Winner, winner, chicken dinner (and review of my cake batter)

Ha. I knew the title would catch your eye. Doesn’t food always catch the eyes of humans? But this post has nothing to do with food. It’s about a lame achievement I made this April.

camp-2017-winner-twitter-header

Now, you must play the fanfare I won for winning Camp.

Well, no one awarded it to me but myself, but I think I deserve it, right? I wrote fifteen thousand words. The track is seventeen seconds long. That’s about eight hundred eighty-two words per second.

(Off-topic: I could listen to the Lego Universe Soundtrack for hours and never grow tired of it. The mix of brass and violins and interesting percussion is so intriguing, and the feeling I get when I listen to them is nothing short of an adrenaline rush. They have been my life soundtrack for a year or so now and I’m not growing cold on them. Brian Tyler is awesome! Here’s the link to the entire soundtrack via Youtube: Link! My personal favourites are Rocket Escape, Battlegrounds, Monument Race, Blastoff, Nimbus Plaza, Nimbus Station, Red Blocks, Pet Cove, General Forestry, Forbidden Valley, Ninjago Monastery, and Battle Against Frakjaw, which I have linked for your convenience. You can thank my brother Mac for this discourse, because he was the one who got me hooked on this.)

So, my Camp project. It was an idea made up a couple of weeks days hours before camp started. I wanted to write a story about feudal Japan, but it would have bugged me if it were inaccurate. But I didn’t want to go and do a bunch of research on feudal Japan. So I just infused Japanese culture into somewhere that I never expressly mentioned was Japan, I’d be good, right?

Bam. The Taiso Senshu was born. And it probably won’t make a bit of sense because I sprinkled too many Japanese words in it. So many that I’m not even going to bother identifying them for you. Now is a good time to practice your context clues. 😛

The story’s track was different when I began writing it than when I finished it. When I began, I was writing a story about Kaori Sasaki. She was the niece of the main taiso kyoshi and thus steeped in taiso since birth, practically. But the only other female senshu wasn’t a very shining example. She had one chance to prove herself to the other senshu or else she’d have Hanoka Norman’s fate.

As much as I liked that story, the story I finished with went something like this:

Akio Hayashi was trained from birth to infiltrate the taiso senshu and give the Farukon the information leading to their fate. He was supposed to not say a word, to avoid camraderie with the enemy. Yet, in an accident, he breaks his vow of silence by accident, and strikes up an unlikely alliance with Kaori, the only senshu he deems worthy of his time. (Akio has an extreme superiority complex.) But now he’s got a problem – stay loyal to the Farukon, or stay loyal to the senshu?

It’s a lot better reading it, I promise. There were several things I needed to fix, though, and here’s a long to-do list of those things.

  • Change the setting slightly
  • Focus the plot
  • Re-do the POV from an all-Kaori to a half-Akio, half-Kaori
  • Change the details I ended up changing

I’d give The Taiso Senshu a 3.9/10 right now. Maybe once I’ve baked my cake batter, it’ll taste better. (See what I did there?)

Did you win Camp? How many words did you write?

{Tess}

The crickets are chirping….

Well, apparently my last post didn’t go over very well. Either that, or everyone’s so stinking ready for spring break that it flew under the radar. Whichever it was, I’m trying not to take it personally and hoping that some writing might appease my readers.

When Penney first came to 8100 Brampton Road, she didn’t know what a catovit was. Now she wondered how she’d ever gotten on without them.

Every afternoon, just around teatime, she’d get down from the attic, down the hall, down the staircase, and down the other hall to the ashwood door on the end. And she’d knock – once for purpose, once for luck, and once more for good measure. Then the door would swing open, almost by itself, and the strangely refined voice of the formerly adventurous gentleman would beckon, “Come in, Penney, you’re three minutes late.”

She’d laugh, the same laugh she utilised when she wrote something humourous (for everything is more humourous when one writes it oneself) and take a deep breath of the fresh, bracing air Sir Dawson kept about his room. The chessboard was always there, with all the pieces laid out. He’d always ask her if she wanted to be black or white. She’d always answer that black was best.

And then they’d talk as they played. They’d talk about everything, from the most important political argument that had been on the radio the night before, to whether the Falcons or the Harlequins would win at the next rugby match, to the coming issue in the school system. But the one thing they’d never talk about was themselves. Penney already knew enough about Dawson, just from the room he lived in.

He had a lot of windows in his room, and every one was always open, bringing just enough of a breeze to ruffle the sail of the little model schooner on the bookcase. Souveniers of his life were all about him, each in a precise place of honour – an leather aviator’s hat, goggles and all, sagged atop a slender golden candlestick; a Brown Bess musket, probably not touched since the Revolution, reposed lazily on the mantle, along with three smaller pieces that were really only good for knocking houseflies out of their wits; various rocks and mineral deposits littered the tables and shelves, but not really in an artful way; and, plastered with travelling stickers as it was, a big locking cabinet oversaw everything.

Penney loved to imagine what could be in the cabinet. She did not think it was a gun safe, for if the fellow believed in keepings his weapons secure, the ancient Brown Bess (which was only valuable because of its age) would have been stowed within. It wasn’t full of books, because she’d heard Dawson say that books were of best use when one could reach them easily, and locking them in a cabinet did not constitute easy access. After much thought, she realised, to her great disappointment, that it was probably a wardrobe, as there was not a closet in his room. But rather than believe the obvious (and spoil her musing fun), she liked to let it remain a mystery, and to keep wondering what was inside it.

And so it was: every afternoon, Penney Woodlawn would be in David Dawson’s room from three o’clock to four o’clock, day in, day out. They found a name for their tradition, one rainy afternoon when Dawson was teetering on losing yet again.

“You know, Dawson,” said Penney, nonchalantly swiping her rook to the left, “I think we ought to find a name for this.”

“For trumping me at chess?” He sighed at the move that put him in check-mate. “There already is one. It’s called, ‘thrashing’.”

Penney laughed. “Not that. For this.” She waved a flourishing hand around the room. “Our tradition.”

“Hmm.” Dawson stroked the grey whiskers that climbed his sharply defined jawbone. “How about, ‘catovit’.”

“That’s a funny word.”

“Indeed. ‘Tisn’t a word at all.”

She cocked her head. “What is it, then?”

“It’s a vocalised acronym. Stands for, ‘chess and talk of very important things’.”

She chuckled. “But sometimes, the things we talk about aren’t so important, Dawson.”

“Why d’you say that?”

“I don’t think the comparison of coffee and tea amounts to much. Especially when we’re in agreement on the subject.”

He shook his head, smiling. “Well, perhaps, but the ‘i’ in ‘catovit’ could also stand for ‘inane’.”

“Alright, then,” she laughed. “‘Catovit’ it is.”

I had this snippet on my mind for some time. If I still like it tomorrow, then I’ll make it a full-fledged story someday. But for now my mind wanders in pawprints….just in case you didn’t notice….

Is anyone interested in an Amateur Art update? I’ve just gotten over my drawing slump, and I just drew a pretty good Lady and Tramp that I’ve wanted to post.

And, could you give about .3487 of a second of your time to answer this poll?

Stay cool,

Tess

Tess is not dead

I have some very delicious bread rising on my stovetop right now, and as it will be taking care of itself for thirty minutes, I spanked myself over to the computer to write a post – FOR THE ENTIRE TIME.

I cannot give an elaborate excuse for my posting lapse, save sheer laziness. And the fact that I am about to start my first outside of Nanowrimo NOVEL. That has been an interesting development, particularly because this tale is unlike anything I have ever thought of, let alone attempted to immortalise.

It all started with a story I wrote for a writing course last semester entitled The Long Way Home. Basically the gist of the story was that I was walking home and was attacked by a pack of stray dogs, and that one of them ended up sticking up for me, so I brought him home. Little did I know that this had begun a new fascination.

A few weeks later, I was sitting on my couch – it was a Thursday afternoon, I believe – frustrated with my writing and ready for a change. So pen went to paper, and I came up with the following paragraphs:

This story begins with a farmer cultivating his pumpkin field. The farmer was a dog, which may sound strange to us, but you must understand, the land of Sanskratoon is fully inhabited by dogs. So farmer dogs cultivating their pumpkin fields is perfectly normal in this story.

The farmer’s name was Arrow. His uncle had recently given him the pumpkin farm; it was something that made a very good birthday present to Arrow, because he didn’t have a penny to his name. But now, with every pumpkin he sold, he was slowly saving enough money to buy food for the coming winter. This meant, of course, that he had pumpkin every night for supper. It was a good thing his father had taught him one hundred ways to cook a pumpkin.

And so a tale I had intended to read to my six-year-old little sister turned into something much more than that. After completely changing my story, turning farming to sledding (and realising that dogs don’t eat pumpkins), I am now beginning a brand-new novel (with a goal of 100,000 words) starting this Monday. I’m hopefully going to find some kind of widget that’ll keep track of that wordcout.

FAQ (well, more like expected FAQ):

Why not horses? You’re horse-mad.
My reasoning for this doesn’t really make sense. But I will say this – I know too much about horses. If I tried to make up a world for them to live in like I have done for the dogs, then I would be hindered by my own knowledge. Honestly, the less I know about something, the better my imagination is fueled (and the more distant it becomes from human culture and Erin Hunter.)

Does your story have magic in it?
No. I don’t believe magicking is something to be toyed around with in books.

If evil magic exists, which, as shown from The Witch of Endor, I Samuel 28:3-25 and Simon the Sorceror, Acts 8:9-24, it does, then it isn’t something I want to writing about.

I also believe that if good magic is real, and powered by God, then it’s too holy to be used in fiction, just like I wouldn’t make someone use God’s name in vain in one of my stories.

So this means no wizards or witches or magical stones or anything.

When will your story be complete?
That depends on how complete you’re looking at. I’m hoping to have the first draft done by November 2017. Then, after Nanowrimo, I’ll begin editing with my mum, who has graciously volunteered her services. If it does turn out to be anything good, then you can expect it to be sold by 2020.

Do you want to hear some of my story ideas?
Sure! I’ll at least give an ear to what you have to say, and who knows, you may see it in the book.

Can I have a cameo appearnce?
If you want. All you need to do is tell me the following:

1) what name you would like to use (no screenames please! It would sound weird to say, “Hi, my name is DogLover5521. What’s yours?”)

2) which of the following four breeds you would like to be:

German Shepherd,gsd_hero

Golden Retriever,goldenretriever_hero_-_copy

Siberian Husky (I prefer blue-eyed ones but this one is still pretty cute),siberianhusky_hero2

or Border Collie.bordercollie_hero

(Hopefully these photos melted your cute-o-meter.)

It has to be one of these four, because it’s kind of a major plot point. 🙂

3) optional – any hat or accesory you like. My dogs don’t really wear anything besides hats and neckwear.

I figured this would be a fun way to involve you guys in my tale. So don’t be shy, there will be a place for your cameo!

That pretty much sums up my story. Now, onto actual news: I have been volunteering at a barn, and earned my very first riding lesson there on Wednesday! It was a ton of fun. I’ll write up my experiences there in another post.

Well, this ramble took longer than thirty minutes. At least I posted. 😛

Yours truly,

Tess