31 May 2011

I Write Like [insert author here]

I randomly came across this one site that takes an excerpt of what you have written and analyzes the word choice and stuff to see which famous author your writing style is most similar to. So I took a section I deemed acceptable from my current work in progress and put it into their analyzer. The story is about a government resistance group and their mission to evacuate the leftover population in a space colony before the colony's destruction. The result was this:

excerpt from Untitled:

I write like
Dan Brown
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I've only read one thing of Dan Brown and that is The Da Vinci Code in high school. From what I remembered of reading him, I translated this as "I write the basic facts and don't spend time on elaborate description." Of which I objected to because I can totally write cool description when I feel like it. So I went back to a very short story I wrote at the end of last semester and analyzed that. The story is about a young woman who finds a tree with blossoms of ice that can cure a frozen heart when swallowed. This is what I got.

From Blossoms of Ice:

I write like
Anne Rice
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I have a feeling this woman is right up my ally in terms of reading material. Sadly, I've never gone out of my way to read her. I can only name Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned off the top of my head. This was a better result than Dan Brown, I figure. She's more cult classic fantasy whereas Dan Brown is more mainstream international thriller.

Now, you can't try something just twice, so I had to do it a third time. This time, I used something short and sweet and already published on this here blog. You might be familiar with it. If not, click the link below and read it yourself when you have time. It's about two trees. When the website analyzed that, it gave me this.

from 100 Things to Write - Love

I write like
L. Frank Baum
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I had to Google this guy. He's famous for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and all its subsequent sequels. According to Wikipedia, he wanted to write fairy tales that were not as gruesome as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. Yes, there is still gore involved in his stories, but at least the tone is completely different. I think we can all attest to that.

People I normally read include Scott Westerfeld, Patrick Rothfuss, and Tamora Pierce. I find it funny how I don't write like them and instead write like people I don't really read.

I feel very versatile.

25 May 2011

On Journaling

Journaling is good for the creative soul. It forces you to write every day, it boosts your memory, and it's a healing process of sorts. Stressful day? Write about it. Day that Never Goes Your Way? Write about it. How did you solve that day? How did you get through it? If you managed to complete nearly everything on your to do list on the Day that Never Goes Your Way, write about that and then print it off and frame it because it just goes to show that you are an awesome person, and the next time you have one of those days, you know you can get through it! Not that I do that or anything . . . .

Whenever I sit down to journal, I usually don't recount my day as it has been going. Or how my week has been if it's been a while since I last wrote. I just sit down and type down whatever I am thinking at that moment. It's a nice way to jump-start my head into doing what it's supposed to be doing. "Journaling task is done for the day. I feel productive. Let's do something else now."

I first started journaling before I went to college. About two weeks before I left, I had a private freak out and I wasn't comfortable telling my parents about it. So I wrote it down on my new computer because, hey, it's my computer and totally private and I can do whatever I want on it. So I wrote in a WordPerfect document everything that I was freaking out about. Boy did I feel awesome when that was done! It was great. I wouldn't have been able to take on the world, but I at least knew I could learn to adapt. And that was all that mattered back then.

Journaling didn't really take off until October that same year. I've been sporadically updating everything ever since. I don't journal every day -- that's too tedious for me. But when I feel like I can't manage everything on my plate, journaling helps me bring things into focus. It tells me what I can put off and what has to get done right away. Whenever things are slow, I tend to write incomplete stories in my journals. There are at least five that take place in a science fiction world I've been thinking about since high school. And others have been random excerpts from daydreams and action scenes I want to exist in my life.

But they are usually my thoughts at any given moment in my life. To me, that's what a journal is. You might think a journal is a document of your life, and I guess it is. But I find it more of a document of thoughts. What was I thinking on the sixth of June in the year two-thousand-ten? Is there even an entry for that date? I don't know. I never go back to read my thoughts.

Do you keep a journal?

23 May 2011

Oh, look, a Podcast!

I interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to check out this podcast about dialogue. Specifically, it's dialogue in sci-fi/fantasy, but some of the exercises they suggest can totally be applied to other genres. Here is the link. The podcast is only about fifteen minutes long, so it's short. And worth your time. Have fun.

13 May 2011

Kicking off Summer 2011

Finals week is officially over. Can I get a w00t w00t?

And now that finals are over, I'm now a senior. Scary. This time next year, I'll be graduating. I remember this feeling in high school, but this time I'm more sure of myself. Three years at college does that to you. But I'll handle this like I handled high school --- by making the most of it. In high school, I quit my job so I could spend all my time with my passion: theatre. Not on stage, mind you, but backstage, where the magic really happened. I had a plan to hunt down the local community theatre, but I'll be dividing my time in the summer as it is.

Here's my Summer To Do list:

*** research NaNo novel
I figured out while in Europe what I wanted to write during the next NaNoWriMo. But it'll involve lots of research, especially in fairy tales and folk stories and their tropes and common features. German superstitions and French bedtime stories and a personification of the American stereotype . . . with a steampunk setting. My main character is from Norway, his best friend is Swedish, and they travel the continent looking for a book. I can't wait to write this!

*** write my two novellas
I have two ideas that popped into my head at the end of the term. One involves aliens, the other refugees. I have no idea what'll become of them, but I gotta keep writing somehow. One was already a rough draft, but I'd like to write a second draft from another character's perspective, if only for a larger scope of world development.

*** summer classes
I signed up for an American Short Stories class as well as Kendo. Can't wait.

*** leading workshops
It's possible my student-run creative writing group will meet during the summers. The decision is still up in the air, but it's looking promising. The official announcement will be made next week sometime. Those involved already know about this.

*** Netflix
Because I told myself I would get it when summer comes.

*** work
I start working at the new union in about two weeks. I'll be on a 15-20 hour a week schedule starting in June.

*** family
My little brother is graduating high school and moving to my rival school. Sobs for graduating, angry fist shake for attending the rival school. It's a bittersweet moment. We'll also have some sort of vacation . . . maybe. The 'rents have been bouncing around the idea of Vegas, but we might reset to our Default Location instead. Both my brothers also have their birthdays in July, so there'll be time set aside for that. And then there's Independence Day, my parents' anniversary, I-miss-you-I-wanna-come-home weekends, etc.

*** reading list
Check the Goodreads link for details. Which reminds me, I should really get that library card . . . .

06 May 2011

tumbling away . . .

Next week is finals week.

My friend (super secret) codename Autumn introduced me to tumblr. Here's a link to my tumblr, all you gotta do is click it.

At the moment, I'm just reposting fun things I've found in other places. I do believe I created it with the intension to tumbl about the random ideas my friends and I talk about, most of which can be turned into stories of some medium or other. But then I found you can tumbl around certain tags and reblog things you thought were cool and, well, all of a sudden I got into this whole tumbling business.

So that's my tumblr. It's addictive. I've had it less than 24 hours and I have 15 posts, three followers, follow 10 people, and currently keeping track of 5-10 tags.

Now excuse me as I go work on my film study guide tumbl.

04 May 2011

Simple Chicken Pesto with Cheesy Bread

1 - boneless chicken breast (frozen)
2 - pieces of bread
~1/2 bowl - pasta
~1/2c pesto sauce
~1/4c shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 300*F. Place bot of water on stove to boil. Put frozen chicken breast on a small plate and thaw in microwave for 8-10 minutes. (Step not needed if chicken breast already thawed).

While waiting, measure out how much pasta you want. Spread butter on pieces of bread and sprinkle with shredded cheese, preferably something that easily melts (such as cheddar or mozzarella. Colby not so much). Wait for things to heat up.

When water is boiling, add pasta. Insert break into oven. Take out chicken from microwave and cut into bite sized pieces. Fry on a frying pan until cooked through. Once done, turn off stove stop but keep chicken on so it stays hot. Keep mixing boiling pasta until desired tenderness. When pasta is read, drain water in a sink. Add chicken and pesto sauce, stir until pasta and chicken are evenly coated in pesto. Remove bread from oven.

Enjoy with a glass of milk.

03 May 2011

Lit Fest

The campus publication committee organized a week-long event called Lit Fest, which is a series of events in the middle of April celebrating the written word. Here is a lowdown of the events I participated in. If I ever refer to myself as "we", I am referring to my fiction blog UW Flash Fiction, which is supported by PubCom who hosted Lit Fest in the first place.

Write On!
Earlier in the semester, students were asked to submit poetry and prose to be read at Lit Fest. This is the event for which they read. I promoted my own publication along with assisted the organizers in getting things ready. When the event started, I sat down with some friends who won the contest and listened to the winners. Quite a few writings were amazing. It was great to listen to the author read their own work.

Badger Book Buddies
What's better than reading children's books? Reading children's books with children! For this event, students signed up to visit a local elementary school. We shared some of our favorite children's books, read them, and although we were supposed to talk about the books, it didn't happen. At least for me it didn't. I came in, I read them some Dr. Seuss, and then I played with them. It was fun. I finished up with another book and gave out some Badger tattoos and balloons. Then I donated the books I read to their collection. The teacher was really really thankful. She was also really really lively and great with the kids! This event was a real confidence booster, so if you need to bolster your self-esteem, volunteer with kids.

Lovin' Local
In support of the literary venues up and down State Street, Lit Fest scheduled a series of readings one rainy Saturday. Readings took place at two coffee shops and two bookstores. We were lucky to have Sarah Palin come 'round the Capitol that particular Saturday, otherwise our authors would have been reading to empty chairs. My editor and I braved the sleet, taped posters to poster columns, and made it to our destination. We were to hang out at a certain coffee house because the volunteer there was the only volunteer and needed help. So there we were. I dropped off flyers for our blog as well, and we stuck around the single coffee shop to listen and drink hot drinks. We heard a local author from Baraboo read from her latest work -- a ghost story set in Wisconsin. And the campus chancellor read some of her work as well, which was really awesome! Every single student who stayed to listen increased their respect for her about ten-fold. It was pretty amazing.

Pub Me!
This was a small fair featuring all the different ways to get published on campus. Of course, I was there promoting my new flash fiction blog. I also met a woman from Verse Wisconsin, which publishes poetry but I think if (secret codename) Kelly was a poet turned fiction author, I could pretend to be a fiction-turned-poet for a bit. So I went and asked about the publication and how they balance being an online publication as well as a print. I even asked if they needed summer help, and she gave me her card in case we start accepting prose poetry so she could link us to her. I wrangled in my friend (secret codename) Michael to sit in for me as I wander about as well. I heard about the creative writing publication, which wasn't free for the taking like the others were. But I did pick up a few Women in REDzine, which is the latest in positive feminist writing. Then I asked one guy how one would start making a living freelance. And, to pick up the latest travel abroad journal, I visited a few friends in Souvenirs. I call it successful. I also managed to attempt to convince a poet to write a flash fiction. Go me.

A Night with Billy Collins
I admit, the most we did was attend the crowd of 1200 and did no promotion whatsoever. But it was still worth it. Billy Collins is hilarious and thoughtful and makes you think things you never thought before but you probably should have. Even so, it was really awesome. I took pictures and recorded a couple poems and generally had a blast.

Fundraiser at Noodles
I almost didn't go to this, but the committee director sent an email saying that only two people emailed her back about the dinner (me included) and hoped we would still show up. So I trudged out in the cold and sleet and when I got there, we talked about how every native Wisconsinite hates spring because of the ADD weather. Would you believe that the previous day was beautiful and gorgeous and warm? In any case, the fundraiser was a method to help raise money for Literacy Network, a non-profit organization that tutors people in English. To donate, place and order and mention the fundraiser. Then enjoy your plate of delicious, delicious noodles. We ordered, sat, ate, and talked about adrenaline rushes and world travel jet lag.

02 May 2011

100 Things to Write - Keeping a Secret

The old man wandered the hallway collecting keys from each door. If you believe this to be a simple task, you are mistaken for the hallway is never ending. Its length is measured in years instead of miles. The old man knows every door that appears in his hallway, and his key will one day hold every key to every door.
He approaches the next door, turns the knob. Inside, the room is dark save for a handful of candles on the dresser. A lumb on the bed is still, the breathing of the couple tranquil. Silently, the old man takes a key from the bedside table. The couple don't even know he was in the room. But their secret is safe with him. He locks the door.
The hallway is simple and ornate at the same time. The old man's slippers tread upon a lush red carpet decorated with intricate patterns interlaced with gold. It is the softest carpet anyone will walk on, but the only person to do so is the old man. He is too busy to notice anything but his duty. The walls themselves are white and bare save for the staggered rows of doors. Each door opens to another forgotten secret. His duty is simple: walk in, take the secret, lock the door, place it on the key ring, repeat.
There is a dead body in the next door. The body lays in the middle of an alley. If the old man were to look up, he would have seen the city skyline of Istanbul. But of course he wouldn't look up. Blood on the body is not clotted, only dried. The old man finds the key on a nearby garbage pail.
A ragged boy curls against the wall of the alley. His clothes and skin are free from blood. The old man already knows the boy didn't do it --- he has seen the boy before.
"I know the secret," the boy says.
The old man does not seem to notice the boy is addressing him. Most people never notice him. He keeps their secrets for they are not his to tell. But this secret does not belong to the boy; the boy does not belong to this secret. He picks up the key but does not leave.
"I know your secret," the boy says. His hand shifts as if he wants to show the old man what he is holding. There is a glint of rusty iron in the light; an oblong shape keeps mysteriously in the shadows.
"Once more," the old man replies without looking at the boy. Then he crosses the alley, locks the door behind him.
The key ring is not as big as expected. It can hold every secret from the dawn of time to the end of time, but only fifty keys will appear on the ring. Once they are placed on it, the keys are lost. But the old man knows the location of every single key upon that ring. The size is just for convenience --- the weight of secrets is a heavy burden to bear.
The next door opens to a British colony in America. Rust colored slippers walk across the dirt floor to the center of the room. Outside, the town is empty, a ghost town. Kneeling down, the old man starts digging through the floor until he unearths an iron key. He replaces the dirt on the floor, walks back to the hallway.
His trousers show no signs that he knelt in dirt. His firm and confident hands are not dirtied. The old man locks the door behind him, places the key on the ring, and moves on to the next door.
He wears a rust-colored vest and a shirt as white as the walls. A pair of golden spectables rest on the edge of his nose. His hair is white and wiry, but his eyes are focused and clear. He stands very straight for a man with his burden. There is wisdom behind his eyes, a desire to share this wisdom, and something else, something that has been brewing behind his eyes for some time now: anticipation.

Five doors later, he comes across the young boy again, slightly older now. He is more elegantly dressed in a vest that matches the color of the hallway's carpet. His feet are bare and his trousers are slightly too big for him; a leather belt holds them at his waist. His face is clean, showing a pair of bright blue eyes. His hair is the color of wet earth, but that will change in time.
"I know your secret," the boy says.
The old man smiles. "Where is the key?"
The boy holds up a key ring. A single secret dangles on it.
"Now where is the key for this door?"
The boy looks around. He stands in a kitchen. On a table sits a plate of crumbs. A small whimpering is muffled from under the table. Sneaking too many cookies gives little girls a tummy ache. The boy spies the key on a table next to the plate. He picks it up.
"Very well. Come with me."
The boy follows the old man through the door.
"Lock the door behind you," the old man instructs. "You must always lock the door behind you."
"So that the secret can be forgotten."
"Why must they be forgotten?" the boy asks. He locks the door anyway.

"So that this hallway can keep existing," the old man answers. "And so we may have something to do. Put the key on the ring. Soon, you will acquire your own ring of secrets."