Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - September 17

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch. Leaves are changing, I had my first pumpkin spice latte on Friday (though I actually get more excited about the salted caramel mocha), and my denim jacket is hanging on the back of my chair. It must be fall. I swear summer was here yesterday but it seems to have run off again.

What I'm Reading: 
Still Micro. I really need to finish that.

What I'm Writing: 
LP hit 40k yesterday! I might have to do some more plotting soon. I know where it's going but I only have a vague idea of how. I have a few new characters thrown into the mix, one that I like and one that I'm really starting to hate.

What Works for Me: 
I completely missed this last week, but I really love the idea. Something that works for me is carrying around a little notebook for jotting down writing ideas and scenes on the go. I wrote 1k of a scene in class yesterday. I like keeping my writing ideas separate and together rather than jotting them down on the paper I use to take notes for class.  

What Else I've Been Up To: 
I had too much free time on my hands so I watched an entire season of Supernatural in four days. I'm still not entirely sure how that happened. Also, I defeated Demyx in Kingdom Hearts 2. It only took me about six hours of gameplay and some intense level grinding. I enjoyed my time off but now I've got a lot of work to be done.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Blocking Out Distractions

The hardest thing about being productive and getting work done is blocking out distractions. Friends, family, TV, Internet, distractions are everywhere. With classes and work, I don't generally have much time to allow distractions to take away from my work time and then that cuts into my free time.

First things first, change your workspace if you can. This might mean using a different computer, sitting at desk rather than the couch, going into another room, or maybe leaving home to hit the library or coffee shop. I like a low drone of background noise so I used to get a lot of work done in Starbucks.

Then shut down the Internet. I like to keep a lot of tabs open to email, Facebook, forums, etc.and those tend to serve as major distractions for me when I'm using the computer for work. I think "I'll just check my email real quick" and twenty minutes later I find myself on Tumblr. Only open those tabs that are actually necessary for your work.

Make a list of tasks. I find this helps me keep organized with what I need to get done each day. The list usually includes homework, any chores that I have to get done around the house, my target word count for the day, blogs post I need to write, and anything else that I need to do.

Use a timer if that works for you. Some people find it helpful to set a timer for 30 or 60 minutes and then work the entire time. Then when the timer goes off, you take a break and start it again.

While you're working, give intermittent breaks--but preferably not the Internet. That's an easy black hole to get sucked into. Read a couple chapters of a book, watch an episode of a TV show, go for a walk, do whatever you like as long as you'll be able to come back from it refreshed and ready to work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: September 10

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.

What I'm Reading: 
Still Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston. I'm a little over halfway through and while I'm not sure about the writing style at times, I am enjoying it.

What I'm Writing: 
LP is coming along gradually. I've hit a major point in the story, although I only have a vague idea where things go from here. I'm also probably going to have to partially rewrite one of the scenes I just did because I didn't cry hard enough but I'll worry about that in revisions. 

What Inspires Me: 
Drawing a blank this week. Definitely not the weather. It's cold and pouring rain and I'm not looking forward to walking across campus in it.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
Playing a rather obsessive amount of Kingdom Hearts 2. I'm up to a major boss battle (Demyx, if anyone is familiar with the game) and despite having fought him over forty times (not an exaggeration, I've played nothing but that fight for about three continuous hours), I haven't yet managed to defeat him. So I've been running around trying to level up in the hope that I'll be able to overcome him with sheer force since skill isn't really working out. I'm not going to have much time for video games soon so I'm taking advantage of what I have.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: September 3

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.

What I'm Reading: 
I'm so happy to be able to say that I actually am reading again. I finished Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce last night, the first book I've finished since June 19. It may have been my billionth reread but that book never gets old. I have the whole quartet on my shelf and I will be doing a complete reread at some point. I've already started Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston. It's a tad-bit science heavy but also creepy and I'm enjoying it so far.

What I'm Writing: 
Slowly getting back in the groove of working on LP again. I have the whole next part planned out in my head, so it's just a matter of getting the words on the page. It's hit 35k, the halfway point of my goal of 70k. 

What Inspires Me: 
Today it's the weather. After several days of clouds and rain, it's sunny and warm today. Makes me wish that I could go work outside, but I need my laptop for that. I guess I'll settle for opening all the windows.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
My roommates and I planned to take a day trip over the holiday weekend, but then it rained the whole time so we ended up staying home. I should have gotten work done but instead our weekend turned into a giant movie marathon, including the LOTR trilogy and the X-Men trilogy + First Class. I also finally introduced them to Pacific Rim, my third favorite movie of all time, so now I can finally make references without getting strange looks. 

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - August 27

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch. This is the first WUW of the new school year and let me tell you it feels fantastic to be back.

Random question: If you use Blogger, do you have trouble inserting images from links? I feel like I have to put in the link and click the button about ten times before it'll actually work.

What I'm Reading: 
I pulled out an old favorite, Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce. It's been one of my favorite books for about ten years now so I'm hoping that it'll help me get back in the groove of actually reading. Seems to be working well so far. I only fall more in love with Numair the older I get.

What I'm Writing: 
On hold while I get settled in. I was going to start working on LP again today but then I took a look at my "to do" list and decided to make that tomorrow.  

What Inspires Me: 
Being back on campus. Settling into a set routine. Knowing that I could walk downtown any time I want. I just really love being back in school.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
Most of the weekend was spent moving back into my apartment. Yesterday I had my first classes and they went well. My schedule is pretty bare at the moment so I'm trying to enjoy it while it lasts. Won't be long and I'll be swamped with classes and homework and lab volunteering and hopefully a job.

Oh, and Doctor Who returned over the weekend! I'll keep this spoiler-free for those of you who haven't seen it. I must say I'm already very accepting of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. It was a good episode, but I'm concerned over the last few minutes. I have a very bad feeling about where this season is going. 

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, August 25, 2014

College: First Day Tips Compiled

It's the first day of the semester for me, the last one of my undergrad years as I am now a senior. I was so busy packing and making sure everything's in order for my own first day that I didn't have time to think of a post for today. So here are my two "first day tips" posts compiled into one easy list. 

 #1: Dress to impress
Wear something simple but nice. The most important thing is wearing something that makes you feel confident. If you feel confident, you'll look confident. Don't wander into class on the first day wearing a hoodie and sweatpants. It's okay to walk around the dorms or your apartment like that, but it's important to be more professional in the classroom.

#2: Leave early 
This is especially important if  you aren't sure where your classes are. Don't worry about arriving early; there's nothing wrong with that. I typically give myself a half hour to find my classes for the first week or so. It's better that I arrive twenty minutes early than get lost and be late.

#3: Come to class prepared
Even if you think you'll only end up going over the syllabus, bring anything you think you might need. This might include paper, pencils, pens, your textbook, your laptop, highlighters, everything. It's better to bring it all and not need it, than to leave it in your dorm room and hope that your neighbor will lend you something. 

#4: Plan ahead
Check the times and locations of all your classes in advance. If you have no idea where they are, ask a friend or check the school's website to see if they have a map of campus. Plan ahead and decide when you're going to eat and, if you have large amounts of time between classes, how you're going to spend them. It's easier to keep up with the workload if you settle into a schedule early on in the semester. 

#5: Drop in the library
If you're anything like me, this one isn't going to be a problem. Take a few minutes and find the library. Wander around and just get a feel for where all the different sections are. This will be a big help when you have a paper that you have to research for or even if you just want to read for fun.

#6: Pay attention to the syllabus
I know it's boring and that, for the most part, they're all basically the same but it's still important. This is when you'll find out what the class entails and when major assignments are due.

#7: Know where you're going
Look up which classes you have when and what rooms they're in ahead of time. If you're like me and you're afraid you won't remember, write them down somewhere or put them into your phone.

#8: Arrive early 
Get to class early. I tend to be fifteen or twenty minutes early the first week, just so I know how long it takes me to get there and I know I won't be late. This is also a good time to meet your fellow classmates and sometimes the professor.

#9: Sit toward the front
Choose a chair toward the front of the room. Not only is it easier to see and hear, but you're less likely to get distracted. Plus the professor will be more likely to notice.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Writing About Other Sexualities

If you're thinking about writing characters with other sexualities besides heterosexual, there are many things to consider. Representation is very important but it can go badly. The most important thing when writing LGBT characters is that they're just like all your other characters. They have pasts, futures, hopes, dreams, motivations. They're playing a part in this story.

Start with doing your research. Don't rely on stereotypes or misconceptions. Not all gay men are interested in fashion. Lesbians do not hate men. Bisexuals are not incapable of having monogamous relationships. Don't perpetuate myths and remember that everyone is different. LGBT people also experience different environments depending on the area in which they live, their family, and their friends. Some are only out to certain people, some are out to everyone, and some aren't out at all.

Your characters don't have to have a label. Sexuality can be fluid and not everyone wants to put a label on it. Some people might have preferences outside of their orientation, like a pansexual with a preference for women or a bisexual with a preference for men. A bisexual woman dating another woman isn't a lesbian; neither is she straight if she's in a relationship with a man. That doesn't change their orientation.

Sexuality is merely a part of a character. Don't let it be their defining feature. Make it feel natural, like heterosexuality does to most characters. Don't shoe-horn queer characters in just so they're included. Write LGBT characters because that's who they are.