Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Shakespeare Appreciation Post

400 years ago today, William Shakespeare died. I'm wearing appropriate footgear.

In 2008, my mom signed me up for a Shakespeare class. Being twelve, I was still of the opinion that Shakespeare (and literature in general) was boring and hard to understand. Also, I was extremely shy and didn't want to be involved in a class where I had no friends. Thankfully, my best friend joined the class, too, so I wasn't alone.
In preparation for Shakespeare class, my mom and I listened to A Midsummer's Night Dream on audiobook and I was surprised to find that not only did I understand it, but I also enjoyed it. A get-to-know-you party introduced me and my friend to our classmates so that we weren't complete strangers.
The first semester of Shakespeare class included reading a play and discussing it in class (we did The Merchant of Venice that year), writing opinion papers, and playing acting games.
On the first day of class, our teacher walked around with an invisible bag and told each of us to pull our inhibitions, fears, and shyness from wherever we kept them (in our pocket? In our ear? In our socks?) and put them in the invisible bag. Then, she tied up the bag and threw it out. Now we were free to be ourselves and to make fools of ourselves without worrying that someone would judge us for it. This was the first step I took on the long path to shedding the shyness that had been with me since I was a toddler.
The second semester of Shakespeare class included auditioning, practicing, and performing a Shakespeare play. We did Twelfth Night, a tale of mistaken identity and hilarity. I played the role of Antonio, a ship captain who rescues one of the major characters. Antonio's character inspired me to write my first novel, After the Twelfth Night (also a tale of hilarity, but completely historically and "Shakespeare-cally" inaccurate).

Twelve-year-old Abbey as Antonio the Red-eyed Sailor.
Here is a clip from the play:

In 2010, I took Shakespeare class again. This time, we studied Julius Caesar. When the second semester began, it was rumored that Much Ado About Nothing would be our play. We were overjoyed to find our guess correct! Now fourteen, I earned a lead role: Beatrice.

My mom sewed my beautiful costume.
Here is a clip:

Since Shakespeare class, William Shakespeare has remained close to my heart. I've gone to see several plays over the years. When we visited London, I made sure that we visited the Globe Theater.

A few weekends ago, a First Folio of Shakespeare's works was displayed at the Seattle Public Library and me and my friend (the same one that was in Shakespeare class with me) went to see it.
(For the unaware, a First Folio is the first printing of Shakespeare's collected works. Some of his friends published it in 1623, seven years after his death, and, currently, 233 copies have been found. Without the First Folio, eighteen of Shakespeare's plays could have been lost, including Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Twelfth Night.)

The First Folio. They also had a Third Folio on display, which is even rarer than a First Folio because many of the Third Folios were destroyed in one of London's fires.

Because of Shakespeare class, I started to shed my shell of shyness. The class allowed me to be as silly as I wanted in acting games and to express my opinions when we had discussions. It allowed me to use my imagination and to make new friends.
If I had not taken Shakespeare class, I would not be Confidant Abbey who can talk to (almost) anyone; I would still be Shy Abbey who is petrified to speak to anyone who isn't family or a close friends.
If I had not gotten involved in Shakespeare, I never would have played Antonio in Twelfth Night and his storyline never would have inspired my first book. I found NaNoWriMo through writing Antonio's story. If I hadn't taken Shakespeare class, I may not have participated in NaNoWriMo. I may not be a writer right now.

I would not be the person I am today without William Shakespeare. He has shaped my personality, my writing, and now my fashion (refer back to the first picture in this post).

"Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow."
-Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene ii.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

On no, I'm It!

On my old blog it seemed as though every other post was a tag. I don't want that to happen on this blog, but an occasional tag is fun, especially when the questions are fantastic!

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link their website.
2. Use the award logo on your post 
3. Answer the 10 questions provided by the blogger who tagged you 
4. Nominate 10 bloggers
5. Ask them 10 questions

Thank you for the great questions, Bethany and Becca!

1) What is your favorite thing about Spring?
My favorite thing about spring is the green of new growth that colors every mountain, tree, and yard. I'm blessed to live in Washington State where there is an abundance of green growth throughout the year, but that green is intensified in springtime. They don't call us the "Evergreen State" for nothing!

On the street where I live... (That was a reference to My Fair Lady. I thought I'd mention that because the sentence sounds strange otherwise.)

2) Favorite era of music?

The 20th century is my favorite era of music. My favorite composers (George Gershwin, Shostakovich, Dubussy, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev...) lived and composed in the 20th century. Also, the 20th century gave us the Beatles, Paul McCartney's solo career, Elton John, Billy Joel, Focus, the Electric Light Orchestra, and the Bee Gees; not to mention the beginnings of Christian music: Rich Mullins, AD, Petra, Newsboys, Ken Medema, and Randy Stonehill.

3) What do you prefer to write with, pen or pencil?
Pencil. I don't write with pen unless I have to or unless the pen is colored. I like to erase things rather than scribble them out when I make a mistake.

4) Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Trek, but only by a small margin. 
Do you have a favorite book, movie, or TV show that has extreme nostalgic value to you? Do you have a book, movie, or TV show that is so familiar to you that the characters and even the plot seem like friends? Do you have a book, movie, or TV show that you always include in your favorites list, that will always remain in your favorites list, and that your brain automatically jumps to whenever anyone asks, "What's you favorite..."? That's what Star Trek is to me.
Even though I saw Star Wars before Star Trek, something about Star Trek captured my imagination and my love in a way that Star Wars did not. I'm not a fangirl, but I admit to being a Trekkie.

 5) What is the strangest song you know? (Example: They're Coming to Take me Away, Beans In Your Ears, Does Your Chewing Gum Lose it's Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?  Tie Me Kangaroo Down, etc... Yes we know all these songs, does that mean we're crazy?)

If you are My Mother you should probably look away now.
Technically, this is the strangest song I know:

However, this is my favorite strange song (yes, that is a young Oprah at the beginning. Also, this group is Dutch! So... hup Holland? I'm not sure if I'm proud or scared of being a Dutchman after watching this performance):

 6) What are your feelings on glitter?

Two Halloweens ago someone in our church's young adult group wore a glittery red skirt to our Halloween party. I think the family who hosted the party is still finding red glitter on their couch.

7) What do you do when you come to a puddle?
Usually, I'm not paying attention so I walk into the puddle. I don't mind walking in puddles as long as they aren't deep enough to seep into my shoes. I've gotten my shoes soaked enough times at work that I try to pay more attention where I'm walking now, but I still end up stepping in puddles whenever it rains (which is often. We're called the "Evergreen State," but we could be called the "Ever Grey State").

8) What's your favorite outdoor game? (Example: Tag, hide and seek, cops and robbers, weeping angel escape, capture the flag etc...)
I have many fond memories playing the Alien Game with my friends. In the Alien Game, someone hides an object (a ball or a bottle of sunscreen, for example) and the rest of the players have to find that object and bring it back to base. But, beware the Alien (the person who hid the object)! If they tag you three times, you become an Alien, too, and join them in trying to protect the hidden object.

9) What adjective do your family and friends often describe you with?
"Precious" (from my mom until I became a fan of the Lord of the Rings). "Silly," "Strange," "Creative," and "Weird," from various family members and friends. "Boy, you are smart," from my grandma in the Midwest.

10) What is your favorite Schoolhouse Rock song? (And if you've never heard of them, you really should.) 
I like The Great American Melting Pot. And, of course, I'm Just a Bill is great, too.

I'm not going to come up with ten questions or tag anyone, but feel free to answer the above questions in the comments below!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Eight Board Games

I've been playing board games for nearly as long as I've been telling stories. Of course, when I was young, the only games I played were Mastermind, Rack-o, The Game of Life, Sorry!, Rat-a-Tat Cat, Slamwich, Labyrinth, and other children's games. As I got older, however, my dad introduced strategy games to me. He started me off easy with Carcassonne and Lost Cities. I'm sure we must have played Settlers of Catan at some point, too. Eventually we moved on to Robo Rally, Thebes, Lord of the Rings, and Ticket to Ride. These led to Alien Frontiers, Defenders of the Realm, Dominion, Railways of the World, San Juan, Imperial Settlers, and many, many more games! I started attending the board game group that meets at our church every month and have even gone to two board game retreats held by a nearby Christian Bible camp.
One of these retreats was the first weekend in April. It was fun and relaxing, so I thought I'd share with you the board games that I played:

1. Takenoko

In this game, you try to build and irrigate gardens and build and eat bamboo to match whichever pattern is on your cards. If you complete a pattern (such as eating one piece of bamboo of each color, or building a bamboo stalk four pieces tall on an irrigated location), you get however many victory points are on that card. The first player to complete eight cards triggers end game and whoever has the most points wins.
This is a fun, easy-to-understand game that takes about an hour to play. Plus, it has gorgeous artwork and a cool theme!

2. Carcassonne

Yes, those are both cathedrals in one city. One I put there myself; the other was placed by my dad, trying to be mean. I showed him by finishing the city before the game ended. HA!

Carcassonne is a tile-laying game. Players take turns pulling tiles from a bag to make cities, roads, and cloisters, which, in turn, give them points when completed. It's fun to see what kind strange-shaped cities or useless roads players come up with! This is another easy-to-understand game that takes about and hour-and-a-half to play. It's one of my favorites (though I prefer the old artwork to the new design).

3. Settlers of Catan.

Catan is one of the Elders of the strategy board game community. Often, if someone has played a strategy game, that strategy game was Settlers of Catan. In this game, you must build roads, settlements, and cities for points. You build these institutions by paying with resource cards, which you gain depending on dice rolls and which hexagons you are built around.
Catan, like Takenoko and Carcassonne, is an easier, shorter strategy game. And, if you don't like the theme of the game, there is a Star Trek version that plays just the same, only in space.

4. Robinson Crusoe

This board game is an adventure cooperative game. You are your fellow players have survived a shipwreck and have managed to swim to a desert island. Now, you must work together to scavenge for food, supplies, and enough wood to make a signal fire for rescuers to see. But, watch out for the dangers of the forest, wild animals, and the weather!
Robinson Crusoe is a higher strategy game that takes more than two hours to play (unless you die early). I love the theme of this game (Muppet Treasure Island having given me a taste for island adventures at a young age) and the variety of actions you can take. However, it did take a long time to set up, and, because this was my first time playing, I didn't know exactly what I was doing and which actions were the most important. Thankfully, we had a good teacher playing with us and we ended up getting rescued in the end! It was a fun game.

5. Legendary (Marvel)

Legendary is a cooperative deck-building game where you have to recruit superheroes from the hero deck to defeat villains who are rampaging the city. In addition, there is a mastermind criminal that has to be defeated several times in order to win the game. But, be careful! If too many villains escape the villain track with eight innocent bystanders or if the villain deck runs out before you defeat the mastermind, you lose.
If you've ever played Dominion or Thunderstone, this is like those two games mashed together with a superhero theme. I saw Wil Wheaton play this game on Tabletop and, since I like deck building games and Marvel, I thought it would be fun to try! It was really fun! We love playing Dominion with my cousin, but I think I might like this game slightly better. I love the added element of having to destroy bad guys before they destroy you. It makes the gameplay more dangerous. Plus, each villain has victory points on it so at the end you can see which person came away from the battle with the most glory.

6. Guillotine

Guillotine is a fun "filler game." Every turn, you take the French aristocrat at the front of the line (to get their heads chopped off) into your victory point pile. As you can see above, some aristocrats, like King Louis XVI, have more points than others. Some have negative points. Every turn, you can play an action card from your hand. Some of these cards let you rearrange the line so that you can get an aristocrat with a better point value. Other cards give you additional points if you meet the requirements.

7. Discworld

This game is based off of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. Everybody gets a secret objective, such as controlling x amount of areas, or earning $50. If you achieve your objective, you win. If no one achieves their objective and both card decks are depleted, the person with the most points (each person and building has points) wins. Every turn, you play actions (like playing people or building buildings) that help you achieve your objective.
I thought this was a really fun game! I think every person on each card is a character from the books. Since I just started reading the first Discworld novel, I recognized one or two of the names. It would be fun to read the entire series (or some of it, at least. It does have forty-one books) and then play this game again to see how many more references I can spot.

8. Isle of Skye.

Isle of Skye has been described as Carcassonne, but better. Like Carcassonne, this is a tile-laying game. Each turn, players take three tiles out of a bag. One tile they get rid of, the other two they try and sell to the other players. When each player has bought a tile, they add that tile to their home base. The goal is to build the area around your home base to reflect the scoring tile for that round. There are about thirty tiles with different ways to score, but each game is played with only four. Scoring tiles include things like how many boats and lighthouses are in an enclosed lake together, or how many sheep each player has, or how many barns each player has. After five rounds, the player with the most points wins! It's a little hard to understand, but very fun.

What kind of board games do you like playing?

(DISCLAIMER: I found all the pictures, except the one of Carcassonne, on Google Images. They belong to their respective owners and I'm not trying to steal them or claim them as my own.)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Long and Winding Editing Road—Emptiness

I've finished the third draft of my novel. I've sent it off to a few readers. Now, I sit at my computer aimlessly clicking from my email to Twitter and back to my email again.

I expected to be a little dazed after I finished this draft, but I didn't expect to feel so empty.

How do I return to normal life after working so hard on one project for several months?

When I finished the second draft last November, the same thing happened, only I didn't have the advantage of hindsight to recognize it then. Now, at least, I can make an effort to fill the emptiness with useful activities, unlike in November and December, when I filled the emptiness by wasting time.

In my last post I outlined a few things that I wanted to do to fill my time, but none of them hold much appeal to me (except applying for college, though that's more of a necessity than an appeal). All I can think about is writing. So, though I had planned to save outlining stories for a summer project, I will probably start outlining now to save myself from wasting time. Idleness is the mother of all vices, as they say.

When you writers finish a new draft, do you feel emptiness or relief? Do you jump straightaway into the next project? If not, what do you fill your time with?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Long and Winding Editing Road—Fanfare for the Uncommonly Happy Writer

~I've been inspired by Katie at Spiral-Bound's "Editing Diaries" posts to do my own editing series. Currently, I'm in the process of editing a fairytale-fantasy novel I wrote in 2014, and I want you to join me on this journey! Maybe, together, we can learn a few things about writing along The Long and Winding Editing Road.~

Usually, when you come across writers, they are sullen with a far away look in their eyes, contemplating wayward characters and gaping plot holes.
But, hark, do you hear the resounding BOOM of drums? The clash of the gong? Do you hear the lone trumpet line swell as French horns, trombones, and other brass join the fanfare? They play a fanfare for an uncommonly happy writer. An uncommonly happy writer named Abbey.
Why this fanfare, you may ask?
Because I finished the third draft of my fantasy novel!

I expected the final third of my novel to be the hardest to edit due to the character that I was taking out, but, I was enjoying the story so much that I finished the last twenty-one chapters in five days. The last thirteen chapters I finished yesterday by staying up past midnight. Please don't let me do that ever again.

The character I removed didn't end up being as difficult to delete as I had anticipated. Most of his scenes were in big blocks of text so I could highlight them and press the backspace key. All of his important dialogue I was able to delegate to other characters.

Now, I am going to take a month-and-a-half off from this story while I let some friends read it. What am I going to do while my book is away? Several things:

1. Read a lot. I have three books out of the library that have to be returned soon. Hopefully, I'll be able to speed through them now that I'm not consumed with editing.
Also, I'm still making my way through The Silmarillion and enjoying it very much. I just started Beren and Luthien's tale. Did you know that when Thingol accuses Beren for entering his land and falling in love with his daughter, Beren holds up a ring with two serpents with emerald eyes as protection? This ring is, in fact, the same ring that Aragorn owns in The Lord of the Rings! It passed from Beren through the generations until it reached Aragorn.

2. I might outline a few short stories. I was going to save this project for the summer, but these stories have been nagging for my attention. Who will win: Abbey's schedule or the plot bunnies? Find out during our next WWE (Weird Writers Entertainment) match!

3. Apply for college.

4. Writing blog posts. There are several exciting things coming to the blog in the next few months (unfortunately, a WWE match is probably not among them), so stay tuned!

5. Probably watch some Star Trek. Does it count as research if I'm drawing inspiration from it for one of my plot bunnies?

The brass play a final triumphant note. The drums fade into the distance. The fanfare ends.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Long and Winding Editing Road—Movin' Right Along

~I've been inspired by Katie at Spiral-Bound's "Editing Diaries" posts to do my own editing series. Currently, I'm in the process of editing a fairytale-fantasy novel I wrote in 2014, and I want you to join me on this journey! Maybe, together, we can learn a few things about writing along The Long and Winding Editing Road.~

In my last editing post I talked about the struggles that my main character, Finn, has been giving me. I was trying decide if I wanted to go back to the beginning and fix his character, or if I wanted to continue editing from where I was.
I decided to go back to the beginning and fix him. I only looked at the chapters that feature his point-of-view. It was interesting to focus so intensely on one character for one week, ignoring everything else in the story. I found that, by focusing on Finn, I got a much better view of his character arc as a whole. Because I had so recently read where he was at the beginning of the book, I could easily pick out discrepancies and character growth. In the end, I was able to move through Finn's chapters quickly and fix him to the best of my abilities at the moment.

Now, I'm moving into the final third of the third draft. This is going to be the hardest third of the novel. The last few chapters have only been through one draft because I didn't write the ending during the first draft. And, I've decided to get rid of a character that joins my characters on their quest in the final third. He's been in the plan for the story longer than Timone (Timone is the one who showed up randomly halfway through the book). I named this character after two special someone's. It's going to be sad to cut him out of all but one chapter. It's going to be hard, too. It's going to be hard to delegate his lines and his actions to the others. Yet, I know I'm doing the right thing. This character has no purpose in the narrative. I can't think of a single reason to keep him around because he adds nothing to the plot. So, as sad and as hard as it is to let him go, I have to do it. And he won't be gone forever. He'll still have a significant informational role in Chapter 39. Maybe I can transfer him to another story in the future.

Have you writers ever had to take out a deadweight character from your novels?