I don’t know about you, but when I
was in school, I was taught that no color can produce a primary color, such as
red, yellow, or blue. That is true.
However, you can “make” primary
colors with secondary, intermediate, and other colors already mixed. For
example, if you have magenta and yellow, and you use more magenta and less
yellow, you can make red. The same can work if you mix magenta and orange
Yellow can’t really be made with
other colors, unless it’s a brownish or tannish kind. The prismatic kind is
purely primary. However, if you have teal and royal purple, you can create blue
This can come in handy when you are
working on a project and you either don’t have, forgot, or ran out of the
primary colors. Of course, if you are in school or college, never state in any
assignment that secondary and additional mixed colors can produce red or blue.
So, if you are ever in a situation
where you have no red, yellow, or blue, then you can mix other colors to produce
them. But it’s always good to be prepared with your colors before you do any
Who disliked vegetables in their youth? Many of you? I didn’t.
But I’ve always had a stronger craving for carbs and sweets. Sometimes, in
recent years, I didn’t even eat enough fiber.
But then I discovered that you can sneak in vegetables into
your favorite meals, including sweets. Yes, you read that right.
Now I chop vegetables pretty small and put them in pasta
dishes, mac and cheese, eggs, and more. I have also tried putting beets in brownies,
which can actually work. But that one didn’t turn out good.
Anyway, if you’re going to sneak in vegetables into your
food, whether it’s savory or sweet, here are some tips.
1: If you find chunks distracting in some dishes (which I
do), you can chop them fine. But not too much—otherwise, they make the texture
of your meal grainy. For instance, if you put overly finely-chopped veggies in
mac and cheese, your cheese sauce becomes rough instead of smooth. I’ve used a
blender, but unless you don’t mind the change of texture to your food, I would
not recommend this. Honestly, you are better off chopping them on a cutting
board. I know—it’s old-school. Yet, it gives you more satisfying results (this
2: If you are making a dessert, be aware that some veggies
work and others don’t. For example, while beets are okay in brownies, I would
recommend against putting spinach or broccoli in desserts. They don’t mix well.
You can use sweet potatoes or carrots, though.
3: Depending on your tastes, you can microwave, steam, or sauté
your vegetables before you add them to your favorite foods. Like them firmer?
Skip this step.
So, there you have it. You can still enjoy your favorite
carbs and sweets (in moderation, of course) and sneak in veggies, whether it is
for you, your kids, or anybody else. They may not notice at times.
I don’t know about you, but my mom is super-grossed out by snakes.
She has freaked out around them every time.
A few memorable
times include my brother’s eighth birthday party, when he got his picture taken
with a snake around his neck. My mother ran away, saying, “Ew, ew, gross,”
moment that stands out to me is when we were buying food and supplies for our dog.
The cashier had a tiny snake around his fingers. My mom asked if it was fake or
real. The guy said, “It’s real.” My mother freaked out.
that stands out to me the most is when we watched the news and they announced a
snake massage at a zoo in Australia. My mom sent me the link to my email. Her
personal message was, “Ewwww! Gross!” It cracked me up so much that I almost
lost my breath.
last year, I thought it would be funny to throw my mom a snake-themed party for
her birthday. I decorated the house with snake streamers, snake-balloons, jungle
trees with fake snakes, and a game called pin the rattle tail on the rattlesnake.
invited some friends and family to our house. When my mom came, we all yelled, “Surprise!”
My mother was speechless when she saw the snake decorations. She said to me, “Rayna,
you know I don’t like snakes.”
funniest part of all was when we sang “Happy Birthday” and I carried a cake—that
resembled a live snake—literally. My mom deepened her frown, making the inside
of her bottom lip come out. My brother videoed the whole moment. Everyone kept
singing as my mother looked more grossed out than ever. After we sang, I told my
mom to make a wish. But she was too grossed out to blow out the candles. My
brother laughed. He blew them out instead.
of the cake was red velvet filled with cream cheese. My mom wouldn’t eat the
planned to consider the party a silly prank, my mom banned us from hosting her surprise
parties ever again. She then gave us a lecture on how a snake-themed party was
very inconsiderate. From that point on, I learned to respect her dislikes,
My mom is
fine with turtles. But I will not buy her a turtle gift for her next birthday,
Christmas, or any other occasion. I promise to treat her birthdays with respect
and consideration from now on.
I sat at the train station. Something moved on the tracks. It
was nighttime, so I couldn’t see what it was. It might have been a rat.
people, I’ve always found mice and rats fascinating. I stood up and stared at
the movement. Yup—it was a rat.
I wished I
could take a picture of the critter. But everyone would’ve consider me crazy.
While I still didn’t mind mice and rats, I couldn’t pull my phone out of my
Just a few
weeks ago, my husband had called an exterminator for a rat. He had fit in with the
majority, who disliked mice and rats.
exterminator had come. He’d been about to put out rat poison when I’d seen the
rat and had said, “Before you put out that rat poison, I’d like to take a
picture of the rat.”
exterminator had looked at me like I’d had five noses. He’d put out the poison
before I could even photograph the rodent. And I hadn’t wanted to take a
picture of it after it’d died.
had the exterminator considered me crazy, but so did my husband. I was aware
that mice and rats carried disease. Nevertheless, I’d still considered them
If I were
ever alone, and I saw a mouse or rat far away from me, I would love to photograph
it. But I was never alone in Queens, not even in my home. I lived in an
apartment. While the others were in their own sections, I could still hear
their voices, TV’s, music, and more.
I hoped to
move out and live on Long Island at some point—in a place of my own. Purely for
My handwriting has always been sloppy. I have also written
big and not very quickly. Sometimes, in school, I fell behind in handwriting
I also have preferred to handwrite my stories at times. Why?
Because there are no computer distractions, such as the internet, and I found
my handwriting speed to be, ironically, faster in recent years. However,
because of the quicker motions, my hands often hurt. So I couldn’t write as
much as I wanted, even if I abbreviated things (i.e. u for you).
I discovered shorthand writing when looking up ways to
hasten up my handwriting. At first, I was resistant to it because I felt it
would’ve involved too much work. But boy, was I wrong. It didn’t take a very
long time to learn. In fact, it almost became a default habit.
I started out with writing the alphabet in shorthand. Then I
wrote short phrases such as “I love you” and “happy birthday”. After that, I moved
onto short songs that don’t repeat phrases and that I knew by heart. Although
it was no longer holiday season, I translated the lyrics to “Rudolph the Red-nosed
Reindeer” into shorthand. Hey—no one was going to see it, anyway. Nor would
anybody know what the sentences said. I also translated a couple showtunes into
shorthand. Finally, I did entire first pages of books, such as “Diary of a
Wimpy Kid” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”.
Due to other things happening, I haven’t used shorthand
writing in a long time. However, I will come back to it. It’s good to keep up
with something that can expedite your handwriting, as long as you don’t have to
share the works with other people.
In my senior year of college, I took a sculpture class. For
our first assignment, we had to make piñatas. Our professor discouraged the traditional
and filling it with candy. He wanted us to be more creative.
intended to make an octopus piñata. But it ended up looking like a squid. So I made
it a squid. Although squids are often pinkish gray, I made mine orange.
were supposed to start off with smaller models. But my practice one was kind of
big. So I got to turn it into my final project.
was no joke that this project involved a ton of work. From putting the cardboards
together, pasting paper onto it, and filling it, I would spend hours at night
working on it.
squids have ink, I chose to fill my piñata with pens. And not just regular ones—colored
pens. You know why—to make more artsy.
We hung up our piñatas at an event. Sadly, it rained later. But I did
hear that someone got to hit my piñata and get the pens out.
I wanted to give the piñata a hat. But due to the work involved and the
tight deadline, I had to abandon that plan. I do love putting humor in art,
though. Nevertheless, I got a good grade.
Have any of you wrote something and didn’t realize anything
significant about your work until long
after? I have. They are symbols and messages I didn’t discover until a lengthy
time after writing the projects.
For instance, in my first book, “The Frights of Fiji” (formerly,
“From Frights to Flaws”), there are mermaid-like women, but with dolphin tails,
who sing certain songs as a way of informing others of their presences. Those songs
ended up relating to the situations they were encountering or leaving.
In my second book, “The Uncontrollable Curse” (formerly “Wizardry
Goes Wild”), my MC wants her dog to attack the antagonist, who is a skeleton. At
the time I wrote the story, I tied that dog vs. skeleton situation with historical
context—not because of the “dog-eating-bones” stereotype.
Another unintentional message I ended up making in that
installment was about history repeating itself. I’m not going to spoil anything,
of course (“The Uncontrollable Curse” hasn’t even come out yet), but the book
does tie a lot of Puritan and Salem Witch Trials content. My MC is cursed with involuntary
magic. When she does it, others misunderstand and become afraid of her. This
ties to how people during Pilgrim and witch hunt times were miscomprehended and
feared when they were just different. While people who were found guilty of
witchcraft were hanged and/or burned, the “witch” (my MC) is penalized for her
sorcery by getting detention at school, suspended, excluded from activities,
and more (I won’t give away anything else).
I have yet to discover any accidental messages or symbols in
my third book. But hey—it might happen.
Ah, characters: you’ve got to love or hate them—or have some
opinion on them. They also shouldn’t be perfect. The hero should do wrong
things and get disliked at times and the villain should get liked at times.
However, this is super-difficult—at least for me it is. I
have a tendency to protect my main character in my novels. I like her a lot. I
feel sorry for her. And because of those, I tend to make her hardly flawed. At
most, she may do a few wrong things
and at milder levels. The worst she has done in my book series was unauthorized
filming and lying about not doing it. That’s actually a serious offense.
Anyway, I’m probably not the only writer who has trouble making certain characters flawed. Of course, there are characters who are unfriendly, but not evil. And obviously, there is conflict in my stories. But I think I know why I have difficulty getting my protagonist to misbehave.
One: it wasn’t until the plot of my first book’s first
edition was nearly complete when I found out that protagonists should behave
badly or do wrong things. When rewriting my first book after removing it from
the market, I couldn’t make my main character more flawed as the major elements
had already been established. Two: I have recently become very uncomfortable
around conflict. Not just in real life, but also in fiction. Yes, I have
stopped certain books and movies because I loathed how the characters were being
treated. Now while writing my third book, I have no plans to make my MC do
really bad things. Yes, she won’t be perfect. In fact, she will have trouble controlling
her emotions. But I will stop there on that.
Writers fall in love with their heroes. They become attached
to them. So they may have trouble making them behave badly. However, someone
told me that the best books have characters who misbehave a lot.
Now if you’re creating children’s stories, there are limits
to how badly the characters can act. Of course, it would be acceptable (and would
probably engage readers) if the protagonists started food fights at school, got
sent to the principals’ offices, and were punished by their parents. However,
you could not have them do something that would be inappropriate. Not just
drugs or drinking, but also activities that could lead to death or serious
injuries. Otherwise, parents won’t want their kids reading your books.
Do you notice that lack of perfectly behaved characters in
fiction? Most likely. And that’s because people want flawed characters. In
fact, sometimes that’s essential to the storylines.
I’ll give a few examples from Disney movies. In The Lion King, when Simba talks to Scar about that shadowed area that his father forbade him to go, Scar says that only the bravest lions would enter. “Brave” is the big, main keyword. That was what encouraged Simba to check it out, and, of course, that led to conflict crucial for the plot. If Scar had said that only the dumbest lions would go there, Simba might not have gone because he wouldn’t have said, “Well, I’m dumb.” He was in too good of a mood to say such a thing. And then, there would have been a lot less conflict. And without enough conflict, the story would’ve been dull, and the film would’ve drastically failed—or maybe not have even been green-lit.
In Beauty and the Beast,
after the beast releases Belle from the dungeon tower, he leads her up to her
new room and says that she can go anywhere, except the forbidden west wing. Later
Belle is curious about the west wing and enters it, discovering the enchanted
rose and the portrait of the beast when he was a person. The beast catches her
and forces her out.
At the end, when the beast transforms back into a human,
Belle recognizes him from the painting. Then they live happily ever after.
If Belle had listened to the beast, or the beast had not
prohibited her from going to the west wing, then the ending might’ve resulted
in the prince re-explaining how he’d become a beast. Or—he might not have
changed into a better character. Therefore, Belle wouldn’t loved him, and he
would’ve failed to break the spell he and the servants had gone under.
So there you have it. Notice the pattern in both examples? Let
that help you.
Why is it so hard? Because it needs to be relevant to the
storyline, not offensive, and sound natural to the person speaking it, taking
their age, time, where they live, and other demographics in mind. You need to listen
to how people speak.
Yet, many people, especially those the ages of middle grade
characters, have said little to nothing in my presence. Yup—people watching is
tougher than you think, excluding the risk of those folks thinking that you’re
stalking them. You could watch movies too, but that doesn’t really help,
either. Another option is to read books and see how other authors write their
But the hardest challenge with dialogue, overall, is having
characters react believably to extreme situations, especially in fantasy. I
write fantasy and I cannot stress enough how difficult it is to make characters
react naturally to high levels of danger. No matter how hard I try, readers have
said that the characters’ reactions were muted, unnatural, and too accepting. It’s
However, I found a solution, besides receiving help from
editors. I print out the story and read the dialogue out loud. I was surprised
to discover how unnatural some lines were—just by reading them out loud. So I
changed the words.
Observing others is fine up to a certain extent. Also, a lot
of people are quiet in public. Many even put on faces in public and might behave
differently in their homes. Reading other books could work, as well. But I find
reading the dialogue out loud helps the most.
This process has been SUPER difficult for me. I meant that. For
two years, I couldn’t finish a single darn draft. Then, last year, I discovered
that I needed to start shorter and sloppier. I realized that my progress
differed from other writers. I needed to simplify things drastically. While
others write 100,000 words and have to cut, I will have to write 10,000 words and
then expand. But that’s another post.
Anyway, the first installment “The Frights of Fiji” is available on Amazon here. The second installment, “The Uncontrollable Curse” can be pre-ordered right here. The third novel is currently titled “Enchanted for Eternity” (which might change) and still has a ways to go. I am writing a synopsis for the current draft. I’m hoping that plot can work for the final draft. Really—I just want this project to be done. About 3.25 years of this WIP have passed and I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to quit.
Yeah—finding an exciting plot was sooo hard. Even recently, long after I completed a full first draft
from January to February last year (2018), I have gotten bored with some of my
plots. However, the one I’m working on actually sounds pretty exciting, even
though I’m not done with the synopsis.
But the idea has stayed the same. My main character, Alyssa,
is cursed with magic that she needs to learn to control and keep permanently. I’ll
release more information once the story’s pretty much done and nearing
publication, which might be early fall, as of now.