Tag Archive: selfie

Hellooo. It’s me….

Brittan, Emma and I cuddling

Me, Emma, and Brittan cuddling on the air mattress while we were all at Christmas in Nashville. (Pic courtesy of Brittan.)

Hello and welcome to the return of Alora’s blogging.

It’s only been two months since I posted. Although, a lot has happened in the world that you probably already know about and if you don’t this blog isn’t for news anyway. Well, sometimes I share important news-related things, but this is not one of those times. This blog is going to be a what’s on my mind / how I’ve been doing blog through and through.

First up, happy holidays. I had a wonderful family Christmas will the nuclear fam and the gf. It is the first Christmas I’ve ever had with pretty much all my favorite people in one place. (Not including my extended family. I love you all too.) It was a small Christmas, but I really enjoyed it. It was really wonderful to be able to interact with my parents and siblings and also Emma (the gf). The fam has only had a little bit of time to get to know Emma in the past, so I think this weekend was good for all of them even if it was more than a little stressful at times.

Brittan, Emma, and I drove up to Nashville on Thursday and then back again on Monday, so it was four and a half days of seven people in a two bedroom apartment. The spirit of Christmas kept things fun though. I had fun anyway. I got to cuddle all my peoples and we hung out and watched some movies and played some games. I cuddled my puppy. It was a solid weekend of family fun and insanity.

This week is a three day work week because we had Monday off and also Friday off, for New Year’s Eve. Most of the office is out on PTO, so it is just a handful of us in this week and the work itself has been quite slow. You’d think there would be less distractions with fewer people, but actually it just means the people here have less reason to be quiet. It’s been kinda great though. I really do love all the people in my office and working with them is just a blast.

On a grander scale of things, since my last blog, I have attempted NaNoWriMo, gotten a car, spent Thanksgiving in Virginia Beach with Emma’s family, and seriously, seriously considered getting a dog. I’ve also missed writing these blogs and just itching to put more words out to the internet. I think I’m going to spend some time this week to put together a set of actionable New Year’s resolutions that I can potentionally succeed at relatively easily. You can bet that one of them will be to blog more. (I also want to make this blog better on the backend, but we’ll see if that happens.)

In actual news, Carrie Fisher died yesterday and I am quiet sad about it. I wasn’t going to mention it because it’s not actually a part of my life, but I want this blog to be more useful to future me, when looking back at who I was at the tail end of 2016. So this is me, sad about celebrity death for a woman I never will meet, but who positively affected my life in many ways. She definitely will continue to affect my life, especially after I get around to purchasing and reading her book. That’s another thing I want to do in 2016: read more books.

Final tidbit I shall leave you with is that I have been listening to John and Hank Green’s podcast, Dear Hank and John, recently and I quite enjoy it. I seriously recommend you check it out. I also watched a wonderful video by Rowan Ellis earlier today about ethical consumerism and how to continue the push for that when it comes to human slavery as well as animal testing. It’s only ten minutes long, and you should really take the time to watch it. She put together a wonderfully compelling and informative video. I just found her channel today and I’m very excited to check out what else she has and will post.

Alright, I will stop rambling for now. Thank you for reading, share this around if you want and please comment below with your favorite christmas gift from this year!

Till next week,

-Alora

Two Weeks as an Adult!

Me with the bacon I made the other morning.

Hello friends,

I have been gone for a good while because I don’t have internet in my new apartment. For those who do not know, I have officially moved out of my parents house and into the real world. I am working at a real job and using my degree to boot. I have relocated out of Tennessee and into Atlanta which is an adventure unto itself.

I have been at my new job for almost two weeks now and I am really enjoying my job. I get to do the nitty gritty of data analysis like data clean-up and copy and pasting stuff from Excel, while also doing the cool stuff. The setup at work is extremely complicated, so I haven’t been able to much of the fancy stuff yet. However, I am working my way towards that and all of the other analysts are wonderful. The whole team at the office is very nice and lovely and it is a great place to work.

Since I just started, I do have some downtime while at work. At first this was boring, but now I have found a project to fill my time. I am using my free time at work to learn Python and then apply it to Jupyter Notebook in the automation of some of the stuff we do in Excel. It is going well so far. I have a lot to learn in Python which is slowing down my automation, but I am excited about the possibilities.

My commute to work is probably the best commute I will ever have. I don’t have to drive and I don’t have to worry about public transport. I bike into work everyday. It is tiresome and my legs can’t quite make the whole trek without walking up that last hill, but I am getting there. It is hot in the south, but I have been blessed with cooler mornings and evenings so far. I’ve only been rained on once. Although, that was on my first day, on my way home, but it was fun. The path I bike to work, isn’t just sidewalks or roads. It is an actual bike path that goes past my work, but the other direction goes all the way to Stone Mountain. I bike past a sign everyday on my way home that reminds me that it is only 16 miles further to Stone Mountain. 😛

In other news, I have been doing a lot of reading. Without internet, I mostly come home and read. So far, I have read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Host, and Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman which was just fantastic. Expect to see some more book reviews coming soon. I also am keeping up with my writing, so expect more posts on that.

Remember last summer? That’s basically the kind of content that will continue. Except I won’t be starting school in the fall, so I won’t have that to distract me from posting. We might actually end up with a long-term schedule of blog posts. We’ll see.

I will see you again soon.

Be safe.

-Alora

Good Bye, Complete Immersion

me with a cup of tea reading Paper Hearts

Hey guys,

I am reading Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice by Beth Revis right now which you may have noticed because it is mentioned in my sidebar. Anyways, in her book, Beth talks about letting go of writing projects. She wrote ten novels before she was published and I have spent the last three years on one story. Hence, the title of this blog post.

I have decided to move on from the story I have been working on for so long. So, without further ado, good bye, Complete Immersion. I will miss you and your characters. I poured hours of my life into this story and it was worth it in the end because I learned new things about writing and about myself but mostly about writing. 😛

I had a lot of fun the last three years working on this story, but it’s reached the point that I just don’t even want to work on it anymore. I still want to write but I feel bad not working on Complete Immersion. It’s not even good enough to query and I’ve revamped the plot so many times that I’m not sure what’s going on half the time. On top of that, my work has been very stop and go which is confusing and frustrating, so I am shelving it. I may return to it some day when I have the strength to tackle it, but I may leave it on the shelf, too. It was good practice for future stories and that is what truly counts.

While working on Complete Immersion, I’ve been piling up ideas, and I am looking forward to moving on to a new one. While I was in London last May (check out my vlogs from that trip), I started Ahlam Warsi: Private Detective. It is the story of a young, English-Muslim woman moving to London for a new job as a private detective. The plot of the story itself focuses on her interactions with the human trafficking industry in and around London. I wrote the first two chapters and an outline for it last May. Now, I’m moving forward with the rest of the story and I’m super hype! I don’t feel guilty for not working on Complete Immersion because it has been shelved. I can move on with a clean slate.

On that note, you can look forward to future blog posts about my new project and I will stop complaining about Complete Immersion. Also, I changed the word count bar on the side to account for my new story, so you can watch that grow as well. 😀

Have you benched a project after working on it for a while? I’m curious, but also, I don’t want to be alone in this.

Anyways, thanks for reading

-Alora

A Weekend In Virginia Beach

Emma and I taking a selfie after we walked down to 7-eleven.

Hello my friends,

I spent the last weekend, from Friday till Tuesday, in Virginia Beach with Emma. I got to meet and hang out with her family and we went to the beach. I got to see the place where she grew up and spent most of her life, actually. For me, it was weird because I don’t have one place where I spent most of my life. I have some places in Lincoln. I have Knoxville, Atlanta, Nashville, and California. I’ve lived so many places and visited so many others that it is impossible for one place to sum up most of my life, but for Emma that is Virginia Beach. I am over simplifying for effect because she lived in northern Virginia for a time and some of her family lives out of state, but compared to me, I sometimes feel like her whole childhood can be summed up by Virginia Beach which is really different from my childhood.

While in Virginia Beach, we went to the beach, obviously.

Emma showed me around the park by her house which was cool because it is right on the water.

We also went to quintessential Virginia Beach/Norfolk things like Dumar’s restaurant which was actually where they invented the waffle cone. They are basically like Sonic, but better because they aren’t a chain. It was cool and also pretty yummy. Though be warned, Emma may kill me for not saying they were the best place ever. 😛

I had lots of fun this weekend hanging out, exploring a new area, and meeting new people. Also, Emma’s dogs are really freaking cute! That was a major plus. I got puppy snuggles!!

In other news, Mayterm has started, so I am going to be spending the next two weeks learning all about Queen Elizabeth I which is exciting. Except for the fact that I have miles of reading assigned for everyday that is due the next day because we have class every day. Urgh. I do plan on getting that schedule and goals stuff together like I mentioned in my last blog, but I had a busy weekend. I will get to that probably sometime tomorrow.

Well, thank you for listening. If you want to see more pictures from my trip, I made an album on the family shutterfly over here.

Talk to you later my dudes,

-Alora

On Speak Now: Marraige Equality on Trial by Kenji Yoshino

Picture of me holding a rainbow that I drew for the occasion.

Hello all,

I recently checked out Speak Now: Marraige Equality on Trial by Kenji Yoshino from my local library. The book details the trial Hollingsworth v. Perry that legalized gay marriage in California for good. The book has three parts: before the trial, during the trial, and after the trial. Each section provides an interesting narrative on the progression of the case and information on Yoshino’s own life and marriage to his husband. As the reader, learns about the monumental trial, they also learn about Yoshino’s two kids and how the trial affected him and his husband. The book is also studded with information Yoshino got from interviews with the trial participants. Speak Now is an exhaustive look at Hollingsworth v. Perry, but it was never boring to read. Yoshino keeps it interesting and I loved learning more about LGBTQIA history.

Yoshino makes a law proceeding that would probably be boring for most people to read, interesting and suspenseful. The book shines with his love of law and it is impossible not to be a little infected by his passion for the subject. I started the book on the day gay marriage was finally legalized in the US. woOT! I was and still am very happy that there is a bit more equality in this world and it was very interesting to read Speak Now and learn about the legal side of the campaign for marriage equality. I’ve been following and participating in the more social side of the movement, but I knew almost nothing about the legal part of it. I’m glad I picked this book up because it may have focused on Hollingsworth v. Perry, but it provided enough background information that I didn’t feel lost in my ignorance.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in marriage equality and how far we have gone to achieve it. It was a very in depth and at times technical book. It took me about a week to read the whole thing, but it is not entirely indigestible by a lay person like me. It just takes a bit more time to get through each page.

I am glad that I’ve decided to read more non-fiction books this summer. The non-fiction books I have read so far have been wonderful and very interesting. I did not realize how much I was missing by sticking to fiction for so long. I don’t think I will ever manage to read almost entirely non-fiction like my dad does, but I definitely want to continue to incorporate more into my reading diet.

I’m going to the pool with my siblings right now, but you, my friend, should go read a book, and then draw a rainbow because we have succeeded in securing marriage equality and it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. Hooray!

What non-fiction books have you been reading lately, if any? What new knowledge did they give you?

-Alora

P.S. I don’t have a picture of the book for this blog because I already returned it to the library. Sorry. Enjoy my rainbow instead.

Week One Report from Camp NaNoWriMo

Me looked confused at the notes I've made on this mess of a novel.

Heya,

So Camp NaNoWriMo has been going pretty well. I haven’t written anything today, but I’m only 2,000 words behind. I can easily catch up and finish by the end of the month. My only worry right now, is the impending road trip….

Anyways. My novel is officially up to 58K! Fifty-eight thousand words. How crazy is that? It’s the longest thing I’ve ever written and I’ve deleted and rewritten over half of it. It’s utterly unbelievable. After the initially slow word counts, I managed to pick it up. I wrote over two thousand words yesterday. Below is a graph of my daily word counts for this past week. As you can see, day one and today are very sad looking. I haven’t written anything today because I wanted to update y’all before I started in on the grueling task.

bar graph of my daily word counts

My total Camp NaNoWriMo word count graph looks a bit better. The dotted line shows the trend that meeting your daily word count would take you along. I’m not that insanely far below it.

My graph of Camp NaNoWriMo total word count taken from the Camp NaNo website

I’m pretty proud of how Camp NaNoWriMo is going so far and I have a great cabin of other writers I can talk to. I’ve decided that, as a present to myself, if I win Camp NaNoWriMo, I am going to purchase, Scrivener, a fancy processor and writing tool. I’ve used it before, but I didn’t buy it last time. If I win I get 50% off, so I can get it for cheap. Also, as an added bonus, once I finish this draft, which may or may not occur when I win Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m buying myself a Mayday Parade shirt. They are one of my favorite bands and that is all I listen to while I write, so I thought I’d commemorate that with a T-shirt. I can always use a new T-shirt.

Also, I complete reorganized my note system on Sunday. I was home alone for most of the morning and I printed a bunch of my typed up notes and created a bunch more pages in my binder (pictured above). It’s where I store all of my written data on Complete Immersion. I did so much world building on Sunday, I had to almost completely reorganize my binder. And, if anyone ever wants to make this thing into a movie, I have literally mapped out three quarters of the scenes. Whenever I feel lost about where everyone is, I just draw a picture and slap some names on it. Drawing a picture always helps. Listen to your teachers, kids.

I’ve been using my little brother’s room for the past week because it has my desk in it, but he’s back from the beach now, so I no longer have an empty room that I can lock myself in. I need to figure that out. There is a card table in my room that Mom set up for me. I can use that, but I don’t really want to. I like my desk. It’s a nice desk, and it’s what I wrote the first draft of this novel on, so I’m used to writing while I sit here. Oh well, I’ll figure something out.

For now, I must go. I need to work on my novel and I have two book reviews to write. I finished Speak Now yesterday, and then immediately started Trial by Fire which I raced through before I got a chance to update my Currently reading. Oops.

Good luck fellow Wrimos! We can both do this! How did your first weeks of camp go?

-Alora

Day One of Camp NaNoWriMo 2015!

Pic of me with my story binder

Today was the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo! I have decided on a goal of 40,000 words which puts me around 1300 new words on my novel per day. I am going to be revising my novel Complete Immersion which currently has 51,306 words. Hopefully, by the end of the month, that will be up past 90,000. I should be able to finish my current draft this month and then in August I can keep this crazy momentum going and start a new draft to pare everything down. If I get through this month, I should be on track with my goal of finish Complete Immersion by the end of the year. I tend to talk big, but I hope I’ll be able to follow through.

Sadly, because of Camp, I will probably have less time to blog, so these daily blogs have been a bit of a treat and I probably won’t be able to keep that up. I will keep you all updated on my progress, but it’s not going to be daily, unless I have crazy amounts of energy. I encourage you to try out Camp NaNoWriMo too. Unlike actual NaNoWriMo, you can choose whatever word count you want and you don’t even have to work on a new novel. You can always work on revisions like me.

The first day hasn’t gone so well. I’ve written a grand total of nine words. I found a brand new procrastination site where you can help actual scientists analyze their data (Link here). It was a productive day science wise, and I studied for the GRE, but I didn’t get much writing in. I’m not going to stay up super late and write either. I am going to go to bed at a reasonable time and then wake up early tomorrow and get started. It was an unproductive day one, but I will have a great day two.

I’ve decided to not stay up because of the WordNerds’ video on the Camp NaNo survival kit which requires sleep. I write better in the morning too. I’ve decided to take advantage of Maxwell’s absence and use his room for writing. I’m going into hiding for the next month. Revising 40K on top of an already 51K novel is going to be much harder than writing the original 50K was. This is kind of terrifying and I haven’t even really started yet since this was the least productive first day of camp ever. I have lots of words to catch up on tomorrow and a five hour shift making pizzas in the middle of the day.

Wish me luck and join me if you want. No matter your word count, day two is not too late. You can still start and finish too. Good luck at camp. I’ll try to write soon.

-Alora

Weekend at the Beach!

Hallo,

Today is my last day at the beach and I probably won’t be back until next summer. We’re only spending the weekend here but I get to see my cousin that I hadn’t seen in three years and I get to hang out with my grandparents and aunt.

Brittan, Mom, Zara, Maxwell and I drove down on Thursday. It took about nine hours. We left around 6:30 in the morning and drove all day. Well, Mom and Brittan drove. I just slept and hung out in the passenger seat. SCore! It as a long drive and we skipped lunch because the McDonald’s we usually eat at on this drive was closed for construction and we’d passed all the Chick-fi-la’s. So lunch was forgone. We got here (the beach) around 4PM and Zara and I went to the beach together. We played for about an hour and half until a thunderstorm forced us to leave. Those clouds were scary. I didn’t get sunburned on Thursday, buy yesterday was a different story.

The troupe of us, nuclear family, aunt and cousin, grandparents and family friend went down to the beach around 11:30. I didn’t leave until five that evening. Needless to say, I did not put on enough sunscreen and now I am covered in red skin that really freaking hurts. My back is badly burned and I burned the tops of my thighs, my arms and my chest. I love the new swim suit Mom bought me and now it is imprinted on my skin in the form on white lines among the red. I look very sad and it hurts just to wear a shirt. Sadly, I can’t walk around shirtless and I am forced to wear this accursed tank top. We had lots of fun at the beach boogie boarding and digging a huge hole in the sand. It was great.

Today we are going to do something. I don’t know. I woke up at 7:15 and sat down to read before everyone else got up. I started The Martian by Andy Weir at the beach yesterday and I finished it this morning. I now have two book blogs I need to do. I’ll get to them at some point. I ate breakfast and now everyone is sitting around the TV watching old family YouTube videos.

I realize this blog is boring. Whatever. I’m still very tired from so much sun yesterday and my entire body hurts. I think I’ll start my review of I Am Not a Slut or I’ll hang out with my family. It’s a toss up. I may even start another book.

Try not to get sunburned.

-Alora

On All I Know Now by Carrie Fletcher

Picture of Me with the book minus the book jacket

Hello to all hopefuls and teenagers out there. (Other people can of course read this, but those are the people this book is aimed at.)

I just finished the UK version of All I Know Now: Wonderings and Reflections on Growing up Gracefully by the illustrious Carrie Hope Fletcher. It was an amazing read and I am so glad I picked it up when I was in London this past May. I have been a fan of Carrie and her videos for a while. I have been watching her grow and change since 2012 and I am so proud of her and the book she has written. Sadly, the US version does not come out until August, but you can preorder it here. The secondary title is a bit different as is the cover, but it should be just as good. Personally, I prefer the UK title and cover art, but that’s not the point of this blog post. Let’s talk about the actual content of the book.

Carrie is currently an actress in the West End production of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theater in London, and being a total nerd, she organized her book like a play would be organized. (Nerd is used here in the most loving way possible.) In the book, there are eight “acts” that have about five chapters each inside of them. The title of each act gives the reader an idea of what the chapters enclosed in it will be focused on. For example, “Act 5: People: Imagining Them Complexly” contains six chapters all about imagining the people around you complexly. It was one of my favorite sections of the book. The book even has it’s own intermission or interval right after Act 4. It’s a page that says “Interval” at the top and has a sketch Carrie did of her in her Eponine costume. I’ve read some books with really cool organizational themes and this is one of the best.

There are 51 chapters, including the last one where she answers questions submitted by her audience, the hopefuls. The topics of the chapters range from how to handle bullying to being nice to your parents despite the fact that you are an angry and confused teenager to when to have sex with your significant other to getting along with your friends while you’re all in school to a bunch of other stuff important teenage issues. As a watcher of her videos, a few of the chapters were a bit redundant because I had already watched her video on the topic, but I read them all anyways because every idea in the book deserves a second encounter. The book is all about being nice to strangers, your enemies, you friends and your family. It’s also about getting on with your life in the happiest way you can. It’s also about taking care of yourself in all aspects of your life. It’s about so many things that I really can’t condense them all into one or even three sentences.

As the eldest child in a family of four kids, I hope one day to be able to give such good advice to my younger siblings. Also, I willingly accepted Carrie as an older sister years ago. She is like an older best friend and I honestly wish I could share as much about my life with her as she just shared with me through this book. I feel our relationship is too one-sided, but I’m not sure how to repay her for creating such wonderful content on her YouTube channel and in her writing. I’ll figure out a way someday. Carrie thank you for such wonderful advice in this book and over the years through your videos. I look forward to every video you post and I have since I found your channel. I’ve actually been back and watched the majority, if not all, of your older videos as well.

All I Know Now was a great read. At 17 I’m reaching the end of my Teen Age, so I felt some of the advice on bullying was a bit late in coming, but that’s not Carrie’s fault. She has created a wonderful book that I recommend every teenager read at some point in their lives. Some of the British slang is a bit crazy, but Carrie, at 22, is able to offer advice and help on living through your teenage years without sounding like she is preaching. She is only a few years out of this crazy hormonal cry-fest that being a teenager can be, but she is still able to offer a refreshing perspective on how to survive it. When she was in school, she went through some really bad experiences and she was a moody teenager too. She shares her relevant stories whether they are happy or not because she sincerely wants to help us out. I’m really glad I read this book and I hope I can convince my little siblings to read it at some point.

Thank you so much Carrie for being a great big sister and offering as much advice as possible. I look forward to more great videos and potentially more books from you. I will read them all.

Have you read All I Know Now? What did you think of it? Have you watched any of Carrie’s videos? Let’s talk about how amazing her book is in the comments alright?

-Alora

On Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

pic of me reading Seraphina

It’s book review time again! As I mentioned in my summer goals post, I want to read 2.5 books a week. That means a lot more book reviews. This morning I finished Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and then promptly went out to Barnes and Noble to get the sequel. That leaves out the fact that I stayed up until 2AM reading last night. The book was absolutely wonderful. Going in all I knew was that it was set in a kingdom where dragons could take on human form and there was a tentative peace between the two of them. Also, I knew that the main character, Seraphina, had a huge secret. I’m not going to tell you what the secret is, just that it’s a biggie.

Seraphina is an absolutely wonderful character. She has the wonderful depth and development I expect from great authors and Rachel Hartman is definitely one of them. Seraphina won the William C. Morris Debut Award and for a good freaking reason. This book was gold. Before I read this book, I had two favorite book series that majorly featured dragons: The Inheritance Cycle and The Last Dragon Chronicles. I grew up on those two series, and now I get to add another to my list. Our main character, Seraphina Dombegh, exists in a wonderfully rich world. Not every detail was explained, but they were still there. The book was one of those books that need to be read like four times to understand everything. I am positive that I missed foreshadowing and important details. There was just so much to take in. Reading the book was like entering Seraphina’s world.

Also, the writing was amazing and Rachel Hartman created a hugely rich world. I am just repeating myself at this point because I cannot figure out a better way to explain how amazing this book is. Let me think for a moment…

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Okay. Let me try again. In Seraphina, Rachel Hartman constructed a detailed world, with interesting, realistic, and lovable characters who drove a fresh, engaging plot forward every step of the way. Seraphina is a confident young woman who, despite her huge, life-endangering secret, manages to help others and try to make her world a better place. She doesn’t just sit by and let the plot pass around her. She takes action and tries to help others. Seraphina is a good role model for young girls and at the same time she is a flawed and well rounded character and person.

The book does not fall into typical fantasy tropes for plot, characters or even setting. Obviously there are dragons and a kingdom, but the world is so much more detailed and rich than that. The book is amazing and awe-inspiring. Rachel Hartman has captured my heart and head with Seraphina and it’s amazing prose, character, plot, setting, everything. The book was more than wonderful and I cannot wait to read the sequel and see what else Rachel Hartman has to offer. I look forward to more books from her.

If you’ve read Seraphina, let me know what you think down below. If not, go get a copy. You won’t regret it.

-Alora