Hello 2015!

I’m considering today my first day of the year.  It’s the first day my hubby goes back to work, and therefore the first day of a regular-ish schedule.  I got up at 7:30.  Thirty minutes later than planned, but hey, I got up!  I figured out how to work the treadmill my parents got.  Took longer than i thought, so my planned 30 minutes for exercise this morning turned into an hour, and my new little iPad lost my internet, so things went different, but hey, I exercised!  And I will exercise more at lunch and in the afternoon!  Yay!

So I guess it’s the time of year for resolutions and goals.  I pretty much failed at all my goals for 2014.  The only one I got close to was exercising daily.  I managed that for three months, about, then fell off the wagon with NaNoWriMo in November.  Oh well.  I did make progress on my stories.  That’s important.  And now I don’t have to work at a job job, so I can use all my days every day for being productive on projects and stuff!

So my big goal/resolution for 2015 is to make every minute count.  To master my self-discipline and be productive every day.  I must write, draw, and do something productive every day, starting from today!  And exercise.  That’d be good too.

I’m also rewriting my webcomic and restarting it sometime this year.  Finishing the “2nd” draft of Ian’s 1st story, rewriting Chook’s story, and planning for the next stories after those.

What are your resolutions and goals this year?

2014 in Review

Let’s see, 2014.  It was a pretty good year.  My hubby graduated, I worked, hubby got a job at my work, then I took a break from working to write.  We had good times with friends.  Lots of ideas were thought of, over fifty-thousand words written, and some doodles were drawn.  I learned a little on how to throw knives, and I’ve learned a lot about H.E.M.A. (Historical European Martial Arts) and wielding a long sword.  I sewed a few things and learned how to do a byzantine chain mail weave.  I attended the two Salt Lake Comic Cons.  We went to visit the hubby’s family back in Kansas.  Much fun was had.

Next year, however, I want to do more.  More I say!  More productivity!  More books written and read!  More fun!  More art drawn!  More blog posts!  Comics done!  Exercise!  Get a belt in the long sword!  So much to do!  I should sit down and make a comprehensive list before 2015 happens.

I won’t give specifics on my goals just yet, but 2015 will be a very productive, fantastic, amazing year!

Things I Need to Remember to Teach My Children – General

Okay, so the other day it dawned on me that I should make a list of things I don’t want to forget to teach my children someday when I have them.  I had a handy list my mom passed out during a Relief Society lesson she taught that covered a bunch of the general stuff.  I figured I post it here so I don’t have to worry about losing the paper.

I’ll be adding posts with these tags to this blog periodically whenever something specific pops up I need to remember to teach my kids.  My husband is very good at pointing them out to me with the random things he does… like he didn’t know how to use a toaster, or how to set a bake time on an oven and super baked the lasagna.  Those are kind of important to know so you don’t set the house on fire.

 

Okay.  The general stuff.

Religious

  • Bible Stories
  • Book of Mormon Stories
  • Church History
  • Faith
  • Prayer
  • Baptism
  • Holy Ghost
  • Sacrament
  • Covenants
  • Temple
  • Reverence
  • Honor
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Morality
  • Modesty
  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Service
  • Testimony
  • Missionary Work
  • Word of Wisdom
  • Tithing
  • Sabbath Observance
  • Patriarchal Blessings
  • The Priesthood
  • Truth
  • Family/Genealogy
  • Repentance

Earthly

  • Manners
  • Cooking
  • Music
  • Physical Fitness
  • Respect
  • Self-discipline
  • Dealing with Disappointment
  • Dealing with Boredom
  • Dealing with Differences
  • Sacrifice
  • Language
  • Communication
  • Grooming
  • Healthy Eating
  • Art
  • Academics
  • Home Maintenance
  • Personal Finance
  • Laundry
  • Sewing
  • Shopping
  • Budgetting
  • Car Maintenance
  • Travel
  • Other Cultures
  • Government
  • Fun/Entertainment
  • Truth
  • Mental Health
  • Self Reliance

Writing Notes #1 – Darlings & Beginnings

Hi!  So, Writing Notes posts are going to be things I recently learned and don’t want to forget. This week I learned about killing your darlings from listening to Writing Excuses Season 1 Episode 3.  For some reason I hadn’t quite understood this concept up until I listened to this podcast.  Before I thought killing your darlings meant you had to be willing to kill off characters you love, maybe even the main ones.  I thought I was going to have a hard time being a good author if I couldn’t kill off certain characters.  However, I was wrong, and I’m glad to learn this. Killing your darlings actually means being willing to cut anything that hinders the story from being the best it can be.  You might have written a line that you love, or a scene, or a character, or something, and think it’s genius, but if it keeps the story from moving forward then it needs to go.  That doesn’t mean you can’t paste those things into a graveyard document to raise from the dead later in another story, but you should cut them from your manuscript.  Kind of like a bonsai tree, except better. Then, in the next episode they discussed beginnings.  They stressed the importance of first lines in hooking a reader, but you shouldn’t worry about writing your first line first.  They compared it to a used car salesman trying to sell a car.  You don’t know what will sell the car best until you drive it, so go drive it.  Then come up with the selling pitch. Also, beginnings are where you make promises to the reader about what the rest of the book will be about.  That means you shouldn’t trow something exciting in the beginning to catch readers that has nothing to do with the rest of the story.  They did reference James Bond movies and how they’re good to learn from in that they start at the end of a previous story in the middle of all sorts of action which promises action for the rest of the movie.  Then the movie goes on to set up the situation that Bond needs to solve and tells the story of the movie.  That doesn’t mean all your stories have to start like that, but your beginning does need to match the rest of your story.

Springtime Wander #3

May 30, 2014.

I went for another wander at work when the wildflowers were blooming bright.  So many flowers!

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I like how these flowers come in three colors. White, light purple, and purple.

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Box Elder Bugs at various stages of life. We had a ton of these all over. They get inside the building all the time, and you can even find them inside in the middle of winter.

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Old rusted farm equipment in the tall grass.

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An old barn set piece in the background.

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And now one with the mountains in the background. I’m under the shade of some trees.

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I think this one’s better. Mountains, clouds, and you can see all of the toothy arm. Much better composition, but not as many flowers.

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The farm equipment has some cool shapes.

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Lookie, a bee! They’re hard to get decent shots of. They move around too much.

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I love the contrast of fresh living flowers next to old rusted unused equipment.

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And a little Box Elder Bug. He’s kind of blurry, but it’s a very nice shadow of the flower around him.

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Depth of field! And lichen.

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More of the same. I like the wheels.

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A row of old workers sitting in flowers as they rest.

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This little batch of purple flowers had some fuchsia to it.

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The little fake well.

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An even darker purple.

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Another almost decent picture of a bee. There were a couple little bumbles with red stripes, but I could never catch them with the camera.

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Wild carpet rose.

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Another blossom on the wild carpet rose. This plant guards the way to my favorite deer trail on the property.

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On that hidden deer trail there are these plants with gigantic leaves. My foot is hiding in the bottom of the picture for size comparison.

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I think these flowers are related to the white and purple one, but they’re droopy and pink instead of perky and purple. Slightly different, but still pretty.

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Deer tracks by tire tracks on the gravel part of the parking lot.

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Close up of a deer track.

 

Description Part 2 – Voice

The way an author describes things also tells us much about the viewpoint character.  For example, in Inkheart the author introduces a mysterious character from the viewpoint of the twelve year old girl Meggie.

“How old is she now?”  Dustfinger smiled at her.  It was a strange smile.  Meggie couldn’t decide whether it was mocking, supercilious, or just awkward.  She didn’t smile back.

“Twelve,” said Mo.

“Twelve?  My word!”  Dustfinger pushed his dripping hair back from his forehead.  It reached almost to his shoulders.  Meggie wondered what color it was when it was dry.  The stubble around his narrow-lipped mouth was gingery, like the fur of the stray cat Meggie sometimes fed with a saucer of milk outside the door.  Ginger hair sprouted on his cheeks, too, sparse as a boy’s first beard but not long enough to hid three long, pale scars.  They made Dustfinger’s face look as if it had been smashed and stuck back together again (Funke 6).

Look at how telling that description of Dustfinger is about Meggie.  She’s not the one being described, but her description tells us tons.  Even though she’s twelve, she’s smart and well-read.  How do we know that?  She uses the word “supercilious.”  That is not average twelve year old vocabulary, or average adult vocabulary anymore.  You wouldn’t hear Huck Finn say that word, or Peter Pan, or Katniss Everdeen.  It’s a word unique to Meggie and her sophisticated, educated brain.  What else does this description tell us?  It tells us that Meggie is kind and likes to take care of things, like the stray cat she feeds.  It also tells us that she has an imaginative mind since she describes how the scars on Dustfinger’s face make it look “as if it had been smashed and stuck back together again.”

The key thing about description and voice is that you need to stick to descriptive terms your viewpoint character would use.  The narrative voice greatly affects how you should describe things.  Is the narrator the kind of person who keeps things short and precise, or are they the kind who rambles and goes off on tangents?  Are they logical or emotional?  Educated or uneducated?  Modern day or Medieval?  Everything abut the character will affect how they describe things, so it’s important to stay true to the character of the story’s voice.  We don’t want to throw our readers out of the story by having out-of-character descriptions, like Huck Finn switching from his broken Southern to sophisticated English words like “ennui” and “chiaroscuro,” or even more modern slang like “radical” and “dude.”  That would be bad.  Don’t do it.  STAY TRUE TO YOUR CHARACTER.

Stay tuned for posts about Voice, and Description Part 3 – The Senses

Book referenced:  Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Partial Solar Eclipse – Oct. 23, 2014

Oh!  Dudes!  I totally forgot about making a solar eclipse post!  Well, I took pictures, so I gotta post about it.

October 23rd was an ordinary day until one of my coworkers mentioned there would be a partial solar eclipse that afternoon.  I got all excited.  I’ve had the chance to witness a couple partial solar eclipses in my life, but never had the proper equipment to do it with.  Sure, when I was younger we did the box with a paper and pinhole, but in my opinion it didn’t work.  I didn’t know how we would manage to see this one, until that same coworker mentioned going to the prop shop and borrowing the dark glass out of the welder’s helmets.  It protects their eyes from white hot flame, so it should work for the sun, right?

We ran over to the shop and grabbed two pieces of the glass.  Other people had the same idea and had almost wiped the guy out of his stock of them, but there was enough left for us.  We checked the sun at that point to make sure we weren’t missing anything since the timing was ambiguous on the internet sites we checked earlier.  Nothing had happened yet, so we were good.

When the time arrived, about 3:30, we gathered the guys in the main VFX room and all went out to get a look at the solar eclipse.

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Here’s a bunch of us at work gathered around looking through the welder’s glass.  My hubby’s the one in front holding the glass.

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Selfie of me looking at the sun.

We could see the eclipse fantastically with those welder’s shields.  In fact, we could see it so well some of the guys started trying to take pictures of it with their phones through the glass and their cameras.  Most of them weren’t terribly successful, but they inspired me to run grab my camera and do the same.

 

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Here’s what it looked like with the auto settings. Doesn’t look like much.

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Here it is at the manual settings with speed 1/200. Much better!

Well, eclipses aren’t speedy things, so we wandered back inside for a while.  I came back out later when the eclipse was at its peak and took more pictures.

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This is what it looked like at about 4:24.

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I didn’t like the glow and realized I could up my speed even further on my camera, so I tried again. This is speed 1/1,250. And hey, what’s that dark thing we see? I zoomed in all the way for another picture.

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Hey look! Sunspots! How cool is that? I love my camera.

I have now decided that no eclipse should go unseen in my life, and I need some of that welder’s glass for myself.  My children and friends will get to see eclipses in style!

 

Description Part One – What is description?

Hey there!  I thought I’d talk to you about description today.  For this series of discussions, I am pulling from the books Description by Monica Wood and Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.  Both books I have read.  Granted, all the books I’ll reference on this blog I’ll have read.  It’s hard to reference things not in my brain’s data banks.  🙂

So, let’s start off with a question.  What is description?  Well, it’s the essence of storytelling.  Description is relaying information.  You can’t tell a story without relaying information.  Try and do it.  I challenge you.  Even if you use hand gestures, interpretive dance, or splatter painting, you relay information.  However, there is good description and bad description.  What is bad description?  Bad description is ambiguous and general.  For example, you could say, “In walked a cat.”  Okay.  Yes.  That describes something.  Now let’s try this:  “In walked a black cat.”  Better.  However, still not good enough since there are a bazillion black cats in the world.  How about, “A black cat with yellow eyes and a white toe walked into the room.”  Better again.  Now we know what the cat looks like, but that description still leaves much to be desired.  It’s a bit boring, don’t you think?  Good details aren’t just information.  Good details also help move the story and invoke the voice of the narrator, giving us even more information than just factoids.  A good, solid description would go something more along the lines of “In slunk a cat with fur blacker than shadow save for a single white toe.  His predatory amber eyes flicked around the room.”  Not only do we now know what the cat looks like, but the details tell a story.  Why is he slinking?  This cat has something to hide from, or something he’s hunting.  Either way, something’s going on.

Okay, but we want to be unique, right?  We don’t want to describe things in a cool, fresh way, right?  How do we avoid cliché or sounding like we mined a thesaurus?  Again, an example.  That last description I used the word “predatory” to describe the cat’s eyes.  Well, duh.  Cat’s are predators, right?  Of course his eyes are predatory.  Such a cliché.  I should be ashamed of myself.  😛  Well, let’s fix that.  How about this?  “His molten amber eyes flicked around the room.”  Ahhhhhh, MUCH better.  The specific word “molten” invokes images of heat, lava, and danger, giving us even more character to the cat.  I could have chosen many other words, like “venomous,” “lethal,” or “burning,” but I wanted a specific image.  To get a specific image I needed a specific, exact word.

So in essence, description in story is details.  And GOOD description comes from solid, concrete, exact details.

Stay tuned for Description Part Two – Voice, coming soon!

Winter Wander #2 – January 30, 2014

It was snowing that day, so I wanted to get pics of fresh powder.  So I wandered out of work with my camera.  🙂

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The random teeter-totter at work.

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Snow, berries, and branches. I like the colors in this one.

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Trying to be a bit more abstract. Could use some editing.

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My footprint! At this point the snow in the forest was borderline, trying to decide whether to be snow or slush. With each step I applied some friction to help it choose.

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It’s like a mini cave!

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I tried to get lots of reference and texture pictures of the tree back. The dampness brought out the colors in a pleasing fashion.

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It’s like a ghost of a leaf.

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One of the steps leading to a building on the set. I like the composition.

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It’s trapped!

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A sign for the inn in Kirtland on the set.

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Snow! It’s falling from the sky!

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It’s almost like being in a Little House on the Prairie story.

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Mandatory foot picture.

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Peeking through branches. I suppose this could use some cropping.

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A hidden gravestone prop.