Thursday, August 18, 2016

Beautiful People: August 2016 // Finn

~Beautiful People is a monthly linkup for writers hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In.~


This month's questions are based around appearance.

1. Give a brief overview of their looks. (Include a photo if you want!)
Here is Finn's description from his character profile: 6’. Shoulder-length, wavy, pale golden hair and very pale complexion. Green eyes. Rectangular face. Quite thin from being on a prison diet, but strong and muscular.

2. Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

Before stepping out of the cage, he tucked in his shirt and pulled on the jacket he had been wearing five years ago when he had first been thrown in his cell. He pulled a hand through his long, curly-blond hair. He bent down and spat on his boot, hoping to shine it a bit. He was going to see the king, after all.
“All right, I’m ready to see the king,” he said, running a hand through his hair again. 
“It’s the other way around,” grunted a guard. “The king is seeing you. You are merely reporting as ordered.”
 
3. What is the first thing people might notice about them?
Finn is extremely pale, but his eyes are green, so people are often struck with the contrast between his complexion and his eye color.
 
4. What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)
Probably his pale complexion.
 
5. How tall are they? What is their build (Ex: stocky, slender, petite, etc.)
As stated in his description, Finn is six foot tall and thin, yet muscular. At the beginning of the story, he is in the king's dungeon and has been there for five years, but he works out in his cell just in case he ever escapes and needs to fight someone.
 
6. What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?
Despite being in a dungeon for the past five years, Finn has great posture. He always carries himself well: shoulders back, back straight, and head held high like an invisible string is pulling the nape of his neck toward the sky. He carries a lot of tension in his neck and shoulders, so he can sometimes appear rigid.
 
7. Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?
Finn would probably wear loose, comfortable clothes made by the finest tailor in his homeland. Perhaps he would look more relaxed than normal, even going so far as to relax his rigid posture.
 
8. Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?
The only accessory that Finn wears is a locket with a portrait of his twin sister Raya inside of it. He also carries his sword and bow and arrows with him. His sword has an ivory handle and is inlaid with emeralds.
 
9. Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!
Yes. Finn's race can't grow hair, but since Finn is half human, he and his twin sister did grow hair. To fit in with the rest of their race, they would shave their heads, arms, and legs every morning. Yet, they were still teased for the fluff that they occasionally missed.
 
10. Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?
Finn hated how he looked when he was younger because he didn't fit in with the rest of his race. When he left home, however, he stopped worrying about shaving his hair and let it grow long. His hair has since become a feature of pride to him, rather than shame.
If Finn could change one thing about his appearance, he would make his skin darker so that it doesn't burn so easily in the sun.

In my next blog post, I will talk about Finn's race, whom I have been busy creating. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

San Juan Island 2016

Every year, my friends and I (and our respective families, though mine declined to come this year) make an Epic Pilgrimage on the Washington State Ferries to San Juan Island where we laugh, relax, and watch whales. This year's San Juan trip came at the perfect time: right in the midst of preparing to leave for college. Though I had one or two days of anxiety about all the things on my to-do-before-college list, I was able to remove myself from all responsibility except Camping Responsibilities and enjoy the time spent with my friends.

Here's the squad:


And here are some of our adventures:

Lime Kiln lighthouse. During the summer, a team of volunteers tracks our resident Orca Whale pods (J, K, and L) and gives informational talks about the whales.
Abbey and her Best Friend the Black Box saving the ocean one giant piece of Styrofoam at a time. We used our ingenuity to fish it out of the sea and drag it up onto shore (and before breakfast, too!)

Deer invade the campsite! In past years, raccoons and bees have been a problem. This year, the deer were a problem. They ate the bananas off of our picnic table as we watched from a few feet away (and took selfies, because, well, isn't that what my generation is supposed to do???).
Throwing the dummy for The Dog.
As usual, we visited the used bookstore in Friday Harbor and I found a book by Richard Adams! I didn't know he wrote anything besides Watership Down. I didn't buy it, but I took a picture so that I would remember to look it up later.
My camp chair found love!
Eagle watching at Brigg's Lake.
Watching the moon.


Looking for bats at English camp.
 
Reading in the wind and sun.

Beautiful sunsets.
Camping isn't camping without glow sticks!
Watching for whales.
Whales!
They came SO. CLOSE! Probably within twenty or thirty feet of where we were sitting on the rocks next to the lighthouse. This was a special viewing not only because they were close, but also because these whales were from K-pod, which hasn't been seen since June. Because there isn't enough salmon in the water, the whales go elsewhere to find food.
The picture above is a snapshot from a video that my friend's mom took. My camera died shortly before K-pod came close, but my other friend's mom let me use her super nice camera to take pictures so that she could videotape the whales!
As a special treat to end the trip, I broke my sugar fast and ordered a raspberry-chai tea milkshake at The Hungry Clam. If you ever go to San Juan Island, make sure to stop by The Hungry Clam (conveniently located right next to the used bookstore) and order one of their milkshakes. They are the best in the whole world, and you can mix practically any combination of flavors for your Ultimate Milkshake of Destiny.  

Now I'm back home buying last-minute items and packing away my life in boxes. In less than a week I will move into my dorm! If you think of it, you could pray for me... specifically that 1) I would transition easily from being a formerly homeschooled and only child to a college student living 1,600 miles away from both parents and friends, and 2) that I would be confident in who I am. Sometimes, I chameleon into whoever I'm hanging out with and lose my true identity trying to fit in. I want people's first impressions of me at school to be of the Authentic Abbey: a geek saved by Christ trying to live according to God's values, not the world's.

I've been camping for ten days. What did I miss? What have you been up to?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Lady Dragon, Tela Du Cover Reveal!

Hello, all! My friend Kendra has recently released the cover for her next book, Lady Dragon, Telu Du. This is the sequel to Water Princess, Fire Prince, which I very much enjoyed. Even though I'm a week late to the party (I've been camping for the past ten days), Kendra is still letting me post her cover and a snippet! Enjoy...

Book Description: 


Amber, the Lady Dragon, has been promised a fifty-year reign over Rizkaland and nothing can stop her from claiming it. But when you've lived six thousand years, fifty is such a pitiful number. Only one person can keep her from making this reign permanent - the Tela Du, a girl who shall share Amber's face.

The last thing Petra wants is a magical world interrupting her plans for a normal life, let alone an ultimate battle against the Lady Dragon with only one prophesied survivor. She has her childhood best friend, Reuben, at her side, but she's not sure if he's more of a help or a hindrance right now. Though she'd much prefer to just return home and forget about this whole crazy affair, things change when she discovers that the world has surprising connections to her own family - including her sister who disappeared without a trace two years before. Still, Rizkaland can't possibly expect her to risk her very life, can it?


This gif reminded Kendra of a scene that was originally going to take place outside on Reuben’s front doorstep, but then ended up in Petra’s kitchen instead. Still, it very much fits Reuben and Petra’s relationship – at first reluctant, but once the decision is made, they’re never looking back.

Snippet:
Mother shook her head grimly. “Queen Ellen lost the child.”

“Oh.” Ashna sank back into her chair and let the grimness of the situation wash over her. “But that means that Helen’s line … since King Roland…”

“Is to die out, yes,” said Father, not glancing up from his desk where he was scratching out a letter to the king and queen of Klarand. “All of the lines are to die out, and they know it. King Roland’s death during the kirat attack last month was just the beginning. Queen Nia’s life is sapped away by her fever as we speak. There’s nothing that anyone in Rizkaland can do.”

“Nothing that Rizkaland will do,” said Mother. She pulled off her cape and draped it across a chair, a frown pulling at her brow. “The Dragon has most  the people deluded with her pretty words and fancy tricks, and those who are wise to her just sit back, fold their hands, and say ‘Alphego’s Will be done.’”

Father smiled slightly, though it was a grim smile. “Alphego’s Will be done."


And now, what you've all been waiting for... the fabulous cover!


Author Bio:
Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and an honor guard of nutcrackers.

 
Blog:
Official Website:
Add to Goodreads:
Buy Book 1, Water Princess, Fire Prince:
https://www.amazon.com/Water-Princess-Prince-Rizkaland-Legends-ebook/dp/B00YTQBTDI#navbar
Cover Design Credit: Benjamin Ingalls - https://www.behance.net/BenjaminIngalls

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Star Trek Beyond, a Review

Some of you may not know this about me: I am not just a casual Star Trek fan; no, I am a Trekkie. I own socks with Spock's face on them. A giant Star Trek puzzle graces the floor of my room. I have a shelf dedicated to Star Trek books (including a Star Trek pop-up book). I've bought several magazines about Star Trek. I baked Star Trek Christmas cookies. I've gone to Halloween parties dressed as a red shirt. I wore my blue Star Trek uniform to choir on the day that Leonard Nimoy died. My American Girl Dolls and my Build-a-Bear have Star Trek uniforms. The other day, I bought my first Star Trek action figure (it was Morn). I'm listening to Star Trek soundtracks as I write this blog post.
Like any self-respecting Trekkie, I don't believe that Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness live up to the Star Trek that Gene Rodenberry created. Because of this, I haven't followed any news about Star Trek Beyond. But, when I had to opportunity to see it a few weeks ago, I did. I had low expectations, so the film completely surprised me! I left the theater with a huge smile on my face, for Beyond felt like a Star Trek movie. Below is my review, so beware of spoilers!

I love how this poster mirrors the post for Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The Plot
966 (significant because The Original Series premiered in September, 1966) days into the Enterprise's five-year mission, Captain Kirk and his crew stop at Yorktown station. They have barely docked when the station receives a distress call from an escape pod. The woman inside says that her ship has crashed on a planet in the middle of an uncharted nebula nearby. The Enterprise is sent to rescue this ship, but it turns out to be a ruse! There is a hostile swarm of aliens inside the nebula who have been spying on the Federation. They are bent on destroying the peaceful organization with an ancient weapon, which they only have half of. The Enterprise, of course, is carrying the second half of the weapon.
The swarm destroys the Enterprise [I thought saucer separation wasn't supposed to happen until Next Generation?] and takes its personnel hostage. Only Scotty, Captain Kirk and Chekov, and Spock and Dr. McCoy are not captured. They must rescue the crew and find a way off of the planet before Krall—the leader of the swarm—assembles the weapon and destroys the Federation, starting with the Yorktown station!


The story turns out to be one of revenge, which is a plotline that I'm not fond of. I didn't think that Krall's motivation for revenge were strong enough to fuel his actions. The script-writers, however, managed to write a coherent and complete plot, balance several side plots, and made the story seem like a Star Trek episode in movie form, which I greatly appreciated!
One thing that I loved was that some things were left up to the audience to figure out on their own. Nowadays, people expect stories to be so simple that they don't have to connect-the-dots, so to speak. In Beyond, the writer's gave us context clues and let us figure things out for ourselves. For example, they gave us hints about Krall's identity, and I figured out who he was before The Big Reveal.

The writer's also did a fabulous job with the side plots. Hikaru Sulu, for example, has a side plot that is shown only in the background of the movie. At the beginning, during Captain Kirk's log entry, the camera pans from crew member to crew member and we see that Sulu has a picture of a little girl on his desk. "Aw, he has a family!" the audience thinks. Later, when the Enterprise reaches the Yorktown, we see Sulu, his partner, and his daughter reuniting in the background. When Yorktown is being attacked by the swarm, we see Sulu's partner and daughter running for safety. Because we connected-the-dots that Sulu cares for these people, we are worried for them, too, and hope they that get to safety. At the end of the movie, we see Sulu and his partner at Captain Kirk's birthday party, so we know that Sulu's family is safe.
Now that is how to write a side plot! Especially, in my opinion, one featuring a gay couple. I didn't feel like the writer's were shoving the homosexual agenda in my face. I could look at Sulu and his partner and feel sorry that they don't know God and have succumb to the world's definition of love, and then I could move on and admire the movie's storytelling. The writer's were smart enough to know that focusing on Sulu's relationship would detract from the main plot and from the main side plot, so they kept it in the background of the movie, while still developing Sulu as a character.

We don't know what's happened in the three years since the events of Into Darkness, and this is apparent in Beyond's main subplot, which features Spock. The movie doesn't stop everything to explain the thoughts and actions of Spock in the past three years, though, but tells us gradually through several dialogues with Doctor McCoy. I appreciated this, as an info-dump would have rushed Spock's character development.

You can tell that Star Trek Beyond—as opposed to the other two movies in the reboot franchise—was written by Star Trek fans. Both Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, who co-wrote the script, were Star Trek fans before becoming involved with the new Star Trek movies. Director Justin Lin was also a fan before making the movie. I appreciate based-on movies that are made by fans because they represent the heart of the originals. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Tintin movie, and the Lord of the Rings movies are some other movies made by fans that I enjoy.
Because Beyond was made by fans, there are many "Easter eggs" referring to other Trek characters, episodes, and lore. For a list, check out this link. My favorite was near the beginning of the film. Captain Kirk is making a log entry and he says something like, "966 days into our five year mission and things are starting to feel a bit episodic."

Characters
Star Trek Beyond was filled with so many great character moments and so much character development!
Karl Urban, who plays Doctor McCoy (very excellently, too, I must say. He was a Star Trek fan before getting the role of Doctor McCoy, and you can tell it in his portrayal), nearly didn't come back to film Beyond because he felt that Doctor McCoy had been "marginalized" in Into Darkness. When he found out the writers' and director's plan for the character, however, he decided to join the movie, and I'm so glad he did! His interactions with Spock are just like the interactions between the Spock and McCoy of the original timeline. They were my favorite part of the movie.


Jaylah is a new character and, from the trailers, she looks like a strong, warrior princess character that Kirk will definitely fall in love with. In fact, Jaylah is more like Rey (from The Force Awakens) than a warrior princess. Like Rey, Jaylah has no parents and is stranded on a strange planet. She learned to take care of herself out of necessity, rather than out of a want to be A Strong Woman Who Needs No Man. I thought that she was a wonderful addition to the cast, and I loved that most of her interactions were with Scotty, rather than with Captain Kirk.


Theme
The biggest theme in Beyond was unity vs. chaos. The United Federation of Planets is, obviously, in favor of unity and peace. The villain Krall, on the other hand, grew up as the Federation was just forming. He was a part of MACO, a military operation (watch the Enterprise TV series for more information), and believes that war, rather than peace, develops character. He raised some interesting questions and had some interesting debates with Uhura. The theme was carried out well, and throughout the story.

Humor
The humor in the rebooted Star Trek movies has always been great, and this movie is no exception. The banter between Spock and McCoy, and between McCoy and Kirk is wonderful. My favorite part was when Kirk, Chekov, Scotty, Spock, and McCoy are trying to find the rest of their missing crew and Spock tells Chekov to scan for a radioactive alloy from Vulcan.
"Why would a Vulcan alloy be on this planet?" someone asked Spock.
"I gave Lt. Uhura a necklace made out of it," replied Spock.
"You gave your girlfriend radioactive jewelry?!" exclaimed Doctor McCoy.
"The radiation is not harmful," said Spock.
"Oh, so you gave your girlfriend a tracking device?" Doctor McCoy said.
Spock looks incredulous "... That was not my intention."

Abbey teared up at a movie???
I don't cry during movies. I don't cry when I read books. But, I teared up in Star Trek Beyond.
Leonard Nimoy, who had roles in both Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness passed away before he could reprise his role as Ambassador Spock in Star Trek Beyond. In the story, Ambassador Spock has passed away, too. At the end of the movie, Commander Spock is given Ambassador Spock's belongings. He looks through the chest and finds this picture:


I was NOT expecting such a great tribute to the Original Series crew whom I love so dearly. It was lovely.

Two last notes
Usually I don't notice movie soundtracks, but Beyond's soundtrack caught my attention! It was like the Original Series music had been mixed with the 2009 movie's soundtrack and spiced up with a bunch of new chords. I liked it a lot.
One thing I disliked about the movie was the cinematography. There were too many weird angles and 360 degree camera turns for my taste. The story and the character development more than makes up for my motion sickness, though!

I felt like the 2009 movie and Into Darkness were an extremely long prologue for this movie. Trekkies: don't worry, Beyond is a good Star Trek movie, and worthy of coming out during Star Trek's 50th anniversary year.
I can't wait for Star Trek Beyond to come out on DVD so that I can watch it again (and again and again)! It is the best of the new movies, and I like it more than some of the old movies, too (*cough cough* The Motion Picture *cough cough*).

Only one thing remains to be said...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Siekrits, by Abbey

As many of you know, I have enjoyed writing ever since I was a little girl. I've shared some of my earliest stories with you on my previous blog (The Woman Who Did Not Speak and My Early Masterpieces), but, now, another early story of mine has resurfaced. It is my pleasure to introduce to you... "Siekrits," by seven-year-old Abbey:

Chapter 1
Anna and Sarah were best friends. They walked to school together.

Chapter 2
"I have a secret to tell you," Anna said.

Chapter 3
"What?" said Sarah.
"I have to move away."

Chapter 4
"B-b-b-b-but why?"
"Because."
"B-b-but why?"
"Because my aunt Ruth invited us-"

Chapter 5
"-to live with her until fall."

Chapter 6
"At least you will come back," said Sarah.
"No, I won't. My mother won't."

Chapter 7
"Goodbye," said Sarah.
"Goodbye," said Anna.

Chapter 8
Four months later...
"Mom, I got a letter from her!
"Who from, dear?"
"Mom, it is from Anna! Oh, she is coming back!"

Chapter 9
"Hi!" said Anna.
"Hi!" said Sarah.
"I'm sure glad to see you."

THE END

The unedited version:
chAPtR 1
anna and Sarha wr Best fens Tha wakt to Skool. together

chAPtR 2
i haf a siekrit to to tl you anna seod

chAPtR 3
wat saod sarha
i haF to muF awa

chAPtR 4
BBBBut y
Bekas
BBut Y o
Bekas. my aNt ruth iNFiDID as

chaPtR 5
to liF with hoR intil fol

chaPtR 6
at lest you wil kam Bak seod serha
NO i wont my mathr wONt

chaPTr 7
GuD Boy! sad sarha
GuD Boy! saoD anna

chaPR 8
4 mAthS ladr
mom i gat A latr!
ho FRom Der.
mom it is FRom anna! oh She is kaming Bak!

chAPtR P
hi! seod anna
hi! seod sarha
hag
im Shr GlaD to se you

The eND




My favorite part of the story is "4 maths ladr..."
It's fun to look back at my old (old old old) writing. Part of the fun is decoding my horrible spelling. Do you ever look back at old writing projects and laugh?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Slightly More Successful Baking Adventures with Abbey

Today, I will be showing you how to make a no-bake, processed sugar-free, almond butter and banana pie, based off of this recipe. The pie crust is from this recipe. (As I poke around this person's blog, I find more and more great recipes... Check her out if you are looking for healthy desert options!)

To make the pie crust, you must blend together (I used a food processor)...

-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
-1/2 a cup of pecans (or other nut of your choice)
-1/2 a cup of shredded coconut
-1/2 a cup of raisins (pitted dates work, too)
-and 1/8th of a teaspoon of salt


When your mixture is blended well, spread it out in a 9-inch pan.


To make your pie, you must blend together...

-3 bananas
-1 cup of almond butter (or other nut butter of your choice)
-2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
-1/8th teaspoon of salt
-1/4th cup of melted, virgin coconut oil (<--- this sentence is why commas are important. Without the comma, the recipe would call for 1/4th of melted virgin. Umm... WHAT?!)
-4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup


Once your mixture is very well blended, pour it on top of the pie crust.


Freeze it until it hardens, and then keep it cool until you eat it.

The verdict:

"Very banana-y; but, mmmmm–I love the kick of the crust!"
"Very good."
"Much better than your last cake."
"Eh, pretty good." (From the apathetic teenage boy.)
"It kind of has the consistency of a go-gurt."
"Really good!"

Woo-hoo, a success! I agree: the pie is delicious. It's crazy that it has only natural sugars in it, for it tastes like something you would buy at a grocery store! This is definitely a recipe I will come back to. Next time, however, I may try using less bananas or more nut butter, so that the pie tastes more buttery and not so banana-y.
Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to finish the piece of pie that I am eating now, and then go pack for camping!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Letter from Camp

Dear Family, Friends, and Followers,
Right now, I am sitting on the edge of the carrot bed here in Camp NaNoWriMo's Creativity Garden. I know, I know... shame on me for packing my bags and leaving without telling anyone. I'm sorry. I hope you didn't hire any helicopters or private detectives to look for me.
A week ago, I realized that if I was going to finish two short stories AND write descriptions for two of the races in my fantasy story before I go to school in a few weeks, I needed to sit down, concentrate, and write. So, like I said, I packed my bags and left. I drove straight to Camp NaNoWriMo, Imagination Land. Even though I was twenty days late, they sorted me into a cabin (though I decided to string up my hammock outside rather than break the camaraderie that my fellow cabin-mates had already built) and let me sign up for 20,000 words.
Well, as you can imagine, all of my good intentions have fallen short. Instead of 20,000 words, I have managed a measly 3,700.
What has been distracting me from writing all the way out in the middle of Imagination Land, you may wonder? The internet. Yes, even Imagination Land has wi-fi.
Books have also been distracting me (I should have known better than to bring them to Camp NaNoWriMo with me). I'm reading Into the Vast by DJ Edwardson and Hidden Pearls by Hayden Wand and both stories have me captivated!
Additionally, a few adventures have stolen me away from my stories... Can you believe that Imagination Land has a Wal-mart? Well, they do. And, once I heard that Wal-mart was having a back-to-school sale, I snuck out of NaNoWriMo's campground (which is specifically forbidden, by the way), forded streams, and climbed over logs to reach the Great Deals awaiting me. I found binders, pencils, highlighters, erasers, paper, and everything else a college student could need and—after paying for them—smuggled them back to my hammock.
With four days left to write, I doubt that I will be able to write 16,300 words. But, maybe, if I work hard, I will be able to finish one of my short stories. It chronicles the childhood of King John, a villain in my fantasy novel. The other short story and my fantasy race descriptions will have to wait for another time.
Oh dear, I see one of the other campers coming toward me. If they find out I'm writing a letter home instead of working on my Camp project, they may report me to the counselors and I could be thrown out!
Farewell!