Happy Birthday to Lliam and Roman

Yes, today is Lliam's and Roman's birthday! ^_^ Of course, it's not January 21st in my books (although I think it's late November or early December right now), but I'll celebrate anyway. I first came up with the character of Roman around ... the spring of 2008? (I added Lliam later.) So technically, they're 24 if we're going by real time, although they'll turn 18 in B3. In case you're wondering why the picture is partially in Chinese, it's because the boys spoke Chinese for most of their childhoods ;) 

74 Pages in 14 Days

So I was reading over this new Doctor Who / Night at the Museum / Warehouse 13 / Marvel / Jupiter Ascending fan-fiction that I've been working on lately, and I realized I've written all 74 pages of it in 14 days. Now, it's not written in typical prose form, but there's an average of 300 words per page (which is the typical amount for a printed book page), so ... I'm not really sure how I've managed to write that much, but I guess I'm just really into the story! My friend N.B. and I have been writing a Doctor Who / OCs fan-fiction-ish story for the past five years, and this new one is the story of what happened in the ~400 years between the destruction of Gallifrey and when our first story began. And the bad thing is that, 74 pages into my story, the plot is just now starting to take off! Haha, if you know anything about my writing, you know that I take a loooooong time to set up my characters / plot / etc., so don't be surprised! It's like a TV show in my head, and I divide the story into episodes instead of chapters. *shrug* It's an odd format, written almost like a play or screenplay. But it works, and it keeps me from having to slog through 74+ pages of prose! :) 
      So yes. I'm not sure why that was relevant to anything, but I just thought I'd share what I've been working on lately ;) Enjoy your day! 

P.S. If you have no idea what Jupiter Ascending is, it's a new sci-fi movie coming out in February starring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, and Eddie Redmayne. Link to trailer here

A Brief Book Review: Jude the Obscure

I doubt you've heard of this book; it's certainly not one of the better known classical novels, such as Les Miserables and the like. Written by Thomas Hardy in 1895, it was his last completed novel and received rather harsh criticism from the public at the time of its publication. After reading it, I can see why. Don't mistake me, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the book was well-written, but the story itself was exceptionally despondent and left me with a rather bad taste in my mouth afterwards (figuratively speaking, of course). 
        Here's a brief summary (longer one here): a young, penniless man named Jude Fawley has dreamed all his life of living in the nearby city of Christminster, which he believes to be the pinnacle of learning, sophistication, and morality. However, he is sidetracked from his lifelong goal by an earthy country girl called Arabella, who tricks him into marrying her by convincing him she's pregnant. A year or so later, and their unhappy marriage is dissolved when Arabella moves to Australia with her parents. Jude, meanwhile, discovers that his cousin Sue Bridehead lives in Christminster and makes the journey to find her. Embarrassed to approach her initially due to his lowly status as a stonemason, he falls in love with her from afar. However, Sue ends up agreeing to marry an aged schoolteacher, Richard Phillotson, in exchange for an elevated position at a school. Jude is distraught, as he and Sue have grown quite close in the months since he came to Christminster. Sue marries Phillotson but continues seeing Jude, and soon she asks Phillotson if he will agree to let her leave him for Jude. He agrees, and she and Jude begin living together. Later Jude is told by Arabella that she bore his son in Australia, and Jude and Sue take in the young boy as their own. 
      And I won't spoil the rest, but there is one quite shocking scene towards the end of the book that apparently upset many of Hardy's readers (I looked up the plot beforehand, so I knew it was coming). It was a bit shocking ... and I'm not convinced it was realistic. Oh well; I didn't write the book. 
      Anyway, I learned a lot about Gothic architecture and the people's (merciless) views of marriage at the time. I guess that counts for something? But in all honesty, it was a thoroughly educational read, and while I have a few complaints about the characterization, I'd say Jude the Obscure might be one of the best classics I've read in a while. If you were curious about my complaints, here they are: Jude's characterization was great until he started living with Sue. I'm not sure what happened, but it felt like I was really starting to know this guy, and then he turned back into a mere shadow stamped with black letters. *sigh* And Sue ... I didn't like her. Not a bit. She was whiny and couldn't even make up her mind about whether she loved Jude after she left her husband for him! As Jude often lamented, he never got a confession of love from her, though he freely confessed his love for her. And kissed her. A lot. And another complaint: people kept speculating about Jude and Sue not being married (which they weren't) ... because they seemed too happy. I guess it was just the period, but assuming two people aren't married because they're happy is an awfully depressing way of regarding marriage! 
     At the risk of this being an overly long post, I shall curtail my thoughts now. Do I recommend Jude the Obscure? Sure, if you like gloomy, overly passionate (in a bad way), poetry-spouting protagonists. It's a fascinating read, to be sure, but it's not a feel-good book, so take it or leave it. 
     Enjoy the rest of your day (it'll be better than Jude's, regardless)!

First Snow!

I have seen snow before, just to make that clear, but today was the first snow of my college career. It wasn't much, but it was snow, and I was a wild-eyed Texan this morning :D My roommate, who's from Washington, wasn't impressed, but I was quite excited and am hoping that there will be more to follow. 
     Anyway, hope you're all having a marvelous day! :) 

It's Good to Be Back + Yesterday's Mishaps

Honestly, I didn't think I'd be happy to be back at college, but I am. It was a stressful day of travel yesterday, however; all of my flights went fine (although I had to run across the entire Charlotte-Douglas airport to make my flight to VA in time), and there weren't any problems there, but when I got back to VA, things went downhill. My ride back from the airport had something come up unexpectedly and forgot to pick me up, so I called one of my RAs, and thankfully, she came to get me, but as we were leaving the airport, I realized I forgot one of my bags (which contained all of my textbooks and new fuzzy slippers), so we had to turn around for that. Luckily the kind airport people found it for me right away. Then I got back to my room. My new roommate was staying with her mom for the night but probably didn't realize that our door gets stuck easily and was locked. I looked through all my bags for my key; this had happened once before and I ended up having to call the campus police to let me back in ... heh. So I was certain I had packed my key because I didn't want a repeat of that incident. But I couldn't find it. After about 45 minutes, I finally found the darn thing in a small pocket full of loose change was able to lock my door. Yeesh. I was exhausted. But I decided to head to the dining hall and sent a text to my friend M.F. and she was able to come, too. We talked about movies and the Avengers and Warehouse 13 and Audrey Hepburn and Ant-Man for a good hour, then parted ways after I got to see her dorm room. Fun stuff! I love talking to fellow geeks :D
        So anyway, I don't have class until late in the afternoon, so I've been working on some B3 stuff and buying the rest of my textbooks ($180 for two books? Really?). *sigh* It's wet and rainy here, but it's good to be back! :) Hope you're all having a wonderful Monday (is that possible?)! 

A Movie Review! (Because I Have No New Updates on B3!)

Haha, yes, I've been trying to brainstorm ideas for posting when I have no updates on B3, so I decided I'd write about a movie I saw recently, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. This is the third installment of the Night at the Museum film series, preceded by Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. (Count how many times I write Night at the Museum in this post, if you want.) If you haven't seen these movies, do so immediately. Right now. Go rent the DVDs or watch them online (legally, of course). They are fantastic, for a number of reasons: 

1) There's no sex, alcohol, or language. A few mildly crude jokes / events occur, but nothing worse than most of the other shows your kids are watching these days. 

2) Kids can actually learn a few things about history from these movies! For example, Theodore Roosevelt, fondly known as "Teddy" in the movies, was the 26th president of the United States, and Sacajawea led Lewis and Clark on an expedition across mostly-undiscovered America with a newborn baby on her back. Now, most adults will know these things, but kids can certainly brush up on their history while enjoying the humor and adventure. 

3) It's just a great story! I don't often say a story is original, but I think the Night at the Museum movies falls nicely into that category. They are based on a children's book with a similar plot by Milan Trenc, but the movies really capture a fun, exciting, educational story of friends from all over the world who work together (despite language / culture barriers) to help each other with purely unselfish motives. Even the rough-and-tumble cowboy Jedediah and proud Roman centurion Octavius become close friends despite being sworn enemies in the first film. 

Now! Moving on to my review of the third film :) 
For a complete summary of the story, click here. I'll give a short one in this post for anyone who is actually still reading ;) The Museum of Natural History has remodeled its planetarium and is holding a grand event to celebrate its reopening. Many important people are in attendance (including Regis Philbin, apparently, although he is never shown). Larry has orchestrated a presentation involving all of the museum's most popular exhibits, and for 95% of the presentation, everything goes wonderfully. But then everyone begins acting aggressively for no apparent reason, and the guests flee for their lives.

Later Larry discovers that Ahkmenrah's tablet, which brings everything in the museum to life at night, is beginning to erode. He convinces the museum director, Dr. McPhee, to let him and Ahkmenrah travel to the British Museum to speak to Akhmenrah's parents, who may have answers about the tablet and strange behavior of the exhibits. Along with his son Nick, Teddy, Sacajawea, Attila, Dexter, Jed, Octavius, and a new Neanderthal named Laa, Larry travels to London. After many narrow escapes and meeting new friends, he and the exhibits save the day once again by (spoiler alert!) refreshing the tablet's magic with moonlight. 
All in all, this was a great finale to the film series and a wonderful tribute to the late Robin Williams, who played Teddy Roosevelt in all three films. Going into the theater, my friend G.C. and I wondered how the filmmakers had managed to make a new museum interesting, new characters likeable, and the old characters just as lovable as before. Our fears were assuagedthe humor was just as delightful as the previous movies, the action just as intense, and the new characters equally remarkable (there was even a short scene with Hugh Jackman, playing himself). The intriguing power of Ahkmenrah's tablet was finally explained, and the audience got to meet his parents ... who were far more likeable than their other son, Kahmunrah, who was the antagonist in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. The main foil in this movie was Lancelot, who believed the tablet to be the Holy Grail and nearly cost the exhibits their lives by stealing it from Larry; while he wasn't my favorite of the new characters introduced, he had his moments and eventually cleaned up his act. The reunion of Ahkmenrah and his parents was truly touching, and the underlying theme of parents struggling to let their children make their own decisions would make for good discussion for parents with children approaching

the teen years. I'm going to take a few points off for unnecessary crudeness, but overall, I give Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb 9 stars out of 10. The humor and general feel of the films may not be for everyone, clearly, but this is one of my favorite film series, and I'm honestly mourning the fact that this was the last Night at the Museum movie for all of time. (But I've incorporated a few elements and Ahkmenrah into my Doctor Who fan-fiction story, so all is well :D )
If you managed to make it all the way through this post, I'm proud of you—I get passionate about my movies ;) Well, that's all for now, folks! Enjoy your weekend, and when we speak again, I'll be in Virginia! 

What Have I Been Up to Lately?

Well, I shall tell you! I don't have any fancy new blog posts, sadly, but I have been working on some material for B4 that may or may not actually end up in the book. 
   "Why would you write something that you're not sure you'll put in the book?" you ask. 
   "Well," I say, "because the characters involved are going to be very important later on, and I want to learn all I can about them before I actually use them in B4!" 
    I will certainly use these characters (John and Caltarina are their names) later on, but just not this particular section. It's one of those Four Years Earlier ... type of scenes, and those can be bothersome in books, I think. I don't know. If it doesn't end up in B4, I'll definitely post it on my blog for all you lovely readers! :) Of course, that'll probably be a year or two from now, but I thought I'd update you on my doings. I'm also working on a Doctor Who fan-fiction (re-working, actually; I've been using the characters in  various stories with my friend N.B. for five years), but that's been a fun side project in addition to The Rat Race and my historical fiction Half the Sky. I have far too many side projects, but I just have so many ideas that I can't abandon! #thewritingstruggleisreal (Did I just use a hashtag? Forgive my sin against sanity and the entire literary world.) 
      Anywho, that's what I've been up to! Hope you're all having a lovely week; I head back to Liberty soon for the spring semester and am SO EXCITED to take Astronomy! :D Farewell for now!