Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Recipe to a Very Happy Writer

Writers are interesting creatures. We sit for hours tapping the out stories of characters that we feel emotionally attached to, we stare at a screen or a page for hours when we hit writers block (and yet don't give up), and we gaze into the sky at nothing in particular and imagine what would happen if one of our characters would do X, Y, or Z in the next chapter of our work in progress.

Yep, we're interesting creatures and readers need people like us desperately or where would they be in a bookless world? (the tragedy of a bookless world! *sobs*)

"So how do you make a writer?" you ask. Well I'm glad you did because I've concocted a recipe that's sure to result in the happiest writer out there.

Onwards to the recipe! 

1/2 Cup of Solitude

Writers love their families! We also like some peace and quiet. If we can get the house or even a single room to ourselves without much interruption, somehow the stress of writing or editing a WHOLE novel doesn't feel nearly as heavy. Also, we can play our writing music without headphones which many writers appreciate.

2 Tablespoons of Writing Music

Speaking of writing music, this is another one of those lovely things that writerly people adore. Whether it's got lyrics or is the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, beautiful music inspires our stories.

To make the writer extra happy, include a new soundtrack, or one that relates to their book genre specifically.

1 Cup of Tea or Coffee 

Let's be honest. This is pretty much how writers survive. Many of us are caffeine addicts. It's important to include this ingredient otherwise a happy writer may be a sleepy writer. 

3/4 Cup of The Internet

I couldn't really get away with writing this recipe without including the internet as one of the ingredients. I mean, writers probably spend at least a third of their 'writing time' on social media, or browsing book blogs. We need this time to 'muck around' on the interwebs though. It's partially where we get our inspiration and usually where we go to take a break from the craziness. 

1 Teaspoon of Pinterest 

Many of us writers don't consider Pinterest a form of social media—we consider it inspiration! Too much Pinterest though results in a very unproductive writer so be sure not to add too much of this ingredient.

2 Whole New Books 
(for extra happiness, feel free to increase the amount)

Maybe we spend a lot of time writing books but there will never really be anything quite like getting lost in a book that's not your own. Writers, by nature, are also readers so when addressing this part of the recipe, be sure to think of them as a book fanatic.

A Heaping Spoonful of Sugar 

(or salt...both make wonderful writers)

Snacks are a must. Some of us like cake, some like chips, and others like a platter of veggies. Regardless, this ingredient is crucial. It gives us writers life and keeps us very happy for a long time (until we need a refill).

Mix all of these ingredients together and you're certain to come out with a very happy writer!

Let's Chat!

Did I miss any ingredients? Should some of the measurements be different? Recipes are made to be refined, wordlings, so lets turn this recipe into the ULTIMATE recipe. 
Let me know if you have suggestions in the comments below, or you can tweet me your ideas @cassia_schaar, or send me a picture of the missing ingredient on instagram @cassiaschaar using the hashtag: #ultimatewriterrecipe

Keep on keeping on, Wordlings! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Beautiful People | Isaac's Addicted to Mountain Dew

What's up, Wordlings? How's the month of March treating you this far? Is writing going well? If it's not, let this be a prompt to open up that document or scribbler and continue working!

This month's Beautiful People came out a few weeks ago which means that there's still time for you to participate. If you're interested, just follow this link and pick a character.

Speaking of characters, I'm currently in the middle of my secondary edits on "Living City" and have noticed that I haven't done too much work on one of my side characters, Isaac Ghassemi. He's the skeptic of the book and a fellow plane crash survivor of my main character, Kimerly. Ironically, I used to know more about him than any other character in the novel. Now I feel as though it's the exact opposite XD

Onwards to the questions!

What first inspired this character? Is there a person/actor you based them off?

There very well may have been something or someone but I can't remember who or what it would have been for the life of me. Isaac's become his own person now which I think is an achievement of any writer. His appearance however is based off of a younger version of Avan Jogia with shorter hair.  

Describe their daily routine.

Before the plane crash, Isaac woke up and ate breakfast at the table while studying for any tests he had that day. At school he hangs out with his best friend Colton and Colton's girlfriend, Audrey as well as Audrey's twin sister, Rynn. Somewhere in the day, he'll have a can of Mountain Dew since he'll need a caffeine boost from staying up late the night before.

At the end of every decent weathered day, he and his friends hang out in a gazebo by a pond and do their homework or play cards. Most of his actual productive work time is done once everyone is fast asleep in his house and he has yet, another can of Mountain Dew. He's gotta stay awake somehow XD

Isaac doesn't really hold a part time job but his dad pays him to do some general office work on Saturday afternoons at his business.

It's a pretty chill life for the most part. The plane crash into Tholus kinda messes everything up.

If they joined your local high school, what clique would they fit into?

Definitely the hyper-academics. He'd probably join the commerce club or the model UN club. I can see him in either. He'd probably try to run for some sort of high-up position in whatever club he joined too. 

Hey look! I found a short haired
version of Avan Jogia!

Write a list of things they merely tolerate. Ex: certain people, foods, circumstances in their lives…

  • Arrogant people (which is slightly ironic since he's got a thin thread of arrogance himself) 
  • Isaac likes to make calculated decisions so it bothers him when people in his student council jump to conclusions. 
  • Broccoli
  • Parmesan cheese 
  • When restaurants don't serve Mountain Dew
  • Friday nights when his sister and mom watch chick-flicks
  • School dances
  • Lastly (but not limited to), group presentations at school

How do they react in awkward silences?

While he definitely feels the awkwardness, he doesn't usually do much for awhile.

First he'll observe the group and analyze the reason for the silence. After a mental (or visible) eye roll, if he can and feels the need to, Isaac will say something to break the silence—usually a question to get people talking about something else. 

Can they swim? If so, how did they learn?

Yep, Isaac can swim. His parents put him in swimming lessons at the local pool when he was really little and that's how he met his current best friend, Colton. They were pretty competitive, timing each other on laps and trying to finish the exercises before the other one. 

What is one major event that helped shape who they are?

When he was ten, Isaac's travelled to New York with his parents to visit family. While there, they visited the UN building and that sparked a little fire in him that grew over the years. His dream job is to be an ambassador for the UN so he's made an effort to be a part of the student council and also learn Arabic and Spanish.

What things do they value most in life?

His family and friends for sure. They mean the world to him. Also, a pursuit of knowledge is super important to him. In his opinion, knowledge is power and success so his schooling and his personal study of language is placed on a tall pedestal for him. He also values Mountain Dew XD It's his favourite kind of pop and he greatly appreciates it's caffeinated qualities ;)

Do they believe in giving other people second chances? Do they have any trust issues?

Nope. No second chances. At least not if they're a stranger. Friends and family are different. He doesn't have trust issues really, he just trusts himself more than he trusts people he doesn't know especially when it comes to decision making. I guess it's more of a pride issue than a trust issue.

Your character is having a rough day…what things do they do to make them happy again? Is there anyone they talk/interact with to get in a better mood?

Colton and his other friends always know how to make him happy. A few rounds of cards at the gazebo or a trip for ice-cream, coffee or burgers will pick him up again. If something really bad has happened, he usually won't talk about it unless Colton forces it out of him which will them leave him admitting that yes, he does feel better. 

Did you do Beautiful People this month? If you did, tell me a bit about your character! 

Keep up the writing, Wordlings! 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Review | Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer

“Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .”

(Summary from Goodreads)

I’ve actually never read any of the Rick Riordan books before this one *raises hands in surrender* I know, it’s terrible. For a crazy book lover like me, it’s hard to believe I’ve never even given Percy Jackson much of a thought. To be honest, I wasn’t even planning on reading “The Sword of Summer” until I received it as a gift from my boss at a work Christmas party. That was the moment that I knew I needed to read it. I had no excuse.

After only a few chapters, I was suppressing laughter while I was on the bus, quoting humorous lines and trying to convince people to read it so I could talk about it with them. Probably my favourite bit of humour involved Magnus Chase calling a fire giant “the High King Roasty Toasty”. That line was impossible to hold in laughter for and I got a few glances from strangers.

Here Are a Few of My Favourite Things

(and by a few, I mean five)

1) Probably my favourite aspect of the novel was the world building. I absolutely adored the travel between the different realms and the world tree had me in awe. Between the creatures and the social classes in Valhalla, I honestly felt like Rick Riordan transported me into a world I could believe in.

To make things better, In the back of the copy I have, there’s a full colour map of the World Tree that I gushed over for a good chunk of time.

2) The mythology elements piqued my interest. I know little to nothing about any sort of mythology whether it be Greek, Roman or in this case, Norse. I truly enjoyed learning more about the different mythological creatures and symbols. One of the things that drew me back to the book each day was the idea that I'd get to learn more about the different gods who's names I'd only heard in marvel movies. (By the way, Thor and Loki are nothing like you know)

3) The ending was super action packed! I couldn’t put the book down once the characters reached their final destination and the final moments left me a little bit breathless. Oh! I also almost cried. Almost. If you've known me for awhile, you'll know that that's a big deal for me ;)

4) The characters. All of them were so different. There was an elf that communicated through sign language, a trendy dwarf who wasn’t nearly as good at crafting as dwarves usually are, a muslim girl who’s head scarf was also used for camouflage and Magnus of course is an orphaned street-kid. Could you get a more diverse group? The great think about the diversity in the group was that it didn't feel forced and beyond that, a lot of stereotypes were shattered. I applaud Rick Riordan for that.

Following a band of underdogs had me cheering each and every one them on. Success seemed impossible but that’s what I loved most about this group.

5) Magnus and I share a birthday! January 13th for the win! I have to admit, it's definitely something that makes me love the book that much more ^_^

Here Are a Few of My Not So Favourite Things

1) It was pretty long. I know they needed to follow clues but I mostly just wanted them to get to that climax moment. I feel as though one of their stops could have been cut especially since sometimes I got the impression that a certain stop was placed only so a specific character could reveal their backstory. This bothered me a put it mildly.

2) Dialogue dumping: it’s like info dumping but it’s just characters talking to each other about things that the author thinks the reader should know. I skimmed over a lot of these parts. I just wanted action—which was definitely there but it always was broken up by long talks about one of the character’s pasts.

3) There was so many conversations where we got to know the side characters that I never really felt like I got to know Magnus as deeply as I would've liked. Don't get me wrong, the voice in this story is fabulous. I can still hear Magnus's sass in my mind. Rather, I didn't feel like I was in his heart all the time.

I love feeling what characters feel but with Magnus, it seemed as though I was distanced from him. It made it hard to get invested in the battles since I wasn't always sure that Magnus was worried about their situation even though he very well may have been.

The reason why I liked the ending so much was probably because I actually felt that Magnus was legitimately fearful—I knew I was in not only his head at that point, but his heart too.

So should you read it?

“The Sword of Summer” is a super easy read. I’d recommend it to any late elementary or junior high student (9-16) who loves Percy Jackson or even any junior high student who hasn’t read it but has always wanted to. If you’re older than 16 and hate excessive gore but love a good adventure story, if you don’t like jump scares and but still love books that excite you, this is the book for you. Anyone who loves a good dose of humour will also enjoy this book.

Overall, I’ll give “The Sword of Summer” 3.5 out of 5 stars and yes, I'll likely be reading the next book.

About the Author

“Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Kane Chronicles, the Heroes of Olympus, and Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. While teaching in San Antonio, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award.

While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children's fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.

Today over forty million copies of his Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles, and Heroes of Olympus books are in print in the United States, and rights have been sold into more than 37 countries. Rick is also the author of The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones, another #1 New York Times bestseller

Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons”

Have you read The Sword or Summer? If you have, what did you think of it? If you haven't, do you think you will in the future? 

Keep on reading, Wordlings! 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

February | A Basket Full of Memories

What's up, wordlings? So this summary is late but I wanted to write it the week after the conference so I could give you all the full scoop of what happened down in Florida. Also, I had a book review scheduled to go up last week while I was away but it didn't go up for some reason. That'll be ready for next week, guaranteed :) 

This month was a pretty crazy one but it left me feeling satisfied with the direction I'm headed and gave me a new drive to pursue my end goal. Besides that, everything that happened was super enjoyable and I've moved into March with a whole basket overflowing with memories.

Previously, In the Month of February...

1) I tried to write and edit, I really did. However, I realized I had more school assignments than I had anticipated and so I poured my time into that for the first ten days of the month. I'm making up for it as we speak—write like the wind!

2) Tori came up :D We spent ten days exploring the city and the mountains. Instead of rambling on about how awesome it was, I thought, I'd share some pictures instead :) 

Our Valentines Day consisted of ice-cream and a photoshoot at a national park

The ice throne at the ice castle! They played Narnia music too!

Our adventures at the science centre included giant rubber cubes, tony stark technology and a little plush red blood cell that now sits in my bookshelf as one of my writing pals
Can't go ten days without at least trying to turn Tori into a slurpee addict like me!
We visited an antique book store!
Our trip to Banff in the mountains
We signed our names on the wall of the waffle house in Banff ^ ^  
Winter hiking to the frozen water fall

3) I went to the Florida Christian Writer's Conference! If you follow my Facebook page (which you totally should!), then you'll know of the long list of amazing things have happened while I was there.

My purpose in going down was to try to pick up an agent. It's pretty much impossible to get a contract on the spot but I did have two of the agents request a full manuscript from me! One of them wants a book proposal too which is really good news.

The next piece of good news is that I won an award! I got first place for my flash fiction piece, "Adrift". The award is a really sweet victory since that story in particular has been rejected in the past.

The winners from the teen track! Anna, Bethany, me, and Laura

Beyond that, Focus on the Family has some new projects for me, Splickety wants to see my work in their magazine, and I was offered an opportunity to co-teach next year at the conference.

Maybe it sounds cheesy but my favourite part about the trip was getting to reconnect with some of my favourite people, build relationships with new peoples and talk to so many amazing authors! I'm so inspired coming home from Florida :)

Technically I met Ben Wolf last year but this year we actually had some great writerly talks

This sweet lady, Starr, was such an inspiration to me this year. I can't wait for her book to come out sometime in the future! It's gonna be amazing ^ ^ 

Me and my mentor, Bethany Jett :) 

Amanda Davis lead the Teen Track this year and she did an amazing job! I'm so glad I got to know her better this year

February's Monthly Media

1) I re-watched most of "Your Lie in April" with Tori while she was here as well as the beginning of "Guilty Crown". We've agreed to webcam while we finish the both series together. We also watched "Spirited Away" which I really enjoyed.

It was a marathon of feels

2) When I found out that Tori hadn't seen "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", I promptly sat her down, made popcorn, and played the DVD. To this day, it's probably my favourite movie of all time. If you haven't seen it, track it down! DVDs are cheap these days if you can't stream it so you have no excuse ;)

One of my favourite scenes

3) While Tori was here, we went to go see "The 5th Wave". I wasn't a fan of the book for many reasons but the movie fixed a lot of the problems. I actually enjoyed watching the film and I'll probably see the next one when it comes out too.

Well, it wasn't a trashy movie....get it? Cause there's a trash can? 

4) Unfortunately I wasn't able to read Gracekeepers as planned. Instead, I read a play for school and have started a novel for my literature class: "Station Eleven". It's a good story so far but I'm pretty early in yet so we'll see how it goes.

Coming Soon to the Month of March...

1) The rest of "Living City" is scheduled to be completely (well, at least the first draft) edited and I'll be able to write the second draft. This also means it's time for me to look for Beta readers. If anyone has tips on that, I'd be incredibly grateful ^_^

2) Flash fiction time! I've got my list of Splickety themes and I'm gonna start on them. I hope to have at least two written and polished but that's subjective to how many assignments I get this month too.

One of my classmates sent this to me after we handed in a major paper recently XD

3) "Crec" is a hard project. If you've been following me for awhile (or even for the last three months), you'll know my progress on this one isn't as progressive as I'd like. I had the beginning critiqued at the the conference and I also have been working on the timelines of each of the characters. It's difficult, to say the least. As much as I hate to admit it, I think I have to start over. This is the last time, I swear! After this, I'll just have to fix things in the rewrite.

I'm not sure if I'll actually get to starting on it this month but if not, I'll be working on my timelines still so that I'll know what I'm doing when I do start it. 

March's Monthly Media

1) Station Eleven will be read. Since it's for school, it kind of has to be XD I've been wanting to read it for awhile now, though, and I find it interesting that my prof wants to study a mainstream novel.

I have no proof to confirm this but from what I've heard, it's got similarities to that "Night Circus" book that's gotten popular in the last year. If you've read either book, let me know!

2) I'm re-watching "Heroes". For one thing, I love it. Also, I want to watch that new season that came out recently but feel the need to at least catch up on the first season to refresh myself with the premise and the characters (even though most of the characters have been excluded).

Another reason why I'm watching it is because I'm considering cosplaying as Claire Bennet when I go down to Realm Makers in July. They have a costume night and I feel like I could probably do Claire. It's a toss up between her and Tris from the first book/movie (I have long hair so...). Let me know in the comments as to who you think I should do!

So that was my month and also the plan for March :) I'm looking forward to how the opportunities that have been opened up to me will shape my year and ultimately, the path to my becoming of a writer.

See ya all in the comments!

What were some of the highlights from your month? Have any goals for next month?

Keep up the awesomeness, Wordlings!