Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Century of Books

A Century of Books
This is a challenge that bloggers Stuck in a Book and The Captive Reader are attempting to do this year. I decided to do it as well, to challenge myself to read more and not spend all my time staring blankly at my computer when I'm not writing.

I really need to read more. So I decided to read a century of books spanning from 1919 to 2018 because I'm not sure I have or will be able to find books only existing in the 20th Century. Oh well. Maybe next year I'll be able to attempt the 20th Century, when I'm not juggling college.

Time: Well, I want to give myself a year, maybe 18 months because I'm getting a job when I go back to college, and then I'll be trying to get an internship for my practicum after I graduate.

2002 – The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership by Steven B. Sample

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017: A Year's Books in Review & Happy New Year!

Happy New Year's guys! I'm finding it extremely hard to believe that it's already 2018!

Where did the time go? It feels like 2017 just started. It reminds me how I'm going to be graduating in April.

I celebrated New Years by watching the festivities on and off on Fox TV since the channel actually shows important and interesting things instead of the inappropriate like on CNN (though we only checked long enough to see what they were saying before we would switch back to Netflix so we could continue watching BBC's The Musketeers, lol. I don't live close enough to anywhere to go watch fireworks in person.

As for New Year's Resolutions... well... I haven't thought of any. Other than how many books I might read.

I guess, if I had to make some resolutions, I'd say I'd... well, I'll try to get more exercise by playing some Kinect games on my brother's Xbox 360 since I'm bringing it down to college with me. I'll also try to get at least two short stories published this year, maybe get a novel written that I might be able to publish at Angry Robot when they open their doors to all manuscripts again.

I'm excited for this new year. It's a clean slate. I hope this coming year will be safer for everyone.

Another thing I wanted to go over in this post was the books I read last year. I certainly didn't read as many as I wanted, clocking in at 8 when I was aiming for 10. Unfortunately, the 9th book I had decided to read was a mass market paperback with around 650 pages.

According to Goodreads, I read a total of 2,662 pages over the 8 books. My shortest book was The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards at 256 pages. The longest book I read was Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland at 544 pages long.

The books I read this year, in order, were:
Fractured by Rae Elliott
Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
True to You by Becky Wade
The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards

This coming year I hope I will be able to read 10 books. At least ten books. Though, it all depends on how long my practicum is going to be and where I will get it. My practicum was going to take place in Tibet, but due to health issues, I will have to do it in Canada. Somewhere. I'm thinking 100 Huntley Street since 1) They have an intern program that's more than running around and getting people coffee, and 2) my Grandma knows almost all the up and ups that run 100 Huntley Street. So getting an internship and doing my practicum there is highly likely.

I'm really excited about this coming year. How is my life going to change? How will my grades turn out to be? Where will I be living in six months?

I hope your year will turn out to fantastic. I have a question, though: how did you celebrate your New Years?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Break

So, I'm on Christmas Break. I know that I haven't posted any lately and that the last two posts might have sounded a bit scatterbrained as unfinished. Hopefully, that won't be the case forever as I'm not like that normally.

Right now I'm on break from what had to be the most brutal Term I've experienced to date. November was the most brutal with days spanning from Monday to Friday where I would have to be up for 8:30am and not be able to leave the school grounds until 4:10pm. On top of that, I would have up to three assignments on the go at the time and that often left me to push at least one assignment to the very last minute – which was usually my After Effects assignments.

After Effects is an Adobe program where you're able to apply special effects to video footage. Most of the special effects you see – like the information you see on news channels and the names and occupations that'll pop up on documentaries. There're other things,  I haven't learned how to do. Like the ghosting effect featured in Doctor Strange (which I haven't watched).

Anyway, because of the way I had to juggle things, my After Effects assignments turned out to be horrible, and I got a C as my final mark.

But I'm so relieved it's all over. Of course, I'm still working on my Advanced Photography's Assignment 5 and Final Assignment. They're interesting, but they're due tomorrow... at midnight. I have 12 things I have to get done:

  • Three Panoramas
  • Two HDR Images
  • One HD Timelapse
  • Two Images Illustrating 2 different Kingdom Concepts/Virtues (I chose Faith as one)
  • Two Images Illustrating 2 different anti-Kingdom Concepts/Virtues (I chose Destruction and Death).
  • One Image with a jet black background.
  • One Image of Food.

I've already got the three panos, one of the HDRs, the timelapse, one of the Kingdom Concepts (the Faith one), one of the anti-Kingdom Concepts (the Destruction one), the jet black background, and the food one done. I'm about to go and do the second HDR. I'm going to do it one of the LED lights on my garage since we don't have Christmas lights on yet. And since I missed the sunset.

And HDR is when you take a picture of something that is too dark, one that's just right, and one that's too bright, and then merge it all together so it looks more 3D.

I thought I had both HDRs already, but I looked at my first one today and found it too blurry for my liking.

I'm also afraid that my timelapse is too grainy because I accidentally saved all the JPEGs I used in it at a lower quality than I should have. My teacher wants me it to be HD, as in 1920 x 1080 pixels. It is those dimensions, but it looks grainy to me. I really don't want to have to go about sticking it together again, because it was a struggle the first time since I hadn't taken enough pictures for a ten second timelapse with 30 frames per second. I set it for 29.97 frames per second and still had to use some of the pictures I wasn't happy about in order to kick it off and have enough for ten seconds.

Just how bad would it look on a huge HD plasma TV? I think I'm going to watch it on the big TV in the living room in order to be sure it doesn't look too bad. I pray it won't.

I've recently begun to read The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, the first in The Night Angel Trilogy, and it'll be the next book I'll review on my blog. It isn't a Christian novel, and there is some profanity, though not much thank goodness. Some of the stuff that goes on in the background isn't pleasant but seems to resonate since I just finished a course at college that addressed issues like what is mentioned in the book. Poverty is rampant in the city the main character finds himself trapped in, something he's trying to escape.

I'll have a lot to talk about when the review comes out.

With that book, I'm thinking of starting to rate my reviews like video games are rated (like ESRB rating). I'm thinking of rating it as a solid PG-13 or a 'T', though I don't know if that rating will go up because I haven't finished it yet. I haven't even gotten quarter of the way through it yet.

It's an intriguing story.

There's a lot of stuff going on in my life, good things, stressful things. I'm working on a short story I haven't planned out, and a novella I'm still planning out. I'm planning on publishing them on Smashwords, since it's a platform that publishes on ever conceivable ebook platform. I'm so excited!

I've really seen myself grow over these last two terms and that makes me extremely excited for my future. Like the trip to Tibet I'll be taking for my practicum after I graduate.

I believe I'll have a lot to write about in the future :D

Sunday, November 12, 2017

David Brainerd Quotes

This coming week, I'll be writing a short paper and an 8-minute presentation on the Life and Diary of David Brainerd. The book is a biography of David Brainerd interspersed with what parts of his diary that he allowed the author of the biography to include.

Brainerd was a missionary to the Native Americans, and he lived between April 20th, 1718 – October 9th, 1747. I'm not even half-way through the book yet, but already I know that he is a man who experienced the same emotions and fears that I've felt, which has me sympathizing with him and feeling what I need to feel and think for my coming assignment.

Here are some quotes I've come across that I quite like.

"All I want is to be more holy, more like my dear Lord. O for sanctification! My very soul pants for the complete restoration of the blessed image of my Saviour; that I may be fit for the blessed enjoyments and employments of the heavenly world."
– David Brainerd

"Farewell, vain world; my soul can bid adieu;
My Saviour's taught me to abandon you.
Your charm's may gratify a sensual mind;
Not please a soul wholly for God design'd.
Forbear to entice, cease then my soul to call;
'Tis fix'd through grace; my God shall be my all.
While He thus lets me heavenly glories view,
Your beauties fade, my heart's no room from you."
– a poem by David Brainerd

"Lord, I'm a stranger here alone;
Earth no true comforts can afford;
Yet absent from my dearest one,
My soul delights to cry, my Lord.
Jesus, my Lord, my only love,
Possess my soul, nor thense depart;
Grant me kind visits, heavenly Dove,
My God shall then have all my heart."
– a poem by David Brainerd

I find it fascinating that he wrote a couple poems in his diary...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Alfâm Kuduszodikh - A Study on Music Playlists

*alfâm kuduszodikh – "music list" (ahl-faam kuh-duhs-zaw-dike – approximate pronunciation)


As promised, I bring you a post on music playlists. I would have written "music playlists" or "lists of music" in dwarvish (Khuzdul), but my source (Dwarrow Scholar) didn't have the words for those translations, lol.

Playlists are an easy way to keep track of songs that you like. You can pile all your favourite songs from one genre, or list all the songs that inspire you in your writing (or drawing, or working out, or doing paperwork or house cleaning or –).

You can build playlists almost anywhere – on iTunes, Spotify, Youtube, etc!

For example, here's a playlist from my Spotify (which I just built :P)

{ Fantasy Inspirational }

The list contains these songs:

Lúthien's Lament by Eurielle
Lost Girls by Lindsey Stirling
Misty Mountains by Peter Hollens
My Dear Frodo by Howard Shore
Viverti by Mattia Cupelli
Victory by Two Steps from Hell/Thomas Bergersen
Forbidden by Eurielle

Creating playlists might just turn out to be extremely addictive.

Here's another playlist:

{ Steampunk Inspirational – incomplete }
Filled With
Euphoria (album) by Revolt Production Music
Breaking Away
Darkness Falls
Beyond the Wall
Palladio by Karl Jenkins
The Submarine by James Newton Howard
Starfall by Driftmoon
Die Walkure, Act III: Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner
Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759, 'Unfinished': I. Allegro moderato by Franz Schubert
Time by Hans Zimmerman

Music is a fun platform to mess with. These two playlists are just examples of what I might end up building on Spotify. I encourage you to build your own if you want to - you can get a free account on Spotify, though you'll have to contend with the occasional ad.

iTunes would be the only platform out there, other than Windows Media Player, that wouldn't force you to listen to adds between ever three or four songs, but you'd have to pay for the music before you can put them into playlists.

Spotify is rather easy to manipulate, though, and forces less adds on you than Youtube, which makes you have to sit through an add at the beginning of every video, with most saying your "video will play after add".

All you have to do on Spotify is find your song and click the three dots to the right of it. There, you click "add to playlist", and it will give you the option to choose which playlist. You just need to create the playlists before you go hunting so that it shows up.

Before I end this, though, I would like to give you a word of caution. Spotify doesn't support the artists who make the songs you listen to on it as much as you'd support the artists if you bought their songs on iTunes or on a CD.

I know this might not be such a big deal for artists who are extremely popular and have money rushing in because, no matter what, their fans will buy their stuff and pay to see them live. But many of the artists who have their music hosted by Spotify are more independent than the biggest superstars and rely on the money they receive when people by their songs. The Piano Guys released a message about this at the end of their Youtube music video of "Celloopa", and they have compensated for the pennies they receive for having their songs on Spotify.

So, yeah. Use Spotify to your heart's content, but consider buying the songs as well in order to support your favourite artists. After all, it doesn't hurt to have it on iTunes or on your MP3 player just in case you go camping where you can't get LTE service or you're running low on data and you just have to listen to those particular songs that are on that playlist of yours.

The world's music is at your fingertips, folks!

– Mikaela

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Music to Write By

One of the things that I find helps me get into the mood when I'm writing is music.

Personally, I prefer lyric-less, soundtrack-like music, though once in while I find myself in the mood to write to the sound of people singing - though it slows down the speed of my writing since I have to focus on the words I want to write while being bombarded by a voice singing words at loud volumes right in my ear.

Of course, what determines what I listen to when I write depends on what genre my novel is and what is happening in the novel when I sit down to write it.

For example - when I'm writing my steampunk/sci-fi mystery novel A Murder of Whimsey, I would choose music that reflected the atmosphere I wanted. The album I ended up abusing during NaNoWriMo July in order to get out 20k words before the end of the month was Euphoria by Revolt Production Music.

This album is the perfect mix of dashing Victorian elements and energizing Sci-Fi melodies. I lived on this album, and it serves to remind me that I have to go back to that story someday.

Which I will.

When I have the brainpower to fully outline it, since I can never hold my focus long enough to do so. haha

I also find myself listening to Lindsey Stirling's musical epics, because they often fit certain moments and scenes in my stories. Her music filled my mind in July almost as much as Euphoria did, and it applies to all my works of fiction that I happen to be working on.


Another artist I find myself turning to is Peter Hollens, an acapella superstar who does a cover of an already existing song every two weeks or so. He's done many covers of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit songs, which I just can't stop listening to!

My favourites from this album would have to be "Misty Mountains ft. Tim Foust", "Hobbit Drinking Medley ft. Hank Green", and "Gollum's Song"! Outside of this album and far out of my reach, his cover of "Song of the Lonely Mountain" is another one of my favourites, which, alas, I cannot buy on the iTunes store!

These songs are currently helping me plow through a short story I hope to publish in the coming months, which I'll publish once I'm finished the final project of my Advanced Photography class, which will be the story's cover.

There are so many songs you can choose from and build your stories' playlists. I have so many, it's ridiculous - though I haven't had the mind to compile them into a playlist yet. I will here, tomorrow, but there is one more song that I want to show to you, one I enjoy listening to when I write, and a gem of a video I found containing several Steampunk-y/Victorian-themed songs.

The Video

The Song

The song is "Celloopa", as in 'cello–opa', by The Piano Guys, who are musicians, though not all of them play the piano. Like the guy in the video, he plays the cello. 

I love listening to the Piano Guys' music - as it is just as inspiring as the music I mentioned before - though I feel that I've yet to scratch the surface when it comes to the sheer quantity of their songs. 

I can guarantee that their songs are excellent to write to - though everyone's tastes are different. Every song I featured in this post reflect my taste in music and writing music.

Tomorrow, I hope to post a post about "playlists" some writers make while in the process of writing their novels. I have so many, and I feel I will learn something when I write it.

Thanks so much for enduring this rambling post!

– Mikaela

Thursday, July 27, 2017

True to You: a book review

True to You. Becky Wade. 2017. Bethany House Publishers. Pages: 367. [Source: bought]

Commanding voices and the clatter of a scuffle drew closer to their location. Like a sewing machine needle increasing in speed, Nora's heart picked up its pace.

"Oooh," Britt said. "I'm liking this."

A grinding sound came from above. The sprinklers that had been embedded in the ceiling descended. "No!" Nora called out.

In the next instant, cold water hit her in the face. Squealing, she drew herself into a ball, tucking her head between her upraised knees and wrapping her arms around her shins. Across the room, Britt hissed with disgust.

"Thank you so much for inviting me to partake in this fun experience," Nora said to her sister, though the words went little further than her ancient clogs. "Next time I feel overly content and dry and warm, perhaps I can come again."

The door to their room banged open. Nora angled her face toward the entranceway just as a man filled the opening. A big man. Square-jawed. His grave gaze swept the square footage in a millisecond. He seemed not to notice the falling raindrops, though they peppered his wet, spiky brown hair and drizzled down his stubbled face. He radiated complete and total competency.

The force of his presence careened into Nora like a hundred-mile-an-hour wind. In response, she could do nothing but hold her ground and blink.
~ Excerpt from Chapter 1


Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

I knew I was going to enjoy this novel when I first saw this come up in an email from the Bethany House Publishers review program. I was going to review this for them, but I ended up running out of time despite how much I was enjoying it and because I was just home from college.

I was exactly halfway done this novel when I had to stop (because they ask that the book be deleted from your kindle, or other reading device, when the month's over). I just had to order it when I ordered my last book haul from chapters.indigo.ca.

From the beginning, I was hooked. I connected with Nora so hard it was like a vice.

At the beginning of the novel, we were introduced to Nora Bradford when she's participating in an training exercise with her younger sister, Britt. Of course it takes longer than she expected, and of course everything has to go wrong when the smoke machine sets off the smoke detector and ends up dousing everyone and everything in the building.

It's at this training exercise that she meets John Lawson. Big, strong, handsome, ex-Navy SEAL John Lawson, CEO and owner of Lawson Training Incorporated.

I'm not a big fan of contemporary, or many novels that take place in the present day. The last time I did, I nearly threw my kindle across the room because I was at the end of my rope when it came to Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey. This novel, though, surprised me so much. I could hardly put it down, despite the fact it was Camp NaNoWriMo this month.

One thing I knew drew my attention to this story the most was the fact that John Lawson was an ex-Navy SEAL. When this book graced my email, I was attracted to it mostly because I had just finished watching the latest season of Hawaii Five-0. One of the main characters of the show is Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett, an ex-officer of the Navy.
Alex O'Loughlin as Steve

Because of this, I ended up picturing John Lawson as Alex O'Loughlin, the actor who plays Steve McGarrett. Despite the fact that John has brown hair and hazel eyes (like me!) and not black hair and blue eyes (like Steve).

I really enjoyed John's character, and his whole search for his birth mother and father due to a devastating medical diagnosis. His whole journey was realistic and gripping, and, in the end, made me hope that a man like him will one day enter into my life.

I didn't think that John was capable of emotionally crumbling like he did in the end, but he did. And that made him seem more human. I honestly can't wait to see more of him in the coming books.

Nora was by far one of my most absolute favourite female characters that I've encountered in a long time. I've never felt more connected to a female character than I was to her. She appreciated the old, classy things. She dressed old-fashioned, she did her hair in old-fashioned styles. She is a bibliophile like I am, though her library sounds like it's a bit more fantastic than mine. She's running out of space for bookshelves and books while I sit here with room for only 1 shelf. haha

Her job sounds absolutely divine. She runs the historical town centre in Merryweather, Washington, a place she got for a graduation present from her father. Over the years she's been working to add buildings to the place to give visitors the sense of what the town might have looked like in its early days. It reminds me of the time I went to Fort Edmonton in Edmonton, Alberta, and how I felt like I was on a real timey-wimey adventure - the most excitement I had for quite a few years.

Her main job, though, is that she is a genealogist. It's an interesting profession, though I would honestly find it a bit tedious after a while.

Nora and me shared a lot of views on the world, it seemed, and we also seemed to have the same insecurities. I also really look forward to seeing her again in the coming books, because she's the kind of character that I would follow to the ends of the Earth, need be.

This book came at the right time in my life. Every few days, I would get this melancholy feeling in my chest whenever I thought back to how a lot of the girls I know from collage had boyfriends. A girl from my Torah reading group had gotten engaged during the final reading break before the end of the school year; a girl in the same digital media program is blatantly in a relationship with a boy in the same program; another girl in the same program seems to be in a relationship with a second year (and now graduate) of my program; and once and a while, while I was walking about the campus grounds, I would walk by at least five couples, all smiling and happy.

It was depressing, because not a single boy approached me or was introduced to me, except one, to even be a friend until right before school was over for the summer.

But this book taught me that finding a man isn't everything. I don't want to be burned like Nora was. I can be content with my books and my writing and Pebbles until the right man, my John Lawson, comes walking (or running), into my life.

True to You is the first of the Bradford Sisters Romance series, and I just can't wait for the other ones to come out. I can't wait to see if Willow mends her relationship with Corbin, or if Britt finally realizes that her man has been in her life for years and she yet to realize it. It's so thrilling!

A Century of Books

A Century of Books This is a challenge that bloggers Stuck in a Book and The Captive Reader are attempting to do this year. I decided ...