Monday, April 30, 2012

To Zanarkand

Countdown to rewrite: 32 days


It's fitting farewell to the A-to-Z challenge, I think. Possibly the saddest and most beautiful song I've ever heard, To Zanarkand actually comes from Final Fantasy X.

I think I have such fond memories of FFX because of the time in which I played it, and the symbolic nature of the story it had. Aside from the mediocre voice acting, it was a fantastic game. In the world of Spira, Zanarkand is a place that represents both a beginning and an end to the journey. It's the last destination for the summoners seeking the Calm, seeking freedom from Sin. 

And so, I bid adieu to the challenge and all of the extra stress, and fun, it held for me. Thanks for making it great. :)

Peace.

-Tsira

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yamaha

Countdown to rewrite: 34 days

I play the piano. (You forgot about that, didn't you?) I play well, I might add. Not at a professional level, but better than most amateurs--enough to get a I- at music festivals (meaning, A- on classical competition). Sometimes I forget this, but I also got to accompany a choir singing For Good on live television for a Veteran's Day concert. But...

I don't own a piano. Not even a lousy keyboard. When I want to play, I have to find the time to go to my mother's house, when she doesn't have a student, and mess with the baby grand. It's a Yamaha.

I love the sound of it. Everyone says that Steinway pianos are the best in the world, but... the sound has always been too mellow for me. I like the brighter tones of the piano back home. Maybe it's because it's familiar, maybe it's because it fits my personality. I don't know. But for whatever reason, I like Yamahas. 

The way the keys feel, with perfect width, the way the pedals sink when I put my shoeless foot on them--I hate wearing shoes when I play--the way the final notes of my favorite pieces sound as I let them flow into each other... 

I miss it, you know. I used to be much better than I am now, although people still tell me that my songs sound beautiful. But really, muscle memory is the only thing that lets me play Claire de Lune, Arabesque no. 1, Prelude in D minor, Eternal Harvest, and other pieces anymore. I sometimes forget songs I wrote, now.

But enough reminiscing. I'm still doing all right. The fact that I remember those pieces at all is amazing--I learned those two Debussy pieces when I was 15 and 16. The important part is, I like the sound of Yamaha pianos. 

Any other musicians out there? What sounds do you like from your instruments?

-Tsira

Friday, April 27, 2012

Xisht

Countdown to rewrite: 35 days

So. I was going to write a post about Xenoblade Chronicles, since I've been playing that game recently, but... I've got a major headache, and Jaron already put up a post that describes my feelings about it really well, so instead I'd like to share something about Xisht (said Zeesht), someone from my book Tsirash.

He's always been more of a presence than a character, but since I feel like that's a problem, I've messed a lot with the story when it comes to dealing with him. He's also a player in the sequel I'm writing, so it's been important for me to explore his personality, mannerisms, and speech patterns in more detail. Before my rewrite, I have to create rough versions of the scenes I'm changing, so I do have an excerpt to share with you today. It's far from final or perfect, but I had fun with it.

(Before we get to that... today's the last day to vote on my poll over here ---> so if you have not voted yet, please do so now!)

Okay, here goes. (Be aware that in the context of the book, Octras has just noticed Xisht following him. He doesn't know his name yet...)

Octras whipped back around the corner, drawing his longsword as he did so. When his swing stopped, the tip of his blade nearly touched the man's nose. Perhaps Octras had waited a little too long this time—he could have killed the man. Still, it had the effect that Octras wanted; his follower choked off a scream and threw his hands up in the air.
“What do you want?” Octras demanded. The man took a step back, and Octras reflexively closed the gap, this time resting the tip of his blade against the man's chest. “Who are you?”
The man looked up, his lips pursed together. Then, as if he'd remembered something funny, he hid a smile. “I'm a pest,” he finally said.
Exactly as Tsira had said. So they did know each other. “What do you want?”
“Nothing, really. I'm just a bit curious about your...” He paused. “Do you know why she came back to Crescent?”
Octras shook his head. “You're not in a position to ask questions.”
“Hm. If the Law sees you, you'll be... you can put your sword away. I'm not your enemy.”
“Why are you following me, then?”
“Tell me, why do you kill people?”
Octras hated that question. “Why are you following me?” he repeated.
“It's because it's your job, right? You do what you have to in order to survive. So do I.”
“That seems counterproductive. I just about cut your face open, and I'm still considering it.”
“Listen, I'm not your enemy.” The man put his arms down, smiling, though his eyes still betrayed his fear.

There's obviously more to this scene, but I'm afraid that without context it wouldn't make sense, so this is what you get today. Well, I'm going to go take some medicine; my head is throbbing. See you tomorrow!


-Tsira

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wizard - Human

Countdown to rewrite: 36 days

Here's another hero class for Dungeonball. I mean, you can't very well have a Fantasy dungeon without a magic-user, can you? Of the first batch to be colored (six in all; you haven't seen the healer or paladin yet), this one is probably my favorite. He's so classic.


He practically screams Black Mage. <3 Thanks again to Jaron's tweaking with the eyes... I'm partial to mages. I tend to favor them in most games, so this one was a lot of fun to make. 

-Tsira

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V

Countdown to rewrite: 37 days

Again, I'm late posting today. Sigh. I'm going to survive this... I'll live through the last month of work before summer, right? There's something about the letter V itself that makes words cool. I'm not sure why I feel this way, but V (along with J) is one of my favorite letters. So today's post is going to be a list of some of my favorite V words and names. Big V, little v, what begins with V? In no particular order...

  • Vvalis--an Ersjaran word, for my book. Any guesses as to what it means?
  • Vicious
  • Vulnerable
  • Vivi--my favorite character from Final Fantasy IX
  • Voracious
  • Valkyrie--useful when battling Mutalisks*
  • Victorious
  • Violin
  • Vanadium--hooray for chemistry!
  • Vestige
  • Vincent--it sounds so Renaissance to me.
  • Vicinity
  • Verses
  • Vasher--it fits so well with the Warbreaker.
  • Vein
  • Valeria--close to my best friend's name, but more epic.
-Tsira

*I know what the origin of the name is, but the first time I actually heard the word was while playing Starcraft. ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Utah

Countdown to rewrite: 38 days

I've lived in Utah more than 90% of my life. My dad is fond of telling us that his mother used to call Utah "God's Country," to which he would reply, "That's because no one else wanted it." But you know, he must love it here. We haven't lived anywhere else in almost twenty years.

Some reasons to love Utah:
  • For the most part, the people here are friendly, helpful, and generous. Teens from the LDS church are always out on service projects, students generally help each other on campus, neighbors watch out for each other, and the friends I've made seem to love lending us stuff.
  • The arts are very supported and considered valuable. The Mormon Tabernacle choir is huge, of course, Salt Lake City has acquired all sorts of 'street art,' mostly ranging from cool-looking twirlymajigs to silhouettes and sculptures. Plus the CWC at the library supports writers--I found one of my writing groups through them.
  • The landscape. Utah has tons of state and national parks, my favorite of which is probably Bryce Canyon. Okay, so I get a little sick of all the red rock because I've lived here all my life. But even I have to admit that this is really cool. Doesn't it look like a castle?
Sunrise from Artist Point #2 by Alain Briot
Some reasons to not love Utah:
  • The bipolar weather. Only here could you get frostbite and heat stroke in the same week. Yeesh.
  • If you're not LDS, the church can seem a bit pushy. Also, it's a very Republican state, so people like me who base their votes on candidates, not parties, can feel like their votes don't matter.
Well, that's about it for now. How's everyone going in this last stretch of the A-to-Z challenge? I'm feeling pretty worn out, and I haven't been able to visit as many blogs as I had hoped. But I've made a few friends, and it's been a lot of fun. Keep going, guys, we're almost done!

-Tsira

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trouble with Tsirash

Countdown to rewrite: 39 days

I love my characters, and my book. I was so proud of myself when I finished the 4th draft. After ten years of Octras, Tsira, Shenra, and Jake tugging on my mind and making me write their story, I was thrilled to finally have a copy that I considered good enough to send to agents. So I wrote and rewrote queries and a synopsis to send to the agents I'd researched, and... I did get a partial request.

But there was something about it that bothered me. I just didn't know what it was, or how to fix it. 

I persisted anyway. So thrilled about my endeavors, I shared it with two extra people, people I expected would love it as much as I did, as much as my writing groups and critiquers did. Unfortunately, they didn't--and I didn't understand why. Yes, I was angry. I was angry that someone said I was treating them like my pets instead of like people. I was angry that they said it was cliche, and therefore obvious and boring. I was especially angry when they compared it to Twilight. Those things were so, so wrong. And yet... that feeling in the back of my head told me that they were right about a lot of other things. A lot of other things. The letters had been harsh, but... right.

I'd explained things to my writing groups, explained backstory and motivations that had no real context in the book. I now quote myself, in my response: "After hearing from you two, I've realized that many of the things I know and love about my characters are not conveyed well in my writing. I have a difficult time translating things from my head into voice (or in this case, writing) without leaving out a lot of the meaning. I think I just got excited about having finished a draft and jumped too early into other things when the book still has a lot of room to grow. Even when I was finished, there were a lot of things that I was unhappy with but wasn't sure how to change."

And so I set about the quest of rewriting my novel. I have now written down exactly who each character is and what they represent. I have fleshed out a character who was more of a 'presence' in the last draft. And I've begun work on the scenes that will change more dramatically from the way they were. The real work--the actual rewrite, will take place starting June 1st. 

The countdown begins now.

-Tsira

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stuff About School

All of us have schooling. Some of us public, some private, some home schooling. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. But because of points I've heard over the last month or so, I'd like to clarify a few things.

First: I work as a Special Education aide, and I can promise you that the kids I work with are going to make something of themselves someday. Just because they're a little different than you does not make them hopeless or stupid. I still can't believe that people can say that kind of stuff to my face. I mean, really? I know it takes a certain kind of patience to help them, but... saying they're never going to amount to anything just because they're in Special Ed... tell that to the amazing engineers whose minds fall on the Autism spectrum. It is really tough, being a teacher, but it's so worth it.

Second: Most teachers are teachers because they love it--there are plenty of higher-paying jobs out there. All of the teachers that I see and speak with on a regular basis love the children they work with, and want them to succeed as much as their parents do. We are all ashamed and horrified when we hear about a teacher hitting a child or writing 'stupid' on their forehead. I can name so many good teachers who have had a major positive influence on my life--amazing, inspiring people like my AP English teacher.

Third: I went to public school. Yeah, it has its flaws, and there are rare circumstances where horrible things happen. Bullying can be a problem. My own brother had to deal with it physically, and I had to deal with it emotionally. But it's not as bad as it sounds. Most of us come out unscathed, even us bullied ones. Not everyone in the world of high school is as dramatic as they portray on TV. In fact, the normal stereotypes about jocks and cheerleaders were pretty much nonexistent at my school, and nerds and art/music/drama students were really supported, not torn down. :)

-Tsira

PS. I want to hear your stories and thoughts, too. Similar to mine? Or maybe you'd like to speak about homeschooling or private school? (Honestly, I'd love hearing about those experiences, since I haven't ever been a part of either of them.) But please, speak from experience--don't just feed me news articles. Thanks.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rael

 I know I've mentioned Rael a few times on this blog. She represents my opposite. I'm kinda shy, pretty mellow, modest in appearance, and definitely lawful good. But Rael... well, just look at her.


She's brilliant, flirtatious, smart-mouthed, and dangerous. (And she's also something of a masochist...) Writing from her perspective is so interesting and so much different from the other characters I've had time to develop. It's fun to watch her annoy Octras. ^-^ They're adorable when they're mean to each other. But you won't even see her in Tsirash, since she'll be on the other end of the continent, messing with the guards and other prisoners she's stuck with. (Notice the chain around her waist? That's important, as is the sleeve she wears to hide her right arm.) But you'll have to wait for her story. Sorry.

For now, you'll have to make do with the picture. It's not perfect, but... it's probably going to be a while before I draw her again. After all, I only made a headshot of Octras a few months ago, and he's been living in my head for years.

...and I'm exhausted. Anyone else having the longest week ever? Well, I'll see you tomorrow! Peace out.

-Tsira

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Questions For Characters

(This is my hundredth post! Hooray!)

I borrowed a book from this awesome person in my writing group on Tuesday. What Would Your Character Do? is the title, and it's supposed to help with character development (and making their actions believable). It asks situational questions, like "What is the first thing your character does upon receiving an invitation to an extended family picnic?"

It got me thinking. I've made my own questionnaires for characters before, and filled out some that were made by others--but I started wondering if I actually know how my own friends would react... it really reinforces for me the idea that we have to know our characters better than can possibly know a real person. After all, we're in their heads. 

One of my major problems with the last draft of Tsirash came in getting those characters across; to those who had never heard me really talk about my book or the people living in my head, they came across as whiny, overemotional, or irrational. Not every person said the same thing about every character, though, and it's been tough for me to pick through and decide what I really need to focus on that could fix this problem. (Whoa, there's though, tough, through in the same sentence!) I feel like I know them so well--the issue isn't so much knowing what they would do as how that makes them appear.

Which brings me back to the book. These questions for characters give basic multiple choice answers to you--but then explain what sort of person would generally choose/feel that way. For instance, if I chose "D) Feel unaccountably depressed"... I also see that it says, "Feeling unaccountably depressed alerts us to the possibility that your character sees herself as an outsider even in her own family."

Not that this book is perfect--especially for what I'm writing, since the scenarios are about modern-day dealings in our own world. But I do think there's a lot to be said about tiny glimpses making big differences. And if you want to know how to do that, you'd best start asking questions.

-Tsira

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Portal 2 - Exile Vilify

To anyone who's late to the party, you're missing out. Sorry for the later hour of this post, but I was busy eating cake... (well, I was actually busy between writing group and visiting a friend, so... same thing.)

Portal/Portal 2 makes up another of my favorite games. It's a fairly short game (first one, a student project, takes about 30 minutes. The single player part of 2 takes 6 hours or so.) but the 3D puzzles are highly satisfying, the dialogue is entertaining, and the story and characters are surprisingly complex. There's something so unique about flying through the air with a gun that doesn't shoot bullets, listening as a voice in the background promises you cake as it tries to kill you with turrets, lasers, and neurotoxin.

One of my favorite moments of the game, though, was finding a radio that played neither hidden transmissions or a certain jazzy theme. Instead, it played something that strangely, brought peace. It's called "Exile Vilify," and I sat and listened to the entire song before moving on.


-Tsira

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Octras

The protagonist, and POV character for my novel Tsirash, Octras is a freelance mercenary with a complex past and a shaky future. He's great at his job--although he's reluctant to do it--and his size makes him an intimidating opponent. He's also got a scholarly mind, although he's never been able to afford schooling. But his people skills are lacking.

Anyway. He's awesome. :) 

And so, I present to you the short story which introduces my novel and Octras: "Broken Rules."

Octras licked his cracked lips as he studied the ground. The rocks around his feet slipped when he stood. He knew that his shell thief was somewhere in this pass, hiding among the jagged cliffs that jutted out along the face of the mountain. It was an ideal hideout, really. From the road, it was impossible to see any of the caves that existed among the broken cliffs. And the terrain was treacherous; no man was designed to climb the slope. Even as Octras drew breath, the rocks gave way, and he slid down a finger-length. The only way to find sure footing here was to test it.

He moved, little by little, until he found the footprints he was looking for. Tiny rocks had been pressed lightly into the moist ground where he now stood. They marked the thief’s trail, which led straight up the mountainside. Octras gripped the wall of gravel and climbed. It was like crawling up several flights of broken stairs. Stones slid around him, but his calloused hands and careful balance kept him from falling.

As Octras reached a flat surface large enough to stand on, he knew he was just below the entrance. His muscles tensed and stretched as he hoisted himself over the ledge and onto the shelf—the thief’s cave. It was much larger than he expected, filled with treasures from all over the region.

“I didn’t think you would make it,” the thief said, stepping from the shadows. His black hair hung like drapes from a loose ponytail. “You’re clever to have followed me this far. Since you survived the climb, it means you’re either a magician or a death seeker. I’m curious to know which it is I’ll be killing.”

The words were strong from someone so short. This thief was hardly more than a boy; even if he had some combat skill, he was no match for Octras.

“Now, none of that. I didn’t even bring Tyn with me. I just need the shells you took from Dors, and I’ll be on my way.” Octras rose to his full height, weighing the boy’s reaction. “But if you insist on fighting, I’m sure Varin here would love to play.” He tapped the broadsword strapped to his belt.

Though he was certain the thief was scared, the boy puffed with bravado. “I don’t know what you’re spouting, mercenary, but I’ll write it on your grave anyway, when I bury you.”

The thief lunged forward, a knife flashing as he struck. Octras dodged, and the thief pushed past him. Octras wheeled around and pushed on his opponent’s head—the boy stumbled toward the entrance. He turned and slashed several times, but his movements were wide; Octras barely had to sidestep his swings.

The thief’s attacks were all wrong. He had never been trained, and yet he swung with confidence. A blow finally landed, pushing Octras out toward the entrance. The blade hadn’t pierced his skin; it was a dull thud against his chainmail.

Octras drew his broadsword—and was taken off guard as the thief tackled him, sending them both over the ledge. Octras gripped the rock with his right hand as he went over. His side smashed into the cliff, and he dropped his sword. Below him, he could hear the thief tumbling down the slope. When the sound ended with a sudden thump, Octras brought himself around the shelf to the only flat area and let go. Turning toward the road, he slid after the thief down the mountainside.

At the bottom, the thief’s unconscious body lay in a sad pile of bruises and broken bones. The shells he had stolen were still tied to his waist. Octras removed them, and then checked for a pulse and shallow breath. Badly broken from his own foolish mistake—Octras knew that punishment well—and yet the boy was alive. Octras grabbed his damaged broadsword and sheathed it, another unseen struggle going on within his mind. He would have to go against the rules of service again.

The mercenary, arms shaking and fresh blood trailing across half his body, carried the boy on his shoulders.

-Tsira

Monday, April 16, 2012

Naming Things

Well, it's been a little while since I've done a writer-ly topic. But I don't want to talk so much today. Instead, I have a question for you: How do you choose what to name things?

I mean, we name our babies, and our pets... and a lot of people name their cars, too. But as writers, especially in Sci-fi and Fantasy, we have to name people, places, events, objects, races, and magic/technology. So how do you do it? How do you decide on a name? Does it have some special meaning, or does it just sound good? Either way, let me (and each other) know in the comments!

-Tsira

P.S. And while we're participating, here's another reminder--on the right side of my blog, there's a poll asking what I should have at my booth for CONduit, which takes place at the end of May. If you haven't voted already, please do so. Thanks. :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Majora's Mask

"You're the bad guy. And when you're bad, you just run. That's fine, right?"

I'd like to talk about something truly amazing today. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is the darkest, most beautiful Zelda game in its 25-year history. With complex puzzles, satisfying action, a detailed story, and one of the coolest gameplay mechanics ever to grace a console, Majora's Mask is the best game I have ever played

Majora's Mask is the story of Termina, a world that's doomed long before our hero Link ever arrives. After saving Hyrule in Ocarina of Time, Link sets off on a journey in search of a beloved friend. But out in the woods, tired and alone, Link loses his way, is robbed by a masked Skull Kid, and winds up in a town that's only three days away from total annihilation. 

You see, Termina's moon is falling.

That's right, it's falling. And the only way to save the people from certain death is to cheat it--by traveling back in time. Unaware that they're sort of stuck in a time loop, the humans, deku, goron, and zora people are dealing with their own massive problems, the least of which is that the world is going to end in three days. Can Anju find Kafei--and will they be able to keep their promises to each other? What happened to the Butler's son? What has taken Romani's memories away? Where are Lulu's eggs--and why has she lost her voice? Each character has their own story, their own path to follow, and the only one who can save them is Link.

But he cannot save everyone--at least, not from death, and this is where the story takes an even darker turn. There is a song, called the Song of Healing, that 'heals' tormented souls, taking away their sorrow, and leaves behind a special mask. By putting on these masks, Link can take on the form of the one who was healed--in essence, wearing the body of a dead man. So, besides being Hylian, Link is also able to take the form of a deku scrub, a goron hero, and a zora musician... 

...and perhaps something far more scary...

The goal is to help the people, destroy the evil that has taken hold in the temples, stop the moon from falling, and most importantly, stop the Skull Kid, who wears the mask of the evil god(dess) Majora.

Is it any wonder that this game holds so much of my heart?

**When Majora's Mask was originally released for the N64, it didn't get the attention it deserved. But something is going on right now to bring this amazing game to the 3DS, so it can have its moment in the spotlight. It's called Operation Moonfall, and you can join the effort today by going here and signing the petition for Nintendo to make this happen. They currently have over 45,000 signatures, and with your help, Nintendo will not be able to ignore us for long.

Until then, you can get the game on the Wii's Virtual Console (but who doesn't want to see it in all the glory it totally deserves?).**

-Tsira

Friday, April 13, 2012

Link

Link, the greatest hero(es) of all time. Full of courage, wisdom, and power (...and not bad with the ladies, either). But I won't go into a long discussion about anything Zelda today... I'll save that post for tomorrow. For now, just have fun with all the little Links.


(This style was really fun to draw--and I used it as a basis for the shape of my Dungeonball characters!)

-Tsira

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Korra

I love Avatar: The Last Airbender (the TV series. Don't get me started on how awful the movie was...). A beautiful world + great characters and storyline + awesome action + moments of hilarity + beautiful worldbuilding... when I discovered the show, I was both pleased to see that the story arc was complete in three seasons, and sad that I wasn't going to see any more episodes.

But now there's a new Avatar, Korra. 


And she is pretty much Avatar Aang's opposite... but still completely loveable. Korra Nation had the first two episodes up for a little while (official site, mind you; I'm not into this pirating thing), but Legend of Korra actually launches this Saturday on Nickelodeon, so you won't have to wait long to watch the show!

...that is, if you have that channel. Jaron and I will probably be borrowing someone else's TV...

-Tsira

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jokes

I'm horrible at telling jokes. Anyone who knows me also knows that when the jokes are going around, even if I have the best one, I don't have the best delivery.

In fact, if the joke is good, I can't get through it without laughing.

For me, emotion transfers really strongly when I think about things. I remember how I felt (and will probably feel it again) when I remember the way something looked or sounded or smelled... or how funny it was. So when I think about that joke, I still feel like it's hilarious, even if it was circumstantial (like it was late and I was tired). 

So here are some things I thought were funny--and no, they're not really jokes. But, I work with kids, and kids say strange things at random times... and that to me is worth laughing about.

(Kids speak in bold.)

(Trying to get a kid to tell me what month it was...) 
"What month is your birthday in?"
"My birthday's in May!"
"So what month is it?"
"Saturday!"

(This kid asks me the same question every day.) 
"You marry me?"
"Sorry, I'm already married."
"Me hate you."

(Trying to gauge someone's math skills...) 
"Count to ten for me."
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten!"
"Awesome! Now count backward from ten."
"Okay!" (he turns around) "One, two, three..."

(Watching a kid pull junk from his lunch box...)
 "Hey, you should bring some vegetables tomorrow."
"Me no like a vegetable... vegetables is not food." 

Well, at least I think they're funny. And cute. ;)

-Tsira

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ice Cream

Ah, there's nothing quite like a delicious scoop of ice cream. I love it all, pretty much, unless there's fruit in it. Bleh. But there's something particularly special about putting chocolate and peanut butter in it. I love putting peanut butter in ice cream. The rich sweetness of the vanilla goes really well with the salty-sweet creaminess of peanut butter. And chocolate? Well, chocolate is always welcome to the party. I love that stuff.

It seems to me that ice cream shines best on a bad day. The day someone ripped out my hair? Ice cream made it all better. Someone tore my book apart with ruthless yet accurate remarks? Ice cream stopped those tears. My hip decides to injure itself? Ice cream made me forget that pain.

It's not a cure-all; far from it. But ice cream is so delicious... do I really need an excuse to eat it?

-Tsira

Monday, April 9, 2012

Horses

Okay, I admit it, I love them. Always have, probably always will.

I used to write stories about horses. The first book I ever wrote (and illustrated myself, I might add) was called "The Flying Horses," and I used the names of my family as the characters. My little sister and I were the two main horses, and later volumes included a town of cats, too. When I was in the second grade, my teacher at the time offered a "published" edtion of a story from each of the kids. 

I'm grateful for that, as I still have the book today, complete with a picture of my second-grade self and a signature inside. Sure, the book doesn't make much sense, but that didn't matter. Aside from my own book, the only stories I can remember from my class were one about a unicorn (which my best friend wrote) and one about a screaming scorpion (which I remember because... well, who wouldn't?).

But I digress. I've grown up now, and while I don't obsess over horses the way I once did, I still have a soft spot for them in my heart. My dad remembers that, and as a birthday present, he often gives me something to do with horses. :) I love them.

As a parting gift for the day, here is a picture that represents the combined effort of my little sister(who made the original sketch) and me. (It's kind of old, so shush about the legs! I know!) Happy A to Z! See you tomorrow. :)


-Tsira

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Growing Up

"Grow up."

It's a phrase we hear all the time. Usually when someone says that, they mean, "Quit being so immature."

Sure, there are some things, like throwing a tantrum, that are unacceptable. We aren't perfect. Far from it. But there are other strings attached to supposed immaturity--good things. So what does it really mean to be mature?

Does it mean giving up things you loved as a child--like stuffed animals, popsicles, and sidewalk chalk?
Does it mean you can't get excited about things like Pokemon and shiny stickers?
Does it mean losing your sense of adventure, your love of imagination?
Does it mean being serious all the time?

Does it mean giving up your dreams?

"Grow up."

I've lost a lot of things over the years. I've lost the innocence I once held. I've lost time. I've lost friends and family. I've lost pieces of my music and art and writing. There are also some things that I'm glad to be rid of. I've lost the hatred I once harbored. I've lost my fear of making new friends. I've lost much of the anxiety of sharing my feelings. I've lost my ability to purposefully hurt another person. I've lost many of my inhibitions.

But I will never lose my sense of wonder. I will never lose my love of people. I will never give up my dreams. I will never stop writing.

And I will never grow up.

-Tsira

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fire Emblem

My love of the Fire Emblem series started with a GBA game that I pulled from between couch cushions. I had heard of it only through playing Super Smash Bros--as most other US fans discovered it (through Marth, a character who appears in a game not available in the US). So, when I found the long-lost game, I plugged it into my DS, and started an adventure.

Not long after starting, I found myself addicted. The strategic gameplay, the sprite-based battle sequences, and most of all... the story, were all fantastic. Of course, I also found myself quickly frustrated. You see, every character in Fire Emblem is unique. They have their own wants and needs and stories... but if they fall in battle, they're gone forever. I recognize that this is part of the game, and you're meant to lose a few characters along the way. It makes the story that much more intense and engaging. 

...but I'm a sore loser. Even if I'm not totally infatuated with every character, I restart the game when someone dies. Which means I restart a lot. For my most amazing characters, death is pretty much impossible (imbue+daunt on my sentinel and level A support for an extra 30+ avoid--I know, I'm such a nerd), but for some of the weaker ones, if I misjudge how far an enemy could reach or accidentally push a button when looking at my options, I have to start over. 

But getting through those difficult moments makes reaching the end even more satisfying.

The last game I just finished, called Radiant Dawn, was actually the second part of a story that began with Path of Radiance. And it did not disappoint. I've heard complaints because of the lengthy dialogue, but this game is all about story. The story was epic, okay? I loved every bit of it. Soren was one of my favorites, and a friend and I have had lengthy discussions about him, but my absolute favorite people were these two.

Thank -ArthurInterfuego for this pic, found here.
Nephenee and Heather. These two were unstoppable. And I love them both. <3

-Tsira

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Exercise

I used to think of exercise as a pain, and sometimes I still do. But the definition of exercise is really broad, covering any physical activity--and depending on who you talk to, mental exercise counts, too. Personally, the best I've ever done with routine exercises was with Wii Fit. No kidding, I lost fifteen pounds doing that the year I got married.

But it was back to being a pain. When it's winter, and I'm stressed out from work, I don't want to do anything but sit on my rear and play video games. I get in some exercise in the morning, taking the kids on a walk, doing jumping jacks and such, and I've been to the gym a few times. But really, exercise for me is all about summer. The weather doesn't make my legs ache, and there's outdoor swimming. Swimming is one of the best exercises you can possibly do, and it's always fun as long as no one 'dunks' me. (If you do, I'll never swim with you again--dunking is NOT funny and NOT a game. It's like choking someone, got it?)

 I'm soooo excited for the weather to be warm. Exercise+Summer=Swimming=Win. What are some of your favorite exercises?

-Tsira

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dancing

We danced to the song
In the music box
Until our heads were spinning
Just like hers

We slept in that morning
Trapped in blankets
And your chest was my pillow
Just like home

We stared out the window
At the rain
And all the little glass people
Just like us

-Tsira

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Computer Rant

Well, I was going to write about cats, but I think I'll save that for a serious writing post. I have a story to tell you, though, about computers.

Computers are important for nearly everything that we do--from social networking and blogging to getting directions, from playing games to doing work. Jaron and I play a lot of video games. We use the computer for writing. For artwork. For composition. For game design. Tons of stuff. And when we can't do them, it makes us stir-crazy.

Our old computer is something Jaron got a long time ago, and it has been wearing out. It's a great computer, but it takes forever to load, and run, and its RAM and stuff just can't hold up to today's computers. So, I'm typing this on a little ASUS netbook, a computer we got specifically because it's good for writing, it's transportable, and it has a really good battery life. But it's no gaming machine, and it's no good for art stuff, just writing.

So we thought we'd buy a new one.

All right, here's my rant. You don't have to hear it if you don't want to... you can skip to the end.

We bought our new computer last year, this month. An ASUS, which are supposed to be awesome. And it was sleek and powerful, and I had a folder of around 20 composed pieces, and several works of art. Well... that was all fine and well, until about three months after we started using it. It crashed. Again and again. Finally we took it back to Best Buy. They sent it out, replaced the motherboard. We got it back after an entire month. Ah, good, we thought, it's fixed. But we backed up all of our files, just in case--or so we thought. ToT (crying face, in case you didn't know). After a couple of weeks, it broke again. It sat at Best Buy for two weeks because they DIDN'T HAVE A SHIPPING BOX. For two weeks. They finally replaced the memory sticks, and after a month, we had our sleek machine back. And my music files, that I thought were on our external hard drive? Gone. ToT

After two repairs and a lot of frustration, we thought we'd finally fixed the problem. Lies. All lies. Sent it out again, replaced the hard drive. Sent it out again, and they're currently replacing the hard drive. Neither Best Buy nor ASUS will give us a new computer. They'll only replace parts--and guess what? The warranty expires this month.

Four fixes, and I doubt it's actually fixed. Our computer has been in the shop as much as we've had it at home. Three months out of a computer that was supposed to be good for several years. And when you worry because you don't know if you have the money for a desktop, but you know you need it... I bet the problem is the processor, and it's making the other parts crash. I have a hard time believing that EVERY part of our computer just happened to be faulty. And TWO faulty hard drives? I don't believe you. Damn you, Best Buy. Damn you, ASUS. I loved you both, but I'm just so mad I don't know how to deal with it. And being angry makes me cry.

Well, rant over. 

...all things considered, we're doing okay. The old computer still works, and this little lappy is a great machine. I think from now on Jaron and I will be building our own computers. Over the last year, I've learned what all of the components are and what they do. I'm sure what happened to us is a fluke. If we had just picked up a different box that day, things would have been fine. We were just unlucky. Stuff happens sometimes. I got a raise at work, and Jaron got a second job, so if we have to, we can buy parts and put them together into a computer that is designed to do exactly what we want it to.

-Tsira

Monday, April 2, 2012

Board Games

Let's face it, board games are awesome. They were around long before video games, and are really fun to play with friends and family. Some awesome board games for lovers:

If you like world-domination, you'll love this version. It's made to play with the same people every time you play, and permanent changes to the game are made each time (or at least, for the first fifteen games). Different 'factions' have different abilities, all chosen by the players, and when certain conditions are met (i.e. "Open the first time a faction is eliminated from the game") even more awesome stuff is added to the game. No two games are the same. You can name your own cities and stuff, too. Oh, and if you're feeling daring, you can open the packet that says "Do not open. Ever."

This game takes cute chibis, video games, and dungeon crawlers, and mixes them up in a really fun way. The game comes with adorable miniatures (yes, you have to put them together and glue them yourself, but...) which you can paint any way you like. You can play as the Heroes, exploring the dungeons, or as the Consul, sending hordes of minions to slay them. I admit that playing as the Consul is more fun for me. When the game gets some expansions, we'll have even more fun.

Sit down for a night of storytelling with this game. You're going on an adventure as Sindbad, Aladdin, or one of the other famous characters of the 1001 tales, and may just meet your destiny! Court princesses, escape from prison, outwit efreets... or rob the beggar. ;) This game is delightful and although there's a winner, most of the fun comes from just creating your own story.

...and I know this isn't exactly a board game, but... 

Cuteness, strategy, and simplicity rolled into one, Villages is a quick card game best for three to five players. It's a rummy-style game of collecting colored cards into villages. Each card has a unique character with its own power, worth, and abilities. (Hint: you want that princess!) Go the fighter's way and attempt to steal cards from other players, or go the peaceful route and try to get rid of all your cards first. First player to 100 points wins!

-Tsira

*Come on, it's a baby of ours, and we want to see it do well. And I wouldn't plug it if it wasn't awesome. You know that, right?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Arachnophobia

Welcome to the A-to-Z challenge 2012. As previously mentioned, you're going to see a post from me just about every day this month. And we'll begin with something that's going to ruin my night.

Oh. My. (found at brown-recluse-spiders.net)
I am arachnophobic, which means I'm terrified of eight-legged killing machines. In fact, I'm so scared of spiders that I can't... even... look at pictures of them, which is why you have this picture of a brown recluse's bite instead of a spider here. The fear is mostly irrational, since they usually won't truly hurt me, but the picture demonstrates that there is a valid reason for being terrified of spiders (and scorpions, which are included in the disorder).

"If arachnophobics see a spider, they may not enter the general vicinity until they have overcome the panic attack that is often associated with their phobia. Some people scream, cry, have trouble breathing, excess sweating or even heart trouble when they come in contact with an area near spiders or their webs. In some extreme cases, even a picture or a realistic drawing of a spider can also trigger fear. Arachnophobics may also be afraid if they are touched by or touch an object that feels like a spider." - Wikipedia

For me, it means that if I see a web, I'll stay away from the area as much as possible. If I see a spider on the floor, I'll jump up onto as high a place as far away as I can and freeze up, unable to move, let alone kill it or shoo it out the door, my eyes locked on it. I sometimes cry out, but I'm usually just trying not to hyperventilate. My husband is my spider-slayer at home, so when he's not there, I'm begging my cat to go kill it while I freak out. Luckily, we live on the second floor of our apartment building and bugs are generally not a problem. I'm not the worst arachnophobe our there, so I'll still pick tomatoes from the garden without panicking... at least, as long as I haven't seen any webs or spiders. If I have, you're picking those tomatoes on your own. *shudder*

Okay, done. Whew.

-Tsira