Sunday, 3 December 2017

Australian Culture (Mostly the Food)

Sometimes I discover something about another country, or the way someone else lives, and it shocks me because I never even thought about the fact that someone could live differently in that regard.

For example, not everyone eats Vegemite. And while I may have been able to accept that, apparently there are countries in which shops don't even sell Vegemite?? My uncle lives in an Asian country, and my grandmother has to ship him big jars of it. The downside of international travel/living.

Recently, someone told me that in Europe, people don't eat pumpkin. I don't know how true this is, but I can't even imagine. No roast pumpkin? No pumpkin scones? Pumpkin fruit cake? Pumpkin is such a common vegetable in my life, the idea that some people don't even consider eating it made me think more about differences in culture.

And I think I'm rambling here, because I was thinking of another post and then decided to go with food and I'm writing posts at 11pm again and why do I do this to myself.

BASICALLY. AUSTRALIAN FOOD TODAY. Because I know a lot of the blogosphere is based in the U.S.A. And I thought I might introduce you to a new culture.

...I know. It isn't as though I don't speak English. (And only English, sadly.) How different could the culture be??

...and that is what I'm arguing against today. Just because Australia is an English-speaking country doesn't mean it can't have a culture different to other English-speaking countries.

And so. many. people. don't know what they're missing. Because we have some good stuff here, mate. Today: the food.


I'm going to start with the obvious. If you didn't read my Of Cookies and Books tag (WHAT why not??) then you won't have seen my confession: I've never eaten a cookie in my life

(For those of you who have read my Cookies/Books post, that probably seemed... a little melodramatic and repetitive??)

Anyway. I've never eaten a cookie, because we call them biscuits.

In the comments of that post, Kate Marie and I tried to figure out the various differences between the Americans' and the Aussies' terms for various foods. It was hard! And I still don't know! So here's a little run-down of some of the Aussie foods involved in the discussion; please tell me if you have them in America and what you call them!

Biscuits: Your "cookies" (I know this one! I'm so proud of myself. I'm basically multicultural now.)
Scones: Round biscuity things except taller and made of dough; can be made with pumpkin or dried fruit; sweet, typically eaten with jam (and cream, if you're feeling Pommy ;P).
Damper: (we did not discuss this one) Like a giant scone, except wrapped in alfoil and buried in coals to cook, instead of an oven.
Dumplings: These ones aren't sweet; we put them in stew and stuff. Sometimes.

(I'm still confused as to what your "biscuits" are. I thought they might have been our scones, or dumplings, but maybe not??)

........
Now we have all those excellent and dictionary-worthy definitions of the various doughy things out of the way, I'm going to go into detail about a few important biscuits.

Anzac biscuits. Made with syrup, coconut and rolled oats. Named after the Anzacs - Australian and New Zealand Army Corps - in WWI and II. Very culturally significant. Turning down an Anzac biscuit is equivalent to refusing to have a barbecue and the locals will turn you over to the drop bears.

(That last sentence is also in spirit of the Australian Culture. We may pull your leg occasionally. When we do so, we will likely drop into the most stereotypical, overdone accent you've ever heard and call you mate at least once in every sentence. Unfortunately I can't give you the accent over the internet.)

TimTams. Ohhh, TimTams. Two rectangles of light biscuit with chocolate cream inside and the whole lot covered with soft chocolate. The outer chocolate layer inevitably melts onto your fingers, but that means you can enjoy it longer! The only problem with bringing these to a party is that they're always the first thing to disappear.

Hundreds and Thousands. I haven't had one of these for so long, wow. So it's a biscuit, like - do you have Arnott's biscuits?? - just a plain rectangle biscuit. But with sugar icing on the top and sprinkles (hundreds and thousands) on embedded in the hardened icing. My memory of them is of general childhood nostalgia. Now I'm afraid to eat one. What if it's just my memory and they're not good?? help I'm having a crisis
........
Next, I must talk about lamingtons. Whenever I mention lamingtons in the blogosphere, I get polite responses asking what they are. The answer is: squares of sponge cake, rolled in chocolate icing and then desiccated coconut. They are fluffy and delicious and if you have a party and there are no lamingtons, it is not a real party. (I'm barely exaggerating here.)

(Since seeing people's responses, I've tried to make a habit of mentioning lamingtons on alll the blogs. People need to know. They're missing out.)

http://www.tastespotting.com/tag/lamingtons

Some lamingtons even have jam in the middle.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/lamington-roll/2ac4aa39-0bf5-4fa6-ba7a-c5581f1c89ab

And sometimes they're in a roll, which is gorgeous. (Even though it theoretically should be exactly the same...)

........
Moving away from the sweet food, let's head to barbecues. Americans have barbecues, right? Well, they're a stereotypical part of the Aussie culture... for a good reason. Family gathering? Barbecue. Christmas party? Barbecue. End-of-year break-up? Barbecue. Birthday party? Barbecue.

I'd like to insert here that you will never find shrimp at an Aussie barbecue. They are prawns, mate. (And if you're silly, someone might call you a king prawn. Or maybe it's just my grandmother who call people silly prawns.)

And you'll never find me eating prawns at a barbecue. Ew no. Sausage on bread with tomato sauce for me, thanks. I'm still a kid. I'm not ready for adult food. Like... steak. Or vegetables with my sausage on bread. Why would you do that.


A group gathering - e.g. an end-of-year party for a community group - is 95.3% of the time going to be a barbecue. There's a couple of fold-up tables in a line, with the barbecue behind, tended by the blokes. On the tables, you'll have: Serviettes. White bread. Trays of sausages. Tray of barbecued onion. Plate of sliced tomato. Plate of shredded lettuce. Plate of grated cheese. Tinned beetroot. Pineapple (either tinned or fresh). Bottle of tomato sauce. Bottle of barbecue sauce. (The sauce is very important.) Together, these constitute a balanced meal.
 ........
And since we just did barbecues, I'd better cover chips.

US:            chips     fries
England:   crisps     chips
Australia:  chips     chips

Basically, here's something I stole off Pinterest:

Now I think about it, there's no reason for that to be hard?? We just call everything chips. (Except Cheezles, which I call Cheezles. They're food you can wear on your fingers. All kids' parties need Cheezles.)
 ........
And I'll just quickly go over some fruit and stuff so you know I don't just eat junk food [which I honestly don't eat very often].

Mangoes and pineapples - we grow them locally. (Actually, we're coming into mango season, just in time for Christmas, which is great! The smell of mangoes makes me think of the beach at Christmas. :) Do you have kiwi-fruit? And you eat bananas, right? (it's just that there aren't any books that mention bananas coming to mind.)

Pumpkins - as I said above, someone recently cast doubt into my mind as to whether everyone ate pumpkin. If you have any information, please confirm or deny. (Also some cows apparently eat pumpkin? our cows don't eat pumpkin. But maybe that was because we were trying to feed them the rotten ones.)

Macadamia nuts - I'm pretty sure these grow in Hawaii. And you might call them Hawaii nuts? But their original name is Queensland nuts. Because they're ours. There's your piece of trivia for today: Hawaii nuts came from Australia.
 ........


So. Lots of food in this post!

Dear Aussies: please jump into the comments and explain to our international friends what I was talking about this whole post?? because if I were American, I'm pretty sure I would be confused. And what iconic foods did I miss?

Dear Americans, potential British readers?, and every lovely person from every other part of the world (please tell me if you're non-American, I'd love to know): I hope you enjoyed! Do you have these foods? What do you call them? Are you now going to visit Australia so you can try TimTams and lamingtons? (I might even cook you a damper. And johnny-cakes, if you ask nicely. How can you say no to this deal.)

...And to pretend that this is a writing post, I'm going to suggest you use this as potential worldbuilding inspiration. It can be hard to write something different from what's normal for your life, because you just don't think of the possibility of it being different. So. Worldbuilding. xP

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Weak excuses + The Writer's Book Tag

Over the last week, I disappeared off the face of the earth blogosphere.

This was not, good idea though it would have been, so I could focus on NaNo. No. It was... so I could... that is, I've been... doing...

I don't know.

I don't know why for a whole week I didn't have any time to comment on blogs, since I did not write a. single. word. on my NaNo draft either??

Here's what I know I did do:
  • One morning: Spent an hour on remedial reading with a  at a local primary school
  • One evening: Submitted last TAFE assessment for this year. 
  • One morning: Swimming instructor for a bunch of homeschooling kids
  • One weekend: Read 5 books (and a frankly embarrassing amount of fanfiction throughout the week)
  • Over two days: Read a 300+ fancomic series. I have now caught up. I am displeased. 
  • One evening: Watched The Battle of the Five Armies with my brother (the one I'm slowly converting to the fandom. Only he has an actual job and studies full-time, so he doesn't usually have time. He makes me feel so lazy :P)
  • This morning: Got on the tractor and buried a feral pig Dad shot. 

And it doesn't feel like that's enough serious things happening to justify a word count that's gone up by zero??

...

I always knew I was a Master Procrastinator. 


Anyway, here's a book tag! Because I've been reading far more this month than anyone doing NaNo has a right to do. The Temperamental Writer (well, her ghost, at least ;) at All Things Trivial and Insignificant tagged me for the Writer's Book Tag, and I love the way it uses various elements of a writer's life as book categories. (Kudos to Katie at The Act Diary for creating the tag!)



First Draft: A book or series you’ve never read before


There are... a lot.

Which I suppose is to be expected.

(This question would be much easier to answer if it wasn't so open??)

I'm just going to go with a few books that bloggers talk about, but I haven't read:

Allegiant (Veronica Roth) || Percy Jackson [#4-#?] (Rick Riordan) || Caraval (Stephanie Garber)
Tales of Goldstone Wood (Anne Elisabeth Stengl) || The Wingfeather Saga (Andrew Peterson)


Second Draft: A book or series you didn’t like as much the second time you read it


Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz. I read the original series, which was all very exciting and explosion-y, then a few years later read the newest book, Never Say Die. (Because surprise! The big finale wasn't the end after all!!)

Now, one of my pet peeves is when a author/publisher drags something on for too long. I believe The 39 Clues suffered TERRIBLY from this. So discovering that there would be a new series about Alex didn't enthuse me as much as it could have.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

ideas from Pinterest || dialogue: snark

Apparently people have enjoyed my 'ideas from Pinterest' series; the post with explosion-related dialogue prompts is one of the three most popular posts on my blog. Which is awesome. (And disturbing.)

If you haven't read these posts, they're here:


...feel free to check them out. *winks*

And today - you may have guessed it from the title, but shush, you - I have another dialogue prompt post for you!

Snark. (Sarcasm. Witty banter. That stuff. I'm just going to pretend this is a serious category of dialogue prompts.)

........
"Somehow you don't even have to open your mouth to make my head hurt."

"Don't give me attitude. I have one of my own."

"You can't just sit there all day."
"Never underestimate my ability to idle."

"Turns out separate planets wasn't far enough, huh?"

"Never take advice from me."

"There's no need to repeat yourself. I ignored you fine the first time."

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Beautiful Books part 2: NaNo update


There's another Beautiful Books linkup going this month! Normally Cait and Sky do 'Beautiful People' - questions about your characters - but around NaNoWriMo they change it to questions about your NaNo story. Last month's linkup, Part 1, was to introduce your NaNo story to the blogging world. I skipped it, though, because I had Julian's whole WIP Special to introduce my story with.

But Part 2 of the Beautiful Books linkup is a sort of NaNo update.

http://paperfury.com/beautiful-books-2017-part-2/

So, since I am all about ignoring my responsibilities and NaNo in particular accountability and boring you to death with abundant but insignificant details of my writing life keeping you up to date with my progress, I thought I'd take the questions this time.

Why are you even here you should be writing.


1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?


HAHAHAHAAA



I'm a much slower writer than everyone else seems to be. On the bright side, I spent a few days thinking, and ended up with a few pages of plot! Like, two whole pages! Or one and a half. But it's definitely helped me write more... decisively. Because I now have an idea of what I'm aiming for.

(Did you think that because I don't plot, my brain isn't screaming, "PLOT, YOU FOOL"?)

(Because it is. It is screaming.)


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The Mysteriously Nameless Tag of Doom

HEEEY ALL

- it's 10pm November 1st
- NaNo is here
- I am hiding from NaNo
- shhh
- I have succeeded in hiding from NaNo for *counts on fingers* 22 hours so far??
- it's working
- this is going to be my most productive month ever
- in everything except writing

Except I NEED to write at least 20k because I joined a dare/threat thing?? The NaNo Dare Squad (courtesy of Kenzie)! Each person gives their goal and privately submits a dare; anyone who doesn't end up achieving their goals will randomly get one of the other people's dares. The dares are secret until half-way through the month or something?? so you don't know what horrors potentially await.

BUT if everyone but Kenzie achieves their goals, she gets to do ALL the submitted dares herself, if I'm understanding this correctly?? so. I live in hope.

(She's a super good sport to suggest this xD)


...ANYWAY I HAD A POINT HERE. *rereads title*
. . . . . . . .

A little while back [my catchphrase...] [it was like 2 months now?? SORRY KATE] Kate Marie tagged me for something she called "The Mysteriously Nameless Tag of Doom". I have since realized why it is a 'tag of doom':

It asks very difficult questions about books. I know you all sympathize.

So. I might waffle. Avoid the point. Talk around the question. I'll try not to outright refuse to answer... but you never know what may be necessary.


--{ What book has been on your shelf the longest? }--


I'm not sure - maybe Anne of Green Gables, or The Chronicles of Narnia? (both gifts from grandparents when I was young). Or maybe one of my "children's classics" - that term meaning, basically, "book that once was good but has been revised and edited so it's shorter and simpler and [an unfortunate but inescapable side effect] much more boring". E.g. The Railway Children is a good book? but my children's classic edition is so boring as to be unbearable. They take out the beauty of the writing style!


--{ What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next? }--


Currently reading: nothing, because a) I don't have any unread books at the moment; and b) upcoming assessments and NaNo
Last read: Leave it to Psmith, P.G. Wodehouse. (Reread.)
Next read: I don't know - it depends on what I can get my hands on.


--{ What book did everyone like, but you hated? }--


Who's "everyone"? People I know? Bloggers? Goodreads users?

Goodreads and I probably have the most disagreements. For example, I seem to recall that the reviews for Flame in the Mist (Renee Ahdieh) were overwhelmingly positive. Personally, I had no idea what was going on, didn't like the MC, hated the love triangle, didn't appreciate the "romance", and overall hated the book.


(Apparently it's supposed to be a Mulan retelling?? which I didn't know and didn't see.)


--{ What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t? }--


There are multiple classics I feel like I should read, but haven't and probably won't. Jane Eyre is one. Most of Dickens' work is also on the list - I've read Great Expectations and a kids' version of Oliver Twist, but that's all.


--{ What book are you saving for retirement? }--


Why would I save a good book for retirement?? I might never live that long! I might DIE and NEVER get to read it! Or I might go blind! Or not like that kind of book any more!


--{ Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end? }--


Wait until the end.

Usually.

But if I don't like the way the book's going, if the quality of the content seems to be going downhill, or if the book's just boring, I'll check the end to see if I should continue.

And then continue anyway, because DNFing a book is not something I do except in extraordinary circumstances.


--{ Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside? }--


While I'm sure it's an amazing experience for those mentioned in the acknowledgements, I normally skip that page.

But then there's these kinds of acknowledgements:


I believe these are from the Percy Jackson series? but I've only read the first book so I can't confirm.


--{ Which book character would you switch places with? }--


Which character would I be able to fill in for without dying or causing the end of the world??

I'd love to be Will from The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice #1). Buuut [as I have previously mentioned] I would die. Of pain. Because I am not fit at all, and Halt is a super-tough mentor. (But I'd love to be able to shoot and ride and throw knives and Trust the cloak and everything.)

Also, I would fail in Will's responsibilities, plot-wise, and then the Kalkara would kill Halt and me and everyone. And there would be no more books. The end.




--{ Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?) }--


I have two books which were birthday gifts from two friends, and whenever I look at them I remember that these people knew me well enough to give me a book :')

(Or, okay, it was obvious that I would appreciate a book. BUT THEY GAVE ME A BOOK which is all that matters and I am very grateful.)


--{ Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way. }--


I...

Most of my books were either gifted to me (for birthdays/Christmas) or I bought them myself at a thrift shop? I can't think of any particularly interesting acquisition stories. Sadly. (Those stories would certainly spice up my book collection.)




--{ Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person? }--


No.

I am a book dragon. I hoard books. I do not get rid of them. (Unless they're below standard.)

(Fine. I sometimes give people books. Because that's the best gift I can give. But they're typically new and not from my book hoard, just saying.)


--{ Which book has been with you most places? }--


Technically my little Gideons' Bible - you know the tiny ones with the NT + Psalms + Proverbs? It's in my handbag. Other than that, I'd take whichever book I was reading at the time with me for a trip in the car and I would get terribly carsick. Not that it stopped me.

(Me @ my bad life choices)


--{ Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad later? }--


 I was not impressed when I was told we'd be doing Pride and Prejudice for English in Grade 12.

Buuut I loved it. When I got over my "it's a classic it mUST BE BORING" prejudices. And I watched both movies. And moved on to reading Emma and Sense and Sensibility (my least favourite) and Persuasion. Haven't read her other [more Gothic] novels, though.



--{ Used or brand new? }--


Used. Thrift shops are the best. I can buy the entire first 10 of the 39 Clues series (okay, #9 wasn't there, but Cahills vs. Vespers #1 was) for $2 each. They're basically in brand new condition?? what fool threw them out??

Books are super expensive when they're brand new, so I don't buy them unless it's for a special reason.


--{ Have you ever read a Dan Brown book? }--


No?


--{ Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book? }--


Love Comes Softly.


--{ Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included? }--


Not that I'm aware of. (Who reads cookbooks anyway?) (scratch that, as kids my siblings and I would go through all the Sweet Treats-style cookbooks and pick out all the things we'd like. Probably that made us hungry. Or at least grumpy.)




--{ Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take? }--


...

Not sure. My mum used to pre-read our books, and she has some pretty good advice, but our tastes have started diverging. (She seems to tend towards heavier reading, e.g. children in the Holocaust.)

As for anyone else... "always" is a bit inflexible? there are people whose tastes are similar to mine, but that doesn't mean we're going to agree all the time on what books are good.


--{ Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving? }--


The Lost Girl of Astor Street is historical fiction - in the jazz era. I don't believe I've read any other book set then, and I'm not usually big on historical itself. But I picked up Lost Girl because I "knew" Stephanie Morrill from Go Teen Writers. And I am so glad I did, because it was amazing.
. . . . . . . .

So that's the Mysteriously Nameless Tag of Doom done. Thanks for tagging me, Kate, and I now tag:

Lila @ Cheapskate Bibliomaniac
Evangeline @ I Just Happened
Jazzy @ thriving hope

Only if you want to, of course!

I didn't receive any rules with the tag? which suits me anyway :) #IdowhatIwant #youcantoo!


Have you read any of these? Are any on your TBR?  Where do you buy your books? Which movie was better than its book? Are you a book hoarder, or a giver? What character would you swap places with? Jane Austen - yea or nay? Am I missing out by not reading Dickens?

Do you have any random ramblings about books? (I am here for all the book ramblings <3)

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The Four-Part Writing Special // Part Four: Writing

Today, we have our last part of the 4-Part Writing Special: Writing! With no introduction because intros are hard and I've already done three in the last three Writing Special posts!
[HERE, HERE, and HERE.]


1. What do you do to get yourself in the story?


I simply write myself in.

'Jemma' is not completely me, but she's close enough that I didn't have to think up another name. Or personality traits. And I think that counts as me being in the story.

...hang on. *rereads question*

Ohhh sorry guys.

I sit down at my laptop. Stare at the wall. Read the last thousand words (or so) that I wrote. Stare at the wall. Check my private story + aesthetic boards on Pinterest. Stare at the wall. Type twenty words and backspace them. Stare at the wall. Give up. Go onto MyWriteClub and try to blast out some writing, flicking over to my story's Pinterest boards when necessary. Stare at the wall.



2. Do you do anything extra - art, covers, character journals, glossaries, playlists, etc. to help you with your story?


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Four-Part Writing Special // Part Three: Story World

And thus, another Wednesday.





Never mind that it's actually Thursday morning here. Due to time zones, it shouldn't be too obvious. Hopefully.


This whole "schedule" thing... it's actually quite good for me, if I admit it. Not only does it mean I post at least once a week, but it means I stay up late on Tuesday nights stressing! Typing and backspacing and typing and grimacing and slapping my laptop. That's basically what I'd be doing anyway, so I might as well get something productive out of it.

(This is in no way an admission that I need a blogging schedule. I'm a pantser.)

You can find Part One here, Part Two here, and now - Story World: Part Three of the 4-Part Writing Special! 


1. Name a unique aspect of your story world.


...

Well, this post didn't last long. *leaves*

...

I'm a pantser, okay?? That means I set stuff up when I need it.

So far, the setting has been: the forest (Ranwood); a small town just outside Ranwood; and the Beast's manor-house-thing inside Ranwood. I haven't even named the country or its capital - but I am feeling the results of that now.

I HAVEN'T SET UP MY WORLDBUILDINGUP. I ADMIT IT.

Probably the most unique aspect of my story world is that, for fantasy, it's a later-feeling time period? Almost Edwardian, maybe?? (Or Victorian, or Georgian... I wouldn't know.) More like ferns in white conservatories, a cottage rough grey wood and checked curtains, high arched ceilings in halls full of white pillars.

...Actually, I found a few pictures which fit the capital, if that helps:




2. Talk about one of the important animals in the story (someone's pet or horse; or a fierce animal the MC must defeat).


Old Bill is a very important part of set-up at the start of the story. Billie would love to have the use of him for doing the heavy work around the house, but she won't ask. So Josie claimed him (without considering) and has used him to ride around the forest hunting and being dramatic.

(I should mention: I did not copy Bill the bony old pony off Tolkien??)

Another important animal which was present for like 2 pages but played an important role is a dog. It doesn't have a name, but it has a good nose. Jemma went and got it so she + Zephyr + his men could track down where Elsie'd gone when she ran. So. Thanks for snitching, slobbery dog.

[That last sentence was Billie. Just so you know.]


3. A paragraph describing something in your storyworld (building, landmark, etc.).


The Beast's home/manor? is the biggest feature at the moment. (Apart from Ranwood forest. But it's just your standard cliche fantasy forest. With bandits in it.) I had to find a floor plan for it before I could write - because I'm terrible at visualising settings - and you can see that floor plan HERE.

That's a modern 'manor', of course, but I've scribbled on my copy to turn it back into a fantasy building. (The Beast, for example, probably does not need a three-car garage. It can be a mini-museum or something. Also the 'lanai' verandah has been changed into a conservatory.)


Like that, but not quite. But this is the closest picture I can find. More ferns would be good.


4. Something dangerous in your storyworld.


The Beast has the potential to be quite dangerous. (Especially if you hurt his tea. Or ferns. Or china.)

I mean, my Beast doesn't have an eyepatch... but close enough. :P

(He counts as part of the storyworld, right??)

There are bandits in Ranwood forest. They are SUPER DANGEROUS. *cough* actually they're all just big softies. And goofs, sometimes.

But... I think Mrs Potts could be dangerous! She's a ball of glowing light, but capable of handling physical objects. Such as saucepans. Which she briefly attacked the bandits with [except that's the scene I'm still on, so I don't know how it plays out...]. Anyway. She doesn't like Billie - who keeps smashing stuff and making Count Laszlo anxious - so she could certainly be dangerous.

Otherwise, the villain. Who... I haven't developed yet. (I'm starting to see a theme here??)


5. Something delightful in your storyworld.


Rowan. Also Zephyr. 

I CAN COUNT PEOPLE AS DELIGHTFUL THINGS FROM MY STORYWORLD IF I WANT. (And I do.) It's my story. *grumpy face* And I say ROWAN AND ZEPHYR but don't make me pick.

I also find Elsie + Zephyr delightful and completely squishable.

...if you want actual storyworld answers, I'm trying to play with features that wouldn't be the first thing you think of when you think "fantasy". Like the rather period English conservatory. Or the tea + china + scones. Or the entire aesthetic of the Beast's manor. Personally, I find it delightful.

6. A movie soundtrack that would complement the setting.


I don't know.

It's only recently that I've started listening to music while I write. And I don't watch many movies (comparatively). And Marvel soundtracks would hardly fit anyway, and Middle-Earth soundtracks are a bit high-fantasy (also I don't want to be cliche), and I need to find my story a soundtrack but I haven't yet.

Although I do have a few I found for a few dramatic/feelsy scenes. They aren't from a soundtrack, though.

Two Steps From Hell: 
Clair Voyant || Sky Titans (a bit too "epic" to fit perfectly, though)

Alexandra Streliski: 
(I was trying to write some painful/feelsy dialogue and put these two, with a few of her other songs, on repeat.)

Helen Jane Long: 


7. How does the geography impact the story?


Ranwood forest plays a big role - "cliche fantasy forest" is a hard thing to live up to! At the moment, it impacts the plot mostly by exacerbating the sisters' problems. For example, their cottage was damaged by the Beast, so Elsie and Josie will struggle to get through winter without Billie to fix it. (See the next point for a further note on the winter thing.) Apart from that, the bandits live in it, which impacts the story because I get 143% more words when the bandits are there providing sass.


8. Is there a particular location or time period your story you had in mind when creating your storyworld?


Just your standard northern-hemisphere forest... *rolls eyes* (I'm thinking I'll maybe change it to more of an Australian-inspired forest? I'm sure we have some good features for worldbuilding somewhere... I like the idea of fire being the danger, instead of snow/cold [which we do get in some parts of Australia, but I have basically zero experience with].)

As for time period, it probably feels later than a lot of fantasy. I haven't picked a specific era, but various elements are semi-modern (as in, not medieval? I guess that's what I'm trying to say??)

For example, my storyworld has teacups (not sure if the whole tea/coffee thing is going to stay in, but at the moment I'm having great fun playing with it - although I haven't used the words "tea" or "coffee"). It has high-roofed halls of white stone and libraries full of books. I feel like I'm trying to get an almost Victorian whimsy in?? but it wasn't meant to be modern (still pre-Industrial Revolution, for example).

Probably the easiest way to get a feel for the time period would be to look at the pictures from the first question. Because despite being a writer I still don't know how to word, apparently.


9. What is the climate like, and does it play a role in the story?


The climate is your standard sort of... I don't  know... There's snow in winter?? (which is bizarre because I've never experienced snowfall) (and don't have snow myself)

BASICALLY, go back and read questions 8 + 9 again because I think I covered everything I know (it isn't much) in those ones.


10. Are there any traditions, and do they have an effect upon the plot? 


There is an important tradition/lore/ancient legend thing. It says that any offer to pay another's debt must be honoured. Even if that debt is a life. And in that case, you cannot harm either the one who owed the debt, or the one who offered to pay it.

So now the Beast has a girl living in his house and smashing his china.

He doesn't like it, for the above-mentioned reasons, and she doesn't like it, because she hates being useless and unable to rely on her own strength. (Also she's watching Elsie and Josie mess things up through the fantasy/book equivalent of a camera installed in their cottage.)

But she can't leave, because then the debt would be un-paid. So she takes out her feelings on the china. Which I think I already mentioned.

But yes, that's one tradition that strongly affects the plot. 


There you go! You now have a confession - in writing - of my deplorable lack of worldbuilding. Do you have any tips? How much worldbuilding do you do - and how much of it do you use? Do you plot or pants your worldbuilding? What's the most unique feature of your storyworld? What bit of worldbuilding are you most proud of? Any special traditions?


And don't forget to check out the posts from the other participating bloggers! Which I will link here when my eyes are doing better at staying open! or never. I might forget. I'll try not to.

Julian || Sarah || Ivie || Lisa || Faith || Lila || Evangeline

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Four-Part Writing Special // Part Two: Characters

Apparently it's Wednesday again.

Anyone would think Wednesdays were a regular occurrence.

TIME FOR JULIAN'S T H I N G. (I mean, the Special. The not-tag. The... the thing.)



Still talking about Three Sisters here! (Read Part 1)

1. Who is the main character? (Bonus points for a description or picture)


There are three POV characters - Billie, Elsie and Josie. But Billie is the main character. Because she's the most like me. Obviously.

She's... the oldest. So she's bossy a leader. She makes her younger sisters work fairly hard, but takes the worst jobs herself. And while she doesn't show many of the softer emotions, she would literally give her life to protect Elsie and Josie.

...Physical description? Really??

Blonde hair and... um...

...

CONFESSION TIME: I am so scared of info-dumping that I tend to ignore any character description. I mean, how do you work the character's eye colour into a natural sentence?? So I actually haven't focused on developing a full physical description. 

This picture does make me think of her... but it's not accurate to the story.

I can't find out who this is, so I can't find other images
of her and see if Billie looks like that... x(

And I'll probably change my mind later and say it reminds me of her in no way at all. Maybe if I were a plotter I could give you more solid facts, but... I'm not.


2. What is goal of the protagonist? The antagonist? (no spoilers!)


The goal of the protagonist is to keep herself and her sisters alive in their new little rustic life.

The goal of the antagonist isn't to kill the protagonist. Not exactly. She already thinks the protagonist is dead. Instead, it's just your standard sort of take-over-all-the-countries power-grabby goal. Um. Yeah. That's definitely on my list of "Things to change before you let anyone read it, you cliche pengwing".

I could provide spoilers, except I don't know what the ending is... if someone would provide spoilers for me, that would be great. Then I might actually know where I'm heading. 


3. Is there a possession or memory the MC keeps close?


Billie keeps memories of her father close - all the better to brood over.

Nothin' keeps ya bitter like holding your memories close and regularly visiting them to brood. Alone. With your bitterness.


4. What is the MC's greatest fear?


Billie's biggest fear is that she won't be strong enough to protect and look after her younger sisters.

So, obviously, I've used external forces to take even the opportunity of being strong away from her. But I'll come back to her fear before the book's finished.

(And she'll fail. Obviously.)


5. Who is your favorite character?


WHO WROTE THESE QUESTIONS

DON'T YOU KNOW YOU NEVER ASK THAT

 ...
  • I like Billie, because she feels responsible and she's a lot like me in her big-sistery-ness. 
  • I like Elsie, because she's had to abandon someone she loved without saying goodbye. 
  • I like Josie, because... um I think I might need some more character development or a super subplot here. Because Josie's the one who rides around the forest with a bow and arrow, which sounds cool, but I actually feel a fair bit of apathy towards her. Fine, I don't actually like Josie sooo much. (Not enough for her to be an option for my favourite character.)
  • I like the Beast (Count Laszlo), because he's a grumpy old thing who just wants to be left in peace with his scones and cups of tea and books and ferns. Without having to deal with people misbehaving. 
  • I like Rowan [has his roots in Robin Hood], because even though he's so quick with banter, he has sadness behind his eyes. [Woo that sounds so poetic! now you just have to cOME UP WITH THAT TRAGIC BACKSTORY, YOU DINGBAT AUTHOR.]
  • I like Kik, because he somehow developed character better than Rowan, who was meant to be the main character out of the bandits.
  • I like Zephyr, because he's so sweet. Basically he's in the range of Char (Ella Enchanted) for sweetness (at least that's what I'm aiming for). And he's hurt.
  • I like Jemma, because she's a Camp NaNo panic-fueled creation based roughly on myself because I didn't want to have to make up another full character.
... Billie'd by my favourite female. Male characters... probably Zephyr and the Beast, for different categories. But then, Rowan has come up with some amazing banter... [a significant amount breaking the fourth wall to question if I happened to have such a thing as a plot about me??]


6. List some of the more prominent characters, and then provide a line that describes them (from your WIP).


[Everything is liable to change. But this is how they stand at the moment - or at least how they stood at the start of the draft. Some things have changed already.]

[Also I've taken a not-terribly-literal interpretation of "a line that describes them". Describing their character is much more important than their eye colour! *cough* I don't know their eye colour *cough*]

Billie:

Grabbing two handfuls of tablecloth, she pulled. The porcelain cup, plates and cream pot smashed to the floor, and the cutlery tinkled among the pieces.
The Beast roared and leapt forward. "How dare you!"
Billie kicked her chair in his bath and grabbed the edge of the table.
"Don't you-"
With muscles toned and knotty from seven months of digging potatoes and cutting trees, she lifted the table and hurled it among the ferns.

(She's having a fit because she thought she'd offered to die in her sister's place... and instead she's being [grumpily] offered scones and tea, while her sisters think she's dead and now have to look after themselves. Which they would have had to do anyway if she'd died, but Billie's not feeling logical at the moment. Besides, watching and being useless COMPLETELY grates against her character.)

Elsie:

Before moving to the forest, she'd been very social, making friends with everyone. The forest, on the other hand, was so lonely and empty. She hadn't seen anyone except her sisters for seven months. If that wasn't enough to drive a person mad, she didn't know what was.

(Billie's "dead" and Josie's run off into the forest. Elsie never took to the rough life like the two of them, and copes so badly on her own that practically the first thing she does is leave their hidden cottage and go talk to people.)

Josie:

If she hunted again, would the Beast come back? Would it take her? Josie thought of the crossbow, hanging on the rack inside the door. Let the Beast come. She would train. She would fight. Let the Beast come; she would welcome it. For Billie, she would kill it. She had been too weak and Billie had died because of that. Josie would not wait until the Beast came after her to avenge her sister. She would hunt the Beast down.

(This is Josie's internal monologue. IMPULSIVE DECISION-MAKING RIGHT HERE. No. Seriously, Josie. Maybe tHINK THIS THROUGH.)

Count Laszlo/the Beast:

"Mrs Potts! I will be needing tea. Excessive quantities of tea every day for the foreseeable future. And a large portion right now."

(I'm not sure how he went from trying to kill them to being a grumpy old teddy bear?? but that's a problem for the second draft.)



Rowan: 

Tall but not overly broad, he had the air of a little boy who'd never grown up, and the tousled brown hair to match. His skin was freckled and his eyes dark; he wore a simple shirt and pants in patched brown and green, with soft leather boots like her own. Her eyes went to the bow and quiver on his back, and she wished again that she had her own bow still.

(But that's Josie's impression when she met him [she's actually pretty immature at this point and I was trying to bring that through in how she saw people; for example, she's misinterpreted "the air of a little boy who'd never grown up" - that's him bluffing that he's okay]. Billie notices different things about Rowan. Mostly because he's tying her to the table leg while he + his men try to raid the Beast's house.)

Kik:

[Rowan:] "These are my men, all of whom I trust with my life."
Kik snorted. "We have a common goal, but adding the compliment - thank you, by the way - doesn't mean you can call us your men, Rowan. We discussed this. We're willing to follow you, but we aren't your men."
"Aren't they all such lovably humorous rogues?" Rowan's smile didn't quite reach his eyes.
...
[Later; Rowan to Josie.]
"Welcome to the Hood's Men."
Kik mumbled something from back at the clearing. 
Rowan ignored it.

Zephyr: 

The only [foreigner] not dancing. The only [foreigner] wearing black. The [foreigner] who should never, never have seen her again.
"Elsabeth," he said again, hoarsely, and stepped forward heedless of the dancers. He looked like he'd seen a ghost.
Which he had.

(PLEASE REPLACE "foreigner" WITH SOME ACTUAL WORLDBUILDING THANK YOU)

Jemma:

"Do you sell paper?"
"I do." The woman looked up, brushing a strand of hair off her face and leaving a swipe of ink in its place. She was only a bit older than Elsie.

(She wasn't supposed to be in more than one scene?? but she stuck around and made herself useful.)



I understand that these aren't all main characters! But I thought I'd introduce a bit more of the cast haha this practically is all of the named cast.


7. Who is the funniest character? Smartest character? Creepiest character? Most reckless character? Quirkiest character?


After careful consideration I have decided that my characters don't seem to be funny on their own, but in pairs. I'm not actually terribly far into my plot, but where I currently am, Billie and Rowan are... well, I think they're funny, but I suppose they're really just bickering.

The Beast is probably the smartest... in book learning. Not so sure about real world application, since he doesn't seem to understand - for example - how human emotions work.

I guess the creepiest character is the girls' father?

And Josie is definitely the most reckless character.

For quirky... maybe Mrs Potts?? I mean, she's a glowing orb that floats around glowering at Billie. That... is not terribly quirky. I do not actually have one of those quirky and lightheartedly and funny characters.


8. How do you come up with names?


It's not my division if I can't see it.








*also external screaming* *that's very important* *can't forget that*


9. What is the Myers-Briggs type of your MC? (Bonus points for side characters!)


I actually hadn't gotten around to doing this yet! So... now I know.

Billie: ESTJ. This fits perfectly with how I pictured her, which is cool! She's leader who values dedication, honesty, and hard work - and clashes with anyone who goes against those values. Not touchy-feely or big on words of affection (I actually did her Love Language too - Acts of Service); can miss emotions in others; stubborn and not very sensitive.

Elsie: The first time, the result was ENFJ - "natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma... with a natural confidence that begets influence." That doesn't sound like Elsie to me; she enjoys being around people, but not being the centre of attention, and she's not as much of a leader as her sisters.

So I did it again, and the result was INFJ (which is funny because that's mine). This seems a bit more like her: "soft-spoken, but with strong opinions", private, could be seen as a quiet Extrovert but still needs time alone to recharge.

Josie: My first try gave ENTP. This seemed partly accurate, but she's not overly selfless or sensitive (she's a bit self-centred, at least at the start). Next time, the result was ESTP, (intuitive/sensing was hovering around 50%). "Little regard for sensitivity"... "leap before they look"... "likeliest personality type to make a lifestyle of risky behaviour"??? JOOOSIE RIGHT HERE.


(Anyone have experience with the MBTI system? How would you say these would interact? Anything in particular I should know??)

10. Are any characters influenced by someone in your life?


Billie: myself - even though our personality types are apparently practically opposite, we share a silent but fierce protectiveness.
Josie: annoying little sisters who don't behave logically??
Zephyr: I wish he was based on someone I know xP



So that's Part Two of the Four-Part Writing Special! I hope you enjoyed hearing a bit about the characters in Three Sisters(Sorry about the length....)


Which character do you like best? Which one would you like to hear more about? Who's your quirkiest character? Do you like the sweet guys in books? (Char! Kai! Faramir!) Are your characters influenced by (we won't say "based off") someone in your life? Do you know your characters' Myers-Briggs types? What's your Myers-Briggs personality type?


...
Update:
I forgot to link to the other bloggers.  Oops.


Julian's post || Sarah's post || Ivie's post || Lisa's post || Mrs Baldwin's post || Faith's post || Lila's post || Evangeline's post

Have you read the posts by these amazing blogger-writers too? (If not, go do it!)

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The Four-Part Writing Special // Part One: Story


Julian (over at Saver of Memories) has created a thing. It's been through a bit of discussion and modification, but now it's ready for the first part to step into the blogging world!

It's... a link-up? Tag. But not tag-gy because you don't tag people.

See, there was a REASON I called it a thing.

The 4-Part Writing Special // Part One: Story



Basically, there's a few of us who've joined Julian in answering four sets of ten questions about our current WIP. We've even decided to put up our posts on the same day.

That's organisation and coordination.

Of course, once you factor in time zones, it isn't quite so neat... and the chosen dates don't work for some of the participants... but iT'S STILL IMPRESSIVE. 

BE IMPRESSED.


These are the participants! You should go check out their blogs and read their 4-Part Special posts too!

And now for the questions, kindly thrashed out by [mainly] Julian, Sarah, Lisa and Ivie. (The images were created by Ivie, too. :)

1. What is the title, genre and current status of your WIP?


Working title: Three Sisters.

Genre: fairytale mix/retelling [shush that's totally a genre]

Current status:
(What I say:) 


(What I mean:)


[Ooh look at me. Mixing Marvel and DC again. *gasps all round*]

2. What do you think makes your story unique?


I think it's unique among Beauty and the Beast retellings, because I've chosen to have the younger sister cause the Beast's anger, and the older, responsible sister pay for that.

I haven't read too many B+B retellings... but as far as I have read, they try to stick to the "father trespasses/etc, Beauty goes to live with the Beast so it won't kill her him". But what kind of father would do that?? Not to get too iffy here, but all he had was the Beast's word that it wasn't going to, I don't know, eat her. As an older sister, I can't fathom how he wouldn't have protected his daughter with his life, if necessary. I'm trying to investigate that sort of angle.

Oh, also, the Beast was never human, does not fall in love with "Beauty", and ends up being a grumpy/legalistic/slightly bewildered great-uncle kind of figure, who just wants his books and his tea and to be left in his garden in peace. So there's that too.


3. Where did the title come from?


I have a habit of titling my WIPs after their MC. Thus, I have Lyndie, Emily James, Huck Morton, etc.

Thusly, Three Sisters.

Because there are three. (Although Billie's my favourite and is therefore the main main character... but Elsie's story is growing on me [it involves a tragic romance backstory]; Josie's story thread still needs a bit of work though. [It's not very exciting or twisty.])

These are just working titles, after all. I have no idea how to title properly. I've never gotten that far.


4. How long have you been working on your WIP?


I started Three Sisters for April's Camp NaNoWriMo, and got 15k. After that, I worked on it during July's Camp and got another 10k (with a rather spectacular finish, if you remember...). And I haven't really considered November yet (because it's wAY TOO EARLY TO WORRY ABOUT THAT, RIGHT??), but currently I'm thinking I'll continue with Three Sisters. Because I haven't worked on it since July.

Anyway. The answer is either 6 months, or two months of actual work.


5. What do you think people will enjoy most about your WIP?


I think they'll enjoy the characters and their interactions. (I certainly do.) Also the nods to various fairy tales.


6. Provide a snippet (long or brief) of a favorite scene.


Josie backed away, leaving Old Bill's side, but she was surrounded. Rowan stepped closer.

"I did apologize before, but I'd like to do so again. This is nothing perso-"

Josie slid a knife out of the sheaths inside her boots and spun Rowan, twisting his arm up and holding the knife to his ribs. "You seem to be a leader. So tell them to let me go. Or I will make this personal."

"Easy, now." His voice became even calmer. "Have you considered that this might be a bad idea? There are a lot of us, and one of you, and we're skilled archers. Except for Kik, but he won't practice, so he can't expect any better."

Kik snorted and let Old Bill away into the trees. The rest of the men remained, a ring around Josie and Rowan and the drama. They didn't, Josie was bothered to see, look at all worried. She pushed Rowan and tried to walk forwards using him as a shield, but he dug his heels in.

"I only have to say the word and they'll shoot," he warned. "You can't do this."

"Shut up!"

"You're forcing us into a corner, you know that? We never meant for anyone else to get involved, but you wouldn't take a hint and leave."

Josie changed her grip on the knife, the handle sweaty. "Nice, now let me go."

Rowan twisted his body away from her, seized her wrist and forced the knife, point-first, away from both of them. "How about we discuss that now you're not holding a knife to me?"

With her free left hand, Josie reached for the knife's twin in her other sheath.

One of the men shouted a warning, and Rowan grabbed her arm before she could get it.

"That isn't very polite. I was talking to you."

"And I was ignoring you." Josie tried to bite his arm.

He pulled out of her reach. "There's no point in all this. Let's talk it out sensibly. We want our presence to remain secret, and we feel you're a threat to that, so we would like to keep you contained here until we have packed up and can move. You are unwilling - understandably - for us to contain you. That about covers things?" He saw she was not going to reply, and continued. "Do we have an alternative to containing you?"

"You could shoot me, I suppose." Immediately after saying it, Josie realised that might not be the most appropriate thing to say, unless she didn't mind being shot. They were, after all, holding bows. "I'm not too keen on that plan either, to be honest."


PLEASE FORGIVE. It's first draft writing from Camp NaNo. By all rights, it should never have seen the light of day.

And because I am apparently crazy like the Beast, here's a snippet with him:


Count Laszlo poked his head gingerly inside the door. "Ah, you're awake? I heard voices... thought I might check on you. Is there any chance I could get my study back soon?"

Billie looked down at the open book, its edges pressing red lines into her skin. "I- no!"

"Do you mean you've gotten attached to my room, in which case I must strongly object, or has something happened which has distressed you?"

She shook the book. "I've only been gone three days! Three days!"

"I'll leave you alone, then." He coughed. "But could you possibly move to your own room?"

Billie flapped a hand at him without looking up, and Count Laszlo sighed - but not loudly enough to draw attention to himself - and withdrew his head, pulling the door gently shut behind him.


Same disclaimer as before - if your eyeballs have received permanent damage, that's not my fault (even though it completely is).

Oh, and the book is like the magic mirror from Snow White?? the Beast helped Billie set it so it was set to watch Billie's cottage [where her sisters are supposed to be].

Actually, I guess it's more like a security camera...

Also please note that the Beast has undergone multiple personality changes through the first draft so far, and will need to be made consistent in editing. Although it kind of makes sense here that he's not-grumpy, because last time Billie came out on top, so he's a little more cautious. (You can read a little of what happened earlier - when he pushed Billie too far by talking insensitively about her sisters - in question 9. He's right to be cautious now.)

7. Describe your WIP in 10 separate short phrases.


Fighting, protective sisters
Remnants of a family banding together
Teacups and glowing orbs
Confusion and misunderstanding all round
Banter and snark
A grumpy Beast who wants to be left alone with his library and scones and cups of tea
A prince who thinks he's seen a ghost
Forest aesthetics
Also garden/library/scones/tea aesthetic
Have you figured out yet that I'm making these up on the spot
I'LL COME UP WITH A BETTER LIST LATER okay? because this would actually be helpful.


...Also, none of these are technically phrases. Never mind. I DO WHAT I WANT. Also it's going on 11pm so I'm not going to sit here arguing the finer points of grammar (I save that for daylight hours).


8. What is the hardest thing to write with this story? What is the easiest?


The easiest thing is the banter and people being snarky at each other. The hardest thing is making sure that the banter and snark has a point and progresses the story.

#noplot


9. A line where the tension builds.


"We discussed this yesterday. I don't think I have enough furniture to do it every day."

...

Billie stuffed the last of her bread into her mouth and, maintaining eye contact, swiped everything off the tea-table onto the floor.

The teacups and scones with honey are innocent victims of the 'discussion'. This causes enormous tension. ENORMOUS tension, I tell you.

Do not attack the Beast's teacups.


10. Explain the plot in one line. 


People are confused and make bad decisions and I do too. 

Um, this would require me to... have a plot.

I have some ideas and some things I want to do and just a whole heap of situations to make things awkward for my characters.

I do not know how the story is supposed to end.


And there you have it! Ten tidbits about my WIP, Three Sisters.

Because you all wanted to know more about the ramblings of my brain  amazing thing I am calling a "story" smushed-up fairytales I'm writing as one big happy story!

Now you should definitely go check out the other participants' posts on their WIPs, answering these same questions. Here they are again:


Excellent! Off you go, then - no, WAIT. Comment first. Obviously. (Why are you sneaking away like that?)

Banter and snark - vital or no? Do you know how your story is going to end? Do you think the Beast is justified in his protectiveness of his teacups [and food]? And the most important one: HOW DO I PLOT. (Please and thank you for answering that one.) 

Saturday, 30 September 2017

summer fun tag PLUS sunshine blogger tag (the second)


I've been tagged a few times recently not so recently actually because I'm terrible like that, so I'm going to combine two because I'm not sure how much you actually want to read about me??: the Summer Fun Tag, and the Sunshine Blogger Tag [#2]!

Side note: I'M SORRY I TOOK SO LONG, KIND PEOPLE WHO TAGGED ME. You've probably forgotten you ever did such a thing.  

And I know most of you are in autumn and heading for winter, now, but here it's HOT. And it's the first month of spring. So. Summer and sunshine it is!



- The Summer Fun Tag -

This tag was created by Mykaela, and I was tagged by Gray at Writing Is Life (thanks, Gray!)


1. What's a nickname only your family calls you?
Despite being Australian, and knowing several people with very Aussie nicknames, I actually just have a shortened version of my name? and everyone calls me that. I'm actually a bit disappointed that I never got a creative nickname. (Then again, considering the likelihood of it not being flattering, maybe I'm not sorry.)

[Pennites, consider this an invitation xD]


2. What's a weird habit of yours?
Nooo... don't have any weird habits. I'm not weird.

*coughs*

*asks family*

Brother 1: Well, he can't think of any.

Sister 1: Being negative is not a weird habit, Sister 1. It's just... a habit.

Brother 2: Wiggling my ears and "the weird eyeball thing". [I cross my eyes, look left, cross my eyes, look right, repeat. Makes it look like my eyes can point different directions.]

Sister 2: Talking to myself and pulling faces?? That's normal...

Dad: BEING ANNOYING IS NOT A WEIRD HABIT, DAD. THAT'S JUST ME.

Mum: Being negative??? And facetious??? What is this??? Where is familial loyalty when you need it???



3. Do you have any strange phobias?
Not really? I don't particularly like spiders or other creepy-crawlies when they're moving fast and erratically, but that's hardly a phobia. I'm not fond of heights either, but I manage. Nothing I've come across in my [admittedly short] life so far has caused me to completely freeze up out of fear and freak out.


4. What's a song you secretly love to blast and belt out when you're alone?
I am rarely home alone. Or in the car alone. Or alone at all, really. My family tends to travel as a pack. But the last time I was home alone, I blasted as many Owl City songs as I had. (And made myself a mug cake.)

I also love to belt out Stand by Me - it's just a really good song for belting??

5. What's one of your biggest pet peeves?
PUNCTUATION MISTAKES ON SIGNS. Like how do people get paid to produce a professional product that is full of mistakes like that?!? How do you even get "your'e"?? (as one, horrific example I saW a rEAL PICTURE OF.)



Also people who are reading the next book in a series when I want it. Or people who are reading my favourite books and don't appreciate them.


6. What's one of your nervous habits?

Monday, 25 September 2017

Coding tricks for bloggers


Hiii!

DIDJA MISS ME DIDJA MISS ME DIDJA MISS M-

*slaps self*

So I spent the last two weeks on a work placement, which was awesome! but also took from 8:30-5. And I KNOW that's fairly regular hours for a job (I DON'T WANT TO ADULT, SURPRISE!!), but I also had a ~2-hour round drive. So. That + my assessment = minimal blogging time.

(Hint: do not leave assessments until the date they're due when that date coincides the last day of a two-week work placement which means you'll be out from 7:30am until 6pm.)

(If you needed that advice.)

But now I'm back! Or not. To be honest, I'll be just as sporadic as ever.

...annnyway. Let's leave the uncomfortable confessions there, shall we??

Today, I've written [discovered that I had actually had a draft already for] a post on coding! Specifically, writing code that will help you when blogging. So enjoy!



[Note: this post is actually rather ironic considering recent events. I wrote the draft of this post, giving tips from my experience in coding, and then I discovered that I'd messed up something, somewhere in my blog's code, which made the sidebar refuse to behave. BUT I FIXED IT. (With your awesome help.) So I'm definitely qualified to be teaching this subject 'cause debugging code is way harder than writing it.] 

*pretends to be super-qualified*

a few coding tricks for bloggers


A great way to personalise your blog, and to smarten it up from the Blogger templates (which are sometimes a bit tacky), is to play around with the coding.

And since we're talking about coding tricks, Autumn (at Autumn Reads and Writes) wrote an amazing post about how to change how links look in your blog! [I confess it was not a recent post. I'm a slacker, okay?? But it's still a good resource!] And when you hover over the links, they look like this! or this!! or this!!! GO AND READ HER POST IT'S GREAT OKAY?? (+ I'm not going to just copy it out here, so you have to go read what she said.)

So that's one trick. You can actually make it look like this, too, which is an effect I figured out while messing with it. Baaasically go to Autumn's post, read her instructions, and then instead of putting in:
      a:hover {
          letter-spacing: .5em;
      }

- put in:
      a:hover {
         color: normal;
         border-left: #bd836b 2px;
         border-right: #bd836b 2px;
      }

This will... make more sense when you've read Autumn's post. Unless you already know HTML/CSS, in which case you'll probably be beyond this post.

And... that's links!

*awkward cough*



Now, for my second trick... have you ever wanted to do
this?

It's pretty cool to be able to make little title-things without having to save/upload images of text. Not that I've actually used this yet. Never mind. I will one day. 

Okey-dokey. I'm just going to assume you want to know how to do this? and tell you. I'm also going to assume you haven't used HTML at all, or very little. If you have, you'll be able to skip these first few steps.

Note: Autumn's special features on the links are done within Blogger's Template function - that way, they apply to all links on your blog. Right now, I'm going to be doing coding (HTML/CSS) within the post I'm currently writing on Blogger; my coding will only apply to the specific thing I apply it to.


So, start by writing your text! In Blogger. The regular way. And centre it. Like so:
Pretty text!

Now. On the very left of Blogger's Write Post toolbar - the one that has such helpful things like italics, font size, and strike-through - you'll see two grey buttons: Compose and HTML. Click HTML.

"AAH WHAT JUST HAPPENED THIS IS UGLYYY."

Yes, HTML is not the nicest thing to look at. BUT IT'S FUNCTIONAL. So.

Now, inside your HTML view, the text you just wrote will look like this:

<div style="text-align: center;">Pretty text!</div>

<div>...</div> just sort of wraps stuff into a block that can be manipulated. Whenever you tell Blogger to centre something, it puts a div around it, so it can apply style="text-align: center;". "Style" is a way to put CSS (the coding language that does all the colour, borders, everything pretty!) into your HTML without having to link to a specific CSS document.

But now you want to put a <span>...</span> into your code. (At least, that's how I do it. It's not the only way, I'm sure.) So coding-wise, my example looks like this:

<div style="text-align: center;">
<span style="color: lime; font-family: 'Aclonica', 'Open Sans Condensed', 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 40px;">this?</span></div>

[Note: I don't know that 'Aclonica' is a font that will work by itself or not in a web browser? So I've put
<link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Aclonica" rel="stylesheet"></link>
at the very top of the page when in the HTML view. This ensures that the browser people use to view the post will know what font to use. Note also that I have two back-up fonts - 'Open Sans Condensed' and 'Times New Roman' - in case this doesn't work. Because sometimes code does bizarre stuff and I have no idea why.]

So let's break that down:
  • The div, as I explained, is to make the section into a kind of block. (If anyone reading has a better way of explaining it, please chip in!
  • The style="..." is to insert CSS into that particular div. 
    • text-align: center; is CSS. It centres the div. (shocking, I know.)
  • The span tag is to, I don't know, mark a specific spot? It's like a div, but tends to mark part of a line of text or something, instead of blocking out a whole paragraph or whatever. (I never said I was an expert, okay?? I have a working knowledge.)
  • Again, we have style, but this time inside the span.
  • Now within that there are a few CSS elements:
    • color: lime; -- this colours the text. You should probably use a six-digit colour code (e.g. #f97285) instead - that's more reliable, as it can be hard to guess what colour names are supported by the browsers! Google 'color picker'.
    • font-family: 'Aclonica', 'Open Sans Condensed', 'Times New Roman'; -- this is the font. 'Aclonica' is (I hope) the one that's actually being used; the other two are back-ups. I already went into this a bit [above].
    • font-size: 40px; -- this is to make the text huge. Play around with it; it's really easy to just switch another number in.

Mostly it should work right if you make sure to keep the punctuation marks right? So this:
<div style="text-align: center;">
<span style="color: lime; font-family: 'Aclonica', 'Open Sans Condensed', Times New Roman'; font-size: 40px;">And now you can do this!</span>
</div> 
should turn out like this:

And now you can
do this!

I don't know. Is this clear? Ask me any questions if it wasn't!

And (for if you're familiar with HTML and CSS): it seems like you can put CSS within your post as a "style" section (not just inline)? I didn't know that, but when I was trying to put in the CSS (for the links at the start of this post) to demonstrate what Autumn did with the links, I put a <style></style> section into the very top of my post and apparently putting CSS in there works fine?? (If it doesn't show up right, please tell me!)

And finally, I should mention that I was trying to figure out how to put code in this post so it looked like code (instead of doing what it's, you know, supposed to do??) and I ended up using hilite.me.  Then, of course, once I'd done that, I realised that if I write code while not in the HTML view, it showed up how I wanted it to just fine. So (due to editing and stuff) half the time my code is in fancy colours/boxes... and half the time it's not.



So this post has been a leeettle bit jumpy and what-is-plot-y. What are you saying of course that's not how I write. Or how I live my life. Nope. I hope it wasn't too confusing, and maybe helps you a bit! Even if it just gets you interested in exploring what you can do for your blog with CSS.


Have you ever used HTML and CSS for your blog? What tips/tricks do you recommend? Are you going to try any of these? Did I make any mistakes?? (answer: yes. It was written in too many late-night sessions. Obv. there will be mistakes.)