A Qwik Story? Sign Me Up!

I enjoy promoting random internet sites. Seriously. No, really! Trust me! I do!

Okay, I don’t, not really. I keep my browsing histories to myself. I don’t have to share everything about myself. But sometimes I stumble across amazing sites that I want to share, that I know that people should find and put to use. Especially the ones that get your creative juices flowing. I think that’s why I enjoy blogging so much. It’s not only a way to connect with people, but it’s a way to get out of my “Oh, I can only write fiction.” box I’ve made for myself. (Yes, I do think blogging is a good way to connect with people. We bloggers have connected with hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of people across the planet, have we not?)

My newest find is the website qwikstory.com. It’s free, that’s a big part. But it’s also one of the coolest sites I’ve tumbled across (that was a hint as to how I managed to find it). See, what you do is, after you’ve signed up, you can write a new story or you can continue one. “But what’s the difference from any other site that can do that?” You have one thousand characters to write what you want to write and then the story moves onto the next person. I highly encourage the use of this site, just because I have the feeling it’s going to be incredibly fun!

This is my profile (because I’m special and know y’all join it and want to look me up). And this is the first story I continued and this is the first story I started. 

Humor me and at least look into joining, pretty please? What do I gotta do, offer cupcakes?

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Why the hell did I pick up this book? For months, I’ve been seeing its cover on Goodreads, and just been like “No.” So why did I pick it up?

I cannot answer that, because I do not know. But what I do know is that Divergent is an incredible read. And anyone who complains about it being too similar to the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is stupid. Just because they’re both set in the Land of the Free and feature 16-year-old bad ass girls, does not mean they’re that similar. And let’s be honest here, people, once you’ve written so many stories, there’s always going to be another story that sounds just like it. You know why that is? There’s a few basic story types that all run along the same lines: adventure, romance, comedy, and horror. And typically, a book will contain more than one of those story types. Okay? Stop being assholes about it and enjoy the read.

In the world of Divergent, there are five factions and each is named after a specific virtue: Candor (honesty), Amity (peaceful), Erudite (knowledge), Abnegation (selflessness), and Dauntless (bravery). Our main character, Beatrice, is from the Abnegation faction. It’s immediately evident that she has a few issues with being selfless, as she says so herself. But don’t we all?

It’s the day of the aptitude test, which helps determine which faction the youngsters (all 16 year olds) should go into. Once she’s gone through hers, she’s informed by a Dauntless, who we meet again later on, that she’s a Divergent and that she can’t tell anyone, that she’s in danger because of it. No one quite understands what Divergent means, but at one point, the reader does learn that Divergent people are incredibly good at getting out of simulations.

I do feel that Beatrice (later Tris in the novel) does come off a little cold and unfeeling, but I got to thinking about it, and how do you build a character without him or her either being seen as psycho?  I think it’s easier to write from the 3rd person for this reason: you able to show the qualities better than trying to portray them from the view of an “unreliable narrator”. Am I right? Or maybe that’s just the lack of sleep talking. But I could forgive Roth for that, because I felt the emotions she wanted me to feel. I felt the panic, the fear, the joy, the anger. And all the time Tris was running around, being awesome and Dauntless (oops, did I let that slip?), I was trying to figure out what faction would I be in? Definitely not Abnegation or Dauntless. Gods help me if I ever attempt to jump onto a moving train or onto a seven story roof.

I enjoyed it and at one point, I stopped and said “Is this really a debut novel? How can this be a debut? Roth is too frickin’ good to have released just one book!” (She’s released two, but that was earlier this year.) I’m waiting for the library to tell me “Hey, come get book two!” And I literally read this in about 12 hours, if you factor out the fact that I had to sleep at some point. I highly recommend this book and I hope Insurgent lives up to the pace that Divergent has set. Now go read!

Old People, Technology, and Two In the Morning

My mother is 50. She turned 50 this year. Don’t let her know you know, she’s telling everyone she’s 29. Because, really, it’s daunting to think that at some point, we reach half a century. And my mother’s ‘witnessed’ more than her share of a few things, though all the things I’ve asked her about usually result in “I was about seven, don’t expect me to remember this event in my life.” That reference being about the rocket launch to the moon in 1969.

And while my mother is a hard worker, a quick learner, and incredibly clever (do NOT go against her in a game of snarky comments, you will most likely lose), there’s one thing she struggles with: modern technology. She quit her CS 120 class because she couldn’t catch up and the teacher expected everyone to know exactly what unit and chapter she was talking about, which is hard to do, when you have no idea what the f**k is going on. There are so many times when I’ve attempted to show her how to do something and usually less than twelve hours later, it’s “Karyn, how do you do this again?” “Mom, I just showed you how to do it.” “Teach me again, I’m old.” “Not old enough to have Alzheimer’s.” “Just do it.”

Woman, I swear to whatever god there is, there is no reason for you to forget how to highlight something. Take the mouse, click, and drag it over the text.

But maybe that’s just my issue: I expect her to pick it up because I’m teaching it. I don’t expect her to learn it when some idiot she’s paying to teach her how to do something on the computer but I fully expect her to understand what I’m doing and for it to stick. In any case, because I’m lazy and there is no way in hell that I’ll ever write another bibliography by myself, I showed her how to use easybib.com. Yeah, teachers want you to learn how do it by yourself, no help from the internet, but why the hell would you NOT use it?  Kids, take a lesson and click that link.

So I taught my mom how to use easybib.com at 2am. Yes, two in the morning. We’ll see if it sticks. It most likely won’t, but you know what? That’s okay. I’ll keep teaching it over and over again and try not to lose patience. Though I do now understand how parents feel when their child is doing a project the night before it’s due (which is evidently not the same case as this, but I’m pretty sure it is). Next, I’ll show her how to use PowerPoint. Exciting life I live.

A New Subject in the World of Young Adult Literature — Again

I’m so weird, I log onto Goodreads, find the upcoming books of the next year, and write down all of the ones that seriously interest me. These could be anywhere from epic fantasy novels (okay, some aren’t epic, just incredible), while others are those fluffy, girly books that are all “I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU BUT WE CAN’T BE TOGETHER AND THERE’S NO MAGIC OR SWORDS IN THIS BOOK.” I’m a sucker, okay.

When I first did this, in early 2011, I noticed something: there’s a large trend of mermaid inspired books. Alright, mermaids have been around for quite a while, and they’re so much better than the vampire train. I can go with mermaids. In fact, I read two of the books that are on my list: Lost Voices by Sarah Porter and Siren by Tricia Rayburn. I have the rest of the Siren series in a tote (I need more bookshelves!) and the second Lost Voices somewhere, too. I highly enjoyed them both, and can’t wait to continue the series.

But, that’s besides the point. I’ve noticed a new trend, since I’m doing the list again. I’m not particularly sure where the hell it came from, but it came from somewhere. I mean, it’s in our everyday media, sure, but to write entire novels about it? Especially YA? I’m pretty confused by what’s happening. This new subject is…

Reapers.

As in, grim reapers. As in, Death comes knocking at your door to take your soul. I don’t even understand. I mean, I guess it’s mostly about becoming one and dealing with it, but, it just doesn’t make sense to me. I suppose I’ll have to find one and read it. Hopefully there’s no romance, because I’m a bit spent on the romance train. I have passed up so many books, simply because “She has to choose between…”. It’s like, no. We don’t need any more of this crap. Or at least make it interesting. Or make her crazy. Or something. Come on, no more of this. I’m good with falling in love with one person. (Or can we get one where they combine the two love interests genetically and see what happens?)

So, yeah, reapers. We’ll see how this goes.

It’s Great To Be A Girl

You know, I never used to appreciate being a girl. I preferred hanging out with the boys when I was a kid; my mom likes to tell this one story of how a teacher’s aid couldn’t find one boy and I during recess, so she headed to this field behind the school and found us with our arms in gopher holes. The best part is that I had on my new jumper my grandmother had just made for me. Elementary school was probably the best time in that regard; for most of us, we weren’t distracted by “how cute is he” and ” I’ve got a crush on him!” and that we didn’t really think about the differences between us, such as puberty (I knew two girls who began certain cycles in the 5th grade; we actually formed a ‘club’ to ask them about these things. Yeah, a bunch of us went to 10 or 11-year-old girls instead of our mothers to learn about the most evil thing ever… Er, I mean, our cycles).

Middle school rolled around, I was that dumpy awkward kid that sat in the corner and tried to stay out of everybody’s way so people didn’t make fun of me. Hell, I still do that. I hated my hair, I felt a bit better about my clothing (I’d discovered this really cool store called Fashion Bug and it was for fat people! Just my kind of place!) and the only time I applied make up was on willing subjects; usually my cousin. I’d started applying cosmetics to her face when I was about… 11 or 12. I once tried it on my friend, made her look pretty, and because SHE didn’t know how to apply make up, she made me look like a dog. I kid you not, I even had the one brown spot over an eye. I was so mad at her for that.

And then… the most magical thing happened. No, I didn’t become super pretty and popular like in books. No, I didn’t nab that one gorgeous 8th grader, and no, I was still never invited to parties. But that was okay. That was dandy, because while I had to deal with the kids in middle school, I found another way to be beautiful. The only issue was that it took hours. And it still does. My aunt had whipped out a hair straightener one day when I was up at my paternal grandparents’. My mother, my aunt, and I sat there for three hours straightening hair that could very well rival any Southern Belle’s voluminous up-dos with just a hair dryer. While I couldn’t sit there and have my hair take three hours a day, I knew that I had this option. An option I have taken every time at the hair salon.

High school, freshman and sophomore year, I was still that awkward kid. Still shopped at Fashion Bug, which still has cute clothes. I suffered through those two years because I had to. The only thing that made it bearable were my friends. Especially my best friends. Those two were also the ones that introduced me to an actual bra. For years, I’d been wearing sports bras, simply because it was easier. We were dress shopping for the last dance of Sophomore year, because I’d be moving in June. And because it looked like I had a –I believe they called it a “monoboob” — I finally got a ‘real’ bra. Not that I truly put it into use until junior year.

I hadn’t truly belonged with a group of friends until Freshman/Sophomore year. When my parents packed up everything and had us move (three years after the fact that my dad was already living in Bend), I was on the outskirts of high school society once again. You know how books and movies always have that plot around the new kid and that it tells how you can become a new person? That a new school is a fresh start and that tons of things could happen?

Yeah, I foolishly believed that. “Oh, I’m moving, I’ll have a boyfriend by Christmas. Oh, I’m moving, I’ll be popular before Thanksgiving!” No. Girls, that’s a lie. That doesn’t happen. You sit there awkwardly in the classroom, wondering if anyone’s going to talk to you or if you ought to walk up and say “HI, I’M NEW. I MOVED FROM…” And either make a doof of yourself or you’ll be one of the lucky few that makes friends easily. If you want anything like the movies and books, be a foreign exchange student. Seriously.

But I did make a fresh start: with my cleavage. I decided I needed to wear that bra, I needed to Stop. Having. A. Monoboob. So I did. Trust me, as uncomfortable as the damn things are, an actual bra is completely and utterly wonderful to have over a sports bra. Like everyone out there, when I finally got home and I could finally take off that dreadful torture device, the Hallelujah chorus would play. I also had a fresh start with my wardrobe: I had never liked Old Navy before, simply because it looked like it was only for skinny people. But, and I don’t remember why, my mom took me clothes shopping at the local Old Navy. Hello, new best friend. Oh my god, I love that store. I stride in and just glare at people: “What are you looking at? You think their clothing doesn’t look good on a plus sized woman? Bitch, please. Go back to the kids’ department and let me worry about dressing the appropriate shape.”

And it hasn’t been till this year (2012) that I have come to two conclusions: I can wear make up, I just need formal training and my curly hair is quite ravishing sometimes. I could be in a Pantene commercial. Just you wait and see. “Big is the new beautiful.” I’m sending in my tape soon. Let’s see who wins, huh?

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that I’ve finally decided that being a girl isn’t so bad. My mother made the comment yesterday to my cousin: With a girl, you can do so much more, because you have pants, dresses, skirts, and shorts, while boys only have pants and shorts. (My cousin has a three-year old girl, and she’s such a cutie! We’re both in agreement that girls make great dress up dolls. I feel bad for Artemis Victoria when she arrives. That’ll be after she’s conceived, don’t worry.) I’m still getting over the blood thing, but who gets used to that?

Nikolai Elliot James – A Work in Progress

Because I refuse to post 27 1/2 pages from the first story I let you have a peak at, I’m posting something else. No one wants to read a huge ass blog post that contains 27 1/2 pages that need to be reviewed, redone, and probably deleted all together. This is my post Apocalyptic attempt that’s actually not that bad. I think I prefer writing from a broody male perspective than a broody female perspective. Maybe, we’ll see. The hardest part is wondering if I’m going to do the homosexual population any justice from Nikolai’s PoV. I probably won’t. So here it is, the thing I’m posting because I am exhausted and can’t think of anything else! Yaaaaaaaaaay!

The world is always changing: wars, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, famine, human errors. But in our little corner of the universe, nothing has ever been on the scale of the Apocalypse. It had been any other Christmas day; well, almost. We had been at war for almost a year and this war is what led up to the event that changed our everyday lives. We called it the Oil War. The Oil War had been raging for years, but this year was full-out war, in the public eye. No one quite knows what brought it out into the open, but in January, fighting broke out. Simple skirmishes between the United States and Saudi Arabia, then other countries chose sides and the fighting grew. For years, it was found out, that Saudi Arabia had been hoarding oil and driving up prices to make a profit. By late March, bombs were going off. Thousands, perhaps millions, died, because who expected anyone to need an underground bomb shelter? In July, we were invading each other, killing soldiers and civilians, without discretion. If you weren’t on their side, you were dead. And if you thought society morals still held with the soldiers, you thought wrong. They began to pillage and rape, destroying the very idea that humans in the twenty-first century are supposed to be civil. But it all came to a dramatic conclusion late on December twenty-forth, when the fight for supremacy ended and the fight for survival began. Every household was underground, gifts set aside under the tree. Those who weren’t had died in the blasts. Radiation and smoke choked the air, a faint green tint to everything. Most of us wore government issued gas masks, to filter the tainted air. We could feel the sediment around us move as each nuclear bomb went off. It didn’t matter where it was, the quakes were so strong. We huddled together, humans and animals trying to stay safe in an environment no longer welcoming us.

And then we learned what the shaking truly was. We thought our nuclear war was hell, but we had no idea. They burst through the walls, manipulating the tiny fissures in the stone and concrete, widening them. Beastly, ghastly things that dripped malicious intent and that ripped us apart. We never stood a chance, not with our forces spread so thin, not with the beatings we had just delivered to each other. And they poured onto the Earth’s crust in droves, destroying what was left. Claws, fangs, spines, horns, oozing pores; the things all looked grotesque in one way or another and the worst part was that most of them were incredibly smart. Especially the ones that looked the most human; they quickly established their dominance over the others. Any that were too stupid to rely on anything but brute strength were quickly killed by the others. Humans hid as best they could, but it was no use. Mankind was quickly conquered; so fast, it all seems hazy. We’ve been herded into cities built by the demons and there we’ll stay. Some humans, if they show enough cunning and evil, become puppets; commanders, they’re called. They just lead gangs of human soldiers for their demon overlords. It’s city versus city and even that’s simplified into district versus district.

My mother and I were the only ones of my family to survive, that we know of. The demon that burst through looked like a dapper older gentleman; the one thing setting him apart were the cliché hoof-like feet and horns. And his eyes; physically, nothing differed from a human’s eye, but the malignant evilness chilled us to the bones. It’s been said that just looking at an image of a serial killer, you can sense the soullessness within. With this demon, I experienced that first hand. You’d think all demons would have the same amount of bad intent, but it’s not true. It differs from demon to demon, and some actually seem to have some type of heart. I’ve been in the company of many demons by now, and none give off the feeling that Mizu does: a cold, seething hatred that gives off the impression that he’ll destroy anyone and anything that bars his way in cold blood. Mizu is the true essence of what humans believe a demon is.

We live in the city of New Chicago. That’s what the humans call it, since we like naming things after other, older things. We’re not even within a thousand miles of the old Chicago. I think we’re near Albuquerque. We might even live on top of the ruins, but it’s hard to say, considering New Chicago was literally built over a huge bomb crater. That was the demons’ idea; the ones in charge of this fair city thought that if they built it over the large crater, defending it could be ten times easier. More like they’re keeping us in. We can leave, but it’s not worth it. First, we have to cross the crater, which is filled with some kind of green, bubbling acidic liquid. After that, well, I assume they send hunters out looking for you and if you manage to evade those, you’re going to end up dying to the elements or rogue demonic nomads. So yeah, everyone is pretty much living the dream now. Humans are food, mobsters, or carnal pleasure. Life couldn’t get more fantastic…

More to come, because I’m actually proud of this one.