Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My heart has been set on wishing. There's something I want very much, and it really doesn't have much to do with patience of perseverance. It's a shot in the dark, a hope to long for. And I'll find out if it comes true soon. I cleaned my room yesterday in an effort to distract myself; there's something relaxing about being in the mood to clean, sort, and explore the treasures lying hidden in your space. I have three book shelves in my room, with the middle one being a tad bit shorter than the other two. On it I have my Apollo bust and a bunch of very tiny books that can't fit on a normal shelf. There, while dusting, I rediscovered the tiny book called Wishing: Shooting Stars, Four-Leaf Clovers, and Other Wonders to Wish Upon compiled by Gloria T. Delamar.

I'm not surprised to find this little book again. While, at the ripe age of twenty-two (almost twenty-three!), I still feel adventuresome when I try a new flavor of potato chips or go on a new theme park ride. However, there are things I love that I think I'll always continue to love. I guess wishing has always fascinated me. Who hasn't wished? Like any other kid, I used to think of what I would wish for if I stumbled upon Genie's lamp. But lamps are rare treasures to find. They're buried in caves or under the land at the bottom of the sea. Genies don't want to be found; they're rather lazy and quite content to spend eternity lounging on plush pillows and watching the travel channel. So how do normal people wish? Well, my book tells me that you can just about wish on anything - but there are rules. And they're rather intriguing. So for this post, I'd thought I'd share some of my favorites from the book:


"If an acorn falls while you're standing under an oak tree, pick it up, turn it around three times, and make a wish. To make the acorn's magic stronger, place it in a windowsill for three days."

Lightning Bug

"If you catch a lightning bug (also called a firefly or glowworm), place it on the back of your ring finger, as though it were a ring, and wish for a jewel. If the bug glows, you'll get your wish; if it flies away before glowing, you won't."

White Rabbit Night

"'White rabbit night' - the last night of a month - happens twelve times a year. If you say 'white rabbit' three times - sometime after midnight, and before you speak to anyone - you may make a wish for good luck for that month."


"If you're passing under a trestle just as a train goes overhead, make a wish."

Interesting, eh? There's quite a bit of them in this book and it's nice to see that every culture has some kind of wishing tip or trick. But I'm always wondering: why is that we feel the need to wish on something? Perhaps it is because we really do believe that inanimate objects or concepts have power of their own. Maybe a fallen leaf can carry our wishes higher than the words that echo in our heads. What do you think?

The rest of my afternoon will be full of busy work, a lot of thinking, and indulging in some sweets. I confess I haven't made a wish on anything yet. I can't decide if I want to, even if such little folk tales and tips are fun to read about. I might keep my wish inside myself and keep it warm. Maybe, each time I realize it, it'll burn hotter than the summer air.

Photo from Tumblr

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Award News: Figment, Flour House, and Posters

Even though this did indeed happen a few weeks ago, I wanted to gather everything together to properly announce this awesome news: I won a writing contest! The contest was hosted by the teen writing website called; anyone's who's been following me for a while already knows about it, haha.

The contest was called the serial contest. For anyone not familiar with the term "serial" in relation to fiction, I found a great quote from an article entitled "Writing Serial Fiction" by Icy Sedgwik:

"Serials have been part of fiction for decades. Newspapers and magazines regularly ran stories in installments, keeping readers hanging until the next issue continued the plot and spun out the story."

What serial fiction usually means nowadays is that you, as the writer, are periodically posting new chapters and the readers are following along with you as it happens. Very exciting. At least, I find it exciting. So when I found out that Figment created a contest revolving around this concept, I definitely wanted to take a shot at it.

The rules were simple:

1. Create a new story and write for four weeks straight.
2. Post at least two chapters each week (minimum of eight chapters in all).
3. One post each week must address the given writing prompt - and there was one prompt for each week.

The prompts were pretty tricky; you couldn't just write your story all at once and be done. So the prompts ensured that everyone entered was writing and creating as they went along - something that really gives me a thrill with the challenge of keeping pace and giving my characters something to worry about. The prompts were:

Week 1: Someone has to buy something from a toy store.
Week 2: Something made out of glass breaks
Week 3: Someone must be dancing or must witness dancing (of any kind).
Week 4: Someone or something (not necessarily human) must die or be dead.

The Prize: A Poster

The prize I won was a free poster from a company called PosterText. What they do is pretty cool - they take the classics (like The Portrait of Dorian Gray or Alice in Wonderland) and print the text of the book on the poster. Yes, it's like hanging a book on the wall. They choose a memorable scene, use the text from the book, and create a neat silhouette picture in the middle of the negative space. I had a hard time choosing which one I wanted, but in the end I stuck with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Here are some pictures of its arrival, followed by what I did after the happy delivery:

The poster arrives!

Ah, the poster is successfully unwrapped and up on a wall! It looks good, haha.

When you look at it up close, you can see the text! This one is the text next to Elizabeth's face.

My dog, Misty, and I eating cotton candy Italian ice. Delicious - and it helped cool my brain off after all that writing.

The Story: Flour House

From this contest, I came up with my entry: Flour House. I listed the prompts because, if you do decide to read it, you might be interested to see how I used them to fit the story each week. It's a story filled with baking sweets, teacup bathes, handsome tiny boys, and a lot of flour. I've posted the first chapter here:

Measuring Spoons

It was late November when Lettice Morris stood outside the toy shop. She was seventeen, a small girl with small feet. She had her brown hair tied back in two braids, her smart green pea coat buttoned up to the neck, and she watched her breath fog the darkened windows and drew hearts and stars with her gloved fingers until they faded away.

A thin layer of frost covered the city street. People walked carefully in big, slow strides with their arms out like tight-rope walkers. Lettice checked her watch out of habit, but she knew what time the toy shop opened.

8:03 am

The lights turned on.

The old man who ran the toy shop was called Duncan. He unlocked the door and popped his head out, smiling down at the young woman. “Good morning, Letty,” he said. His eyes glittered behind his gold-rimmed peepers. His bowtie was blue.

She greeted him with a smile that split apart her chapped lips. She forgot again to rub on her vanilla chapstick; it always got lost in her purse, no matter how small and how few pockets were inside. For this reason, Lettuce believed that all purses were hungry monsters – a notion she had held onto since she was a child. But more importantly, for this reason, her lips were chapped and aching.

When Duncan let her inside, she darted past the train set display and the mobiles of butterflies and space ships to the cash register. She pawed around in one of the small fishbowls filled with tiny, inexpensive trinkets and found a tiny, round container of chapstick. The cover was decorated with swirls like a melting candy cane but it smelled like roses when she opened it. She quickly swiped an un-gloved finger across its smooth, sticky surface and flinched as she carefully dotted her lips.

“Did you come out here for just that?” Duncan said, looking at her over the display of rag dolls. He gently adjusted a fallen teddy bear.

“Not at all. But I’ve forgotten to put it on again. Or my bag ate it. I can’t tell which is true yet,” Lettice said. She took out her wallet and pulled plucked out two crisp bills. “That’s for the sweet relief. I can feel my lips healing already.”

“So what are you looking for?”

“A measuring spoon set.”

“There are kitchen stores for that…”

“No. I mean, I want a tiny one. Dollhouse-sized.”

Duncan laughed. “Well, that’s different. Follow me.”

They walked down one of the cluttered aisles, stuffed with train wheels, menageries, broken china dolls and faded scraps of clothing. The labels on each wooden shelf were faded by the years. Some peeled off and joined the dust on the floor. Duncan stopped at a shelf lined with tiny couches, paintings from Picasso and O’Keeffe on bigger than a thumb, and a bathtub realistic enough to have a ring. He extracted a small box, and from that box, amongst forks, brushes, and necklaces, he offered Lettice a flower-painted measuring spoon set. She held it prudently in her hands.

“I gather you’ve wanted to add to your mother’s dollhouse,” he said, watching Lettice gently turn the set in her hands, hearing it jingle. “It’s a worthy cause. It’s almost like building a real home, from the ground up. You’re lucky your mother boxed away most of her collection so that, when she passed, they would belong to you.”

He spoke easily about this because it had been five years since her mother died. Lettice was comfortable with it. She thought of her mother often, but not sadly; she had her cheerful, older brothers always making her feel safe. But although she did have a keen interest in putting her mother’s dollhouse back together, there was another reason why she had started to spend her money on the tiny delicacies. So without hesitating, Lettice said, “There’s that, Duncan. Yes. But my boyfriend is living in the dollhouse, and he’d really like to bake a cake.”

(Original cover art found on We Heart It)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tidbits: May Edition

Picture/Photo Find

Something I Did

So I got my silhouette done a few days ago. I've been dying to get one done for a while; silhouettes, to me, are magical things. I love how anyone can suddenly seem mysterious and beautiful, yet look exactly like themselves, when they are captured in a shadow. I entertained the thought of learning how to do them myself, but I soon found that it was just far beyond my skills at the moment. It would have to wait in line behind the other skills I want to teach myself how to do this summer, including storyboarding and making pop-up books. I went to Disney, the Magic Kingdom, and sat down for my silhouette. The silhouette isn't very expensive at all - I think it's $8 if you don't want a frame. I gawked at the stall when I first got to Main Street and admired all the elaborate shadowed scenes on display. I kind of wanted them too - Ariel looking up at the surface and Wendy flying - but I had to remain focused. I was here to start with me.

I actually ended up waiting almost an hour to get it done since, when I first got there, the silhouette artist was on his lunch break. So I sat in the chair and waited. I saw one of the smaller parades and watched the balloon guys expertly tug balloons down from their floating bouquets for eager children. I was so relaxed and enthralled by the sights that I didn't realize that the artist had come back from his break. He, in turn, never bothered to ask me if I was indeed waiting for a portrait. He just assumed that I was resting in the chair - apparently something many people do in the park. I didn't know this (I guess you learn something everyday). After smiling at each other, flustered and apologizing, he had me sit up and look straight ahead. I couldn't see what he was doing, but in a matter of minute he had carved out my silhouette. We chatted about art school and novel writing while he placed my silhouette in the frame. I went home a happy girl.

I scanned it and here it is:

Cool, eh? I had planned to do it with my glasses off, but because of the mishap I was so flustered I just sat with them on. Realistically, I don't use contacts, so I'm always wearing my glasses. It's true to life. But I've always admired eyelashes on silhouettes, so I missed seeing that. But yes, my hair really is that thick. It's totally correct, haha. No straightener can hide the volume :) I want to stick it on my blog somewhere, but I'm still wondering where. Hm.

A Quote from a Book I Love

I just finished reading Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. I've actually have the book in my room for an entire school year, abusing the privilege graduate students get by taking out books for months, not weeks, at a time. I renewed and renewed and finally, when I felt for a moment that I could breathe, I sat down and read this in one sitting. Which is a big deal since it's not a tiny book. It's all about adventure, mysterious creatures, airships, and old-world charm. Here's one of my favorite parts of the airship Aurora's liftoff. It inspired me to randomly shout "Up ship!" in my daily life:

"Pull up the gangways! Close the hatches! The cargo was all loaded and tied down in the holds; the last of the passengers were on board. There was a cry of “Up ship!” from the control car. The two-hundred-strong ground crew cast off the mooring lines, and with a great splash we were dumping water ballast, and the men and women on the airfield sent up a cheer, and we were rising now, the passengers swinging caps and handkerchiefs from the open windows, and the people down below waving back, and we were rising, the airfield already far below us, and the spires of Lionsgate City spreading out to the north, and we were rising into the dawn sky, sure and smooth as an angel."

Song I Can't Stop Repeating

The melody alone is beautiful, but the combination with the lyrics is just romantically haunting:

But every time she turned the lights down low
He thought he heard a voice calling out so slow
Come take me away from all this pain
And he said

I see you sitting there at the window sill
Looking for shooting stars
I wanna get closer and closer still
I wanna take over your heart

You will be mine, mine
Over time, time
You're gonna find, find
I'll make you mine, mine

A Writer Thing

Fiction is where the fun happens. I love to spend time crafting magical worlds and strange characters. If I didn't have to eat and sleep and participate in the world, I'd probably do that all day. However, creative nonfiction is where it gets tricky for me. My writing voice actually changes; the humor I always carry with me comes out, and I ramble way too much for my words to have any kind of poetic effect to them. And creative nonfiction is draining to the writer who is not used to it.

I just finished revising my final workshop piece for the semester. I really feel like I revealed a giant secret of mine in that piece - it was refreshing and incredibly exciting. My heart pounded in my chest as I wrote it. But having to revise took longer than I thought. Every change in structure and sentence, every new section written, took a lot of energy out of me. And it's not because of revision itself. More so, I dug deeper into my heart. Pulling that gunky, delicate stuff into the light left me breathless at the keyboard. I rubbed my eyes. Downed more soda. Stayed up late.

And finally, it's done. Until the next revision. My goodness, I have such respect for creative nonfiction writers. They're just plain amazing.

Video I Watched Too Many Times

I don't think I've posted this on here yet, so here we go. This video gives me chills. Good chills. The nostalgia here is just wonderful. I want to have tea in a river with a moose figurine on my table.

Food I'm Craving

SUSHI. Like, good sushi.

All photos except for my silhouette were found on We Heart It.