APADO, Thoughts, Writing

A Brief Rant-Review Of Great Expectations {APADO #15}

(this post marks the halfway mark of apado – the only blog series that I know of that involves posting once a day for the entire month of october and chocolate-covered cactus fruit.)
(okay tess, let’s not rant about this little booger of a book. focus on the calming piano music. the sun’s getting real low.)
(with that in mind, we’re going to keep this brief)

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Since I apparently have a knack for triggering people with my thoughts on critically acclaimed works, let’s talk about Great Expectations and everything I dislike about it everything it has taught me about storytelling.

If you like this book, I don’t mean you any offense. You’re totally allowed to like what you like and no one’s stopping you. In fact, I’d like to hear what it was that made this book worth it for you.

But for me?

I was done with it after about chapter four, but for some strange reason, I read the entire thing. Maybe it was a willpower issue.

At the end of everything, I thumped it closed, took a deep breath and said aloud – “I hated everyone and everything in that book and I’m so glad it’s over.” Of course, hate is a very strong word and I try to avoid overusing it…but this was not an overstatement.

Reading the first stage of Pip's Expectations
a little gif i animated during this nightmare of a reading process

There are a few reasons why I was so frustrated with it.

  • For starters, it’s very verbose. This is the least of its problems, but I kept on losing track of what I was reading because I was distracted by one of his incredibly long sentences. I read that the story was originally published in serial format – a little each week, paid by the word. It shows. The interruptions and rambling made me focus less on the actual story and more on his unorthodox way of saying things.
  • It also feels kind of creepy. In my opinion, the synopsis on the jacket doesn’t merit the spooky, crumbling-to-pieces setting and tone the book has. Everything is disturbed, off-kilter and missing the spark of vivacity and brightness that most classics have. I don’t like this feeling for the same reason that I don’t like Tim Burton – it creeps me out.

(Can we also talk about how Pip has this huge crush on Estella even though she treats him like a doormat and he knows it? I don’t think that’s flirtatious banter anymore, buddy. I think that’s abuse.)

Romance advice aside, though, the characters were the biggest problem in this story. I had to ponder as to why I was so indifferent toward them, seeing as one of the only good things about this book was the diverse cast. After a while, I finally cracked it.

  • I hated everything about this book because I didn’t care about any of the characters. Their goals, their ambitions, their expectations…all of it was lost on me because I couldn’t get over their whiny attitudes, intense revenge plots, and so on. There were barely any people in the book that I felt like I could stand behind, and this made everyone’s goals seem pointless.

I guess the thing with Great Expectations is (for me) that the cast fails to complete the goal of every character: to build a connection with the reader and get them hooked into the story. If no one cares about a character, they’re not going to care about their goals, the plot, or the point the novel is trying to make.

This is a really important point that I want to emphasize before I talk any more about character creation. The only way to keep a reader’s interest is to maintain that connection from the page to the real world.

Nothing is as important in storytelling as this.

tl;dr: I have to like your characters to care about your book.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

APADO, Thoughts, Writing

What Makes A Good Character? (Tess’s Character Theory, part I) {APADO #13}

(you’re reading APADO, my wittle one-post-a-day-for-a-whole-month series that i somehow haven’t failed yet.)
(a bunch of disclaimers: i’m not a master author, in fact i legit just called myself a fauxthor™ and it’s true. however, i’ve received a lot of praise for the characters i come up with. i’m going to try to ride the line between hoarding the knowledge i have and puffing myself up bigger than a wacky arm-waving inflatable tubeman. let’s hope i don’t step into either too much.)
(and now i’m like “isn’t it a bad thing to doubt myself? but isn’t it also a bad idea to think you know more than you actually do?” hello anxiety, i haven’t missed you but here you are.)
(now let’s turn this into a series)

APADO 13

Characters are an integral part of fiction. Actually, they’re more than half of what storytellers worry about. They can make or break a story, and they often do – which is what we’re going to take a look at today.

Trigger warning: my preferences are weird. Even if you don’t agree with everything I say, please be nice about it.

I recently sat down and watched Interstellar.

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Let me first preface this by saying that I’m not a scientific person and only understood about 52% of this film’s dialogue. There was a lot of infodumping, which I’m not a fan of.

(quick, poorly-written plot rundown for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie: earth is dying and no one’s sure how to fix it. cooper, our main character, is alarmed that his daughter’s bedroom seems to be alive – there are morse code patterns in the dust in the floor, books falling off the shelf in morse code messages, etc. they say pretty much two things: a set of map coordinates and the word “stay”. visiting the map coordinates reveals the secret location of nasa’s last base and the main plot: earth is about to become really uninhabitable and cooper, due to his experience as a fighter pilot, will be needed to help execute one of the two plans. “plan a” is to relocate all of earth’s population to another planet. “plan b” is to leave the population to die and take 700 new embroyos to a new planet to start a new colony and save humanity. all the characters are on different sides of this ethical question. cooper and his team fly off into space to have a look at some planet prospects. long story short, nothing looks good and everything’s sad and we lose one of the crew members. they’re running out of fuel, too. in order to get to the last chance of a planet, cooper volunteers to go off into the black hole that’s messing with the time of everything and honestly i didn’t catch how all of this is working because infodumps. once in the blackhole (which somehow works as like a time sphere/way to communicate with the past and future?) cooper realizes that this was a horrible idea and he should never have come and tries to tell his past self to “stay” (books coming off the shelves and stuff). i have no idea what happened here. murph is grown up now and gets stuff going back on earth because he can also somehow communicate with her through this watch that he gave her. everyone evacuates, somehow they rescue cooper, cooper learns that his female friend went to start that embroyo colony on the last planet and that she’s all alone and vows to go rescue her. THE END.)

I was extremely disappointed at the end of it. I was expecting this movie to be amazing – it’s Christopher Nolan, for crying out loud. Though I will give it props for its amazing visual effects, terrific music, and interesting take on the “end-of-the-world” idea, it commits a sin that makes me never want to see it again: blank, thin characters.

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Now, I understand that I am not the target audience for this film (it’s very popular in the nerdy, scientific circles) but this is a problem that could have been fixed with just a little more time and a little less word salad.

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Yes, they have a few motivations and remotely memorable personalities, but they don’t seem to do anything. Things are happening all around them, and they react to them, but their reactions are the only thing they’re giving to the movie. The black hole, the space travel, the time discrepancies and the emergencies push out the characters and take over the plot.

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And we never answer the big ethical question this movie asks (save the living or start over?) because the characters don’t have enough screentime or enough depth to make a choice. They’re weak, passive, and almost forgettable.

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I could have loved this movie if the characters had been given more time of day. It was visually beautiful, sported terrific world-building, had a larger-than-life stake, and would have made an amazing point if they had gotten around to answering their ethical question. They didn’t answer the question because the characters were too weak to form a good opinion.

Interstellar was a frustrating movie because the characters weren’t allowed to lead the plot.

Now, an example of a horrible plot with terrific characters: Thor: The Dark World.

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(Please lower your stones.)

This is a hated movie. This is a weird movie. This is one of the “worst” Marvel movies in the entire franchise, and yet I enjoyed it way more than I should have. Its merit is with one thing and one thing only: the characters.

(quick plot rundown: there’s this creepy alien liquid virus called the aether, unleashed in some ancient battle, and it’s super gimmicky and the sole reason why this movie is weird. after the events of everything in all the movies leading up to this in the MCU, loki’s being imprisoned for invading earth, thor is trying to make peace in what’s going to be his new kingdom, and jane foster, his girlfriend, is really wishing he were around more often. there’s going to be a cool cosmic convergence thing happening, which will make people be able to travel between the nine realms and meet eachother, yay. a portal has already appeared in a warehouse. although jane and darcy don’t know where it leads to, it definitely takes things places. jane, without realizing it, follows a similar portal and gets infected with the aforementioned space virus, the aether…and it really doesn’t make sense. meanwhile, back on asgard, heimdall, everyone’s favorite gatekeeper/living nest camera tells thor that he can’t see where jane is anymore, prompting him to go to earth to find her. he finds her, she’s full of aether juice, and it’s not good. we learn that the aether is connected to this creepy pale dude named malekith who plans to take over the nine realms…or something. he wants the aether cuz it’s apparently able to be weaponized. he attacks asgard looking for it, because thor brought jane there, and frigga, thor’s mother, dies protecting her. malekith and his dudes are barely repulsed. thor has a plan, and it’s a hairbrained scheme, really, but it just might work and it’s all they can do. with the help of loki (who thor convinces to help him based on frigga’s death), the warriors three, sif (who’s causing tension because she’s romantically interested in thor), and jane, thor goes to try to find and stop malekith. which he sort of does. thor and loki trick him into getting the aether out of jane, but they fail to destroy it and loki dies (well, he doesn’t really, but we don’t know that yet). the aether isn’t in jane anymore (?) but it’s now roosting in malekith. the convergence is imminent. the warehouse portal apparently led to the place where they were, so thor and jane (minus loki and everyone else) go to earth to try to beat malekith, who’s planning to unleash the aether while the convergence thing is going on and so destroy all the worlds. they have a big fight, thor beats him up, he gets crushed by his own ship and dies, the aether is contained in an infinity stone and stashed away, problems have been solved and yay life is good until the next thor adventure, which i didn’t like but oh well. THE END.)

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Yes, we have a similar weird space-themed plot with confusing element (what exactly does the Aether do again?) and word salad. Yes, we have a movie almost devoid of anything good. It’s the exact opposite of Interstellar: the plot is horribly paced and confusing, yet… I liked it. And I certainly wasn’t the only one.

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It’s obvious now that the main difference between Interstellar and Thor: The Dark World lies in the characters. In T:TDW, the characters are actively driving the story, despite the Convergence-thing being out of their control. They’re going after the cosmic liquid space virus. They’re reluctantly teaming up.

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In fact, most of the conflict is character-centered, despite this movie’s overly-massive stakes. This doesn’t make it any less confusing, but it makes it infinitely more likable.

If the characters had been reactive, this movie would be utter trash. It still kind of is. But the characters bring it from a -70 to a 5/10.

The point:

yes, I just praised Thor: The Dark World and trashed Interstellar:

If your characters are flat, uncompelling, and make no choices of their own, they can take your A+ amazing plot and turn it into something without a soul.

If your characters are well-rounded, decisive, and bounce well off eachother, you can take something confusing and weird and make it mostly enjoyable (even if it’s still confusing and weird.)

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A story is only as good as the people who are making it happen. As an author, the very worst thing you can do is just make them react to what’s going on.

tl;dr: Good characters are proactive.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

(what have i done?)

 

 

 

APADO, Thoughts

Journalling {APADO #8}

(you’re reading APADO – a post a day, october – a self-inflicted blogging challenge that i’m kind of regretting but kind of not.)

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I think it’s safe to say that I’m a veteran journaller. I’ve been writing every single night since I was about ten. Even though I’ve thrown away my first eight journals (it was a horrible idea and I regret it so much), I keep count like I still have them, which puts me on working on #14.

I’ve often stopped and wondered what it is that keeps me journalling. I don’t write anything groundbreaking, it keeps me up for fifteen extra minutes, and I’m the only one who’s reading them. Isn’t that a waste of time and effort?

But if it’s such a waste, why am I still doing it?

After my most recent self-debate about this, I came up with some reasons – and some thoughts about journalling in general.

Why journal?

  • It’s therapuedic. There’s something relaxing about getting your thoughts out on paper – maybe it’s just that we humans love to write about ourselves. Whatever the reason is, I’ve found that it’s fun and soothing.
  • It helps create a healthy bedtime routine. I’m lucky to not have any sleep problems, even when I’m travelling. I think it has something to do with my journal. When I open it up, it triggers my brain to calm down. And calmness, especially with how busy my life is right now, is something I could use a whole lot more of.
  • They’re fun to go back and read later. Not only do they remind you of exactly what you were thinking back then, but it’s also hilarious to see what you used to think was cool – or abhorrent. Trust me, I know.

Journal myths:

  • You have to write a bestseller every night. Absolutely not. A journal is an intimate, private thing. Since no one will be reading it but yourself anyways, it’s more important to write frequently and truthfully.
  • It has to look pretty. Pintrest and inspirational blogs make it easy to think that looks are a must. Yes, it’s nice to have an aesthetic journal, but it doesn’t have to look good to be important. In fact, I’ve found that trying to make my journal look nice tires me out instead of relaxing me.
  • You can’t write about stupid stuff. Um, yes you can. This is your personal book. There are no rules about what you can or can’t write about.

Tips for better entries:

  • Write about what happened, not what’s going to happen. Writing about future plans can make you sound like a Burma-shave sign. Ten more days until x! Nine more days until x! It’s best to stick to the present and write about things when they actually happen. (Y’all have no idea how much I struggle with this.)
  • If you’re stuck, write song lyrics. They’re a good reflection of your mood that day, and they don’t take much effort. Another bonus: later, you can see what music you liked back then.
  • Don’t be afraid to be a little crazy. Crazy is fun. In the mood to write a stupid poem? Do it. Feeling like writing the entire entry in Ubbi Dubbi? No one’s stopping you. The crazy stuff is the stuff you’re going to remember the most.
  • Try to get in the habit of writing an entire page a day. You’ll be surprised how much this improves your entries.

And NEVER:

  • Throw away journals. Ever. Trust me, you’ll regret it.

tl;dr: Journalling is fun and relaxing – especially if you let yourself be free with it.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

(i’m probably going to go write in my journal that today’s apado post was about journalling. and that will be really meta. and i will also write about how meta it is. now do you see why i’m slowly going insane?)
APADO, Life, Thoughts

Roller Coasters {APADO #6}

(This is APADO, a series where I attempt to write a post once a day for the entire month of October. And I’m already burning out. And this is fun, I’m reminding myself.)
(This is Saturday night, it’s been a really long week, and I need to get batteries for my camera so I can write some posts that actually mean something – but hey, gotta do whatcha gotta do.)
(And the photo in the graphic’s not mine. And I don’t really care….? It’s from Six Flags’ website. Kudos to them. Ditto to the gifs.)

APADO 6

You never know just how brave you are until you sit in a roller coaster car and pull down the restraint.

Not only are you about to experience ridiculous speeds and incredible Gs, but you also just chose to do so. Willingly.

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For me, this realization brings my heart rate up at least 25 bpm every single time I ride a roller coaster, even though I go to Six Flags a bit more than your average person.

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It’s easy to talk big when you’re safe on the ground, watching the coaster do its thing. But it gets progressively harder as you weave through the cue line, as you get up close to the ride, as you feel the energy it’s throwing off surging beneath your feet.

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And the very hardest part is sitting down in the car, pulling the restraints down, and accepting the fact that you’re going to do something that doesn’t make logical sense.

But that’s the fun part about roller coasters.

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Because you made a stupid decision. You’re doing something that doesn’t make sense.

And you’re able to.

When you’re going up the hill, you know you’ve been really, really rash, but when you’re going down, you know why people love roller coasters.

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Because humans like to go fast.

We like to feel the power of something we’ve invented.

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somewhere in there is yours truly after riding the coaster pictured above – my mom dragged me on it >w<

And we like to feel proud of ourselves when we come screaming into the station. Because against all odds, and everything coming at you – you just rode a hundred-foot-tall metal beast. On purpose. And you had fun.

Imagine the places that kind of mindset will take you.

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me and younger older brother – nothing like a day at the park ^v^

And this is why I love roller coasters.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

(P.S: yes, I have ridden all the roller coasters pictured in this post. yes, it took much determination/panicking. my home park is six flags over texas.)

 

 

APADO, Thoughts

Pansting vs. Planning: The Great Debate {APADO #3}

(this is APADO, a little blog series where I try to post once a day for the entire month of October. Yep, it’s a stupid idea. OH WELL.)
(I’m not psychic but this post will probably have a lot of opinionated comments. That’s okay. I like opinions. And comments >w<)
(also I legit just said I wasn’t a book blogger and here I am, making a bookbloggerish post. talk about indecision)
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ahem, totally not showing off my nano certificates. I’M NOT.

Things have been nice and inspirational here on Steeplechase this week. I think it’s high time we opened a can of worms.

We all know that there are exactly two ways to do Nanowrimo:

a) Spend all your energy, creativity, and the month of October plotting out a gloriously complete story.

or

b) Throw caution to the sky and start Nanowrimo without a plan or a care in the world.

(Well, I guess there are a couple more ways, but we’re not going to get into those today.)

It seems that the entire Nanowrimo community is divided on this topic. Some swear by planning. Some live by pantsing.

And some are amused by the debate and want to hear more of these differing opinions. Hehe.

Let’s have a quick overview of both schools of thought.

Planners

Planning is the “correct” way to go about Nano. It also happens to be the sure-fire way to make sure that your hard work will pay off.

Planning pros:

It gets you in the Nanowrimo spirit nice and early! There’s nothing like getting excited about a new project, and planners get to dabble in their plot bunnies in their notes before committing to anything.

It’s social. Since you actually know what you’re doing, you can chat with people about how your story’s coming along. You could even have a planning party with other coordinated planners!

And it makes the writing process a bit easier. With enough notes, you can come out of Nanowrimo with a nice, clean novel that makes enough sense to be beta-read.

But:

Planned novels are often a little stiff. They make sense, but they tend to struggle with pacing because “the plan said that this scene should last for at least 5% of the novel”.

Planning is stressful. The fear that your plan won’t be finished and that your novel will turn out trashy can start to control you if you’re not careful.

Isn’t planning a little…boring? What’s the point of writing your novel if you’ve already plotted it out completely? Doesn’t that seem redundant?

And woe to you if you have to make a change in the plot. Because a well-planned plot is well-connected – one simple mistake could end up forcing you to rewrite your story.

And then…there are…

Pantsers

Pantsing is also known as rapid-fire-stress-free-unconcerned-natural-writing-with-a-streak-of-weirdness-because-why-not. Memorize the acronym, there’s a test on Friday.

Pantsing pros:

Spontaneity = creativity. The ideas you roll out are raw, fresh and fun!

It takes a lot of the stress out of Nano. Can’t get off track if you don’t have a plan, ya know?

It’s fun. I’m not saying that planners don’t run into surprises, but when you’re down on the wire and have to make something up, the result is usually a lot more natural (and funny!).

But:

It usually results in a second rate project. Like, maybe two hundredth rate. The lack of control can make your story inconsistent – sometimes even unreadable. And there’s nothing more depressing than wasting a month writing something that no one can read.

It takes much, much more work. Even if your pantsed novel has promise, it’s a long road to edit it into anything polished.

All this makes it easy for you to do the unthinkable – to abandon your project completely and banish it into the depths of your files, so you can mock it later for your own amusement.

So:

What’s your nano style? Pantser? Planner? Something in between?

Personally, I think that the one that works for you depends on your personality. But I’m saving that tangent on MBTI and plansting for another post. Hehe.

But this isn’t about me – what do you think? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

The floor is officially open.

Be nice. But please speak your mind!

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Thoughts

Improvement: It Happens To The Best Of Us {APADO #1}

(Welcome to APADO, where I attempt to post once a day for all of October: A Post A Day – October, that is the last time I’m spelling that out. I’m making more rash promises than Josef Stalin but let’s see how far I can get.)

(also this post might be inspirational? how did that happen)

apado_1

I want you to go on a quick trip down memory lane. Remember the first time you tried to be creative? And how good it felt when you signed your first drawing, finished your first story, threw your first paint-dipped potato at the wall?

It felt good, didn’t it? You were proud of what you made, weren’t you? Even if it was pretty bad-looking, there was something about it that you liked. Maybe it was the excitment. The raw creativity. Or something similarly poetic that I don’t have the aptitude to make up.

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2016

Now, let’s flash forward a few weeks. Months. Years. If you’re anything like me, you’re discouraged, burnt out, and wishing you could do it better.

It’s normal to feel that way.

I struggle with self-confidence and patience. There are times when I want to just throw in the towel and be done with everything I do, just because it isn’t exactly the way I want it to be. I have to remind myself that I’m still learning. I’m always learning. And that I’m never going to go anywhere sitting around moping about it.

Big Secret No. 1: You have to want to improve.

In this day and age, we’re told quite often that we’re perfect just the way we are.

I’m not saying that we’re not, but that kind of thinking tends to trap us into never doing anything with our lives.

You are perfect. But what you do needs work.

If you want to be mediocre, you can give out half-polished work. You can “do what you can” and never want anything more. And spend the rest of your days as an amateur.

apado1_4
2018

Or you can give it your 110% best. You can go the extra mile. You can keep going, even when it gets tough and when you don’t feel like it. That’s the big secret to getting better. And it comes from the place you’d least expect it – yourself.

Big Secret No. 2: Improving your skills takes time.

We live in an instant world – instant coffee, instant ramen. Instagram. It’s only natural to think that our skills will come quickly and easily (and that just one podcast or blog post will enable us to churn out a finished, polished novel.)

Honestly, if it were that easy, it wouldn’t be worth anything.

The cold hard fact is that becoming better at what you do takes a long time. You’re not going to be an expert overnight. And this is what makes pushing yourself difficult – it’s much easier to sprint down the block than to run a mile.

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2017? where are his appendages

Patience is a virtue. And an asset. And a challenge worth conquering.

Big Secret No. 3: Creative pursuits are subjective.

Why do we want to improve? So we can be better. Duh.

But what does better mean? Is it an end-all point where we can be done with what we’re doing?

apado1_2
2018

Ha!

There shouldn’t ever be a point that you stop learning to do what you love. You might as well get used to the feeling of not knowing everything, because it’s going to follow you for as long as you’re creating great content.

If you’re doing it right, you should always be improving.

The point I’m trying to make with all this:

Improvement is tough. It feels like the more you know, the less you think of yourself.

But you have a fire burning inside you. Use it. You’ve got what it takes.

And you’ll never, ever, ever get anywhere by throwing in the towel, saying you’re not good enough, and leaving your dreams to turn to dust. Quitting is for losers.

Be patient. Keep working. You’re going to make it. You’re going to do this.

tl;dr: Don’t be a pushover. Keep your chin up and go make something great.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

Life, Thoughts

Goals

There is a good chance that this post will get lost in the myriad of “happy-new-year-here’s-my-unrealistic-list-of-resolutions-that-i’m-probably-not-going-to-do-but-i’ll-justify-it-all-at-the-end-of-the-year” posts. But I just have to add my cherry on that cake.

Without further adieu, here we go.

January/February/March

  1. Post at least a dozen posts here on Steeplechase. I won’t look back on this past year when I didn’t post nearly at all. I’m trying to turn a new leaf and be an actual blogger and not just some teenager with a blog.
  2. Finish my part for the MAP I’m working on (and write a blog post about the process). As I think I’ve mentioned before, I was cast a part in a Multi-Animator Project that’s due January 26th. I’m still inbetweening. Let’s hope I won’t need an extension.
  3. Finish plotting my April Camp Nano project. I have been tangling with tons of ideas over winter break and I kinda sorta have an idea on what I’m going to write about. Next up – craft a plot that’s actually decent and has an end. XD
  4. Help my team win AAWC. I haven’t a clue who the people on my team are, but I want to help us succeed. So I’m out to write stories that are witty, creative and use several of the prompts.
  5. Learn diagonals. This is a horseback riding goal. And I’m almost certain that nobody has any idea what it means. If you do, tell me and we can nerd.
  6. Have a birthday. January 16th, y’all. *refrains from begging for presents*
  7. Do more Art Dumps. You guys seem to like those.

April/May/June

  1. Do Camp Nano! Hopefully my story will be plotted by then. Hopefully I’ll know what I’m doing and not be inconsistent. Hopefully I can break all my bad writing habits and write something cohesive. *inhales* Hopefully.
  2. Finish my Wreck This Journal (and do a WTJ tour). I love my Journal to pieces, so I hope to finish it and give you guys a tour.
  3. Join another MAP. The best way to animate better is to animate more. Seriously.
  4. Learn to draw human faces. I can do pretty good bodies but my faces are always awkward. I want to be able to draw pictures of my charries because then I wouldn’t have to describe them.
  5. Replot Project Orion. I love the characters in that story to death, but the plot is, er…..okay it’s hands down horrible and I skipped a bunch of stuff that should have happened because I honestly didn’t know what I should have written.
  6. Hold a giveaway. Because…*blushes* Steeplechase will be turning two years old in June. Two entire years! I’m thinking already of what I want to reward you guys with for sticking through with me in my crazy blogging journey.
  7. Aaaand post more on Steeplechase. You poor sad neglected blog. *cuddles*

July/August/September

  1. Julynowrimo. In other words, taking on a 50k for Camp in July. This will probably be when I rewrite Project Orion.
  2. Ride Traveller. Otherwise known as my bike. With school being out and the days being long and hot, there should be plenty of opportunities for cycling adventures.
  3. Read three long books (and review them here on Steeplechase). If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love that. I don’t do magic (like sorcery magic) so keep that in mind.
  4. Learn at least three new riding skills. Summer is the best time to ride, and I hope to learn some new stuff. Maybe even compete in one of the little derbies my barn holds?
  5. Take a dare. Bring it on. I want an adventure.
  6. Get in physical shape. My legs are strong as iron from horseback riding. My stamina, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Running, jumping rope and biking should help with that though.
  7. Document it all on Steeplechase. Also known as making rash promises.

October/November/December

  1. Plot out a Nano. Maybe I should start like, right after julynowrimo. Or maybe I should allow myself some procrastination. My summers are busy. (Not like my Autumn’s are less busy, though. Heck, my entire life is busy. It’s what happens when you’re creative.)
  2. Write that Nano. I can’t tell if I want to beat my record of #8k1day or if I want to be safe and keep on track. Nah, I think I’d rather try to beat it. It’s more dangerous fun.
  3. One more MAP. After a summer off from deadlines, I need to get back on the animation bandwagon.
  4. Get in bed at some sort of normal time. I almost hurt myself these past few months by not getting enough sleep. Bedtime for Tessie or she gets cranky.
  5. Make a Hanukkah tag/blog series. I was kind of sad to miss out on all the festivities you guys were having. I believe in Jesus but we don’t celebrate Christmas with presents, holly or trees. So I want to have a Hanukkah party here on Steeplechase and celebrate too.
  6. Actually buy all my family Hanukkah presents. Bad Tessie. Go sit in the corner.
  7. Post. On. Your. Own. Flippin. Blog. Or else you’ll have to take away your title as blogger and give it to someone else more deserving than you.

Well, I think that’s the big stuff. I may do some of it out of order, but it’s good to have a place to start from.

Do you share any of my goals? Tell me which ones – we can be buddies!

Sayonara for now – here’s to a great year!

Tess

Life, Thoughts

Excuses are reasons for not blogging for an entire month in disguise! (gif post)

Table of contents:

  1. Talk of life
    1. School
    2. MAPS
    3. Nano
  2. October Goals
    1. Complete/Incomplete
  3. November Goals

LIFE

When I was still in sixth grade, I thought high school would be an amazing, epic adventure with a bunch of new stuff to learn. Now that I’m pretty deep in it, I’m finding out that it’s an amazing, epic adventure with a bunch of new stuff to learn and a truckload of homework.

(My brother’s like, “Where did you get the idea that it would be fun?”)

Every morning, I wake up and take about an hour to do what I want to do. Then I get cracking on my schoolwork.

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From left to right: History, Government, Economics

I am literally crazy for attempting all three of these courses this semester. But it has been fun. In fact, they all seem to kind of blend together. Kind of like a three-headed monster named Histgovecon (hist-GUV-ee-con).

And while I do this, I will be animating something actually real….I’M IN A MAP GUYS ASDFGHJKL THIS IS IT REAL DEAL AAAAAAA.

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Ahem. A Multi-Animator-Project, or M.A.P., is an event where lots of animators get together, and animate little ‘parts’. Once strung together, they make a full video (in this case a music video). And I have twelve seconds to animate. Which is much much much harder than it looks.

And then, there is the all-important thing all of us will be doing this November

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Yup, I’m doing a full 50k. And it will be tough, as always.

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IDK why I put this one in. I don’t even watch Muppets. Maybe it was the donuts.

If you have been following me for a little while, you will note that I started a little club. Go join! We will rock this Nano!

So, between Histgovecon, MAPs and Nano, I’m going to be really busy this November.

OCTOBER GOALS RECAP

1. Write an “October Goals” post. Done! That was so easy LOL
2. Make that post a GIF post. Done! Hehe this one was so easy too.
3. Finish planning my Nanowrimo novel. Half-done. I kinda know what I’m doing but there’s this one part I need to find out what’s going on. In like, two days. :O
4. Get going in animation. Done! I got Cedric and Flash MX2004.
5. Word War with Ava Half-done. We worked on it tho.
6. Get a Wreck This Journal. Done! I bought one and started doing stuff in it.
7. Finish all the books I need to read for school. Half-done. I’m about halfway through all of them. Makes sense right?
8. Learn some new jokes. Done! Here’s an example: What did the pirate say when he put his wooden leg in the freezer?  Shiver me timbers!
9. Write out all the posts that I’ve been meaning to post for a long time. Umm…Not done. I still have five unpublished drafts.
10. Fufill all these goals. Half-done. 7/10 complete.

NOVEMBER GOALS

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Yeah, I’m feeling like this right now:

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ROGERS! FALL IN!!!

So really, I won’t be blogging, neither here nor on SSD, for all of November. Something has to give.

I’m sure when I come back it’ll be like this:

wng3gg
“What have they been doing while I was gone?”

See you in a month!

{Tess}

Thoughts

Zielle’s Questions & ‘Stuf’

This is that post that comes in between all of everyone’s exciting posts that no one will probably read because everyone else is making much more awesome posts. Oh well, here goes.

Zielle gave me some questions as part of her “Guest Interviews” thang, and so that’s the first order of business. Who doesn’t love to answer questions about oneself?

Zielle: What brought you to name your blog ‘Steeplechase’?

Tess: Oh wow, these questions are personalized! Epic. I had always loved the word, and I thought it reflected the random nature of my blog without being “Tessie’s Random Crazy Stuff Blog!!”

Zielle: How was your blog born? Who/what inspired you to start one?

Tess: Well, I had already made an AG doll blog (still running, btdubs), but I found a bunch of posts that weren’t AG related were falling through the cracks, so I bucked up and made a PB. And now I love it.

Zielle: What quote do you live by if any?

Tess: Literally anything that Winston Churchill said. In particular:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”


“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”


“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”


“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
(used in the literal sense of the word, btw)

Okay, that wasn’t one quote. That was five. Bad Tess. *spanks hand*

Zielle: Who are some bloggers you look up to or who inspire you?

Tess: I look up to anyone who’s been blogging longer than I have – Madi and Hayley in particular. As for inspiration, my inspiration comes from all of my followers, all of the people I follow, any random visitors that stop by – in short, every blogger is an inspiration to me.

Zielle: What are some of your blogging goals for the year 2018?

Tess: Finish what I start XD. I have five random drafts in my folder right now and I need to get better at that. Make a two-minute animation for you guys to enjoy. I also want to get to one hundred followers. But that’s just a selfish wish. I don’t even have 50 :P.

Zielle: Are you just naturally good at drawing, or did you have to learn?

Tess: *thinks*
Big Important Drawing Rule One: There is no such thing as natural talent. There is such thing as extensive practice. I’ve been actively drawing since I could scribble. My mom always nurtured me by providing clean paper to draw on and good tools to draw with.

Big Important Drawing Rule Two: Copy. Hold it! There’s a difference between copying and plagiarism. Go to Google, search what you want to draw, and pull up an image. Now draw it as best you can. Think about what it would look like as a coloring page. Also, try to draw from life as much as possible. If you can’t draw from life, then watch someone else draw what you want to draw. Steer clear of ‘drawing tutorials’, though, because those will teach you how to draw that thing in the creator’s style. Not good. You want your own style.

Big Important Drawing Rule Three: Be unique. Do things your way, not someone else’s. That’s the only way your drawings will look like YOU.

Big Important Drawing Rule Four: Block. If you want to be able to draw something from every angle, learn to block. Go look it up. Art Ala Carte is a great Youtube channel for learning how to block.

Big Important Drawing Rule Five: Don’t buy expensive stuff until you’re sure you’re serious.

(This was an essay. Sorry. :P)

Zielle: How many times have you flown in a plane? (#random)

Tess: Only once. I didn’t get a window seat though. So that kind of stunk.

Zielle: Do you stall reading until you’re in bed, or do you read whenever you can?

Tess: It all depends on what I’m reading. If a book is meh or average or not really that interesting, I wait till bed. But if it’s so enthralling that I can’t wait to see what happens next and can’t put it down, then I read it whenever I can (including while getting dressed).

Zielle: How old were you when you wrote your first story? (if you’re okay sharing)

Tess: I was nine. I wrote out a story about bunnies that now, remembering it, sounds mysteriously like Alice in Wonderland…even though I hadn’t read it at the time. I sadly don’t have it anymore. 😦

Zielle: Do you have a book in progress that I can beta read and devour???!! ;P

Tess: Almost. Once I make my Julynowrimo Brother Robin cohesive (not perfect, mind you), you’ll be the first on the list of beta readers!

In speaking of which, I am hiring beta readers! I need some useful crit on the aforementioned story.

Beta Reader Information

– The story is fifty thousand words long and falls under the heading of sci-fi histfict.
– The content is appropriate for ages 8+. There is mention of death, some people in love, and an injury, which is not described in great detail. (EDIT: There is also mention of alchoholic beverages. Not a horrible lot but they are present. This is 1876, guys.)
– The story is a DRAFT. It is not my best work. It is not even close to my best work. It’s complete rubbish, drivel and garbage. But I don’t want to waste a bunch of time editing and fixing a story that will need more fixing later.
– I’ll be sending out the story in December of this year, after I’ve made it cohesive (going back and fixing things that don’t make sense.
– I really don’t want grammar criticism. I’ll fix that m’self, thanks. If something’s not clear, then tell me, but if I use the wrong form of ‘there’, don’t correct me, please.

I’m looking for at least five readers, so jump on it!

And now…the ‘stuf’…the reason why I haven’t been blogging…there’s so much interesting stuff to do and so little time! I’ve gotten some new things that I can’t wait to show you guys.

Books!

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One trip to Barnes and Noble later…I got some books! The money was worth it.

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Wreck This Journal. Guys. This is so so so so so awesome! I’m not going to show any pages until I’m done. Then I’ll do a #rekt tour!

And F nish Th s B  k. I am not going to say anything about this one. You have to go get it yourself. Not being lazy, it’s just that you have to see it to believe it.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle is a crazy book that takes itself really seriously. Like it’s completely normal to shave yourself with a broken bottle, Doctor! But it’s a ton of fun and really lighthearted in comparison to a lot of fiction.

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The best part, though, is that my collection of aesthetically pleasing Sterling edition classics is growing!

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Ahhhhh….the spectrum….it’s so……

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SATISFYING.

*wipes brow*

Art Stufs

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Alright, I broke down and bought a sketchbook. I haven’t drawn anything in it yet, but that will change as soon as I finish this post. 🙂 I also got some new pencils, as I wore my others down to nubs…

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And they are also fun to photograph. This is the 6B (not like anyone cares).

And now….

…the grand finale…

…the thing you’ve been waiting for…

…please welcome…

…the newest member of my entourage…

…the one who will help me realize my dreams…

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This is Cedric! He is a Monoprice 10″ x 6.25″ Drawing Tablet and is a real amazing guy (though he can be tempermental). Don’t tell him I said that, though. I got some old Flash MX2004 and am making some babystep animations. But that topic’s for another post.

What’s your favorite thing to do (besides blogging)? Did you sign up to beta read?

Sayanora,

Tess

Thoughts

October Goals

1. Write an “October Goals” post.

tenor
via

Huh.

2. Make that post a GIF post.

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via

Okay…

3. Finish planning my Nanowrimo novel.

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I know some people say that planning doesn’t work or blah blah blah…but as someone who can never decide what to write about, I find it helpful. So far, things are going okay, but I need to iron out a couple of details and pick theme music for each part. (I know that sounds incredibly OCD but 1) I think I have a minor form of OCD so it’s normal for me and 2) it saves time so that you don’t spend an hour finding the perfect music. I’m busy this year.)

4. Get going in animation.

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via

If you want to know how traditional Disney animation worked, here’s an epic video. It will help the following paragraph make sense.

Theoretically, I could continue forever in my physical pencil and paper state, but here’s the thing. I can only do so much. With a drawing tablet and some Adobe CC Animate, though, the inking, painting, backgrounds and all that will become SOOO much easier. I’ll be able to start work on the projects I’ve been thinking about.

5. Word War with Ava

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via

Ava and some other blogfriends and I were going to do a Word War, but it kind of fell through, so we just decided to do a collab story. Anyone is still welcome to join, though.

6. Get a Wreck This Journal.

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via

These look like so much fun. And I have always wanted one.

7. Finish all the books I need to read for school.

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I made this one.

Silas Marner, Mornings on Horseback, Treasure Island, The Wealth of Nations….yeah I’m busy.

8. Learn some new jokes.

 

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Does anyone else watch AlpacaHawk or am I the only weirdo?

‘Nuff said.

9. Write out all the posts that I’ve been meaning to post for a long time.

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via

Procrastination is the only option, Li Sheng. The only option.

10. Fufill all these goals.

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via

“You just wanted ten, didn’t you…”

What are some goals you’re striving for this October?

{Tess}

 

 

 

Art, Thoughts

The Completed Picture {Thanks, beans}

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blogfriends (pl. n.) – Friends made through the blogosphere that become far more than entities as time progresses.

I’ve met some awesome people in the fourteen months that I’ve been blogging. Every single one of my followers is special to me, and there’s nothing that cheers me up better than when one of them leaves me a comment or a like.

I wanted to try to find a way to thank some of my best blogfriends ever; namely, Mya, Enni, Miles, Sam, Clara, Zielle and Ava. Everyone has been super-supportive, but these seven in particular have really helped me along. I could not write enough to suffice for the inspiration I’ve gotten from them.

I shall now go through each one separately, both telling them how awesome they are and critiquing my rendition (because this can’t get too mushy).

(DISCLAIMER: Distance to or from Tess does not indicate frenship status. If I could have put all you beans right next to me, I would have.)

(DISCLAIMER: Randomness ahead.)

Mya (Life From Behind A Camera)

Mya, you’re an underdog of the blogging world, and you’re totally okay with that. You’re still under 100 followers, but you put together beautiful photos and excellent writing. The result? Posts I always look forward to reading. You’re a bit soft-spoken in comparison to others, but that’s one of the reasons I like you so much. Keep peacing out the world.

(Art critique: I wish I had made her smile a little less wide. Less like this: ) and more like this: >. Other than that, Mya turned out pretty good!)

Enni (Hooves and Pens)

Enni, you horse nerd, we have so much in common! It’s so refreshing to see a blogger who loves her older brothers as much as I love mine. And our horsiness…we should not have coffee together. Caffiene and geeking may have adverse effects upon our riding posture. But it might be worth it. Keep dreaming – we will ship Bristy soon enough.

(Art critique: I only had a rather blurred-out photo to work with, so hopefully my imagination filled in adaquately.)

Miles (Art Style)

Miles miles miles miles miles….remember when we were at the Pottery and I was voted the weirdest girl because of my evil scientist impression? If we were to compete again, you would take the cake, you silly jelly bean. But hey, are you really complaining about that? I can see you doing all kinds of awesome stuff. You hack it out, bubble.

(Miles and I are IRL frens, so this makes no sense to anyone but her and I. :P)

(Art critique: How do you put a crazy unicorn like Miles into a drawing? Hot pink shirt, emoji hat, orange Toms and weird socks, of course. My original design had her giving me bunny ears. Though it would have been more accurate, it was causing problems relating to arm length. I mean, she’s cray, but not stretchy…)

(And we respectfully skip Tess because this is not the time for a session of heavy self-lauding. :P)

Sam (Redhead With A Book)

Sammy, you’re so smol it’s hard to not smile when I see one of your posts. You’re one of the few real booknerds I trust to know the difference between a good book and kindling. And your doll blog. INSANE. How do you do that? You’re epically awesome and you should keep being epically awesome. Finis.

(And…I tried include your swanfriend but his inflatable feathers would have been too hard to draw. And it would have looked really, REALLY weird.)

(Art critique: Sam is probably the most interesting to look at out of all the beans, considering she’s the only one not looking a the cam…I know your hair isn’t THAT red but I wanted it to be more red than – shall I dare say it? – ORANGE.)

Clara (Clara & Co.)

Clara! My first follower! The one I addressed all this drivel to for the first few weeks! I’ve been following you ever since I started ‘pressing, so this frenship wins the Longevity Award. Don’t ever stop being that frendly, sweet, colorful bean you are. Just don’t.

(Art critique: If only I could capture Clara’s frenliness in a drawing…*sighs* The panda is a reference to what was her profile picture for a long, long, long, LONG time. I wanted to give Constance a nametag but there wasn’t enough room!)

Zielle (My Homeschool Notebook)

Zielle, Zielle, I always wished my name had started with an awesome letter like Z. But not Zebedee. Your blog is so awesome! I love your photos and writing, and since those translate to your soul, I love your soul you so much! I know that my chances of meeting you in person are really, REALLY slim, but we can dream across the Pacific, right? Keep it up!

(Art critique: I love the way Zielle turned out. Except for her skin. I had intended to make it only a bit darker, because she said she was epically Filipino, but…I think I went overkill. Let’s just say she got a lot of sun this summer. :/)

Ava (Elysian Artiste)

Ava, you and I were born under the same star. Yes, talking to characters is normal. Yes, feeling that your characters are real is normal. Yes, developing crushes on historical fiction characters is normal (even though people say that they aren’t real, and even if they were, they’d be dead). We could do this all day. Continue writing histfict, continue getting in deep with your characters…continue being Ava, because you are awesome awesome awesome.

(Art critique: I took a gander with Ava’s clothes. Hopefully they match her character. But I thought daydreaming required daydreamy clothes. Tess, what do you know about fashion? You wear your jeans until they turn grey and get holes in the rear. You wear your T-shirts until they get so nasty no one can tell what’s on them. You wear Target sneakers that kind of look like Converse but not really. And you own a pair of corduroy pants. Be ashamed for ever thinking you knew anything about fashion. Ahem. Ava, show all of us sneaker-wearing hoodlums how to wear flats, please?)

And this concludes my 1,000-word epic on you guys. Even if you were not mentioned, I love you so much. Thanks for the great year so far, and let’s hope for lots more epic years!

Lots of tea,

{Tess}

 

Thoughts, Writing

AG Create-Your-Own: Nanowrimo Edition

I had no idea whether to put this on my doll blog or here on Steeplechase, but I decided that since it involved the characters of my past Nanowrimos, I should post it here.

Anyways, today I’ll be trying to duplicate some of my past Nanowrimo characters (and probably ranting about them in the process ;)) with the AG Create-Your-Own maker. Enjoy.

Sybil Glasscock
A Falcon Of Gold, 2015 (40k)

sybil

Ahh, Sybil, you extremely pessimistic bean, your clothes are completely period innacurate but they’re more to reflect your character than your actual costume. I apologize for shipping you at the last minute. That was unfair.

(Sybil was part islander and part English. But the islander was more dominant. She was a really big jerk though.)

Kat McKittrick
A Charger In Command, 2016 (50k)

kat

(The picture size changed for some reason. Sorry for triggering your severe OCD.)

Kat was a more sedate Sybil. Maybe it was the horses; maybe it was the fact that she wasn’t an orphan. (There are really too many orphans in today’s literary world.) Whatever it was, she was more stable. But I shipped her at the last minute too. *ducks as people throw tomatoes*.

I’m fine with shipping characters, it’s just when it’s last minute that makes it bad. Instantly.

Kaori Sasaki (sound familiar?)
The Taiso Senshu, 2017 (15k)

kaori

It was after I wrote Kaori’s story in April that I realized that I wrote almost exclusively about dark-haired, pessimistic girls. Nevertheless, she was my favourite out of the three, only because she was Japanese and Japan is awesome. (Well, because I didn’t want to do any research, I made it a Japan-like society called Pseudo-Japan in my notes. I’m lazy.)

(So much from her story was borrowed for my doll stories, so I can’t share much more. :P)

Millicent Blair
Brother Robin, 2017 (50k)

millicent

Millicent, you refreshing change to the norm! It’s a pity you were an underexplored side character. At least the MC of Brother Robin was a light-haired, blue-eyed British man. He was still pessimistic though. Maybe you’ll be a good influence for him. As I did ship the two of you. (sorrynotsorry).

Honorable mentions, also from Brother Robin:

And one more honorable mention: Kseniya, a she-wolf, from my novel in preparation about canine culture, reimagined as a human.

kseniya
“Where are my ears?”

And finally, from my upcoming story for Nanowrimo 2017…

Sasha Sokolovsky
Project Orion (50k)

sasha

Part Russian. Part naïve. All nerd. I’m going to have so much with you this November, despite that you’re only a side character!

Time for…

Secrets

The answer to this question is the password to the Secrets page, which holds a bonus picture for you to enjoy! (It will be all lowercase.)

What is the ship name of my OTP?
(hint: it’s in a caption)

What kinds of characters do you tend to write about? Do they all follow a pattern or are they different? Are you going to do this on your blog? If you are, then link it back and I’ll read it!

Sayonara!

{Tess}