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October 31, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Writing Updates 10/31/14

Back from my vacation! Gosh I’m exhausted.

I’ve mentioned before that writing on vacation is hard for me. Still, except for a couple of days towards the end, I made myself get up early, poured my coffee, and sat down to write, getting at least a couple of pages out each day. Basically I made sure I kept the momentum going, and because of that the manuscript I’m pushing through now is probably getting close to the end. I spent some time dwelling on the plot as well, and I came up with ways I may change it when I finally go back for a second draft.

I don’t know how much time I’ll have to work on that one, though, since NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and I actually plan on participating this year. (Maybe a page a day on the first story?) Adding to my stress, I’m not sure what story I’m going to work on yet: the one I spent time preparing but then wasn’t in the mood to write it a few months ago, or the one that is fresher in my mind but I’m not sure I have enough story to reach 50,000 words? I may just go with the first one, since I have buckets of notes for that already.

So, my writing friends: what are you working on?

Stolen view from a hotel.

October 27, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Where My People At

Part of this Orlando trip was spent in Universal Studios. While I find this park a lot of fun–cool rides mostly–there’s a lot I feel it lacks compared to Disney World.  One thing they certainly win at though: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
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If you’ve been paying attention you know I love the books, so last time I visited I loved turning a corner to find the Hogwarts Express. This time I visited Diagon Alley, and it is ridiculous to walk through that little slip in the wall and have the whole thing open up before you. So many shops, and signs, and a dragon… I ditched the family and spent an hour just wandering around by myself.
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But another thing I notice that thrills me is a slight difference in the people. At Disney you get some very excited overly knowledgeable fans, but they’re in denser numbers here. There are more adults that are just taking it in for themselves, even spending horrendous levels of cash for robes and wands (not me, I only emptied my wallet for all the themed drinks) so they can interact with the area. I walked around in my Ravenclaw shirt and people commended me cor representing my house, and everyone grinned as they forked over a 20 for a souvenir Butter Beer.  Basically, it wasn’t families or goofy adults I saw a majority of in the Harry Potter portions (though they were there) but nerds, wonderful beautiful Harry Potter nerds, and I loved every second around them.
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October 23, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Writing Problems: Keeping Momentum

When I’m in the midst of a story I like to write at least a little bit, every day (sometimes weekends are a wash, I’ve learned to deal with it). This can be hard. Sometimes I’m busy (work in the morning) or tired (I slept too long). Other times I just don’t feel like I have anything to write. I feel blocked, uninspired, like everything I would write anyway would be a waste so why bother?

via freepixels.com

Rolling rolling down the writing hill…

Luckily, I’m gullible. I’ll tell myself, “Just write a page.” Or two, or three. Depending on the time I have, on what I feel I could be up to. I just have to write as much as I say, and then I’ll stop. And you know what happens? I write it. I get out that page, or four. But it’s a trick, e I keep going. I write for longer than I said I would, sometimes generating an extra paragraph, usually coming up with another few pages.

By pushing myself to my morning goal I get myself rolling down the hill. I’m excited about the story, I have too much momentum, I can’t stop now! So I keep writing, and the pages fill up, and even if I eventually change most of what I put down today, I’m pushing forward — I’m in it.

 

How do you keep up your writing momentum?

October 20, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Vacation Reading List: Dragons, Magazines, Audios

I’m on my way to Orlando for my Disney trip tomorrow, but before I get there I have to sit through a 3-hour flight. Plus, Disney World closes, so I’ll have to entertain myself at night, too. I’m leaving behind some of my chunkier reading materials (sorry, Walt Disney biography, I was never going to finish you in time) but I’ve got to pack something.

  • I’m bringing my Nook, which lets me bring a few books: A Dance With Dragons, Boy, Snow, Bird, and Salt right now, plus I’ll be able to download new books while I’m down there if I decide I need something different. Super handy.
  • I can’t just leave all paper behind, so I’m also toting along Extras by Scott Westerfeld. I’ve never gotten around to reading that book in the series, so it would be nice to at least start finishing that off.
  • I’m also packing a couple issues of Mental Floss, my favorite magazine, since I’ve discovered that magazines work well with me for travel.
  • I haven’t picked out the exact one yet, but I’ll also be downloading an audio book into my phone, so I’ll have something to listen to when I want to rest my eyes. Maybe a shorter children’s book, or something amusing that I’ve heard before, like Bossypants or a David Sedaris book.

On top of reading materials, I’ll also have my knitting, and the notebook I’m using for my current work-in-progress. Plus my husband’s bringing along the DS, so there’s always video games.

What books did you pack on your last vacation?

 

October 18, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Weekly Finds 10/18/14: Reading & Drawing

Austin Kleon, author of my two new favorite books on creating, wrote a list/manifesto about reading on his blog. I love the whole list, but some I really appreciate are: “I will not finish books I don’t like.”; “I will copy down favorite passages in my own hand, to know what writing the words feels like.”; “I will make liberal use of the phrase “It wasn’t for me.””  He also talks about using a pencil, and massacring a book, an act I’m still trying to come to terms with myself.

Lovely latte from a trip with friends.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll keep mentioning it until weeks after I’m home again, but we’re going to Disney World in a few days. There are plenty of things I’m excited about, but one thing I’ve never done, but keep hearing about as I read more Disney blogs and “must do” lists, is the Animation Academy, where an animator leads you through how to draw a Disney character. How did I now know about this? Why was I never told before? Anyway, I’m doing this, maybe more than once depending on how our final days in the parks go.

I figured out how to get library ebooks on my Nook Glowlight! So basically I’m going to use the heck out of this thing. I love it much more than I ever thought I would.

So, what’s got you excited this week?

October 16, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Writing Updates, 10/16/2014

I mentioned this earlier, but after getting good feedback on a first chapter/short story (I wasn’t sure what it was at the time) I started expanding it into a full novel. This has been a little outside of my usual genre, fitting more into the “New Adult” category (who knew I had anything but middle school kids in my head) though the supernatural/fantasy bit is still a part of it. I’ve been really excited about how it’s been coming out. I’ve been getting something written almost every day, and even had a few days where I wrote several pages. There are still a lot of holes, things I want to add but not sure how to weave it into the story, and basically just a lot of filling out needed. I have to keep reminding myself that first drafts are never that great, all I have to do is reach the end. Which I think I will. Let’s see what happens.

New Hampshire Fall Sky

I’ve also figured out a story I want to try working on for NaNoWriMo. For now I’m figuring out a plot skeleton (I don’t want to get overly detailed, that only ever kills it for me) and maybe some alternate POVs, since I don’t know that the plot is full enough to last through 50k words. But I’m excited, since I haven’t taken part in NaNo in a couple of years.

For reviews, I’m finishing off a longer review/article on the anime Beck for a series on The Fandom Post. Meanwhile my review for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan volume 21 was recently posted on the website.

So that’s me. Other writers, what are you scribbling away at?

October 14, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit

This post is part of the Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and Bookish. This week they ask, what places have books made you want to visit? I couldn’t think of ten but here are a few.

Hogwarts. Honestly, I mean, why wouldn’t I want to visit? I want to go to school there, I want to attend their adult education program. It’s too bad Universal Studios is the closest I’ll ever get…

Japan. This should be a little obvious, too. I don’t want to go because I think it’s going to be like going into a manga, or anything ignorant like that. But reading so many stories set in the place has definitely inspired an affection and curiosity about the culture and the food that has only accumulated over the years.

The Dragon Caves, Outside the Enchanted Forest. If I remember the books correctly, the Enchanted Forest itself is crazy. But if working for a dragon is as cool as Princess Cimorene made it sound, you can sign me up for that.

The Faerie Market, Village of Wall. Again, going into the actual faerie realm sounds a bit too dangerous, but going to the Faerie Market for a couple of days? Awesome.

England. For one more “real” place. I want there several years ago, but it was part of the EF Tours in high school, and while that was a lot of fun it’s not one for taking in the scenery (good for getting me hooked on coffee though, boy).

There’s me. What places have books made you want to visit?

 

October 11, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Weekly Finds: 10/11/2014

This week I didn’t find something that particularly inspired me about my writing, but plenty that in some way got me thinking about what I’m working on now, and what I want to work on in the future.

On Kathy Temean’s blog, Erika Wassall wrote a post on the Right to Write What You Write. Basically, that you should write the stories that are truly in your heart, not construct, or reshape, stories in the hopes that THOSE will get you published faster than the manuscript you poured your soul into. This made me think of not only my current struggle with querying, but also a manuscript I started working on. Middle grade fantasy seems to be my snug little hole, and I’ve been researching agents that take that on–but the story I’ve been scribbling out lately fits more into the “New Adult” category, which not all the agents I’m looking into would represent. I could age my main character way down, for starts, but that wouldn’t be true to her attitude and life issues, or even to the themes of the story that keep coming clear as I muddle my way through the plot. So, I’ll keep dealing with this story as it is, and deal with it as an issue if it ever actually comes up.

from Wikimedia Commons

I also saw a raven, though I didn’t take a picture (left my phone inside, silly me). Though I (temporarily?) ditched a certain book idea, I did a lot of research for it on crows and ravens, and I think it was because of that I was able to recognize the bird for what it was: bigger than the crows I normally see, it’s partner flying off in a glide, not a series of flaps, and the weird sound it kept crying out, definitely not a “caw”, more like the “quork” I always read books describe (though in my opinion it was a much more musical than harsh sound). I had to move because my dog didn’t understand why I was standing in the middle of the parking lot, staring, but I watched it call out and ruffle its feathers for a couple of minutes. It was great.

Finally, I may have found a NaNoWriMo project for this year! I haven’t attempted the challenge in a couple of years, partly because getting submissions ready for my MFA was my own personal race against the clock, partly because I was always in the midst of another time consuming project. I probably won’t be done writing the rough of my current project by then, but I’m hoping I can figure out how to fit it all in together. For extra challenge, one of my best friends is getting married RIGHT when NaNo starts, so let’s see how devestatingly behind I am when this thing begins.

 

What’s sparking your imagination this week?

 

October 9, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

My Nerdy Origin Story

This idea came from author Gail Carriger’s blog, where she listed the fandoms that turned her into the nerdy/geeky/dorky person she is today. This encouraged me to think back and remember my own nerdy origins. This may not be everything, but these are the things that distinctly stick out for me.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers. My brother and I were oft punished for our epic battles, but one thing guaranteed we’d sit in the same room at peace: children’s action shows. We owned crates of action figures and play sets, would race into the living room to make sure the TV turned on at the proper time, and yelled at the screen in tandem when unimportant garbage like severe weather warnings interrupted the important plot. These shows, along with a lot of others, got me hooked on plot-based character-driven stories with multi-episode continuity where I was heavily, emotionally invested in the outcome. (Power Rangers is also the first example of a show I quit because they axed a favorite character. No Kimberly, no Angela.) Read more…

October 7, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Why I Love Disney World; Or, Being Forever 12

Two weeks from today, I’ll be on an airplane, starting a vacation with my husband and his family to Disney World. We went there two years ago for our honeymoon, and before that took a trip with our friends in college.

I’m lucky in that most of the people I talk to get excited about the idea of going to Disney World, too, but there are a handful of people who have a look that slips over their face, even if only for a moment, even if they don’t voice the opinion I’m sure ringing in their heads: You’re an adult–why are you going there?

And I get it. Disney World is a manufactured place; there are cartoon characters slapped everywhere, including on the food; we don’t have kids, and there are some rides and experiences that are kind of useless without munchkins; it’s expensive, and there are so many other places we could possibly go. As far as I’m concerned, none of that matters.

First of all, Disney is not simply a kid’s place. Epcot’s World Showcase is the best example of that, with stores, shows, music, and food from different cultures. And this year we’re going for the Food and Wine Festival (“wine” being emphasized for I hope obvious reasons).

I also love the food. Again, there’s the Food and Wine Festival, at which I plan on eating conch salad, mussels, and some amazing dessert called a berliner, but there are fun, really delicious treats in the candy shops, really excellent and delicious restaurants in all of the parks (and some of the hotels), worldwide snacks in the Showcase stores, and just your basic–but really well done–fair food, like Mickey pretzels, turkey legs, and funnel cake.

There are the animals. Obviously Animal Kingdom is the place to find the best ones, with tigers and the like in really excellent enclosures, not horrible tiny depressing cages. One of my favorite rides in all the parks is the Safari, because you can get really close to things like giraffes or baby rhinos (!!!) and it brings up a lot of admiration for Disney’s crew, figuring out how to keep the predators separate without making it at all obvious. But there are also the birds wandering around every park, egrets and ibises in the waterways, ducks standing by the fence waiting for me to drop my snack. I love them all.

Disney World makes you feel special. I know the cast members are supposed to smile, but it still feels nice to have someone happily greet you whenever you enter a park or a shop or a hotel. They do special things, like the housekeeping staff that put the Mickey and Minnie dolls my friends and I had bought in a romantic pose in the window, or the guy who gave my husband and me free ice cream on our honeymoon. And a lot of them seem genuinely excited about their jobs when you talk to them, not just ask them for something.

But mainly, I like to go to Disney World because I see no problem with wanting to have the same kind of fun you expect a little kid to seek out. I want to go on rides, I want to eat a candy apple shaped like the Cheshire Cat, I want to wear a pair of ears and run around in a Frozen T-shirt. I want to have unabashed delight in “immature”, goofy things, and Disney World is good for that kind of trip.

Also we’re going to Universal Studios so, you know, Harry Potter.

 

Do you like Walt Disney World? What kind of vacation do you like to take where you are free to be a crazy fan?

I plan to post pictures of food, fireworks, and squirrels eating my churros, so follow my Twitter to catch my favorite shots.

 

Bonus! Another Youtuber I like, T. Michael Martin, has his own video about loving Disney World, and he touches on a lot of my own reasons for loving it that I couldn’t figure out how to articulate here. So if you need more proof (or you like to gush about Disney World) check that out.

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