Dot to dot embroidery

Spoiler warning! Do not read or look at the pictures if you want to do the Cryptozoology dot to dot embroideries!

Ellen gave me an awesome awesome gift which is both mystery excitement (like a Lego minifigure, all sealed in it’s bag, full of potential) and crafty. Dot to dot embroidery! It’s just what it sounds like, there’s a bunch of numbers printed on fabric and you sew between them in order to make a mystery picture. It’s highly addictive and much more exciting than embroidery usually is. They are from here and I am so tempted to buy up a bunch more sets.

The set she gave me is the Cryptozoology one, which was totally perfect. The sample one (they give you a sticker showing one of them finished) is a unicorn. Here’s mine:

I did this one with the purple thread Ellen gave me, and then I have it highlights in pale pink, on the horn and a stripe down the tail. This one looks really good because for the most part I didn’t have to double back or cross the body of the animal. Plus, it’s really easy to tell what it’s meant to be!

The others are behind the cut, so if you’re keen to do these please do not click and spoil yourself 🙂
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Things I Love Thursday

  • Sunshine, warm weather, summer clothes! I am so much more alive in the summer time. I get more done, I’m happier, I get up earlier…This week I even went for a run! I’ve told lots of people about that, so that I will be motivated to do it again.
  • Craft! Blog post coming very soon about the excellent dot to dot embroidery pieces Ellen gave me to do. I’m also all inspired about patchwork and making things in general. I also spent some time recently browsing Felt for Christmas gifts. Good times, good times.
  • Roleplaying is good right now. I have another session of Fall tomorrow to look forward to, and my Tuesday group has started a very promising game of Prime Time Adventures. I’ve managed to create an awesome new character and I’m excited about it. Also, guest star Fraser in both games!
  • My husband. I don’t think I mention him on here enough. I love it when we take the time to talk to each other, reconnecting is very important.

Honourable Mentions: Meg Cabot’s excellent blog on how to fight the suckage. This hilarious website based around the iPhone’s autocorrect failures. Lots of LOLz on there, but here’s one of my favourites: Drama. Sloth delivery, home made pizza with wholemeal base and the pretty pretty sunshine.

Awesome YA novels

Dull Boy
By Sarah Cross

Avery has super powers -strength and flight, but he keeps them secret because he doesn’t want to be vivisected. The problem is that he accidentally causes a lot of property damage and his parents are running out of money. One night he crosses paths with some other teens with certain talents and things change. It’s a pretty straight forward story, actually, but something about the way it’s told is completely engrossing. I couldn’t put this book down. Avery is such a great character, an actual decent person who is just trying to his best.

The secondary characters were excellent too, and although it is a light hearted story it doesn’t shy away from darkness at all. It actually reminded me a lot of Hero by Perry Moore, while still being its own excellent book. I have my fingers crossed for a sequel.

Will Grayson Will Grayson
By John Green and David Levithan

Jackie told me that this book was amazing. It is amazing. I’m not sure if I loved *quite* as much as her, but I did like it a lot. It’s a collaborative novel told from two points of view: two different teenage boys called Will Grayson. The first Will we meet has a simple code for life involving not getting involved and shutting up. This is made difficult by his extremely large, extremely gay best friend Tiny Cooper who is putting on a musical based on his own life. The second Will is very emo, very angry and in love with a boy he met online. The two Wills meet each other a few chapters in and things are changed…it was cute and sweet. There is plenty of bad behaviour from all of them, some realisation and some funny stuff. It kind of reminded me of the movie Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist except less focussed on just two characters.

The Poison Eaters
Short stories by Holly Black

Holly is awesome, I completely love her stuff. She writes how I wish I could write. The Poison Eaters is a collection of her short stories which all read like new fairy tales. Some are set in the past, some in the present. There’s one that uses the characters from her Tithe series but the rest are stand alone, eerie stories. The very first one “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” was a very spooky and unsettling vampire story, which I had trouble sleeping after. The other stories deal with (sexy) fairies, werewolfism, deals with the Devil…you know, the usual fairy tale fare. It really felt to me that these stories could stand the test of time and be remembered in a hundred years. Definitely recommend them.

Insatiable
By Meg Cabot

This is technically not a YA novel, it’s pretty much an adult romance/vampire novel parody but the way she writes and the way I read what she writes I think it can be crossover. In it there are descendants from characters in Dracula and the lead character Meena, really hates vampires and all the popular vampire fiction. There’s lots of romance and lots of action and suspense. I really liked the ending too.

Super quick editing and rewrite of Rain

So, since I heard about it when Matt and Debbie kindly emailed me on September 12th I did this crazy thing where I entered Rain into the Storylines Tessa Duder Awards. This is a competition for people with a Young Adult novel who haven’t had a novel published before and you win a publishing contract. I am quite keen on that, so after briefly considering it being too crazy I plunged in and edited Rain as fast as I could – with a deadline of posting printed copies off on October 29th.

This turned out to be even more stressful than it sounds, but I managed it. I got up most days at the time when my alarm went off (roughly an hour and a half before I have to be at work) and did some editing. Some days were excellent and I’d get through 10 pages before work, some days I was too distracted or tired and I played on facebook and didn’t edit. Most of the time I got *something* done though. I dedicated time on the weekends to editing and I used days off work (leave and Labour Day) as opportunities to get heaps done.

During this time I worked though some fantastic detailed feedback on the first couple of chapters from Jen, which was invaluable. Lots of considering how sentences could work better and such. Jen also gave me feedback I hadn’t had from other readers: my lead character was mean and unlikeable to her.

I also got a substantial round of feedback from Steve, who gave me some ideas for plot twists, often building on little things I had in there already. He called them curve balls and I used…(counts off list of suggested curve balls) six of them. Which is 6 out of 10 that he pitched, so he should be happy. Although I didn’t use one that he really wanted me to use, but that’s because I like the emotional beat I already have too much. Also I was running out of time by the end.

Steve also pointed out some places where I could flesh out the dialogue and action and some ways to focus the book more on the theme of Revenge. I have given Revenge a capital letter here because it’s in all caps in my notes.

The most confusing thing (for me, personally, not how Steve asked) was his Deep Dive line of questioning. What does anger mean to me, as an author? How is anger being used in the book by various characters? I was disarmed by this line of questioning, which I think in a feedback session is a very good thing. We talked about anger and how difficult it is for us as people to express it and also how I felt I was using it in the book. Steve then suggested ways to draw out what I wanted to say in the manuscript. Brilliant.

When I looked back over the MS following Steve and Jen’s feedback I worked hard on toning down the way Rain’s bitchiness is expressed in the book. Rain is a Mean Girl, it’s one of the plot points and one of the things she doesn’t realise she’s doing, but in the text I was sometimes having her do awful stuff without explaining why. Instead of stating her action, I dug down into her reasons for acting that way and expressed the emotions behind it. It was one of those things where I felt myself grow as a writer. Like, this should be the obvious course of action, but I worked it out and now I can do it.

I ended up leaving in the one chapter from Jake’s point of view because it has a lot of good world building and character information in it. It also sets up tension between him and Rain later on which is all to the good.

I did a whole pass where I went through and changed some character names. Regan had pointed out that I had a Jake, a Jacky and a Jared all running around and it was sometimes confusing. I changed Jared to Brant and then realised I also had a Janey in there. She became Lou. Nice and different from the J names.

I did another pass using Find and Replace (except I didn’t use the replace function I just typed myself) to take out all the extraneous uses of the word ‘that’. It was freaking everywhere and there are a lot of sentences where it doesn’t need to be at all. I also checked my uses of ‘alright’ and changed them to ‘all right’ since according to my workmate’s style guide ‘alright’ isn’t a word. Finally I used Find to check when I was using ‘kind of’ and removed all instances where it wasn’t being said in dialogue. I’m chronic for tempering my words, making stuff kind of happen or just about happen or happen a little instead of happening. I think my MS was very much improved by these wee grammatical passes.

By the middle of October I was beginning to feel the pressure. I had two days off over my birthday, which lead into a weekend. I got a big chunk of the editing done then, and finished the whole read through on the Saturday of Labour Weekend. However I knew there was stuff I’d left half completed: a dinner scene near the start of the book, a conversation between Rain and her dead best friend where they really connected. So from Labour weekend Sunday up until I handed it in I went even deeper into the manuscript for a ‘polishing’ pass. I didn’t finish my polishing pass, but I got through to page 80ish, out of 135, skipping some parts which I felt were all right.

During the polish I became so intrinsically lost in my own text that I couldn’t think of the big picture. I’d been working so hard and so intensely on this manuscript that I was stuck staring at the trees and I knew that nothing could make me see the big picture again but time away from it. Time was the one thing I didn’t have so I just went hard and did the best I could.

I’ve always been quite confident about Rain as a book, and I feel like the recent editing definitely strengthened it. Whether it’s enough better to win a National competition I just don’t know, but I really hope it is. At any rate I’m not going to know the outcome for months, so now that I’ve written this mind dump of a blog entry, I’m just not going to think about it again.

Things I Love Thursday

Leonard Cohen live. Obviously. It was like I went to church on Sunday night and came out at peace with the world. Only it was the concert of an ageing folk singer/poet. I can’t really explain what his songs mean to me better than that.

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march
on your little broken drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Lovely lovely friends who give me wonderful gifts. There were lots, but the one in particular I’m thinking of is Margie’s gift. She put my Silver Kiss of the Magical Twilight of the Full Moon game into a proper fancy .pdf and she added photos (which are lovely and awesome) and got Tanya to format it all lovely and printed out copies in black, red and white to give to me on Saturday. Amazing! It’s an excellent motivator to finish the game this month and submit it to the SDC as I had planned. So much love guys!

Costumes and costume parties! Had a great time at the two Hallowe’en parties on the weekend and I spent the first half of the week’s lunch breaks tracking down materials and bits and pieces for a new Regency-era gown that my mother in law is making me for a LARP. My costume cupboard grows fat and happy. Plus, Spotlight has velvet ribbon finally, in lots of colours. And I did some research about Regency fashion and the gorgeous jewellery that Chelle made for me will work perfectly for the costume as well. Can’t wait to see what it all looks like.

❤ I'm really into this creepy web series that started last year called Marble Hornets. The set up is a guy looking for his missing friend, going through the footage that his friend made and finding…weird stuff. You get a spooky spooky pay off in the very first, very short episode and that hooked me straight in. Rumour has it they’re starting up again soon.

Flash mob excellence:

Honourable Mentions: Mixtape (CD) from Ellen, sunshine and it being warm enough to wear just two layers, deep dark sleep, newly recovered couch cushions (so much better than the old torn ones), found my cellphone, bath with lush goodies, scorched almonds, clean apartment, unlocking new songs on Lego Rock Band and lying down.

how about you, what are you thankful for today?

Catwoman

All credit for costume creation goes to the lovely Michaela. I just bought it off her.

I was nervous about wearing this one. Face paint aside, the Hell Girl costume was very comfortable -loose pants, soft T shirt, leather coat to hide behind. Catwoman on the other hand, is all skin tight all the time. Lucky for me I have some very lovely friends. I was putting the finishing touches on my lipstick, all suited and corsetted up, when Sam and Nasia came in and told me I looked good. Seriously, thanks guys! It was just what I needed to hear and the stomach butterflies vanished.

Unfortunately my pictures are all from inside at the party, so not very evocative of Gotham City. I will get suited up again sometime and prowl the city, get some photos where it all looks a bit more bad ass. But here’s what I have, enjoy!

meow

The corset was purchased off Trade Me, and is a little big. I was going by my measurements and the measurements on the site, forgetting that it’s all right to have a corset which is too small. On the other hand, I was very comfortable in it and perfectly able to draw breath so I count that as a win!

More pics after the cut.
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Fall actual play report – 210 ‘Spelled Differently’

Darius is making lists of things to do for the Spring Fling. In a panic he calls Alex and asks her to put in more time over the next few days.
Alex: Well, sure but we’re pretty much done.
Darius: What? But we have to do the bunting and the painting is wrong and the tables are different heights and (he rants for some time.)
Alex: Okay fine.

Darius then calls Calvin.
Darius: Calvin?
Calvin: Yeah?
D Can you help? Alex will be there!
C: Uhhhh?
D: With the Spring Fling. Tomorrow after school and maybe the next day.
C: What kind of help?
D: We have to do the bunting and the painting is wrong (and he rants a whole lot more.)
C: Uhhhh…
D: Thanks! Bye!
Darius hangs up and then calls Megan and she agrees to help as well.

Calvin texts Alex around 9.30 and asks where she is. She replies that she’s at home, three minutes later he rings her doorbell. Jared opens the door, stares at Calvin and then walks away. Somewhat relieved that he doesn’t have to talk to Alex’s parents, Calvin goes upstairs to find Alex. He knocks on her closed door and she yells.
Alex: Jared! Leave me alone!
Calvin opens the door and comes in, Alex is surprised. He takes a look around the room, since it’s his first time in here. She has a bunch of arty framed prints on the walls and a big pin board with photos on it. Alex asks him to sit down, she’s on the bed and there’s space next to her or on the desk chair. He sits on the chair.
C: Alex, you wanted to talk right?
Alex is understandably guarded, but agrees that she wanted to talk. Calvin is quiet for a moment, but eventually manages to tell her that he’s been feeling like he can’t keep up with her. It’s been hard for him to deal with that, and he hates having his ass handed to him over and over again when she can just heal over night.
Alex tells him that the other night she went out and fought five vamps and she got pretty beat up.
Alex: I missed you, because it’s easier when you’re there. I wished you were.

Calvin mentions that he had been thinking about something but he’d decided that he wouldn’t do it. He doesn’t seem keen to tell her exactly what it is, but she asks straight out and he admits that Ash offered to make him a vampire and he had considered it. Continue reading