My Life This November: In Which NaNoWriMo Happens and the Semester Marches On

Hello, everyone! It’s the fourth Saturday of the month (finally), which must mean that I’m here summarizing my month for you. It’s been a bit crazy this month, so I’m not quite sure where to begin. I’ll probably be quite brief.

First, of course, in the writing domain, National Novel Writing Month (fondly known as NaNoWriMo) happened this month, and is still going on. As I mentioned on Wednesday, I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo this year (I mean, what college student has time to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days?), and then on October 31st I thought, “Well . . . why not?” And here I am.

As I’m writing this post this morning, my current word count is 35,847 (5,500 or so of that is from October). I’m well aware that I’m not going to finish by Nov. 30th without losing massive amounts of sleep, which would be bad for my driving to school and generally being awake in class, so basically I’m not going to hit 50K by the end of the month. But at least I’ve written probably a lot more than I otherwise have. I’m more than halfway through Circle of Fire, and I’m really enjoying it so far. I just love writing rough drafts in general. It’s so freeing. I’m really looking forward to getting to the end; it should be fun.

In other news, it’s fall in New Hampshire, and a lot of leaves fell down this month. Then, on Monday, we had our first snow. It wasn’t much, just a coating, but it still caused a lot of ice and problems on the roads. Getting to school was interesting that day.

School has been pretty good. Organic chemistry and physics have taken over my life more than ever as the semester starts to wind down to the end. I only have three more exams left before finals (yay!). It’s hard to believe that, by the end of next month, I’ll be a full year and a half through college. It’s quite exciting. And perhaps I’ll get more writing time over winter break. . . .

So that’s my month! What about you? How was your Thanksgiving (which, of course, I totally forgot to mention in the body of my post), if you’re American? Have you had snow this month? Are you also in school? How’s it going? Are you doing NaNoWriMo, and if so, how’s that going for you? Share in the comments!

Beautiful Books 2016: Novel Update

Hello, everyone! I know it took a while for me to get to this, but here is my Wednesday post for the month. This month, Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In have continued their Beautiful Books from last month. This is mostly geared at NaNoWriMo projects, which brings up a funny story. I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo last month; I mean, I already had 5500 words in Circle of Fire before November started. Then, about 8 P.M. on October 31st, I thought, “Well, why not?” And here I am.

So here is my novel update for CoF this November!

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

My mental state? Eh. Okay, I guess. My stress level is mostly related to a large number of exams and physics things this month, so writing is actually a nice distraction from that. My novel is going okay; I’m a bit behind on word count (and I don’t expect that will change by the time this post is published), but I’m hoping to catch up over Thanksgiving. I have finished the First Act and am plowing through the Second, so I’m making more progress than I was before November, which I guess is the overall goal.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

I think this is the most you’ve gotten out of me about this book. All right. Here is the first sentence:

“Faint thoughts drifted across Rahara’s mind.”

Scintillating, I know. (Seriously, though, do let me know what you think of it. They say the first line is very important.)

3. Who’s your current favorite character in your novel?

Ooh, tough one. I love all my characters (even my antagonist this time, which is unusual for me). I think I’d have to say Rahara, the main, is my favorite. She’s just delightful, and I love writing her British accent. 🙂

4. What do you love about your novel so far?

Many things. 🙂 I’ve realized as I’ve gotten into it just how passionate I am about this weird idea (and believe me, it is weird). I love the characters. I love them with every book I write, but this is the first time I’ve written such a diverse cast. (So many Earthlings. XD) And I really do love my antagonist. I think he’s the most relatable one I’ve ever created. And since it would be a major spoiler to say how, I’ll just stop there.

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Haha. I wouldn’t be surprised if I did, but I’m usually pretty good about backspacing. (Which is why I can’t do a Fifty-Headed Hydra–five hundred words in five minutes–I’m obsessive about correct spelling.) While I was chatting with a friend one day, though, I did mention how I had to “right” a lab report. Not related to the novel, but still.

6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end, and why?

Hmm. I always like the end (especially if I know what’s going on), because I’m wrapping it all up and it means I’m finally done. Dialogue, though, anywhere in the book, is my favorite.

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

This is a long question. Well, I have developed a habit of fitting in some writing while I’m waiting for physics lecture to start; I can usually get in 500 words or so that way. My usual writing space is just my bed, so I won’t bother to photograph that (my desk has a fish tank and a gerbera daisy on it, so). Honestly, I write best on weekends; weekdays after I get home from school, I’m sometimes quite exhausted. So I try to catch up (and miserably fail) on the weekends.

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone?

In general, I’m fairly private about my writing, although I find I am sharing more and more on this blog. I always brainstorm and share snippets with my best friend and fellow writer, though. And sometimes I rant at my brother, too (sorry).

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

That usually comes down to this: “I’m sick of schoolwork!” XD But also, I’m a very highly driven person (at least most of the time), and I know if I never finish the book, I’m not going to have a writing career, am I? So I keep going.

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

Hmm, good question. A positivity thing that I’ve learned is that, no matter what, this is the best book you’ve ever written, because you’re always getting better. I think of that when I’m in a perfectionistic mood. I also love the advice that reading makes you a better writer. It’s true, and it’s an excuse to read, right? And lastly, it is good to finish the book like I said above, or you don’t have anything to seek publication with. It just seems logical to me.

What do you think? Have you done this link-up? Are you going to? (If you have, put your link in the comments so I can read it!) How is your book coming? What did you think of my first line? What are your top three pieces of writing advice? Tell me in the comments!

What I’m Watching: Star Trek Beyond

This month, in lieu of a book review, I have a movie review, since a) I loved this movie and b) I haven’t read a book recently to review . . . oops. *ahem* And movies are stories, too, right? I figure it’s good to do something different once in a while.

Image result for star trek beyond

Information for Readers Viewers:

Genre: Science Fiction/Action-Adventure

Age Level Rating: PG-13

Extreme Content? Yes; there’s quite a bit of violence, including one torture-ish scene my family fast-forwarded through, and some swearing. Also, one character is gay, but it’s fairly subtle.

Image result for star trek beyond

The Story: After visiting the new Starbase, Yorktown, the starship Enterprise responds to a distress call that leads them into a nebula–and under attack by a fleet of small alien ships that tear the Enterprise to pieces. Destroyed, and with most of her crew captured, the Enterprise crash-lands on a nearby planet. Now Kirk (Chris Pine), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Doctor “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and Scotty (Simon Pegg), split up, must find a way to free the rest of their crew and stop the nefarious Krall (Idris Elba), who is behind the Enterprise‘s destruction, from wreaking havoc on the Federation.

Image result for star trek beyond

The Characters: There are a lot of the same characters as in the first two alternate-universe Star Trek movies, like Kirk, Spock, Bones, Chekov, Sulu, Uhura, and of course, Scotty. There are also some new characters, mainly Krall and Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), a marooned alien girl who befriends Scotty. All of them were well-developed and well-rounded, and most had major parts to play in the film. Initially, I thought Krall was a bit of a stereotypical pure-evil villain, but that changed near the end, which made a nice twist. I also really liked Jaylah (let’s face it, I’m a sucker for woman warrior characters), and the rest of the crew, but as always, Scotty was my favorite. He always has the best dialogue and the funniest reactions to things, and Simon Pegg does such a good job. I just love Scotty. 🙂

Image result for star trek beyond scotty
Scotty and Jaylah

 

The Writing (and Filmmaking): I’m not much of a film critic, but I thought this film, like the first two in the series, was beautifully done. The computer-generated sequences are really nice, and the filmography (I think that’s the term) just sucks you in. It’s quite engrossing to watch.

The writing, too, was excellent. My little writer brain got all excited watching this movie, because I kept noticing foreshadowing and plot twists and payoffs on earlier foreshadowing and things like that. Plus, the dialogue was on point, and I didn’t feel there was too much infodumping in the form of contrived dialogue. It was just really satisfying to see the story unfold.

Image result for star trek beyond kirk and spock
And Spock and Bones get stuck together, which makes for interesting interpersonal conflict.

 

Overall: Star Trek: Beyond was  a really good movie. Definitely recommended! (And watch out for future movie reviews! I rather like this format. . . .)

Image result for star trek beyond kirk
There’s also this fun scene where Captain Kirk gets to ride a motorcycle. There’s a lot going on in this movie.

 

Have you seen Star Trek: Beyond? What did you think of it? Who was your favorite character? If you haven’t seen it, do you think you will? Tell me in the comments!

Yakutian Horses and Pallas’s Cats: Adaptation to Extreme Environments

Good morning, all! It’s the second Saturday of the month, which means it’s time for a science post. This month, with winter approaching, I thought I would turn my attention to a couple of animals that are well adapted to cold environments: the Yakutian horse and the Pallas’s cat.

Image result for yakutian horse

Image result for pallas's cat

The Yakutian horse is a breed of horse that lives in the Yakut region of Siberia; the Pallas’s cat is a species (Otocolobus manul) with a widespread range, from the Caspian Sea to northern India to China and Mongolia. Both these mammals show some common adaptations to cold environments, like small size (Yakutian horses are a bit smaller than most horses, and Pallas’s cats are only the size of a house cat) and long fur. According to the BBC, ancient woolly mammoths had similar adaptations, which enabled them to survive during the ice age.

Image result for woolly mammoth

A new genomic study (reported by the same BBC article linked to above) has indicated that Yakutian horses evolved from Genghis Khan’s Mongolian horses in less than 800 years, basically the blink of an eye. Since they adapted to the harsh Siberian winters (with temperatures down to -94 degrees Fahrenheit), they’ve been indispensable to the Yakutian people, for food, clothing, and transportation.

Image result for yakutian horse

Pallas’s cats, in contrast, are wild. They live mostly in rocky areas at high altitudes (according to ARKive), and indeed, they’ve been found high up in the Himalayas where only snow leopards were thought to roam (see PBS’s “Nature: The Story of Cats”, episode 1). They’re active mostly at dawn and dusk, and hide in rock burrows the rest of the time to avoid predators. They’ve been known to inhabit burrows abandoned by other animals. To help them avoid predation, their fur changes color seasonally for camouflage.

Image result for pallas cat
Here you can see just how fluffy the Pallas’s cat is.

 

That’s it for today! What do you think? Have you ever heard of these animals before? What do you think of them? Do you like winter as much as they do? Tell me in the comments!

Story Starters #3: Redwall

It was the start of the Summer of the Late Rose. Mossflower country shimmered gently in a peaceful haze, bathing delicately at each dew-laden dawn, blossoming through high sunny  noontides, languishing in each crimson-tinted twilight that heralded the soft darkness of June nights.

Image result for redwall book coverImage result for redwall book cover

Hello, all, and happy November! It’s the first Saturday of the month again, which means it’s time for a story starter post. This month’s subject, Redwall by Brian Jacques, was one of my favorites when I was younger. My library had (still has) a whole bunch of them, and I absolutely devoured them. They’re great books. 🙂

For those who don’t know, in Story Starters I analyze the first paragraph of a novel. I had a bit of trouble deciding what to count as the first paragraph of Redwall; there’s a poem on the page before the paragraph I listed above, but it’s one of three paragraphs that come just before the actual beginning of the story. I concluded that, since this is the first prose paragraph we actually read, that’s the paragraph I’d put. So let’s do a quick sentence-by-sentence analysis.

  • It was the start of the Summer of the Late Rose. This first sentence does little more than start introducing us to the setting; it’s summer. This will be built on in further paragraphs.
  • Mossflower country shimmered gently in a peaceful haze, bathing delicately at each dew-laden dawn, blossoming through high sunny  noontides, languishing in each crimson-tinted twilight that heralded the soft darkness of June nights. As you can probably tell right away, this second sentence is much longer than the first. The contrast draws the reader in to this beautiful description of the setting. We get to like Mossflower right away (besides which, it’s such a great name for a setting). The mention of twilight provides a good avenue to introduce Redwall Abbey, the principal setting, in the next paragraph.

Well, this month’s was a short post, but I’ll be back next week with a science post. See you then!

Have you ever read Redwall? Did you like it? Are you planning to read it? What did you think of this (albeit short) excerpt? Tell me in the comments!