Month: August 2014

Book Review: Divided We Fall

Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

DwF

4 stars

So what, did I like about this book?

For one thing, the characters.

Danny Wright is a very real 17 year old boy from a small town. He is a good guy, has practical goals in life, and has a very strong devotion to his country.
His girlfriend, JoBell, is incredibly smart. She is very into politics and the big world outside of Idaho. She has big dreams for herself that are well within her reach.
Cal and Sweeney. What can I say about them? We don’t really get to know them as well as Jobell and Danny, but we do see what great friends they are.
Becca is a farmgirl, and the quiet collected one of the gang. I also get a sense that she has a thing for Danny, but she’s smart and considerate enough not to pursue it.
Danny’s mom is wonderful. She’s so sweet, and seems to always know exactly what is happening to her son. She suffers from panic attacks, and Danny does everything he can to help her, but she’s also strong when she has to be.

Plot wise, this is a well crafted story that takes a constantly debated subject and puts it in extreme circumstances in a very possible future. I enjoyed it, and can think of nothing negative to say about the plot.

Bonus likes:
The Constitution is a major theme in the book, and the author does well in integrating it into the story.
Each chapter ends with excerpts from speeches and news programs from the book world. It helps add understanding of the situation as well as tension.

Warnings:
This book does NOT CONTAIN any *cough* in-appropriate relations, but it does HINT at them.
It contains at least Mild Language, I can’t remember exactly. I tend to blank out any bad words, and then never remember if there were any in the first place.
This book also describes some sometimes graphic images.
Just remember, this book is about shootings, and a stand-off between a state and national government.

Who should read this? I think this book can be read by anyone AGE 15 +, but it does lean more towards the boy side of literature. I’m a girl, and I enjoyed it, but that’s because I like that kind of story.

EDIT: Sorry, I forgot to mention something in the warning. This book does involve underage drinking. In case I didn’t stress this enough, it is an older kids book.

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An Unexpected Dilemma and Resolution

I have found nothing goes according to plan.

For instance, the deadline for an application isn’t always the very last day you can submit it.

Occasionally the deadline is a trip up for those who don’t read the fine writing.
Sometimes the application is due months before the deadline, because a follow up application relies on the first being submitted months before its deadline.

That is what I just learned today, and it wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realized its purpose.

There are plenty of do-it-halfway-then-drop people in the world, especially those seniors who fall into the “senior year trap” and grow lazy. (I’m sure none of you fine readers are one of those! I have simply heard of their existence, and seen enough proof to believe they lurk in the shadows…)

So when a selective college requires two different forms and applications, one of which is due a month after the other, but to complete the second, the first has to be submitted months in advance, it’s all an elaborate web designed to weed out those who wouldn’t make it through the rest of the application.

Boy am I glad I read the fine print.

Speaking of fine print (oh how clever of me!) the finest print of all is something I should be addressing.

I have really slacked off on my reading the past year. I have focused so much on school and special activities I forgot how to enjoy recreational reading.
This was also caused by the lack of a library card.

Now that the move is over, and we have library cards again, I checked out a grand total of three recreational books (which is way below average for me. Usually it’s closer to ten…), plus a book on running.

I devoured the books, and then started on my Dad’s! (Okay, so I haven’t finished the running one yet, but I’m a good third of the way through it…)

The reader in me has been revived!

I forgot how fast I can read when I want to, and how I love reading.
Perhaps this starvation for good literature I’ve been suffering from has been the root cause of my dried up writer’s well of inspiration…

Either way, my book life has returned to me!

I can once again sit in my room (or any where) and read for hours upon hours. This is good news for my school year, since most of it is reading, and the rest is writing reports and essays connected with what I’ve been reading.

I’m now confident I can finish reading those raggedy books on my list of books-to-read before-finishing-High-School that I’ve had gather dust on my desk.

That is all, you may now go about the rest of your daily lives.

Cookie Cutter Characters

Everyone knows what a cookie cutter neighborhood is. It’s a neighborhood where every single house is the exact same model, are all painted similar colors, and looks like something out of a syfy totalitarian government take-over.

One of my friends lives in one, and if we forget to bring the house number, we are stuck trying to remember which shade of gray it is, what car they have, and if they have a basketball hoop or not (though my friend is fairly good about putting signs up, and we never actually miss her house 🙂 ).

My point is, they all look alike, as if the builders used the same cookie cutter.

A cookie cutter character is my name for a character type that is used to much in one author’s stories.

A scenario in which a cookie cutter character could be created in would be the following.

Say you just finished a draft you’ve been working on constantly for months. You happily lay it aside for a while before editing, and decide to work on a new project. After a while, you go back to your old draft. You slowly begin to realize as you read that your characters seem to behave exactly like the ones in your second story.

You’ve created cookie cutter characters.

Basically, a cookie cutter character would be one with similar personalities or temperaments to another character of yours in a completely different story.

Being an author, you can be rather protective of your characters. To you, each is their own individual person.

Sometimes it takes an outside reader to say, “Hey, this Aaron person reminds me of Billy. They even have the same sarcastic edge!”

Uh oh….

Luckily, cookie cutter characters are easy to fix as long, as you catch them sometime before your second or third edit.

Here are a couple ways to fix those pesky twins who were never meant to be.

1. Change their voice: This one may sound silly, but if you take a cookie cutter of a southern belle, and give her a thick Scottish accent, they’re not destined to be twins for long. It’s difficult to keep a Scottish lass acting like a Southern Belle, no matter how skilled an author you are. Eventually, the character’s new heritage and accent will take affect.

2. Give them an obsession: Make your character obsessed with something their cookie cutter would be totally repelled by. Does one like rap? Great! Make the other absolutely hate rap, and have a heart rooted in classic country. This will open up a whole new character.

3. Move them down the scale: What does this mean? Well, does your queen have an icy temper? Does she simply grit her teeth, and become cold and distant when angry? Make her rebel leader cookie cutter a fiery hot head!

Each personality trait has a range of response.

Temper: Hot – Cold
Nervousness: Chatty – Silent anxiety
Excitement: Squeals and childlike glee – composed, broad smiles

If you move a character up or down the scale of one or more personality traits, BAM! Instant new character.

Those are all the brilliant changes I have to suggest at the moment, but feel free to share in the comments bellow what you think is a good tool for dispensing with pesky cookie cutter characters.

Happy writing!

41 and Counting

Hey everyone!

This week has been an insane week for me… our sewage line collapsed, so we went to a hotel. For one night anyway… but it was fun! We went swimming, had one of those yummy hotel breakfasts… it was cool.

Then of course I get back and have to be on with school and applications, but I’m not complaining. I must not complain, because this is what I want to be doing.

Anyway, I did get an amazing e-mail while I was on a little mini vacation for 24 hours.

I now have over 40 followers! 41, to be exact.

I was going to wait till fifty for this… but I was bored. 🙂

So…. yeah….

Other then that, I finished my two library books.
A review of them will posted another time.
I then proceeded to start my Dad’s library book he’d finished because I was curious about it.
It’s pretty good so far.
For any who are curious, it’s a political autobiography by a Washington speech writer. I forget which writer, and I’m only up to the very start of his career in politics in the book.

That’s all for now.

Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to post before the end of the week…

Virtue Makes You Beautiful

One of the best song re-writes ever.
And I love how these are just regular boys out on a football field being boys, and having fun goofing off, while at the same time you can tell they really believe in what they’re singing about… it really shows that there are actual young men out there who care about how a girl presents herself.
Hope restored.

Proverbs 31 Teen

Not only an awesome song (that gets stuck in your head!), but it has a great message, too. And besides, it’s a hilarious video. Guys do care about modesty. And c-come on, who doesn’t want to see guys dancing in front of a camera?

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What I Am Doing 8/24/14

Okay! Time for a What I Am Doing post!
This will be brief.
I was just to the library so I am suddenly inspired to share what I have been reading/watching/listening to.

What I’m Reading:

Surrender by Carmen Marcoux: This is a very Christian book about romance, and how to have a good, healthy, clean relationship in today’s world while following the journeys of several characters. It mainly circulates around the Collins family, a large catholic homeschooling family who live in Saskatoon Canada, and includes a lot of their friends.

A Soldier’s Secret by Marissa Moss: This is a book based on the true story of Sarah Edmonds, a young girl who dressed as a man and fought in the Civil War. Incredibly interesting.

Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley : I just got this one from the library. It’s about a young girl during World War II who lies about her age to become a British spy and is sent into the heart of enemy territory in France to help train rebels.

The Life of Faustina Kowalska by Sister Sophia Michalenko : A biography of St. Faustina. It includes a lot of passages from her diary, and is very interesting.

Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy: This is an alternate world story that sounded supper cool. It’s about this boy who enlisted in the Idaho National Guard. His whole life changes when he receives to different orders. one from the Idaho governor to kill the president, the other from the president to kill the Idaho governor. I haven’t started it yet, but I will as soon as I finish Violins of Autumn.

What I’m Watching:

Doctor Who: You just had to know that one was coming. 🙂 Just finished season 7 and I am pretty sure I traumatized my younger siblings I pulled down into this black hole of love and misery with me.

Pride and Prejudice 2005: I don’t care what people say, I love this movie. I like the music, the costumes, the actors, and the acting. I also love the BBC series, though I regret to say I have yet to sit down and watch it all the way through, because my Mom likes to watch it without me. I just happen to love the 2005 version just as much.

Atonement: I have only seen the last half of this, and my Mom and I have been dying to see the rest. I finally got it from the library, and will be watching it some time this week.

Desolation of Smaug: Just got this from the library, and I haven’t seen it since December 1 So excited to watch this again!

The Odd Life of Timothy Green: Another library movie. I’ve wanted to watch it for a while, but haven’t yet.

What I’m Listening To:

Frozen Soundtrack
Doctor Who Soundtrack
Pride and Prejudice 2005 soundtrack
Linkin Park
Another Cinderella Story Soundtrack
Lent at Ephesus (It was the only Benedictines CD we had in the car this morning… for the record I do not like listening to Lenten CDs outside of lent)

That is all. Have a blessed Sunday!

Why I: 8/23/14

Hello people!

So the inspiration well has been a bit dry lately, both writing and blogging wise, but I finally decided on a topic.
Fandoms!
And a new post series!
Yes I know I haven’t finished the personality trait one, but I wasn’t feeling inspired to do Meyers-Briggs, and writing the posts are kind of boring me at the moment. So until they don’t bore me, so I know they hopefully won’t bore you, they’ll be on hold while under remodeling.
But what is this new series?
I’m calling it “Why I”
It will be a post I put out every other week or so. It be either a story about me, and why I believe this, or why I think this way, or why I like this.
It will range in topic from fandoms to politics.
As politics haven’t changed much recently, and Erin has already covered the most scandalous and speak-out worthy thing recently (check out her post on it here. As it involved something very personal to me, I really recommend looking at it) I shall be covering the fandom end today.

Matt smith

Why I Love The Doctor

No, no, not romantically, but as a person and character.
The doctor is amazing.
He can travel through time and space, he saves whole races and planets, and sacrifices so much to do so… The Doctor is a hero. And I don’t mean the big strong heroes like Superman who fly around and save the world because they can. I mean a hero in the context I laid out in my post Heroes and Villains.
He doesn’t have to save everyone. He knows this. There are times he tries to make himself walk away, say he’s done saving humans. Of course, he never can.
He has suffered so much, and has had to make the hard decisions.
Not to mention there’s the fact he doesn’t carry a weapon… he carries a screwdriver.
That I think describes him more then anything.
Well… that and the fact he travels in a police phone box and calls himself the doctor.
The Doctor shows compassion to his enemies, and limits the bloodshed whenever he can.
He cried over the Master’s death, even though the Master had killed so many, and had nearly murdered billions more.

lottlsml

Did I mention he quotes the Lion King and sings My Fair Lady? 😀

He represents all the best things in the world, while making mistakes along the way, or sometimes edging a little to close to the shadows.
He is what heroes in stories should be.
But of course, there can only be one Doctor.
That doesn’t mean, however, we can’t have heroes who are rooted firmly in the light, and stray only once in a while in a gray area. Characters who don’t compromise their morals.
That’s the Doctor.
And that’s why I love him.

Author’s Note: This isn’t a review or a breakdown of Doctor Who as a show. This is a post about Why I love Doctor Who, and the Doctor specifically. This was meant to share my opinion and that is all. I don’t have time to do a thorough review at the moment

Midnight Dreams: An Original Poem

I warn you all, this is my typical style of poetry… meaning I don’t follow any guidelines but instead free verse it, rewriting it until it sounds right to me.
I hope it’s not a total failure.

Midnight Dreams

The night stars come out,
The moon reveals its heavenly glow.
The sun retreats behind mountainous clouds,
And frees the waiting night.
Fairies glide from hidden glens,
To dance in their circles once again.
Night beckons and calls,
And the gnomes appear,
With their great white beards.
Night sings out to the sky,
And the selkies rise from ocean foam
And chant their haunting reply.
These are the unknown times,
When all the world is sleeping.
Nobody sees these mystic sights,
Except the mystic beings who
Participate each night.
But what wonderful beauty lies
In their songs and dances bright
Of which we will never see?
But oh how it is fun to dream.
To dream of the night romances,
Of fairies under the stars,
And selkies lying on the rocky shore,
As the tides fall and rise.
What precious gems are these,
The sights that go unseen.
Unseen by human eyes,
Hidden from their narrow view.
Oh of these midnight secrets,
These mystical midnight secrets,
Of these wondrous things
It is such fun to Dream.

Leave feedback in the comments.
Hate it? Love it? Don’t believe in Midnight fairy romps?
Tell me!

Something I Should Have Done Long Ago… and More!

Okay! I have wonderful news!

However, to understand this news, I need to do what I should have done a while back.

An Introduction to Civil Air Patrol

Civil Air Patrol, or CAP (pronounced either C-A-P or Cap as in ball CAP) as it is more commonly known, is an organization founded in December 1942, days before an attack on Pearl Harbor brought the US into World War II. It has grown and developed into the organization it is today, with three main missions.

Emergency Services – We can get called out to look for missing persons or downed aircraft, or to help with natural disaster relief.

Aerospace Education – We help educate the public on the history and lasted advances of aerospace. At the same time, we cadets (and the senior members as well) learn about it ourselves.

Cadet Programs– this is my favorite! It’s for anyone ages 12 – 18 who is interested in gaining more leadership experience and having fun in after-school type activities like Color guard or drill team.

My news is connected with cadet programs, so now I shall expand on it a bit.

CSC

Cadet programs is broken into 4 leadership phases during which cadets learn different skills based on their current rank and phase. It is similar to the Air Force’s chain of command.
Let me show you…

Phase 1
The Learning Phase

C/Amn – C/SSgt

In this phase the focus is to train the cadet in how to be a follower. They are introduced to the core values of CAP and how to be the best cadet they can be.

Phase 2
The Leadership Phase (and my current phase!)

C/TSgt – C/2ndLt

The last phase taught how to follow, and look to your leaders. This phase transitions from being a follower learning to lead, to a leader who knows how to follow.
I hope that made sense…
Basically in this phase you are actually taking on minor leadership roles in which to practice the skills you were learning in phase one.

Phase 3
The Command Phase

C/2ndlt – C/Capt

This phase takes what you learned in phase two and kicks it up a notch. This involves higher leadership roles, more people to work with, and more opportunities to practice everything you’re learning.

Phase 4
The Executive Phase

C/Capt – C/LtCol

Okay, this is a little bit of a mystery phase to me, as my old squadron didn’t currently have anybody above the rank C/Capt during my time there… from what I understand, it’s the transition phase from the cadet program to senior program. The cadets who reach this rank are typically older cadets who are almost or already a college student. This marks the last years of their time as a cadet.
It means more leadership, more work, and I believe (or at least hope… ) greater rewards through life.

Okay! I would now like to direct you attention to the Cadet Super Chart that is hopefully readable near the top.

Looked at it? Okay, good.

What you should have noticed is the majority of the achievements are named for great pioneers in aerospace. I love that about the cadet programs, and so does my former squadron commander.
Every time someone would promote (earn a new rank in the cadet program) he’d quiz them on what achievement (i.e. Curry, Fiek, Lindbergh…) they’ve just earned, and what that person did.

It is my absolute favorite part of promoting.

Now, there are eight achievements that are not named for great aviation pioneers and heroes.
Those would be 9 – 16.
They have been unnamed since the founding of the cadet program.
But now, no more!
CAP nationals is finally looking at naming them. The eight nominees for the unnamed achievements could not be more worthy, and I was actually naming one of them as deserving the achievement before I even knew they were going to name them!
And here they are!

Achievement 9

Colonel Eileen Collins
First female space shuttle pilot

Achievement 10

Gen Daniel “Chappie” James
First African American 4 star general of the Air Force.

Achievement 11

LtCol Nicole Malachowski
First female pilot in the United States Air Force Air demonstration squadron. Better known as the Thunderbirds.

Achievement 12

Col Jeanie M. Leavitt
First USAF female fighter pilot.

Achievement 13

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman
First African American women to be a licensed airplane pilot.

Achievement 14

Lt Gen Elwood R. “Pete” Quesada
Elwood Quesada was a member of the famous Question Mark endurance crew of 1929.
Quesada was also the first administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Achievement 15

Jacqueline Cochran
Where to start with Jackie… she was the first woman to win the Bendix Trophy Race, the first woman to pilot a jet, first woman to break the sound barrier… she’s probably best known for her role in forming Women’s Air Force Service Pilots, or WASP, program during World War II

Achievement 16

Gen Curtis Lemay
Was commander of the US Air Force in Europe during WW II, during which time he planned air raids over Japan and the Berlin airlift.
He helped form Strategic Air Command, or SAC, and assumed command of the newly formed SAC in 1948 where he laid plans for the ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile).

Alternate Nominees

Alan B. Shepard, Jr.
First American in Space

Col Guion S. “Guy” Bluford
First African American in space

Clarence “Kelly” Johnson
Helped design over 40 of the world’s top aircraft including the U-2 and the SR-71 “Blackbird”.

Now, we are not sure if all eight primary nominees will be approved, they may pull some of the alternate nominees to be used. However, what I am hopeful is that there won’t be a big bureaucratic discussion on it so that those eight achievements can be named, and us cadets can have the fun of rattling off bios every time we promote.

To learn more about these amazing people, go here! Cadet Blog

Now that I’ve shared my news, time to do some internet recruiting. 🙂

Civil Air Patrol is really an amazing organization, and I love being a part of it.
You can do so much, from being a flight commander, to teaching kids how to make paper rockets at an air show.
You learn Air force style drill (marching, column movements, things like that) and compete against and meet cadets from all over the US, and sometimes over seas!
There are camps, and special national level activities you can participate in.
You don’t have to love the military life, or want to be a fighter pilot.
True. most cadets you meet have that life in mind, but not all.
The older brother of one of my old… friends? Acquaintances?… anyway, her brother was the former Cadet Commander of my former squadron. He got accepted to both the Air Force Academy and West Point, but instead went to a nearby Catholic college to study to be a priest.
So you see, it has it’s benefits for those who are considering a military career, but it’s also just a fun group to join.

Check out the following sites for more information

gocivilairpatrol.com

capmembers.com