Randomosity on Fridays: Be Bold Edition

A hand lettering doodle for you this lovely Friday.

I'll post NYC pics next week.

I hope you enjoy this last day of September and have a great weekend! READ!

It's the start of a new month already, and I just realized the next book in Rick Riordan's Heroes of Olympus series is out Tuesday! So excited for The Son of Neptune!

What are you reading / looking forward to reading?


Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

It's Banned Books Week here in the U.S. when we celebrate the freedom to read!

I'm preaching to the choir here when it comes to the topic of reading and books and their importance to not just literacy but also understanding. Books are many things, but at their core, they are ideas - ideas to ponder, to explore, and to inspire.

Last year, I posted the list from the ALA of the 100 most frequently challenged books from 2000-2009.

Here's a few more lists from the ALA. Check out the ALA site for more lists and info on Banned Books Week (which also has its own separate site).

The ones I've read have been bolded.
The ones I own are italicized.

Top 10 most frequently challenged books of 2010.

1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    • Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    • Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    • Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
    • Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    • Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
    • Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
7. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
    • Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    • Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
    • Reasons: homosexuality and sexually explicit
10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
    • Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence

Also, take a gander at banned and challenged classics.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Ulysses, by James Joyce
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
1984, by George Orwell
Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Native Son, by Richard Wright
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
Sophie's Choice, by William Styron
Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence
The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

This list of classics also includes the only book I have ever professed to hate: John Knowles' A Separate Peace. (Well, I might have to add Breaking Dawn to that very short list. I really...just...couldn't...)

But though I did not particularly enjoy A Separate Peace the first or second times I read it, I'm glad I had the choice to read it. And read it again - a third and fourth time (at which point, I think it started to grow on me and I've since promoted it to my "generally dislike" category).

So, support choice! Live dangerously. Read Banned Books! :)

How many of these books have you read? Any you loved? Any you hated?


Vlogging in the Big Apple

Not gonna lie, I'm still on vacation hangover. Is it the weekend yet? Need. More. Rest. (Hanging out with Luce & going to the Two Door Cinema Club show with the sister last night probably didn't help. But yay, good music & company!)

That aside, I did miss you all! I know I owe a bunch of you replies and comments and emails, and I will do my best to get to them.

Anyway, here's my FIRST SOLO vlog that I did during some down time in NYC. It's a little weird because I'm typing the rest of this blog from my couch at home. This is like the closest I'll be to time travel!

Hope you enjoy!

In other news, before I left for vacation, I got my letter into Pottermore, got chosen by a wand (12.5 inches, dragon core, sycamore, surprisingly swishy!), and I was Sorted into RAVENCLAW. Just as I always suspected! At last count, we're beating the Slytherins in House points.

So, anyone else in Pottermore? Have you been sorted? Let's be friends! :)


WIP Wednesday: Writing Journals!

On average, I'd say that I do 80% of my writing on the computer, in a cacophany of clickety-clacking on the keyboard.  The other 20% is written the old-fashioned way, good ol' pen on paper.  My weapons of choice are usually a Sakura Micron 0.5 pen (color depends on my mood or what I happen to randomly grab) and one of my many writing journals.

I used to try to consolidate my writing into one journal at a time, before deciding that different journals for different projects was a good idea, and then ending up just writing in whatever was closest to hand. 

I also used to try to keep my writing journals free of doodles before wondering WTF I was thinking and doodling away. I now find that doodling is an organic and often necessary part of longhand writing: it keeps me busy while I think about what to write, without the time-sucking distraction of things like YouTube or Bejeweled Blitz.

My doodling habit began when I hit college and found that some lectures were very dull and my classmates' insightful discussion frequently left something to be desired; I sought refuge in the blank spaces of my notebook, alternately scribbling down stories and doodling like a maniac. People thought I was a studious notetaker.  And actually, I was and still am.  I just drew a lot at the same time and buried story-snippets amidst notes about Murasaki Shikibu.

Not pictured: Alz's notes from Japanese Literature.
Pictured: Alz's writing journal from Barnes & Noble.
Writing by hand works best for me when working out short story ideas or just kickstarting a stalled project.  It gives me more time to think about what I'm writing as I'm writing it, and I find it's often easier to force myself to keep on writing when I have a pen versus staring at a computer screen with all the alluring attraction of the internet tingling at my fingertips. 

I like journals with large margins at the top because that's where I jot notes and follow-up ideas and corrections, word banks and name possibilities and whether or not I'm hungry at the time of writing.

Margins are also good for random unicorns that have nothing to do with the story at hand.

My handwriting, as you may be able to tell, is a symphony of calligraphic perfection.  I never have any trouble reading my handwriting, particularly when I'm lazy or in a hurry to get stuff down.  Though it humbles me to say it, I am a paragon of penmanship.

I like flipping back through old writing journals because it gives me a sense of accomplishment, i.e. wow, I filled up an entire journal!  It's quite superficially satisfying as well as more seriously gratifying to know that even if it's a journal of rough starts and srsly unfinished bznss, there's a body of work to work with.  You can't work with nothing, after all.

It's even more gratifying when I flip through old journals and find forgotten encouragements that I wrote to myself.  Like this one:

So there's a glimpse into a couple of my writing journals. Do you keep a physical writing journal?  Do you like to write longhand?  Speaking of hands, do you think better when your hands are busy?

And last but not least, stay tuned for a special NYC vlog from Krispy coming on Friday!

P.S. (from Krispy) Also, if you haven't heard/seen it yet, LYDIA KANG has an agent!!! She's one of the coolest bloggers we "know," so go congratulate her! :)


Randomosity on Fridays: Vacation Hangover Edition

I am BACK, lovelies! Well, I'm about 60% back as my body has finally decided to tell me that being sleep deprived and tramping around a giant City that Never Sleeps all day (and into the night) is cause for crashing.

That and I seriously can't recover like I used to. I went to work yesterday, and despite getting 8 full, wonderful hours of sleep, I was spaced out and zombified all day. It was like I'd slept at 4am. So I only have half a Friday 5 for you today - a quick few points - and Alz will fill you in on the rest!

Vacay stories and pics to come! Including, perhaps, my first solo vlog!

1. I have the best college roommates evaaarrr. I stayed with one of them & the other housed my sister and friends, and they were amazing hostesses. They helped make my sister's 21st birthday pretty freaking awesome. My 3rd roommate, unfortunately, couldn't make it up from Boston for the weekend because school had already started, but I love her too!

2. Thanks to the roommate I stayed with, my hair and skin feel the best they've felt since a year ago when I also stayed at her place. Her place is like a spa! So many nice skincare products! Yay for working in the cosmetics industry!

Product placement: KIEHL'S

This campaign - yeah, my roomie launched it. Also, I love the moisturizer.
3. Before I left, I got crazy-colored highlights in my hair. They're pink, violet, and bright red, even though I only asked for violet. I kind of love them though. Also there's a feather extension because my hair lady really wanted to try it out. I think it's growing on me...

Alz's randoms:

4. The creatures featured on my jacket from last post are rabites, specifically the 16-bit version from Secret of Mana.

5. My rat says hi:

[/Alz's randoms, though I typed "ransoms" at first. Clearly ratty is influencing my subconscious. I've long suspected her of nefarious plottings multitudinous.]

In the mean time, I missed you all and will try to kind of catch-up. Mostly, I need sleep though. Haha. But seriously, what did I miss?

Have an awesome weekend!


Work in Progress Wednesday

I have accomplished multitudinous things this week in the absence of Krispy—which is not to say that I accomplished them because of her absence as much as I have merely coincidentally accomplished them during her absence. Here are a few things I've done recently:

1. I made a bit of progress on our co-novel project, rounding out a scene and generally giving our unsuspecting hero a wonderful time.  A line for you:
In retrospect, it turned out to be a good thing that the bakery hadn't had his cake because it meant he returned in time to see his home on fire.
2. I finished reading Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. I enjoyed it and today I went to the library to get the sequel, Demon's Covenant. I suppose this isn't really a work in progress, but oh well. (You can find Krispy's review of the first book here and the second book here.)

3. For the first time in over a decade, I attempted some cross-stitching. I remember it being time-consuming and ill-rewarding, but then again I was like six the first time I tried it; it was still time-consuming but the end result is better now that I'm old enough to have the coordination and patience to do things properly and cheat more sneakily. It came out all right. And if I hadn't been too lazy to take a real picture, you'd see how all right it looks, as opposed to this quick crappy picture I took on the fly:

Delicious brownie points if you can identify these creatures.

That's what I've been up to! And quite soon in the future there will be a special post: The Return of the Krispy. What've you been up to writingwise/readingwise/craftwise?


Friday Five: Book Raid on Borders

Krispy and I have been hitting up Borders quite a bit recently in light of their increasing sales. I have a crapload of new books to read, which is not much consolation for the fact that my local bookstore that I adore will soon be no more, which thought I quite abhor as it wounds me to the core.

At first I picked up books that I'd read or been wanting to read. As the books became cheaper, I started picking up books I'd never heard of but were by authors that I liked. And as the books became even cheaper, I bought books that sounded interesting and were worth chancing a few bucks on.

Here are five books I've picked up over the past few weeks:

1. Pegasus by Robin McKinley: I like the author and though I'd heard the book was slow and light on plot, the worldbuilding is supposed to be amazing. Plus it was the only copy, hardback, and 60% off. It's about a princess living in a country where every member of the royal family is ceremonially bound to a pegasus because they are allies. I started it a while ago and got a ways into it.  The evil guy is really obviously evil and named Fthoom.  That's not a typo.

But let me tell you—Princess Sylvi is all right but oh, Ebon, her pegasus. So far, he is endearing and hot. If only I were a pegasus. Or, you know, he was human. I do draw a line, you know. Regretfully.

2. Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce: Another author I like, with books that are awesome and books that are so-so. I hadn't heard of this particular one and after reading the back—some girl named Evvy training to be a stone mage who befriends a living mountain and they have to find out why plants and animals are dying and stuff—I thought it sounded interesting but not riveting. I started to shelve it and then took a second look at the cover. Was that an Asian girl on the cover? All right, so you're not supposed to judge books by their cover, but HELL YEAH DIVERSITY SUPPORT so I bought the book. Ahem. (Plus, Tamora Pierce writes a variety of cultures very well, without exoticizing them.)

3. Wizard of the Grove by Tanya Huff: Non-YA fantasy author who is supposed to be a good writer, and whose stuff I have never read. The blurb is pretty standard fantasy-fare about how some evil guy is out to rule the world, and so the remnants of the Elder Races give one final gift to the world: the last wizard, a girl named Crystal. While her name sort of turns me off, I perused the first couple of chapters and the political intrigue and writing are pretty good. Plus the evil guy is having his enslaved enemies build him a giant tower out of huge marble blocks, mortared together with "the strongest mortar"—which is life. Which means that his enemies are chained down and each marble block is dropped on top of them. That's pretty evil.

4. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld: Krispy read this one and said it was good, and Borders had a hardcover copy of the original pretty cover (not the re-design which unexcites me and yes, unexcite is a verb that exactly describes how I feel when comparing the original and the re-design)—in their bargain section. I picked it up but haven't read it yet. Steampunk army VS bio-engineered army in alternate history? I'm so there. Or will be, after I've read a metric boatload of other books.

Krispy did warn me that the first book reads more MG than YA and that the second book is better than the first.  Our friend Luce couldn't get through Leviathan because it read too "young" for her, so I am armed with forewarning and can adjust my expectations accordingly.

5. A Mermaid's Ransom by Joey W. Hill: Trashy romance!  Gotten for like 70% off!  Never heard of the author or the book but I thought the cover was interesting and made me snicker.  I, er, didn't realize quite how scandalous it was since the Borders sticker was covering the little discreet bit on the back that said "erotic romance," which is a tad racier than the usual Regency/fantasy romance lulz I go for.  But I had to buy it because—well, here, for this one I'll actually give you the blurb on the back of the book, with bold to emphasize points of interest:

Daughter to an angel and a mermaid, Alexis has grown up with blue waters caressing her skin. So when nightmares begin to plague her—dreams of fire and fear—the merangel has little idea what to make of it. In her dream is the loneliest man Alexis has ever seen—and she's strangely drawn to him. Until the night her dreams come true…

Born of a vampire and a Dark One, Dante has only known brutality. And although he's the leader of the Dark Ones' underworld, he longs to escape. How better to do so than to hold for ransom the Prime Legion Commander's daughter? But there's one thing Dante never planned for—the way Alexis has stolen his heart, giving him the chance to embrace life instead of darkness…if he can prove himself worth of her love.

She's a merangel. And yes, her natural form is a mermaid with feathery wings, she can fly as well as breathe underwater, she's also an empathy and can feel others' emotions, and she literally radiates angelic light—which is not visible but felt, and makes it so that people are naturally comfortable around her and want to protect her, which means that she never has a chance to develop a romantic relationship with a guy because they're all too comfy around her.  Except Dante, of course.

Ahem. This one I already finished reading and it is as ridiculous as it sounds, if not more so. However, it is actually not nearly as badly-written-laughable as I expected. It was actually pretty decent—better than some of the YA I've been reading lately.

So! There's a peek at my books spoils. Have any of you been hitting up the bookstore lately?

And a special shout-out from our Krispy, who's kickin' it NYC-style!  She says, "Thank you for all the well-wishes!  And do any of you have any NYC things I must see and/or eat?"


Wonderful Wednesday: Conversations with Krispy

Krispy is going away forever to NY. Though I will be despondent and doleful and despairing, I shall do my utmost to not be so down despite how destitute I feel.
I drew the plane with a propeller on the front because
it looks more like a WWII fighter plane and therefore cooler.
I asked Krispy if she had any blog ideas for today. She said she'd had a great idea last week but couldn't remember what it was anymore. After a period of discussion concerning dresses and shoe choices, free Kindle books, Anakin Skywalker, and Supernatural bloopers, I asked Krispy if she'd had any idea-for-blog epiphanies during the course of our conversation.

To which I said, "WTF KRISPY YOU ARE A TEASE," to which she replied:

I was going to have a real post dealing with writing, but I ended up wasting time procrastinating doodling too much. So instead of an insightful post about literary style and narrative technique and etc., I'm going to post this doodle of what I predict Krispy will look like when she dresses up and takes on NY:

She's ready. But is NY ready for her?

Please join me in wishing our Krispykins a safe flight and happy frolicking!  In the meantime, do any of you have vacation plans anytime soon?


Friday Five x Two = 10 Random Facts

Technically Krispy was tagged by Tere and not me, but even though Camp Nano is officially over, Krispy is still furiously nanoing (or should be) and so I'm taking over the 10 Random Facts meme.  Have at ye!

1. I read trashy romance in the hopes that it will be hilariously over-the-top. It frequently is and it just as frequently is pretty boring. My standards and expectations for trashy romance are completely different from my standards and expectations for YA, even if it is a YA romance.

2. I was never much of a coffee- or tea-drinker until I hit college, when I finally understood the benefits of a steaming-hot caffeinated beverage on a freezing night before a paper is due.

3. Following up on that, I've never actually pulled an all-nighter when writing a paper. I always finished it the night before, at the latest. Which means I'd be wired all night from the copious amounts of caffeine guzzled in the pre-emptive terror of spending all night furiously writing.

4. I am a cynic with a little romantic inside me, but like Drumsticks and Dingdongs, that sweet delicious center gets smaller and smaller every year.

5. I've always drawn Krispy like this, for years, because I wanted to, for no particular reason, without her having any say in the matter:

Krispy can also be seen here in her true form.

6. I've participated in Nanowrimo every year since 2004, which means I have four halfway-decent (and halfway-crappy) incomplete novels sitting around since Nano 2007 & 2008 comprised one long continuous novel-effort (which I'm thinking of revisiting soon), and Nano 2006 eventually became my Master's thesis.

7. In second grade, the teacher told us to write an essay about our nicknames. In one paragraph, I wanted to write "my brother calls me stupid" but I thought "stupid" was too bad and mean a word to write for a school assignment, so I wrote "my brother calls me dummy" instead.

I have since graduated to writing "fuck" and sundry assorted vulgar terminologies in my school assignments. Ah, such innocence I once had.

8. I'm a picky eater. I do not like: fish, most other seafood, onions, cilantro, tomatoes, thousand-year duck eggs, green onions, spinach except when cooked certain ways, chives, bell peppers, oyster sauce, baby rabbit, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, celery, cauliflower, Earl Gray tea, white tea…the list goes on and on.

9. I like to crochet but cannot knit to save my life. Which is a pity since knitting needles make better weapons than crochet hooks not only because they are longer and sharper, but also because you have two of them.

10. I was a precocious little bugger with regards to reading and was into Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, and Marion Zimmer Bradley when I was in the fourth grade. Perhaps this is why I've never been particularly fond of "classics"—Where the Red Fern Grows is pretty boring compared to dragonriders flying on giant dragons to flame alien-spores out of the sky before they can ravage the planet below, and the politics of a tithe-system and Weir-vs-Hold governance.

I'm supposed to tag four more people. I shall henceforth tag—

The Spectacular Sophia
The Lovely Linda
The Dashing Danyelle
The Excellent Emy

—as well as anyone else who wishes to participate! Share the random love.