Monday, May 28, 2012

"Books, ballet, dolls"

My dentist showed me a form that my mom filled out on my first visit there in case I needed insurance information from it. It asked for my interests. My mom listed "books, ballet, dolls." I was probably about 4 years old.

While I don't have as much of a passion for dolls and ballet as I did at the time, I'm really glad books have remained a constant.   :)

What were some of your passions as a little kid? When did you first love books?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Z is for Zebras! And other cool animals!

I love hearing about strange-yet-familiar animals. Like the zebra. Everyone knows what a zebra is, but when you think about it... WHAT IS IT? It looks like a striped horse. A black-and-white striped horse. How did that even happen? What? It's in Africa. Camouflage could not have been the reason.

And then there's the Okapi. This has stripes too and kind of looks like a zebra in a few ways, but it's actually more closely related to the giraffe. The first time I saw an Okapi in the zoo, my mind was blown. I was all, "How come more people don't know about these?!"

And then you have THE GIRAFFE ITSELF. It's body is designed much like a horse, but then there's the obvious longer neck, the different head shape, and the peculiar pattern. Does that kind of pattern appear on any other animal in nature that doesn't have the word "giraffe" in it? (Otherwise, the answer might be "Yes, this fish.")

Of course, horses are really cool, too. In fact, I just recently read about Przewalski's Horse, which is the only wild horse left in the world.


Przewalski's Horse...was what I thought when I read that. Really, last species of wild horses out there? But the WWF website said it, so... I guess they're the experts. This horse was even considered extinct at one point. :( At least it's just "critically endangered" now. #brightside

And that's just the category of Animals that Look Like Equines! What are your favorite strange animals?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Y is for YES INDEED I'll pick out plants!

My mom assigned me with the task of plant shopping, as evidenced by this sideways picture. There were a few parameters:

-Don't be too ambitious. It all has to be planted within a week.

-Stay under $50.

-Don't buy too many exotic things.

That last one was a serious concern. I have a particular affinity for carnivorous plants. And by "affinity," I mean that I buy them and watch them in awe until their inevitable demise, and I know more than the average human being about them. For example, the three types of carnivorous plants you'll typically hear about are the Venus Flytrap, the Pitcher Plant, and the Sundew. From what I've seen, VFTs are the most common in stores that sell plants, then Pitcher Plants. I've owned both in the past, so I always wanted to own a Sundew as well, but never came across them. For sale, anyway. I saw an exhibit all about carnivorous plants last summer. So cool.

But I went through the plant nursery sticking to the rules rather well, estimating totals in my head and picking out a good mix of annuals and perennials that didn't look terrible next to each other. It was a nice day, and I had a lot of fun going up and down the aisles, even if I did have to cart-dodge the elderly like a peculiar game of Mario Kart.

And I was juuuuust about to check out, when I saw...


*Cart swerve*

I got to THE GREENHOUSE by traveling back indoors, past the collection of iron garden statues, and then through a different set of doors. So yeah, it was kind of like Wonderland. Bamboo trees and all.

And I thought... This is it. This is where they'd be.

Carnivorous plaaaaaaaaaaaants!

This isn't as surprising as I'm making it sound. This same facility once carried HUGE pitcher plants, and I saw little Venus Flytraps right inside the door of THE GREENHOUSE. But what I wasn't expecting was a whole collection of SUNDEWS.

I went all Edvard Munch when I saw them. I'm pretty sure the guy standing nearby was not making eye contact on purpose.

Pictured: My face (artist's renditon). Sorry for your nightmares.

Now, a year ago at the exhibit, I learned that even though all of the pictures of Sundews in plant books look like this...

...they are all up-close photos. Not up close, the Sundew looks like this:

Except now imagine some leaves half-withered and all of them covered in some amount of soil.
The first time I realized how small they were, I was severely disappointed. But I've gotten over that pretty well, and seeing a Sundew with a price tag... well, I had to have it.
When my dad saw it later, the conversation went:

Dad: What's this?
Tome: A sundew.
Dad: What's a sundew?
Tome: Well--
Dad: HEATS THE EARTH! Haaaaaaaaa

I'm pretty sure my dad was Court Jester in a past life.

My Sundew now sits in a pretty sunny area, chillin' with some cacti. If I see any flies, I might grab the Sundew and run around the house with my arms outstretched trying to catch the bug in the Sundew's sticky beads. It might be comical.

Successful day!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

X is for Xenophobia

Know what bothers me? Intolerance.


Sorry, almost fell off my soap box for a second.

In the US, people who hold unjust prejudice against immigrants really grate my guts. These people are rarely of Native American descent, which means that they're first ancestors in this country were immigrants. I'm sure my Austrian and  German immigrant ancestors endured flak for being new to America, for not speaking the language or having an accent. I'm sure they had to work tough jobs just to establish themselves in a new land.

But I'm glad they stuck it out. I'm glad to be here today.

So anytime someone is put down for who they are, I hope that life is easier for their children. For them, it will be worth it. But I wish the xenophobic didn't make it so hard.


Monday, May 21, 2012

W is for Wizards

In general, I was never a fan of wizard books, or high fantasy. But I became OBSESSED with Harry Potter in 4th grade and continue to be a Mega Fan. Since HP, I haven't become a fan of wizards any more than I was before. Harry Potter broke the mold, probably because of the realistic fantasy world, air of mystery, and - most of all - the characters.

Have you read any books in a genre that you don't usually like, but somehow couldn't put down?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

V is for Vacaaaaaaatioooooon

Hey everyone!

So, my cousin (and one of my best friends in the world) is graduating soon, so I'm off to have adventures at her college! Hoorah!

It'll be a bit strange being there. I'll get to meet some of her friends, whom I've heard loads of stories about. I'll have to practice my, "Oh hey, I know nothing personal about you" face.

But inside, I'll be remembering that story about the Underwear Party.
It should be fun, but also means I might not be able to finish this challenge (eheheh... that) for a few more days. Unless I get that Blogger App to work. Technology. I thought my generation was supposed to be born knowing how to do everything ever. No? Was I mislead?

Learning. It's a fun thing. :P

So I hope as the summer nears, you all have some fun plans ahead of you! See ya later!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

U is for Unrealistic

In my ever-persistent quest to finish the A to Z challenge, I am going forth with "U."

First of all, shout-out to my 9 followers. Before I started this challenge, I had 2 - who were wonderful, don't get me wrong - but I'm so happy to see 7 more have joined the ranks. :) I hope I can keep you entertained, and my goal is to make this more of a dialogue than a shouting-at-the-world kinda thing.

Also, thanks to everyone over at the A to Z challenge for hosting this, and congratulations to all participants for taking it on. I know I've learned a lot.

Speech-esque stuff over. On to... oh, right. The depressing stuff. Heh. Sort of.

I just graduated from college, which is partly wonderful, but it's also sad because (amongst many other reasons) I'm on summer vacation now. And every time I'm on vacation, I have time to write and edit some more, and then I re-realize how desperately I want to share my writing with the world, and how far I am from getting to do that. Every unsuccessful submission - whether it's a query to an agent, or a story to a contest - makes me wonder if I'll ever achieve my dream of becoming a YA writer. I'm not talking about instant, quit-your-day-job success. I just want this to begin, and when will it? If ever?

Last summer, my brother and I read Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Insurgent just came out (I think I'll be reading it on a bus ride soon - review to come, I'm sure). In an interview on another blog (sorry, not sure which) I saw that she talked about the time writing Divergent in terms of months. Now, of course, she used phrases like "several months," but still. I've been writing, revising, editing, and re-writing my main WIP for eight years. I submitted my first query about four or five years ago. The farthest I've gotten? Once, last summer, an agent read the whole manuscript because of a contest I entered on a blog. She said I needed more character development, which killed me a bit because character development is my favorite story element. But, of course, she was right - and I know that because she's not the only one to tell me since.

So, I went back to the drawing board. I'm re-writing my beginning for the millionth time. I'm adding to beginning chapters, letting go of my hope that starting in media res is the best idea. I'm redeveloping my story.

It is Unrealistic to think that I was ready for an agent when I first queried.

Could I have known that? No, not really. I was young and naive, yeah, but people with dreams are often young and naive.

It is Unrealistic to think that I am ready now.

I have two critique partners I neglected in the fury of Senior Year. They are warriors.

It is Unrealistic to think I will never get published.

Last summer, I went from never having an agent request for more to an agent requesting a full MS based on the beginning. Yeah, she didn't go for it. But that was a huge step. So assuming I keep on this path, and that I will live to a normal life expectancy, at SOME point, SOMETHING will be in print. I've got enough determination and resources to make it happen.

I bet you do, too.

Focus and patience will be my best allies. Will I query too early? Will I write some stupid pitches? Yeah. Probably. But agents are born every day. I won't exhaust them all now, but in the age of the internet, the opportunities are endless. Quite literally.

Whether it is there or not, it is Unrealistic to try to see the end in sight.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

T is for Tests

I'm a week behind on the A to Z blogging challenge, which is now really over. But I'm going to catch up anyway.

I'm not too bummed about not finishing the challenge on time. I've had other priorities. I got behind on the week before Finals (which is this week). The week before Finals is always the hardest because EVERYTHING HAPPENS IN THAT WEEK. There's really not a whole more I can say about that. Everything. Happens. And I'm still in classes.

But this week, Finals week, I actually have two days to finish a mostly-done paper, and another 6 to write a 15-page research paper. Yeah, it's a lot of work, but when that's pretty much all I have to do (classes are over), my schedule is lookin' really good.

The real test lately has been that of patience. I have no idea what I'm doing next year. I know where I'm going, yeah, which presents all its own challenges, but what am I actually doing? Do I have a job? An internship? A place to live? Nope. Still waiting to hear back from people about things. Graduation is coming up, and I know I'm not the only one in this boat.

Test of patience.

One thing at a time.

Have faith that it'll all work out. That's what I gotta do now.