Monday, September 26, 2016

Beautiful People: September 2016

As always, I have delayed my participation in Beautiful People until the last week. Someday I will get around to doing Beautiful People earlier in the month, but it is not this day!

Since I'm working on the next chapter for the forthcoming serial story (read: should be writing but currently am not writing), I decided to give my muse a little inspiration by answering these questions about Ryker. You've met him recently, and I guess I can't shake off my newfound love for him yet.

Here are Septembers questions!

1. How did you come up with this character?
A friend invited me to join her in writing a serial story, so I had to come up with a few characters to add to this new world we started building. I've always loved friendships with a large age gap, so I knew I wanted to have that be my focused characters. After a lot of research with names, I narrowed down my choice to Ryker, which incidentally means "rich." As you know, Ryker kind of lives day-to-day; he's poor. So I thought having a "rich" name would be fitting. Pinterest helped me develop the rest, such as what he looked like and what he wore (and how much of a sad, poor baby he is). As we developed the world, more of who he is fell into place.

2. Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?
Yes. He's actually been starving often since he has to fend for himself in an environment that isn't conducive for growing food. Most often he breaks those fasts by eating something of substance, though usually bland in taste--hard bread, porridge (aka "gray slop"), or a cup of bitter coffee.

3. Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?
He can manipulate the elements fairly well. But he's most proud of his ability to retain stories and his story-teller's voice.

4. List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.
Injustice acts--he has a big heart and does not wish to see others mistreated or hurt.
If anybody did anything to Wren--kidnap, hurt her feelings, physically harm her, etc.
Coming face-to-face with the people who ruined his family--he doesn't openly seek out revenge, but if given the opportunity, he'd definitely avenge his family.

5. What is their favorite type of weather? Least favorite?
He likes the days when it's cool in the morning and the evening but pleasantly warm in the afternoon. The ones with bright skies and a fervor to stay outside all day. He hates cold, damp days where the sky is one shade of gray and there is no getting warm.

6. What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality?
His Hogwarts House would probably be Slytherin, though Hufflepuff might be an option for him as well. I haven't quite figured out his MBTI yet.

7. Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?
He'll worry about present problems. Tomorrow won't come if he doesn't survive today.

8. What is their favorite thing to drink?
When he lived in Taegan, his home island, he always liked fresh, cold water from natural springs. People on Taegan usually wanted to spice up their drinks with flavor, so they almost never drank just pure water. He always preferred it.
In Blitzkrieg, he'd do almost anything to have a mug of steaming chocolate (aka hot cocoa).

9. What is their favorite color? Least favorite?
His favorite color is purple, which is kind of odd. But it reminds him of his mother's favorite flower on Taegan, the one that she would put in her hair. And it's the color of the fabric Wren wore when he met her.
His least favorite color is probably a shade of gray. It reminds him of Blitzkrieg's dull skies and the featureless faces that haunt his dreams.

10. What is a book that changed their life?
He's never had that many books to read, though he wishes he did. One memorable book is one his mother made for him out of a dried leaf pulp and thread. She would draw pictures of things on the island of Taegan along with how to spell the words, so Ryker could learn to read and identify things when he had been quite young. It still sticks in his memory as the most important book because it's the last thing he has that ties him physically to his mother.

Did you participate in Beautiful People? Join us here!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

French Fries Are Better Than People

You know that feeling when you're surrounded by tons of people but no matter what you do you still feel like you're saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. You're like that one french fry or nacho chip without cheese and bacon and whatever other glorious globs of gloop are scooped perfectly atop the mound of greasy goodness. You're left out no matter how hard you try to fit in. You just don't make the cut. But then you find mutual friends because of randomly, bizarrely, happenstancely you end up in the same college classroom as three people that just happen to have the same interests and sense of humor as your golden self. Because it's not so simple as trying to fit in and making it work. It just happens and suddenly you find yourself in a car with people on a dark, country road laughing about stars and musicals and what it means to grow up and break free from this overbearing shell that says you must fit in and you must make people like you. In the end, you don't make people like you because of trying to say the right thing or make the right action. In the end, you don't always get to choose perfectly how you find friendship. You just dip your hand into the pile of french fries and pull out that shoestring potato covered in sour cream and melted cheese and you hope the gloop is as good as it looks. But what is better than a life full of adventures with people you don't have to impress or worry about all the little tics about you. Because when someone important to you tells you something about yourself you never realized or you didn't actually like, you rethink that part of yourself. You begin anew. You wipe yourself clean of gloop and you look at yourself in a freshly cut way. And maybe instead of peeling away at all your flaws, you start to see them as something more, as something someone loves, as something that makes you "you," and life becomes a little better. Because you don't have to pretend or overthink or rethink or analyze every sentence or hand motion. You can just be your golden self. And all because you decided to enroll at a college in a specific area of study at a certain time when you'd be placed in a course that felt pointless and miserable until you realize without that, you would never have found the best french fries in the whole fryer.

Either way, french friends with friends is better than potatoes with people.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Novel Idea: 9/13/16

It's been a while since I participated in A Novel Idea. September has been crazy busy lately, though I can't pinpoint why. I've written a lot recently on The Fangirl Initiative instead. But this week, I thought I would try to tackle A Novel Idea because I just can't resist this prompt!
This week, tell us about one of your favorite characters to write. What is your favorite part about writing them? Feel free to share photos and/or snippets.
It took me some time to decide on a favorite character--I love all my characters, even the bad ones! But finally, I narrowed it down to a character I haven't introduced before: Estrid. Well, Estrid and Dar, since they appear in a story together.

Sometime last year, I asked a friend for a writing prompt just to get me going. He simply stated: write about dragons. Now, as you probably know, that's usually what I end up writing about. So I needed something a little more to go on. I began with a sentence, a small inkling of an idea, and suddenly I was off on an adventure that was quite unexpected, extraordinary, and exciting. I wrote an entire short story in the span of a few hours, hardly stopping for a break until I had created this entire world and breathed life into new characters.

Estrid and Dar and the Borrowing Barrows were born. And I adored it.
"In the dusty corner of the market place sat a small shop squashed between the newer, bigger buildings. It was shadowed and quiet, away from the fanfare of the center plaza where shoppers haggled over prices and exchanged gold pennies. The building was compacted, a strange-set up compared to the rest of the shops, which all had ample space and clean-cut, white or gray stones. This shop was made of dark, clay bricks, brittle and molting from age. It sat in the dark eaves of the towering shops like a trampled, withered plant." 
While I have yet to truly mull over and edit it, "Estrid and the Borrowing Barrows" still lingers in my mind as one of my greatest writing feats. I don't normally write short stories, but this one holds a special place in my heart and has inspired an entire collection of short stories centered in this new world. It's lovely.

Thus, Estrid and Dar are two of my favorite characters (along with Jett the Dragon). Estrid is a newly eleven-year-old girl, who visits the Borrowing Barrows for the first time on her birthday. The Borrowing Barrows is an old shop full of mystery, marvel, and magic. Dar, a man with fire for hair and a dragon for a friend, runs the shop. (Or something. He's kind of mysterious that way.) The story itself has been described as Alice in Wonderland meets Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium in Diagon Alley, which is absolutely delightful.
“Hello,” Estrid said again. She waved her hand, which made her scarf quiver as her fingers still had hold of the material.
The fire-headed man nodded and grinned. “Hullo, welcome to Here.”
“Where is Here?” Estrid asked.
“Here? What’s here? I said ‘Welcome to Here,’ which is everywhere.”
 Estrid laughed through her nose. “What is this place?”
“This is This Place. The place where Things Happen,” the man said. He rubbed his chin and patted the dragon on the head. “My name is Dar, and this is my good ole pal, Jett. He’s a dragon.”
Estrid nodded, which made Dar smile. He had two sharp teeth at the front of his mouth that glinted.
“Today is my birthday, and I have exactly eleven pennies. What can I buy here?” Estrid asked.
Dar frowned. He reach up and whipped his mirrored glasses off his face. Then he leaned in closer to Estrid and looked around wildly before whispering, “There isn’t anything to
buy here, just to borrow. This is the Borrowing Barrows after all.”
I think my favorite part about writing them is that they were so unexpected. Everything that I wrote came on a whim, which was fun and also adventurous. It wasn't anything I had written before. Estrid is adorable and also similar both to Alice (in Wonderland) and Lucy Pevensie (Narnia); she's quite smart for an eleven-year-old, but she still has this sense of wonder and belief in the mythical as well.

Dar was also delightful to write because he was just so odd. He literally has fire for hair. He's also quirky, talks in riddles, uses big words, and may or may not be a vampire (or some other mythical entity). His best friend is a dragon, and he also has this mysterious and dramatic flair to him. (Basically, picture Howl from Howl's Moving Castle mixed with Sebastian Stan's Mad Hatter but with Robbie Kay's eyebrows.) It was so fun to create an adult character that 1. doesn't treat the child like she was stupid 2. can be eccentric without coming across childish and 3. believes in magic when most other people do not.
"The wall of books parted in a flash, gone off the middle of the desk and pushed to the edges. She saw a young man with fire for hair staring at her from behind mirrored glasses. Sitting on the desk next to him was a dragon no bigger than one of the tabby cats Estrid had at home." 
"He lifted his pointer finger in the air—which suddenly turned dark black again—and made a wild expression with his face. A half grin with only part of his teeth sticking out and his right eyebrow twitch crazily above his hairline." 
Basically, these two characters inspired me to step out of my comfort zone of writing and to try something new. It worked, and I fell in love with a new kind of story craft. At some point, I'd love to develop this idea further and add more to the story.

Do you participate in A Novel Idea? Join us! Which characters do you love to write?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Fair Food

The aura of hay and animal sweat mingles with the bloated, mouth-watering stench of deep fryers and grease, rising to the cloudless blue skies overwhelmed with the suffocating rays of sunlight. You know that moment when Anne Shirley meets someone and immediately knows if he or she will be a kindred spirit? Well, I know. And after spending time mooning over the biggest moo-ers in the county and counting chicks after they've hatched, I can tell this scruffy goat is going to be a kindred spirit. It's not just because his barnyard shenanigans fit with the frenzy of fair food and floppy-eared friends. But the manner of joining a family is like auctioning off a piece of yourself. And I think there is a piece worth giving the galloping Galapagos goat because friendships are formed over fair fries and milkshakes swirled with syrupy strains, not over chat messages or photogenic photos plastered across social media where life can't truly be lived behind a screen. Yet the happiness of horses are heffalumped with the hays and neighs of shared experience, and this is one experience I don't want to forget. Because loneliness still crops and threatens to gnaw on me like the way the cow chews the cud over and over in a dazed state as its eyes fall half-asleep or like the way floppy-eared rabbits nibble their noses at nothing. I don't want to feel alone when I'm surrounded by the whole farm making a rooster of a ruckus at every turn. I want to experience fair food and friendship with fresh hay and run as fast as those piggies in the race trying to find a treat. Basically: I think you're all swell.

My day at the fair: September 3, 2016