My hands hurt

Hello lovely readers. I am happy to report that I am finally done with my classes and projects for this semester. I’m officially a senior in college, but sheesh it was a long haul.

Looking back, it doesn’t look like there actually wasn’t that much to do in my last two weeks of classes. I didn’t have any major video or audio projects to finish. I only had 3 final exams, two of which I could take on my own and open book, and two that I could flunk almost completely and still get an A. So what was it that inspired today’s title?*

The writing.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I had 140 pages of screenwriting to do in the last two weeks. That’s about 10 pages a day. I had two 25-page sitcom episodes (one of which ended up being 30 pages) and two 45-page dramatic TV show episodes to write. Considering how long the one sitcom episode ended up being, I suppose it’s more accurate to say I had 145 pages of screenwriting.

Either way, far too much writing to do in such a short amount of time.

Now understand, screenwriting isn’t like regular writing. The words are more spread out on the page, so it doesn’t take as long to do a full page. Still, 145 pages is a ton. The average feature film is 120 pages.

Honestly, as much as I like screenwriting, I’m a little sick of it right now. In screenwriting, you can’t get into the head of the character. You can only describe what the audience will see and hear, not what the characters are thinking or feeling. And I’m tired of describing things.

I’m going to take a little break from screenwriting for a while, I think. I want to do some storytelling that lets me get deep into the thoughts and emotions of my characters. That’s good news for any of you following my fantasy story, Erya, on Wattpad. You’ll probably be getting some new chapters in the next few weeks.

If you’re interested in seeing some of my writing in action, check out this show pilot that my friends and I made over spring break. It’s called Flicker, and I wrote the screenplay.

I’ll probably do a separate post on Flicker by itself, and I’m planning to have our director appear on my podcast.**

*The other cause of the sore hands is a combination of playing with my new fidget spinner (so addictive) too much, and hiking up some boulders and scuffing my palms up.

**Yes, I know I forgot to upload this past Sunday’s episode. You’ll get a double episode next week in penance. One on Sunday, and one on Wednesday. Stop throwing tomatoes already.

Songs I’m obsessed with right now

I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately. Partly because I just went on a long car trip and I needed it to stay awake. I usually have some song stuck in my head, but right now, I feel like I’m stuffed full.

Which means now you get to hear what I’m thinking.

1. The DreamWorks Bible movie soundtracks

When I was a kid (okay, I was two), DreamWorks struck gold with The Prince of Egypt, which is, in my opinion, the best Moses movie ever made (yes, better than The Ten Commandments). It also has probably the most majestic sounding soundtrack of any animated movie ever. I posted my favorite below. Just try to listen to that without getting chills. Hans Zimmer is a genius. You really should just listen to the whole sound track.

The second movie that DreamWorks made in the same vein was Joseph: King of Dreams. The songs aren’t probably as incredible as the ones in Prince of Egypt, but then Zimmer didn’t do this one. Still, the songs are pretty good, especially since it was the composer, Danny Pelfrey’s, first musical score. Better than I was the song that popped up on my Spotify list that prompted this nostalgic musical journey.

2. Heathens by Twenty One Pilots

I heard this on the radio at some point recently and it’s been stuck in my head. This song is ungodly catchy. The beginning is catchy. The chorus is painfully catchy. The ending is catchy. Worse, it’s still a popular song, so I can’t make it more than a few days before I hear someone else singing it and getting it stuck in my head again.

The last song that was stuck in my head this thoroughly was How Many Kings by Downhere, and that was stuck in my head for literally months.

3 & 4. Money and Fame and Happiness by Needtobreathe

These two kept popping up on the radio, so I added them to my Spotify list. Which was a mistake. Now, they are never out of my head. Money and Fame, in particular is just SO catchy. I don’t even know the whole song, just the chorus. Happiness is the opposite. I know the whole thing, and it’s still stuck in my head.

Most of the time, when I get something stuck in my head, it’s because I don’t know all the words and my brain is trying to figure it out. Obviously, that’s not the case with the DreamWorks soundtracks. For those, I think my brain is just longing for something awe-inspiring and majestic. But maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get at least Heathens and Money and Fame out of my head sometime soon.

I hope so. It’s getting crowded in here.

Sorry, no podcast

I’m sorry about the lack of podcast episode yesterday. My schedule is insanely tight right now, and I still have 45 pages of screenwriting to do by Friday. I was up till 3am last night finishing the last script.

Thankfully, after Friday, I’m basically home free. Oh sure, I have a few finals to study for, but I’m less than worried about any of them. I’m not missing a lot of points in any of the classes I have actual exams in, so could basically flunk most of my finals and still get a A in the classes.

All this to say that I promise you WILL have a podcast episode this weekend.

It’s going to be a fun one about firefighting, so it’s worth the wait.

You will also be getting a regular post on Wednesday. I pre-scheduled it. 🙂

Interview with author Shannon A. Thompson about blogging

I interviewed Shannon A. Thompson, an author, poet, and blogger who writes about writing and publishing. She is the author of the YA series The Timely Death Trilogy. She helped me out with a journalism class project, and I thought her answers and advice were so good that I decided to post them here. Enjoy!

1. What prompted you to start blogging? Why blog on that topic? 

I began blogging in 2012 when I decided I wanted to get re-involved with the publishing community. I’d been involved before—back in 2007—but that was a different time. There were no eBooks, for instance. The first thing I noticed was how much bigger (and better) things had become after everyone (writers, cover artists, editors, readers, etc.) found one another, mainly through blogging. So, I started my own blog. Granted, I had no idea what I would blog about. At first, I started blogging about books, music, and movies, but I quickly noticed that my followers responded to my writing tips the most, so I continued to focus on that.

2. What are the goals and intent of the blog? What types of subjects are featured in the blog?

I didn’t necessarily have any goals when it came to blogging. I simply wanted to find my people, and I loved writing anyway, so blogging was a way to combine those two aspects of my life. The topics changed over time, but I mainly focus on what my followers want me to discuss the most.

3. How do you communicate with your followers? What types of responses have followers  given to postings?

I respond to every comment on every article. I often read other blogs, too. Communicating goes both ways; so does blogging. Thankfully, I mainly receive positive responses. I have received a few negative ones in the past, but as long as they are constructive (and not trolling), I don’t mind. We can all debate a topic. But trolls aren’t allowed. I delete anything that doesn’t add to the conversation in a mindful way, because I want my website to be a fun and safe place for readers and writers alike. It creates extra work, but I believe it’s worth it.

4. How do you promote the blog? What works best and worst?

I don’t really promote my blog, to be honest. In fact, I’ve had to slow down over the years. When I first started, I blogged every other day for two years straight. It was a lot of work, and I eventually realized that my time could be better spent elsewhere. Also, followers tend to enjoy less updates than more, so I cut down overtime. I’m currently blogging once a week now, and I love it just as much. In fact, I think it’s more productive with fewer postings. But I share my weekly posts across my author platform, mainly Facebook and Twitter.

5. What new things have you learned about the world and your field of interest because of the blog? What would you do differently if starting a blog today?

As stated above, I’d probably blog less than I originally blogged, because that time can be spent working on your craft. (Then again, maybe that’s why it grew so fast. It’s hard to say.) In my case, once I had an audience, I was able to spend more time writing books by cutting down on blogging. But I will always have a blog. My blog has connected me with some amazing people, and those amazing people changed my life. In fact, my current publisher and I shared a connection through my blog, and I think that helped when we decided to work together. Blogging can open amazing doors. (Even if those doors are invisible and on the Internet.)

6. What suggestions do you have for students and others who want to blog?

Start! The best part of blogging is that it is easy, simple, and free. You don’t have to own a URL or get a custom-made website right up front. Just start, and see where it goes. You’ll find your way.

Life Update 4/13/2017

I gotta be honest. I completely forgot to post on Wednesday. I woke up sometime around 3 in the morning on Thursday with that realization. Sorry guys, this week has been a little crazy.

I started off this week counting the number of school assignments I had this week with increasing dread. The final tally? Ten. Ten things. Five projects (including a 22 page script and a 10 page and counting paper) and five quizzes, all due by Thursday. Technically, most of these things are due on Friday, but I’m leaving Friday afternoon to hang out with my friend in Georgia.

Which brings me to my next problem. My car has no AC. If I try to turn on the AC, it just blows slightly warm air at me. That’s going to be just peachy (no pun intended) on a six hour drive down to the Georgia.

Sweating

I’m not too worried about it. It shouldn’t get up into the 90s for the whole time I’m there, and I’ll be able to crack my windows a little as I drive. Besides, I actually prefer to be a little on the warm side.

Adding injury to the insult of my insanely busy schedule this week, I fell down the stairs yesterday. I was still groggy from a nap (because I also haven’t been sleeping much), and I guess I forgot that my stairs curve at the top, so they aren’t all equally shaped. I slipped and managed to get my left foot up under my body as I fell.

Thankfully, I was already holding onto the railing, so I didn’t end up tumbling all the way down. But my ankle is not thanking me for this. It’s not my pedal foot, though, which is good. I also strained my left shoulder a little, and scraped up my right arm.

On a lighter note, two of the things on my long list of things to do got postponed. One of them was a huge project that I actually finished half of when I couldn’t sleep on Tuesday night.

I’m doing pretty alright, and I’m looking forward to spending Easter with my friend. Now back to that script that I’m using this post to procrastinate on.

Pros and cons of becoming an archer

I’ve been doing archery for about two years now, I think. I like it a lot, and I’m pretty good at it. But I’ve noticed that even something as fun as archery has a few down sides.

Here is a list of pros and cons of becoming an archer.

Pro 1: Better posture.

If you’re doing it right, you’re supposed to use your back muscles to pull back the string. Back muscles are much bigger than shoulder muscles and can take a lot more strain. I’ve found that after a few hours of archery, my back muscles stay tight and I stand up a lot straighter.

archery back muscles.jpg

You can’t hear it, but my back muscles are screaming here.

Con 1: Tension headaches

The down side of using your back muscles to pull back the string is that your back muscles stay tight all the time. This has a tendency to lead to pain that crawls up my spine and tries to strangle my brain. Tension headaches bite.

I had a tension headache the other night that felt more like a severe migraine and lasted until two hours after I tried to go to bed. I felt like someone had stuck an ax into the back of my head and was hammering on it.

Pro 2: Increased finger strength

This is true especially for those of us who do the type of archery I do: recurve (or traditional) archery. Most archers who use compound bows also use a release that means all of the weight of the string is on their wrists. However, people like me hold all of the weight on three of our fingers. Which has the effect of beefing up our fingers.

Have you ever had to carry a lot of groceries and it felt like your fingers were about to fall off? I don’t really have that issue. My fingers (at least on the right hand) are used to dealing with worse.

The only down side to this is that the ring that wear on my right hand is getting a tad tight. Well, not the only down side…

Con 2: Dead nerves in fingers

One possible side effect of putting a lot of pressure on one very small spot, like a string on a finger, is that you might hurt the nerves. A few months into my archery career, I realized that my protective finger glove was far too thin. I thought that I was just getting used to the pain on my fingers (and on in particular), but turns out no.

The tip of my finger had just gone numb.

I was a little alarmed when I first noticed, but when I called up my dad (who is also an archer), he just shrugged and said, “Yeah, that happens.” It took a few months, but after I got better finger protection, the feeling did return in my finger.

hand.gif

Side note: Do you have any idea how hard it is to type when you can’t feel the tip of your finger? It’s not easy.

Pro 3: Increased zombie apocalypse survival chances

Let’s be honest, most of us wouldn’t make it ten minutes in a zombie apocalypse. But I feel like we archers have a little better shot (archery pun. I am not ashamed). At the very least, we can hit the zombies from a distance.

And arrows are reusable, too. Unlike bullets.

Con 3: Mostly an utterly useless skill in normal life (if you don’t hunt)

I mean, it’s cool that I can hit dead center of a target many yards away, but that’s not something that’s going come in handy most of the time. I’m not a hunter, personally, so I can’t even use my archery skills for that. I’ve got this awesome skill that I use mostly just for fun and stress relief.

Pro 4: Really cool fictional characters who share my hobby

Whether it’s Katniss from Hunger Games, Susan from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or Legolas from Lord of the Ring, everyone loves the archers. They’re always the coolest member of any fictional universe.

Smexy legolas

Stop drooling ladies.

Con 4: Undying annoyance at fictional archery mistakes

It is a general life principle that once you know how to do something, it becomes hard to watch stupid actors attempt to do that thing on a screen. Sometimes the production company pays for the actors to actually learn to shoot. Sometimes the actor can figure it out.

Most of the time, watching actors try to pretend they’re shooting anything just makes me laugh or rage. Take this example from one of the Hunger Games movies:

Katniss stupid.gif

First off, her left arm is so hyper-extended that it is a miracle that she doesn’t have forty bruises on the inside of it. Then, I have to ask where is the anchor point??? She’s holding her drawing hand in MID AIR.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble Hunger Games fans, but she’s hitting nothing. Except by pure luck.

***

Archery is a ton of fun, most of the time. But, like anything, it comes with a few down sides. Not enough to make me want to stop doing it, but plenty enough to inspire a humorous blog post.

Bonus: Please enjoy this feature that my university’s sports show did with me.

The enchantress in Beauty and the Beast is a huge jerk

I promised you all a Beauty and the Beast post, so here it is.

I haven’t gotten a chance to see the new live action Beauty and the Beast yet, but it’s definitely on my list of movies that I want to see. However, I did recently watch the original animated version a few weeks ago in anticipation. It was the first time that I watched the movie in probably 5-10 years.

And I noticed something. Watch the opening sequence from the movie and see if you come up with the same thought I did.

Did you catch how old the beast was? I feel like the first time I watched this, I was too distracted by the narrators lovely voice and the creative stained glass visuals. The movie itself seems to gloss over the point. But I think it’s kind of important.

The narration specifically says that the beast would be condemned to eternal beast-hood if he couldn’t find someone to love him by his 21st birthday. First off,  a lot of my friends and I would likely be out of luck, if that were to happen to us. How many normal people manage to “find love” by the time they’re 21? Forget it, if you’re a big hairy monster.

But more importantly, that means he was less than 21 years old  when the enchantress cursed him. The narrator says that “many” years have passed since that event, and it’s been long enough for the town folk to have completely forgotten that they had a prince that lived in an enormous castle not that far from town. One has to assume that “many” years means at least 5, if not 10.

So… wait. The enchantress CURSED A CHILD?

What. A. Jerk.

Beauty-and-the-Beast-stained-glass-window-showing-prince-and-beggar

From this picture, the beast looks to be a little older, probably mid-teens I’d guess. So, let’s assume he was 15.

Have you ever met a 15 year old boy? They can be selfish and rude, sure. But most teenagers have their heads shoved so far up their own butts that they can’t seem to focus on anyone else. They’re immature, but that’s normal.

I’ll grant you that as a prince, the beast probably should have had better manners, but the point remains that he was a kid. And apparently, a kid being raised without his parents’ guidance, because they’re nowhere to be seen in this movie. I’m not sure if they just abandoned him or succumbed to whatever illness that always seems to kill Disney mothers.

Taking stock of what we’ve learned so far, that enchantress cursed a probably lonely, definitely orphaned or abandoned, 15-year-old kid with a curse that could only be broken if he basically did the impossible. I’ll say it again. What. A. Jerk.

That’s not even mentioning the fact that she cursed his entire castle! What did those poor servants in the castle do to deserve that? What, were they supposed to be able to convince their prince that he shouldn’t be such a jerk? That would have gotten them all fired, and left to become penniless peasants. It just feels like this enchantress cursed them out of either spite or negligence, and I’m not sure which is worse.

If you go back and watch it again, you’ll notice that there are actually lots of problems and plot holes in this overall charming movie about learning to love someone for what’s on the inside. But nothing is more ridiculous than the enchantress cursing a kid and his entire household for being rude to her.

Jerk.gif

I mean, that is a gross mismanagement of magical powers and she should definitely be reprimanded by some sort of Court of Fairies, Wizards, and Otherwise Magical Creatures.

Hmm… I sense a short story approaching.

See you all on Sunday!

***

Speaking of Sunday, the next episode of Contra Mundum will be on blowing glass and other forms of art with my very own sister. It’s a fun, Informative, and unintentionally hilarious episode.

Until then, catch up on the podcast with last Sunday’s “Talking Tech” episode.