Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Musings

It's Monday again! The exclamation point seems so perky on such a day. it's so hard to drag yourself out of bed on Monday mornings to go to school. >.<

Anyways, I am posting a short story to satisfy my Monday requirements. I do this not because I am feeling creative, but because I have nothing planned and my mind draws a blank. So...


She watched the other girl enviously, all too aware of the fact that Dell was prettier and richer than she ever would be. The more Lila dwelled on the injustice, the more her stomach hurt.
"Lily Lila!" a group of boys chuckled as they passed. Lila scowled back at them. She hated that nickname. It wasn't her fault her skin was white, and it made no imprint on her personality. She wasn't weak just because of her skin color.
Dell looked around in surprise, as if she hadn't noticed Lila was there. Her beautiful brown skin glowed in the light of the setting sun; her innocent hazel eyes sparkled, as if at some hidden joke.
"Oh, you're Lily, right?" she asked, beaming. Lila looked coldly at this beautiful girl.
"My name is Lila," she growled in response. "I'd prefer you not insult me."
Dell seemed to realize her mistake. "Oh, of course. I am so sorry. I didn't mean to offend. I didn't realize-" she broke off awkwardly and shifted a strand of dark hair behind her ear.
"You don't have to worry," Lila answered. Her voice sounded stiff. "I'll build the eco-city. All you have to do is write the short story. Shouldn't be too difficult, I presume?"
"Of course not," Dell said. She stared at the ground with a frown.
Lila turned without a goodbye and made her way further down the trail. Around her was nothing but wide open space, until the ground sloped gently downward to a copse of trees. She headed to this small refuge, seeking its comfort, and most of all its end.
Within the trees, birds chattered and small animals rustled through undergrowth. The watery sunlight made the shadows seem more enticing, as if the brief glare of light every now and then wore down the spirit. Lila closed her eyes and leaned against a thick oak tree.
Stop it, I shout. You're hurting me. My voice wavers on each syllable, but he doesn't stop. The tears won't stop pouring down my cheeks. The knife pierces my skin above the collarbone. He laughs.
Lila forced open her eyes and blinked slowly to shut out the pain. It wasn't her fault. It wasn't her weakness that caused him to do such a thing, only his own twisted heart.
She continued down the trail as it narrowed to a mere rabbit path. Rocks started puhsing through the ground, seeking air after the suffocating pressure of belowground. She pushed through the clingy underbrush and the gray rocks until finally, she reaches the forest's end.
She sat on the rocky precipice that was her one real sanctuary. It was a like a balcony over the terrible beauty of the rocky, steep descent. Below, she heard the river, garbling its own song.
Brother presses deeper, his eyes glowing with that mad happiness he seems to get when he hurts people. I will never forget that look.
Lila peered over the edge of the precipice to the ground far below. She wondered how long she'd be in the air if she jumped. Would it be three, four seconds before she hit the slope? The one thing she knew for certain was that she'd be dead long before her body reached the water.
She stood up and slid one foot forward until half of her foot was hanging over the edge. Exhileration, almost excitement, welled up inside her. No more memories; no more weakness.
"Hi, Lila," a soft voice said. She didn't turn around; she knew the voice belonged to Dell.
"Yes?" Lila sighed angrily, but Dell approached anyways. Her glittery pink blouse was almost painful in the fading sunlight. Lila gritted her teeth and pulled her foot back onto solid ground.
"I just thought you wanted to know... that I..." she faltered when she saw the drab white girl's scowl, but continued on. "I think you're strong. You're hurting inside, and I think it takes a strong person to hold it away from people." She ducked her head. For a moment, Lila couldn't think of anything.
"Why do you say that? I'm Lily Lila," she said at last. Dell frowned.
"I think your skin is really pretty. And it's silly to think that you're as delicate as a lily simply because of your skin color. Every time I hear those idiots call you that, I wish you could see the truth."
"You don't understand how hard it is," Lila said. "The only meal I get is at school, and they ruin it. The only joy in my day is learning, and they make me want to run away from the only place I can learn." She sat down on the ground. Perhaps it was that she wanted someone to hear her words before no one could; maybe she was too tired to hold them in. But she wanted to tell this kind, pretty, ignorant little girl how much life hurt.
"I want to help," Dell said, and sat down beside her. "I can give your family some food, some old clothing..."
"My family doesn't accept charity," Lila said flatly. Even when she was about to end everything, she couldn't help holding the bitterness inside.
"Then I can offer a job," Dell answered. "I can offer room and board. But I think you need to let go. You've been strong too long."
"I am going to." Lila looked over the edge again. But she wasn't so sure anymore. Is a better life better than no life at all?
"I want you to be my sister," Dell said. "I've always wanted someone strong and beautuful as a sister, and you fit that description nicely."
"Because you are real," she answered smiply. "What do you say?"
Lila thought for a moment, biting her lip. Finally, she said, "Thank you." And she took Dell's hand. In that quiet moment of acceptance, Lila realized she had her first true friend.


I hope you enjoyed it: it's not the best, but I like it. Have a blessed day.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Favorites

I post songs, quotes or books I've read this past week!


I recently started taking an interest in Rise Against. "Endgame", "Satellite", "Help is on the Way", and "Savior" are my favorites.
Linkin Park's "New Divide" and "What I've Done" are also songs I highly recommend. Here is the link to "New Divide":


I recently found a notebook full of quotes that I'd written a couple years ago. I've rediscovered some good ones:
"I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I'm saying."
-Oscar Wilde
"Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."
-Marilyn Monroe
"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman."
-Virginia Woolf
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
-Albert Einstein


This week, I read Storm Thief by Chris Wooding and Nefertiti: Book of the Dead by Nick Drake. I've read the first few chapters of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, which is actually for an English project. I feel pretty good about all of them: Chris Wooding has some awesome settings and very creative ideas, while the whole Ancient Egypt and missing Queen of Drake's book was quite vividly realistic. My English project is okay, a little dry because the only complication the MC has encountered is getting married, and it turned out to be the best decision of his life. But it's quite realistic as well, down to the whole patriarchal thoughts common to the time period.

  Overall, it's been an interesting week. I've rediscovered old ideas and found new inspiration. As usual, I end with a quote and goodbye:
"When you're drowning you don't think 'I would be incredibly pleased if someone would notice I'm drowning and come and rescue me.' You just scream."
-John Lennon

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday Writings

Wednesdays are writing advice! I share tips I've learned on creating realistic characters, building worlds, and that tricky, sticky grammar.

Inspiration and Imagination

Today I urge you to imagine. Imagination is your most useful tool as a writer; it uncovers the magic and mystery in the world around you. It allows you to express something more real than anything science, math, or society could teach you. 

Of course, we all know imagination. We may even take it for granted. But this post is not about just that: it's about the problems you face when you're out of ideas, and you think your imagination lake has run dry. Yes, the Dreaded Writer's Block.

To combat your lack of creativity and imagination, you need inspiration. And inspiration is like air: you can find it anywhere. (Except in a vacuum, like space, but you know what I mean.)

Here are my suggestions when you hit a roadblock:

1. Listen to new music. If you normally listen to pop music, try country or rock music. If you're normally more of a classic rock fan, then listen to classical.

2. Look really, really closely at a flower. Or a tree, or a bush, or something of that nature. This is how Georgia O'Keefe got her inspiration, and she painted some beautiful stuff.

3. You know those scented candles? Burn one of those. Watch the flame and breathe in the [smell-sort of adverb/adjective] goodness. You can relax away the stress and get your creativity flowing. If you don't have a scented candle, just staring at a regular one works, too.

4. Research some random topic on google. I've done this a lot - my last research topic was on the Bubonic Plague. This helps clear up any questions you had about a particular topic, and makes it easier to write about it in your story.

5. Read a new book. If you're an avid reader like I am, then pick a book out of your comfort zone. Like, if you normally read romance, pick up an adventure or epic fantasy novel. If you're normally an epic fantasy type person, pick up a general fiction or even a nonfiction book.

6. If you have any pets, now would be the time to pay attention to them. Stroke their fur (or feathers, scales, or whatever else) and let them sit in your lap. Look deeply in their eyes and try to find the right color to describe them. Or, simply observe the way they move; I watch my cats move around, and they're so graceful and elegant that I'm inspired to incorporate the beauty into my story.

7. Ask yourself how well you really know your characters. Do you know what they dream about at night? Do you understand the reasons behind their actions?

8. Go outside on a clear night and look up at the stars. Perhaps you'll spark an epiphany.

Imagination is an important aspect to writing, and if your creative lake has gone dry, then follow at least one of those simple rules above. It's not like I'm asking you to run a marathon; I just want you to observe your surroundings and draw inspiration from them.

Oh, what the cupcakes - I'll include a Georgia O'keefe picture, as well as my normal quote and goodbye. (I even found a quote that's relevant to my post! Yay!)

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
-Albert Einstein

Red Canna, Georgia O'Keefe

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Musings

On Mondays, I will post book reviews, research trivia, or questions for your writing. (I might also switch to "Monday Minute". They're interchangeable.)

Today, I am going to ask eight questions to help you on your path to That Perfect World.

1. Does your world have rules? This doesn't just mean politics; it could include logic, physics, magic, or any other. It must have some set rules. Maybe in your world, there's a species of bird that lives underwater. But this has to be consistent: your water-bird cannot suddenly develop legs and feet to walk on the land (unless there's some weird sci-fi technology - not recommended). So what sort of rules does your world follow? Have you made sure that they're followed consistently?

2. Why is your world's environment the way it is? Perhaps you have a futuristic, dystopian novel set in an industrialized world where there's only one tree left in existence. What happened to the other trees? How did the industrialization start/what spurred it on? When did technology become more important than the earth? The same goes with an agricultural/natural setting - what technology do people use that hurt it? What do they use that helps it? Was there ever a period of industrialization, or will there be?

3. What is the social structure like? Are the priests at the top, or perhaps a king? How many rights do women have? Is there a rigid social structure, where workers and nobility never mingle? Or is there perhaps a more liberal system, where they can mingle but the wrokers are looked down on? Do children work at a younger or older age?

4. What is the art like in your setting? Are they fluid and free strokes on canvas? Or perhaps they favor geometric patterns? Maybe painting/sketching is frowned upon, and they create sculptures? Art is an important aspect of a world; there are so many different styles, and each one reflects your world's personality differently. For example, Ancient China favored a much different artistic style than today's pop art, or the Cubist movement, or Pointillism. The Roman statues are different than those religious, realistic scenes painted during the Medieval Ages. What sort of art does your world favor?

5. What are the myths/legends in your kingdom/city-state/country/etc? What sort of casual hints do they drop during your story about them? Say your story is set in Ancient Greece, and your MC's enemy is a goddess. Does the goddess warn [MC] of meeting the fate of Narcissus (the selfish young man who fell in love with his reflection and died, and a narcissus flower sprung up in his place)? Or perhaps the MC's friends call him Hercules. There are infinite possibilities. Where does your world stand? What imaginative myths do they have to offer?

6. How is the economy of your world? Is your city-state sruggling to survive? Is your kingdom prosperous? Are the rich growing fat while the poor grow weak? This makes more difference than you might think. In history, money is intricately involved with catastrophe - one of the reasons World War 2 started was because of German inflation. They were in such debt after the Treaty of Versailles, money became next to useless. People were desperate for change, and up comes Adolf Hitler with his charismatic promises. Is your world like this? What sort of disasters come from it? On the other hand, if your world is wealthy, do you get more invasions, as other people see and covet? 

7. What sort of public works make your setting stand out? You know what I mean: the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge. What sort of monuments did your people create? Why did they make them - for a religious reason, or to glorify an emperor, maybe? Was it done by past civilizations, or was it completed recently?

8. At what "level" of intelligence/technology do your people exist? Are they primitive, Stone-Age type people? Would they fit in a River-valley civilization (stone tools, agriculture, the beginnings of literature and pottery and metalwork)? Or perhaps they are modern day, cell phone-toting heroes? Maybe even sci-fi, time-travel-and-human-cloning sort of intelligence? Another facet of this is how readily the common man can access this information. Is there email, or a messenger on horseback? Are there TVs and radios, or maybe newspapers? Is the town news simply nailed to the local church/mosque/temple/etc?

I hope this has opened your eyes to any flaws in your world. Consider ways to thread the answers to these questions into your story, and any person worth the oxygen they're breathing will be in love with your book.

And now for my quote and goodbye:

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
-Sylvia Path

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Dreaded First Post

So, let me introduce myself. I am Iris. Or Night. Or even Fantasy, if you want. None of these are my real name, but my real name is just kind of bland to my ears. These are more... liberal. Open. Exotic.

This is a writing/reading/music blog. I will post writing advice, music tips, book reviews, and possibly none of the above. I will try a definite schedule, but don't be surprised if I don't stick by it. I'm not very temporal, so my posts'll more likely be sporadic.

I love reading, writing, and music, obviously. I also love cats, butterflies, dragons, griffins, mermaids, fairies, photography, art, country music, Christian music, and poetry. Note that I said photography: I haven't taken my own pictures since I was six and my dad and older sister let me hold the camera, but I am absolutely fascinated by it. Especially by natural landscapes or animals.

I live in the southeast United States, with my parents, my five siblings, my cats and my dog. We have a crowded house. Um... what else? I have a pretty strange view on life, which you might glimpse through later posts. I realize my flaws and do my best to live life. What more can I say?

I know not many people will read this. But you have to start somewhere, and this is it. I shall end this with a quote and a goodbye:

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."
-Charles William Eliot