Wednesday, September 19, 2012

RTW: Fairy Tale Re-tellings


Today is Road Trip Wednesday! What is that? It is a blog carnival where the contributors of YA Highway post a weekly topic and participants write their responses. You can jump from blog to blog to see each blogger's take on the question. 

Topic of the week:
In honor of this month's Bookmobile book, Marissa Meyer's CINDER, name a fable or story you'd like to see a retelling of. If you're feeling creative, come up with a premise of your own!

Four years ago I read a lot of books based on fairy tale re-tellings (the best of them Ella Enchanted). There were quite a few based on Cinderella fairy, but I decided I wanted something different. I didn't want to go with the basics, or the ones Disney retold. I already wrote a book in that setting, and it was time for something new and exciting.

Right now I'm revising my Japanese inspired fantasy tale after reading The Bamboo Cutter's Daughter. A childless couple finds a child in the bamboo, and raise her before she must return to the Moon. Many variations of the story exist, including those with many suitors pursuing the Moon Princess, including the Emperor.

In my version, a childless couple is given a child from the moon. On the moongirl's seventeenth birthday, they discover she must return to her home in a year's time. Her adopted sister, Kin, lost her uncle weeks before and can't come to terms with losing her older sister. With the help of her uncle's scrolls, Kin decides to climb Mount Eien to convince the moon for her sister to have a choice about her future. 

It is a book of my heart, and I journeyed to Japan to experience the culture in person. Some of the experiences Kin went through happened on that journey. I'm hoping that I'm able to convey the details in my novel. 

Now, I need to jump back into revision, and hopefully one day it will sit on bookshelves!

Natasha

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

RTW: My Writing Word Processor

Today is Road Trip Wednesday! What is that? It is a blog carnival where the contributors of YA Highway post a weekly topic and participants write their responses. You can jump from blog to blog to see each blogger's take on the question. 

Topic of the week:
What word processing program do you use to write you manuscript, and can you share one handy trick you've learned in that program that has helped you while you write?

For years I used Microsoft Word for my writing. The frustrating part about it was I e-mailed what I wrote while working back and forth. I would copy and paste it into my main manuscript in Word to find myself working on formatting it correctly. Not exactly what I wanted to do when I could write.

I moved over to Google Docs (name is switching to Google Drive) since I'm able to access my work on the Cloud and offline if I'm using my computer with no Internet. I loved it since it was easier for me to share documents and I could access it from anywhere. Now that I live thousands of miles from my critique group, we use it to share our edits with each other. I actually have learned to love using word processors for revision (though paper is the way to go to catch the edits). It is also useful as a back-up source for all my documents on my computer so I never have to worry about losing my writing.

I've moved on yet again to Scrivener. For  years I've heard of this writing tool from many authors on Twitter. However, it was only available for Mac users.  I'm a PC girl and not even something sworn up and down by my favorite authors could change this particular preference. Now they have a PC version and I decided to trial Scrivener and a few other writer programs. It was a completely different mindset in organization that I almost gave up on.  Then, one day, it clicked after I spent some time with the manual and playing with the settings.

I understand why writers love Scrivener since it is awesome. Before I would have all my notes and documents in a folder in Google Drive. In Scrivener, I keep them all on the side of the screen so I can access them at any time without hitting back and waiting for it to load. 

How is that better? 

Instead of jumping back and forth I can use a horizontal split, or two panes, to keep me on task. In one pane I have the chapter that I'm working on, and in the second I have the notes I want to see while writing. It is excellent for revision! Everything used to be in one document for me, and now I split items into parts so I can focus on the task at hand.

Another great thing about it is the Compile feature. My husband and I use it so he can read what I've written in epub format or whatever else I need. It is a feature that I enjoy quite a bit.

If you're a writer, go out and download the free trial. If you love it, it isn't too expensive to buy. Also, if you participate in NaNoWriMo, they sometimes give discounts to participants and winners. 

What are some of your favorite writing tools?

Natasha

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Heroine's Geeky Faves: Board and Card Game Edition

When we moved to San Diego, I knew we would have to wait to attend science fiction and fantasy conventions to meet people. The season had passed, and Comic-Con is filled with people from all over. I decided to go to Meetup.com to see what groups were out there. I went through the lists that related to the things that I loved the most like games, writing, books, and movies.

We found a very active boardgame group that has meetups all over the city, and one in our neighborhood! We went and met some nice people (one of who we hang out with outside the group) and discovered new games and gained a new love for some we've played over and over before. I thought I would share my new loves with you.

Games that I Love

Munchkin
If you know me, or follow me on Twitter, you have probably read a tweet or two about Munchkin. There are many versions of it from the original fantasy themed to space, ninjas, zombies, westerns and even Cthulhu. It is a bit of a strategy game where you try to reach Level 10 before everyone else by playing your cards right. That includes going against your other players when they face their foes. However, anything can happen. I've won games with no cards in my hands, and Joey won a game last night where he built himself back up from Level 4 after losing five levels. I can't say enough about it, and if you want to learn how to play, check out this fun Tabletop Episode from Geek and Sundry's YouTube Channel.


DiscWorld: Ankh-Morpork
This game is based off the fabulous Terry Prachett DiscWorld book series. You don't need to know the characters to love this game. It is only for 2-4 players and your objective can be different each time that you play, and you have to guess what the other players objectives to make sure they don't accomplish it before you reach yours. I definitely recommend this game!!! We've played with several different groups and they were very taken by it.


Apples to Apples
I kept hearing people talk about this game so you probably have know about it too. It is a simple party game that is a ton of fun. One person picks a card with a word on it, and the other players try to match, find something funny, or serious that matches that card. Or, you can go the complete opposite directions (I find Bigfoot is usually a guaranteed win card). You never know sometimes what the person will pick. It all depends on their (or your) mood. Great for parties!


Fluxx
A card game that two people can play, or more if you like. The game can last up to a half hour, or even a minute. You never know what is going to happen since the objective to win can change every turn if desired. Right now we own the Monty Python edition and trying to decide which one to pick up next.


What is your favorite game or game-related story?

Natasha

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

RTW: Required Reading


Today is Road Trip Wednesday! What is that? It is a blog carnival where the contributors of YA Highway post a weekly topic and participants write their responses. You can jump from blog to blog to see each blogger's take on the question. 

Topic of the week:
Back to school time! What's your favorite book that you had to read for a class?

In the fourth grade, we were partnered up to create a Link Way project of a book of our choosing. My partner and I picked Happy Birthday, Samantha! I loved the American Girl series at that age (in the early 90s), and in college, I bought the book before they changed the look of them all. It is the only American Girl book that I own since I borrowed the rest from the library.

This is the first book that I really remember reading for a class rather than it being read to us. I'm an English major so I've had to read a lot of books outside of my K-12 education. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite (I have a special edition copy that my husband bought for me) and I see my other classmates post that book as their favorite book to this day. However, it is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas that sticks out to me. I thought it would bore me to death when our teacher assigned it to us in our Fiction class. After a few pages, I couldn't stop reading it! It pulled me in unlike other books. It was in a foreign place, set in a prison, with high stakes. It surprised me how the book flowed and kept me engaged. I love to recommend it to people, especially those looking for a good book for their e-reader.

That was almost half my life ago, but The Count of Monte Cristo sticks with me as the book that surprised me. 

What book has stuck with you from your required reading?

Natasha

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Heroine's August 2012 Reads

I've been working hard on revisions and writing more than ever. I'm taking advantage of the time that I have now that I'm at home with the dream to write fueling me. Hope you enjoy the books that have helped me in the moments I needed away from my own words!

August Releases
There were some great releases this August. I read three different type of books that I definitely recommend if you're in the mood for witches, fantasy, and... a boy that changes bodies every day?

The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton
 I grew up in North Dakota so I love the imagery that Tessa Gratton uses of her character living in Kansas. It is a fresh and lovely landscape that adds to the magic throughout the book. It isn't just a love story mixed with magic, but also has a deep meaning of family, traditional and not. Be sure to check out Blood Magic, too. It isn't necessary to read it before this, but you won't want to miss it.

Every Day by David Levithan
Yes, a boy that finds himself in a different body every day. This premise alone is worth reading about to find out what it means to maybe find a life of your own when you're living in someone else's. This is the first book I've read by Levithan and I need to read more.

Rift by Andrea Cremer
I finished reading Andrea Cremer's Nightshade series, which includes the last book Bloodrose. The ending of the series was a huge shock to the system to me, and I knew I had to read Rift to learn more about the world Cremer created. It is a fun fantasy that has me whimpering that the second book isn't out yet!

Something Different
Night's Master by Tanith Lee
A friend recommended that I read some of Tanith Lee since she love the books years ago. I read the first one, and wow! What a writing style! It is the kind of writing I wish I would have checked out years ago.

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
If you want to something different, maybe in the lines of a steampunk Japanese fantasy, put this on your list for October when it comes out.

Japanese Inspired Fantasy
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
I've had this book on my to-read list for ages and finally picked it up at the library. I don't have enough words to describe this Japanese fantasy. There is a perfect balance between fairy tale, lush culture, and an ever-changing heroine. I'm looking forward to checking out her other books in the future.

Currently Reading
The Diviners by Libba Bray

Book I'm Excited For in September
Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

What book are you looking forward to reading this month?

Natasha

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