Ender’s Game

Obviously I’ve gotten really busy, and I was kind of thinking I just wouldn’t post on here anymore and call it failed, but I had fun with this for a while. On top of being busy with school and extracurriculars, I also recently decided to bite the bullet and read Ender’s Game. I’ve had a copy sitting by my bed for months now, a bookmark on page 11, but I just never felt like getting into it. But I’ve recently started feeling like I need a new series since I can’t seem to get myself through A Dance With Dragons. I’ve been on Fantasy for a long time, so Ender’s Game seemed to be the perfect journey back into Science Fiction. Obviously spoilers will follow.

Here’s what I knew going into this,

1. This is my mom’s favorite book series

2. There was a movie recently (I never even saw a trailer for it though)

3. There would be some kind of huge surprise at the end

When I started actually getting into Ender’s Game, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was an easy read. No difficult words or complex scientific terminology and theories to get hung up on like other Sci-Fi books I’ve read. I normally read about a page a minute in a regular novel geared toward adults (Game of Thrones type books); that number is obviously lower for things like Lord of the Rings. In Ender’s Game I was pretty reading a little under 2 pages per minute which was good for how busy I am right now.

In general I found it to be a charming book with a very interesting premise. The idea of how the world was run, and especially the way Peter and Valentine were able to aquire power online made it an interesting world to think about. I also felt very strongly for Ender, as I was supposed to.

Probably the biggest surprise for me was when it was revealed that not only did Ender kill Bonzo, but he also killed Stilson. Of all the things in that book, I was not expecting that one and when I read that I went back to re-read the fights then googled how they died. For me, that was the big OMG moment that stopped me in my tracks. I was also pleasantly surprised when Bean, Petra, Alai, and Ender’s other friends showed up at Command School, I was not expecting that.

Now it may be because I knew that there would be a surprise, and it may be because I read the last ~100 pages all in one sitting, but when Ender was told that the simulations against buggers were real battles and he had really just destroyed the planet all I could really think was “well…yeah.” I mean, almost the entirety of that last 100 pages was barreling toward the inevitable ending that Ender and his commanders would be fighting real battles. For goodness sake, when he arrived for the last battle, there were a dozen officials standing around tensely watching. If that didn’t hit you over the head with what was going on, I would be shocked. I’m not saying that I could have put the book down 100 pages from the end and said what was going to happen, I definitely couldn’t have, but when it did happen, I was really not surprised at all.

Luckily, my lack of surprise didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book or the thought provoking moral issues it brought up. Shortly after I finished, I found myself on all kinds of forums reading different thoughts on the ending and the whole Xenocide issue. I also read about what people thought of the movie and watched a few of the scenes from it, but I don’t think I’m going to watch it, it got too many negative reviews – mostly about how it fails to cause empathy for Ender and focuses on the cool graphics and the games in Battle School.

What did you think about the ending? Was it a shock? And should I see the movie despite what I’ve read?

To Tattoo or Not Tattoo

So I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo for quite a while now  but my general reason not to was that because it’s so permanent I’d never be able to decide on one thing I wanted the most and wanted forever. Well, I’ve come up with a general idea of what I would want and I think I’m going to do it next fall.

I’ve always known I wanted something dragon related because of my great love for Pern, but when you Google dragon tattoos you get these huge intricate terrifying full back spreads and that is definitely NOT what I want. I finally found what I’d like to go for in the form of a butterfly tattoo (shown below). While I may play with the placement and I obviously have to figure out what I want my dragons to look like, this is the general idea. I have no idea how much something like this would cost and I haven’t started looking at places or anything, but I’m really excited to have finally chosen an image and place (back of shoulder).

There are several wrist tattoos I also like (elvish writing and more dragons) but I’ll save those for if this one goes well, which hopefully it will when I finally do it!

Good idea or not?

Weekly Writing Challenge: Object

Weekly Writing Challenge

My desk is generally empty of unusual things. I have my computer, mouse, printer, lamp, and a variety of other boring things surrounding me. But to my left, under the pink lamp I can’t turn on because it’s too close, are three palm sized dragon figurines. They all show what I believe a perfect dragon looks like, and each one has a different story.

The oldest one is reddish (I call him bronze for Anne McCaffrey’s sake) and coming out of an egg. A few years ago my family went out to the Medieval Times dinner and show in our area. Outside of the dining room/jousting arena where we waited to be let in was a nondescript desk on the far side of the room with general medieval gifts. Among them was this little dragon, the first dragon figurine I had ever found that had all the traits I look for in a dragon (not evil-looking, a decent color, four legs, and proper looking ridges) for less than $20. I of course had to get him and he became an integral part of my bedroom decorations. He also serves as a reminder that the perfect dragons are out there, I just have to find them.

The second one is a $5 souvenir from DragonCon last year. It is a purple dragon (not a correct color but I do like purple) perched on a fake geode with her head raised to the sky as if she’s calling out. I can’t call her a perfect dragon because of the color, but she does have four legs and I love imagining why she is crying to the sky. It is a pose that reminds me of what a dragon would look like while keening for a lost friend.

The third one is my newest but also my favorite. She is the same size as my bronze boy, but is curled up and looks up at me from beneath her wing with one eye. She is a Windstone dragon and my gold beauty. Windstone makes my favorite (McCaffrey correct) dragons, but they’re so expensive and so rare that I have never gotten one. My little curled gold is my $60 way into the Windstone world. I have been wanting one of their dragons for years, but the curled ones are the first that I was willing to pay for, and I have not been disappointed. She is very small but I love picking her up and admiring her. Every Weyr needs a Queen, and she is mine.

My desk is generally barren of anything not work or school related, but my slowly growing group of dragons are the exception. They comfort me when I am stressed and my admiration of them has inspired me more than once. I am always on the lookout for a figurine to add to my little collection, but being picky has limited me and for that I’m happy. My trio is made up of my favorites, the most beautiful examples I could find and I love them all the more for that. They never fail to increase my love for dragonkind and my love for writing fantasy, and I owe some of my greatest inspirations to them.

Curled Dragon - Violet Flame

Post SoCon14

Well I’m back from my first real conference! I’ve never been to a conference of any kind so today was a completely new experience. I made it there on time despite getting lost twice and after some orange juice and a cinnamon roll we all moved into the main auditorium for the keynote speaker panel. There were five speakers from different business backgrounds who had varying views on the different aspects of social media that were discussed. You can read about the five speakers here.

The only panels I’ve ever been to are those at DragonCon where a question is asked and they go down the row of people getting each answer. While it is fair, this method tends to get very monotonous very quickly. The panel at SoCon was run differently, with a general question on social media being asked and then whoever wanted to answer just went for it. These were five successful and outgoing people who knew what they were talking about so there was no issue with fairness and no one monopolized the conversation. All the questions were very relevant for me (educational, since I’m not trying to run a business) and all the answers from the panelists were thorough and gave a variety of opinions and strategies. I’m going to go ahead and say that this panel was the highlight of my day, with the most interesting and useful information for me personally. I also went a little crazy with the tweeting during this hour.

After the panel was over, I headed upstairs to Rip Off the Band-Aid and Blog Already! This was the breakout session I was most looking forward to because it seemed to cover everything I was hoping to learn today, but unfortunately the speaker had a family emergency and couldn’t make it, so I’ll never know if that talk could have changed my blog forever.

Nonetheless, I carried on and relocated to Maintaining Your Company’s Voice in Dynamic Social Media. While the idea of voice was interesting, the speaker was working with a large brand and many of his social media strategies were outdated and not incredibly helpful. I heard it was interesting at first, but since I came in late I didn’t get to see that part.

After an incredibly long lunch (I mean really we didn’t need 1 hour and 45 minutes to eat some pizza from the dining hall), I headed to breakout session number three Social Chaos: Moving from Panic to Plan. I really enjoyed this session, and although not all of the information was useful to me I did find it all very interesting. This session covered all the areas of social media including building your message (look at what’s being talked about and go from there, not vice versa), determining the correct social platform to spread your message on (don’t try to do them all, find out where your users are and focus on that), spreading your message effectively (planning posts in advance and posting on a regular schedule), and crisis management (have a plan in place for if something goes negatively viral). This session definitely showed me how incredibly important social media is for companies.

For the fourth and final session of the day, I went to The Power of Personal Branding Through the Use of Social Media. This speaker was very entertaining and seemed to use social media differently from most people there. She repeatedly said that she preferred LinkedIn as her main platform and didn’t do much structured planning (the opposite of the previous session I was in). She did suggest posting at least five times a day on your main platform to make sure you have good visibility and to help people get to know you and your brand.

Do I have a lot of detailed notes from today? No, but SoCon14 was a really great experience where I got to see real people talk about all the things I’ve read about. Everything I had heard about is much more concrete now and I learned a lot of new things that I’m excited to work on. Hopefully SoCon14 will help me send my Verity experiment to where I would like it to be and prepare me for future blogging projects.

SoCon14

In an unexpected plot twist, I get to go to SoCon2014 on Saturday! This is the annual social media conference held at KSU. It’s the largest social media conference in the southeast and runs from 9-4 on 2/22. Now, I’m obviously a newbie in the world of social media (I barely know how to use Twitter) so I’m mostly going for the experience and the chance to meet a variety of higher ups in different companies. There will be marketing people from all over the southeast as well as social media representatives from colleges and educators themselves.

The layout of the day starts with four keynote speakers then we all break up and choose three talks to go to for the rest of the day. The session I’m going to before lunch is called Rip Off the Band-Aid and Blog Already which I’m SUPER excited about. It basically sounds like blogging basics from the description and shows how to set up a blog and how to create material. I’m also going to Social Chaos: Moving from Panic to Plan, and The Power of Personal Branding Through  the Use of Social Media.

I may or may not have mentioned this before but this blog and attached Pinterest, Verity Frost in her entirety actually, is my experiment with media. This is my introduction to the world of blogging and tweeting and I’m using it as an experiment to learn about social media and to find my niche. That’s the main goal of “The Verity Experiment” and I’m really looking forward to SoCon14 to help me out with finding my place in the vast World Wide Web.

Anyone else out there going to SoCon14 on Saturday?

Life as a Slytherin

In the Harry Potter series, because Harry is in Gryffindor, we learn a lot about life in Gryffindor tower and the type of people there. We also get to know quite a few students from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff and thanks to Pottermore we have gotten a lot more information on the common rooms and histories of the other houses, but that’s not enough to know what it’s really like as a Slytherin. The only Slytherins we ever come into contact with in the books are super evil or dumb as a rock, but there have to be good students as well. What is life like for them?

We know that Slytherins are known for being sly, cunning, ambitious, good leaders, and they always stick together. If you look at this list, however, some of the words have negative connotations. I know that Slytherins were supposed to be the antagonists and using words like cunning make them even scarier, but the same traits would look a lot different if you used “happier” words. Slytherins would be smart, artful, street-smart, knowing, determined, and resourceful. Slytherin is sounding a lot better already isn’t it? I know I would much rather be in the house of intelligent self-starters than the sly and cunning. It just projects a whole different image.

So back to the original idea. If I take my new words and apply them to Slytherin, I come up with a whole different type of person from Draco Malfoy and Millicent Bulstrode. This is a person who seems to have the best traits of both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. They’re smart, they understand the world, they pick a path and fight to reach their goals, they look out for their own, and people want to follow them because they’re good at leading. This is a good person who functions and thrives in society. They may not necessarily have a huge array of friends, but they have the skills and personality traits to be successful, which is one of the main goals of Slytherins. So where are these students during the story? They’re not nearly as interesting as a blonde ferret like boy who becomes a Death Eater at age 16, but they have to exist.

On the other hand, despite the positive attributes these student’s have, it is entirely possible that generations of dark wizards coming from Slytherin and parenting future Slytheirns could cause the apparently horrible batch of Slytherins that came in with Harry. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson, and Millicent Bulstrode were bullies who took advantage of the system, and they comprised the majority of their class. Their parents were all obviously dark wizards which affected how they were brought up. Could the fall of Voldemort when they were only recently born cause their parents to raise them to be worse than usual? If that’s the case, were the younger classes of Slytherins closer to the original guidelines of the house?

I like to imagine a Slytherin who, despite their dark upbringing, have a moral compass who takes them to the right side. They may struggle with which side they’re on but in the end conscience would win and they would end up as a CEO or the Minister of Magic or a position that would be similarly fit for a Slytherin.

What I’m still not sure about is what this student’s school life would be like. Would they be a teacher’s pet? Would they sit in the back but turn in every assignment and get straight A’s on the DL? Would they slack off but suddenly in 4th or 5th year turn everything around and pull their grades to the top? And who would they be friends with? People in their house only? More from other houses who match their ideals? This is the person I’d be interested in reading about and who I’m trying to write about in one of my stories. Someone who is put on a bad path and struggles with it and find their own way.

If you look at it differently, Slytherin is kind of awesome.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone and anyone reading this! We’re all at different places in our lives and in different situations, but everyone has at least one person they can show they love on Valentine’s Day. This day doesn’t have to be about your significant other and it doesn’t matter if you’re single or not. Give your daughter a box of chocolates, give your mom a necklace.

I currently have two obscenely large red and white teddy bears in my car for my Littles and I’m more excited about giving them those than whatever I’m doing tonight. When today’s over, I want to remember exchanging gifts with my two favorite people in my sorority and how much fun it is to do something for them. I don’t want to be getting ready to brag to everyone else all about the fancy restaurant I went to or whatever.

Today is your chance to show your love for everyone in your life so get off the internet and get to it!

(And I’ll get back to real blog posts soon)