://annywithawhy.yt/

http://anothernovelread.com/

http://abookishheart.com/

http://coffeecreamnosugar.wordpress.com/

http://trishadm.wordpress.com/

11 Facts about me:

  1. I have lived in four states: Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and now Tennessee. As of recently, I have lived in TN longer than anywhere else.
  2. I’m pretty good at air hockey.
  3. I am married to my first and only boyfriend ever. This Thursday we will be married for four years and together for nine years.
  4. My husband got me into Star Trek, and I ended up falling completely in love with it. I have seen every episode of every series (including the animated series!) and every movie (except I haven’t seen the new one yet obviously… looking forward to it!).
  5. I write stories, and it is virtually impossible for me to write a whole story, from start to finish, in order. I tend to jump around a lot… but I’m trying to work on this by plotting better.
  6. I spill water frequently.
  7. I am an only child. So is my husband.
  8. I’m 5’1″
  9. I really hate calling people, especially strangers, on the phone. I am slowly doing a little better as I get older, but I still hate it.
  10. I share a birthday with Avril Lavigne and Gwyneth Paltrow (September 27).
  11. I became a Batman fan after watching Batman and Robin. I know it’s a pretty terrible movie but… I still don’t hate it.

Answers to Dani’s 11 questions: 

  1. What are your 3 go-to books when it comes to giving out book recommendations? The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Quitter by Jon Acuff, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
  2. Why did you start blogging? My very first blog I started because I liked the idea of having an online journal of sorts. I started this particular blog because I wanted to share with others how stories have impacted my life and connect with others who have been impacted by stories.
  3. Zombies, vampires, or werewolves? Ugh… I’m really not into any of these. I just haven’t gotten into the paranormal genre.
  4. If you could meet any living person in the world, who would you meet? My favorite songwriter from my favorite band, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, because I want to hear his stories about what inspires his songs and what has made an impact in his life.
  5. What was the last thing you read, watched, and listened too? Read: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Watched: An episode of an old TV show called I Spy staring Bill Cosby. Listened: Whatever was on the radio… I don’t remember.
  6. Of the books you have read this year, which is your favorite? Non-fiction: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Fiction: Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
  7. What is your zodiac sign? (Western/Chinese or both) Libra/Tiger
  8. What is your favorite quote? It’s quite a whopper, from the movie The Two Towers. “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something… there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.” – Sam in LOTR: The Two Towers
  9. Who would you: marry? befriend? hate? (book characters) 
  10. How long have you been blogging? I have blogged on and off for probably about ten years, but I just started this blog four months ago.
  11. What are your hobbies? Besides reading and blogging: writing, photography, movies.

11 Questions for nominees:

  1. What was your favorite book that you read in 2012?
  2. What book character would you consider naming your child after?
  3. Who would you want to star as you in the movie of your life?
  4. Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names and what are they?
  5. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
  6. What book would you like to see made into a movie that is not yet?
  7. What is your favorite dessert?
  8. If you go on vacation anywhere tomorrow, all expenses paid, where would you go?
  9. What is the worst book you have read (or tried to read) and what made you dislike it so much?
  10. What book and/or movie character do you relate to most?
  11. What is your favorite TV show of all time?