Blogs

Contract

Well, we're supposed to officially begin the publishing process today, but....Ms. Hara hasn't replied yet to my mum's last email of my dad's questions, so I'm not sure what's gonna happen! Haha, I guess that's a big part of the publishing process, though: waiting. And that's good, 'cause I think God's trying to teach me patience....and it's working! Dad was going to 'sign the contract' today, so to speak, so I guess I'll just let you know what happens with that when I hear something.

My Goals

For the past few years, I've set some goals for myself and my books, so that I'll have something to work towards, and so far, I've been able to meet my goals. My first was back in sixth grade, and that was to reach 100 pages on my book. This goal was created because the most pages I'd ever written was 52, on a children's story for my school's Young Author Contest. I met this goal that summer and moved on to the next: I wanted to finish writing my book by the time I was 14. I was 12 at the time and figured this would give me plenty of time to get a book done. I finished with four months to spare, but my first 'book' was actually what is now the first two books in my series; it was later split into half. My next goal - one that I'm working on right now - is to get my first book published by the time I'm 16, and I'll turn 16 this November. So far, there's evidence that this goal will be met, even though for a while I didn't think it was possible. I thought I was going to be published the traditional way - which takes about a year to get a book published - but now that I'm working with Book Publishers Network, my book will be released by October. Praise God for leading me to Ms. Hara! And for helping me meet my other goals; I couldn't have done it without Him. I don't know what my next goal will be, but I'm sure it'll be something crazy :) But no matter what it'll be, I know that God will help me meet it, so I'm not worried, just excited! :D The life of the author is one part work and three parts fun, and so far, this has been very true :)

iPod

My brother is giving me his old iPod Touch (which was given to him by his girlfriend Wade), because he's getting an iPhone, and it's due to arrive today, so I shall receive my iPod Touch today! Whoohoo! I ordered a skin (a thin, protective covering for electronics) for it from DecalGirls.com and here's a picture of the design I ordered. It's called Humidor:
I ordered this design because a) it looks cool; b) the little four-corned compass symbol is the symbol I'm using for the armour in my books; c) it looks kinda Spanish or Mediterranean, which I really like! It's gonna arrive around July 7th. Excited!! :D

Movie Review - The Eagle

The shame was unspeakably great. The honour of family and of Rome -disgraced. When Marcus Aquila's father and his Ninth Legion of 5,000 men marched into the wild, fierce lands of Briton, they were never seen again and the prized standard of Rome, The Eagle, was lost.
      Now, twenty years later, Marcus is on a mission: find The Eagle and get it back to Rome, whatever it takes. His plan? Travel into Briton with only a slave for company and only his sword for protection.
     However, Marcus' plan makes sense: 'Two men could go where an army could not,' he explains to his doubting uncle. 'Why would they even have to know we were there?'
    A soldier himself, Marcus is stationed at a small fort, where he saves the men from a barbarian attack during the night. Their patrol is captured by the wild men, however, and one of them is beheaded before Marcus, who then takes his men and bravely retrieves the endangered patrol. He is badly wounded, however, and recieves a medal of honour and an honourable discharge from the army. At a loss as to what to do with himself now, he spends his time with his uncle, his father's brother, who takes him to some gladitorial games. Here we meet Esca. A Briton slave, Esca is pitted against an armoured gladiator, while he himself has no armour. He refuses to fight, which causes the audience to boo and encourage the gladiator to kill him. But Marcus, unable to watch someone be slaughtered, convinces the audience to spare Esca. Marcus' uncle later purchases Esca and gives him to Marcus as a slave. Esca, albeit reluctantly, vows to protect Marcus and repay his debt to Marcus for having saved Esca's life at the games.
   Friends of the uncle's come to visit, and when the conversation turns to the lost Eagle of the Ninth, Marcus hatches the wild plan to go and retrieve it from Briton. His uncle is doubtful, but Marcus believes that with Esca's help, he will be able to get back the honour of his family and of Rome.
   But once they get into Briton, things quickly begin to go wrong. First of all, Marcus has to rely on Esca to speak to everyone they meet, as Esca knows Gaelic and Marcus does not, which leaves him in a potentially vulnerable position. Then they are attacked by rogue warriors and are nearly killed. They meet a deserter from the Ninth Legion, the troop that Marcus' father led twenty years ago, who reveals that Esca's tribe, the Brigantes, fought alongside the fierce Seal People to kill the Roman soldiers of the Ninth - including Marcus' father. Which, needless to say, causes some tension between Esca and Marcus!
    They travel on, as Marcus is still as determined as ever to find The Eagle, which he belives the Seal People stole from the Ninth Legion as a war prize. But as Marcus begins to accuse Esca of lying to him and betraying his friendship - since Esca explains that his people see the victory over the Ninth as a great one - they start to fight, enraged with each other. However, their fight stops short when they tumble in front of a tall, blue-painted man who reminds one of the Pandorans in Avatar. The man and his fellow soldiers have Esca and Marcus surrounded, and he demands their names. Esca tells him who is he - the son of the slain chief of the Brigantes - and the man responds kindly, seeing a Brigante as a friend. When asked about Marcus, however, Esca tells the man that Marcus is his slave. The Seal People don't like Romans, even slaves, so Marcus is tied behind a horse and dragged along behind them as they journey back to their village, Esca being treated as an honoured guest. Long story short, Esca and Marcus manage to filch The Eagle from a cave where the Seal People store it, making their escape as the warriors sleep, drunk from a manhood celebration ceremony. They ride hard for the border, but the Seal People are incredibly fast runners - almost unrealistically fast - and they catch up to Esca and Marcus - who are on horseback! - within a day or two.  Esca and Marcus stick to the river in order to keep the Seal People's dogs from finding them, but Marcus is wounded and cannot go on. Esca takes off then, making the audience wonder if he's intending to come back.
    Just as the Seal People close in on Marcus, Esca returns, however, with twenty or thirty deserters from the Ninth Legion, ready to defend The Eagle and Marcus, the son of their former commander.
   A battle ensues, and The Eagle is safe, as are Esca and Marcus. The Eagle is returned to Rome, and its and Marcus' family's honour is restored. Esca is free now, no longer Marcus' slave but still his friend. And they all live happily ever after.
    This was a fantastic movie. It combined the glory and violence of great movies such as Braveheart and Lord of the Rings, and it taught a subtle but noticeable lesson of humility on Marcus' part, who was forced to rely on his slave for everything, whereas he had been used to ordering Esca around and having the 'Roman right' to do whatever he pleased, when he pleased. Esca shows great faithfulness and honour by protecting Marcus when the Seal People express their disdain of him, and he goes to great lengths to help Marcus when he is unable to continue later on. Esca is a true hero and a good friend to Marcus.
    This story is one full of 'old-fashioned' themes and values, such as honour for one's family and country, courage and bravery, and never deserting a friend. A movie like this beats out many of the ones I've seen recently; why can't more movies in the box office be like this? It had no sex scenes or scantily clad people, which was incredibly relieving, and while it was violent, it was realistic and accurately portrayed the Roman and Briton style of fighting.  Marcus even has enough decency to honour the fallen Seal People along with the Romans after the final battle, which is very good to see in a hero, for it truly shows his quality. The 'villains' were refreshingly believable, as they weren't simply evil; they had a believable reason for pursuing Esca and Marcus after The Eagle was taken from them: it was their sacred emblem, and they wanted it back! They had just as much sense of bravery and the importance of honour as the Romans, even if theirs was tainted a little by unnecessary violence (the son of the chief kills his own young son for aiding Marcus and Esca in escaping). However, you could see the pain on the face of the father as he killed his son, which made you feel sorry for him, since you could see that he didn't want to do it, but felt he had to in order to make an example to his people. Great way of garnering emotional sympathy! 
    There were a few uses of language: one use each of s---hole, d---, a--, and bloody. Two uses of p---. Turn on TV Guardian if you have it!
    I happily give this movie 5 stars out of 5, and I would heartily recommed it to families who have children 15 and up (best to keep the little ones away from the violence and language).

Designing

Recently I discovered that I LOVE designing dresses (fantasy-style)! So for the past few days, I've been drawing and colouring some of the designs I've come up with Elysia in Young Falcon. I would post them on here, but they're hard to see, as they're in pencil, so I can't. :( Maybe one day, you'll get to see them, though! I really love some of the designs I've come up with!!!! :D Here's one I really like that I found online:

Results of the Family Meeting

Basically, Dad just came up with some more questions to ask Sheryn Hara, such as:
1) What happens to the books after they're published?
2) How do they get to bookstores and libraries?
3) Do we have to pay the shipping?
4) Where can we store the excess books?
And a few others I can't remember. Mum's going to send Ms. Hara another email today asking those questions, and she's also going to tell her some specifications I outlined for my covers (they need to be a design that can be consistent throughout 8 books; I'd like to see at least one of the 3 provided covers have real people on them).  Dad said we can 'sign the agreement' to get Young Falcon published on July 1, 2011 :D So exciiiiiiited!!!!!!! Only 7 days left until my book is 'officially' going to be published! :D :D I'll keep you posted.
      God is great!

I Am Now Going to Rant...

...About our society's current movies and literature. This has been bugging me for a long time, so I'm going to rant to my blog about it. Here we go :)
     When I go to the bookstores and look at the young adult section, all I see is dark covers with either vampiric themes/people or a creepy flower or something else that's just...weird. There're very few brightly coloured covers and themes on the shelves, and one can feel overwhelmed by all the darkness. The covers that aren't black are a wonderful relief, and it's always those books that catch my eye, not the dozens of similarly themed vampire covers. And also, please don't put scantily clad people on your covers, people! Not only is that annoying, it's gross. We are kids, not adults; we don't need to be seeing and reading stuff like that!!
    Which brings us to my next point - kind of. Okay, now most of the reading population out there is between the ages of 12-25, which is a very impressionable age group. So when authors right books full of witchcraft, sex, violence, drugs, and other various nasties, what do you think the kids reading about that stuff are gonna start to think? 'Well, Stephenie Meyer put it in her book for us to read, so it must be okay!' or 'Well, J.K. Rowling thinks witchcraft is okay, so it must be!' Now I realise that that's probably not what's going through kids' head as they read those books, but it's a subtle insinuation by the author. What happened to good old hero stories with a morally-upright hero(ine) who risks his/her life for the world and his/her friends. Sure, Harry Potter has a lot of those themes, but...it also has lots of witchcraft and wizardy and unrealistic things, which makes for a kind of unrelatable hero story. Harry's not as bad as a lot of books, in my opinion, but it's not the best. Twilight on the other hand....What's it full of? Violence. Sex (at least, sexual situations and themes). Stalkers. Do you really want your 13-year-old daughter reading about that kind of stuff?? Do you want her thinking that that's how life is? That she should be waiting for her 'Edward' or 'Jacob', her mostly-perfect superhero who will fight off all the other suitors for her. Hate to tell you, but life doesn't work that way, honey! Yes, there will be a man who is perfect for you, not for everyone else too, and he will not have superpowers. I promise. The only perfect superhero is God, people; not Edward or Jacob or Harry.
     So moving on to my greatest peeve - the dumbing down of books and movies. What happened to great epics like Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice? What happened to stories that don't have to have chapters that are two pages long and be so stuffed with fights and violent brawls and daring escapes that you're worn out by the end? What happened to walks in the garden that don't have to involve supernatural creatures or make-out scenes? Why do authors sometimes feel that they have to cut down their books or the slow parts so that the finicky little kids reading them can 'stay focused'? This is literature, people, not a catering company! Why can't kids have the patience to read through a book that doesn't have an unrealistic fight on every other page or a sex scene every other chapter? We are dumbing literature down, people! Why? So that the little 14-year-old drama queen won't get bored during a dialogue scene and stop reading. Wouldn't it be great if kids read those expositional dialogue scenes and actually understood them? They might do better in school if they weren't thinking about Max and the flock fighting off flying dogs in mid-air and managing to still come out without a scratch! Not only is it not educational material, it's unrealistic! Battles don't last for five minutes in real life; more often they last for five years! But we don't want to read about that; give us the guts and gore and unrealistic junk! Oh, people....C'mon! What has happened to our books? Our kids are doing so bad in English class because our books are so dumbed down that most of them couldn't tell you what half the vocabulary words mean because authors don't want to 'frighten kids off with big words'. Well, maybe if they had to read those big words more often, you wouldn't have to worry about frightening them off! If you included words like androgynous, exceptional, extemporaneous, etc., in your stories, maybe you could write stuff that had a little more depth and heft to it!  
     Okay, so I'm done ranting for now....I just needed to say all of that. Needed to let the world know my thoughts. :) Hope you enjoyed! Now go out and buy a copy of Dickens and read it!

Beginning Again

Today, Mum's going to start editing my second book whilst we are waiting for Dad to give the go-ahead for publishing Young Falcon. When she edited Young Falcon last summer, it took about 2 months, and then we let my principal (a former professional editor) read it and critique it, which took about 10 weeks. The second book is a bit longer than the first, so it may take longer to edit, but I think since I have a better grip on how to revise, it will be a little bit easier. Who knows, right? ;)
     I may be posting some snippets soon, so keep an eye out!

Getting Closer

Sheryn Hara emailed my mum the other day (yesterday, actually) and gave us some more estimates for how much it's going to cost to get Young Falcon published, and the total is going to be ~$8,321. I'm really not worried about this, because I know that one way or the other, we'll be able to get my book published by my birthday. I don't know where all the money's gonna come from, but I know God will provide. I can't believe this is happening...It feels like this could be a movie or something, it's so unreal. It's been nearly four years now since I wrote my first draft, which was 6 pages long and started off with Elysia being chased to the river. Look how much I've written before that now! Over 300 pages! Haha, now that's what you call adding on :) This whole process has had a slightly surreal feel to it, like at any moment I might pinch myself and wake up and I'll be 12 again. I've been so incredibly fortunate to write these stories, and without half the people I know, this story would not be alive, because I've been inspired and motivated by so many friends and relations over the years that I could not have possibly come up with these ideas without them. Thanks to everyone who has inspired me, knowingly or not! Stay with me if you please, and we'll see where this road takes us.

Pages