Star Wars: The Force Awakens (what I thought of it, of course) NO SPOILERS


Whoa, there is this orange button marked, new post. It is familiar in some way, like a distant dream only half remembered. Sometimes I forget I have a blog, and other times I remember and feel that I should post, and then feel guilty because I don't. But in a way, this blog is me in digital form, and it wouldn't be me if it was at all regular or sensible. When there are no posts, it's me procrastinating or being forgetful, and when there are posts, it's me being silly. I promise, I am slightly more attentive to real life than to this blog. Slightly. 
There are so many things I COULD be doing at a given time, that its overwhelming and I end up scribbling in a notebook with my dog's head on my knee. Wait, I just realized that I have not mentioned my dog before on this blog. How can this be! He's been around for nine years, and he sleeps in my bed and is much like me in many ways. He's a miniature schnauzer with a short tail and floppy ears. And he's grumpy and ornery and eccentric and confused and silly and lovable and wonderful and adorable and soft and fluffy and old and sleepy and energetic (occasionally). 
He is actually sitting next to me right now. 



Basically, I was not impressed by how good it was, as it wasn't impressively good. But I was impressed by how not horrible it was. I distinctly remember it being NOT bad. Which is a) apparently rare in modern movies and b) awesome, since I thought it would be horrible. 

That said, I thought their villain was stupid. His face was just....smarmy. That's a good word. Smarmy. Actually, the entire dark side in this movie was rather pathetic and weak, but they show some promise, and hopefully they will become better. You can't really compete with Darth Vader though. You know what I mean?
Darth Vader made it very difficult to care about Luke. 

I waited in fear for modern CG to hit me in the face, but it was remarkably gritty and old fashioned looking, much like the original trilogy. It began as it was supposed to begin, 
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away
cheesy starry background
traditional yellow text shrinking into the distance
and GIANT SPACESHIP SLIDING INTO VIEW (that made me ridiculously happy) 
Spaaaaaaaaaceshiiiiiiip

Rey
I never really liked Carrie Fisher, so there is something comforting and familiar about not liking her again. 
But you know who I did like? Daisy Ridley as Rey (yes, I finally figured out her actual name). She's a brand new actress, and she's good. I mean, she has been in two other movies, but only in the last two years and they weren't big ones either. But she's good. And of course, getting to be in Star Wars is a very nice boost in one's career. 




ONLY A SPOILER IF YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT IT:
In terms of plot, it seemed like it was basically a remake of A New Hope. Rather similar to Jurassic World in that it was technically a sequel, but basically a remake. I did not care for Jurassic World by the way, but whats his face from Guardians of the Galaxy was amusing in it. 

There is something about originals, no matter how old, that is just...better and weirdly unbeatable. 
Jurassic Park is actually known for having CG that still holds up today, despite being really old. Much like Star Wars.

So basically, I think that its worth seeing in theaters as a matter of principle (its Star Wars people) but not because is a particularly great movie. Its not bad, quite enjoyable, I shall probably watch it again when it comes out on DVD. I also think that it is worth of being added to the Star Wars world, unlike the prequel trilogy (booooooooo). 

Also sometime in the distant future, the Lady Awdur and I shall post a review of the third hobbit movie (can I get some more booing?). But you remember how long it took me to get number two out, so I'm not making any promises that it will come SOON. But it will come, eventually. It will. 


Whenever I read other people's reviews on things, they are very neat and concise and full of pictures and references. And mine are just a jumble of rambling words. Hopefully you can make sense of them, and if not..... probably nothing else on this blog will make sense either.  Of course, I am about to put some visuals in this post, so technically this last paragraph shouldn't be here. 


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Seventy-seven thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven words.


77777
Why do I get this odd feeling that that is an unlucky number? Its better than 66666. I suppose its a good thing that I don't believe in lucky numbers. I was going to just post about reaching 75000, but which of these looks better: Seventy-five thousand words?
OR
Seventy-seven thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven words?
See what I mean?

Well, I had a goal of 90000. I am 86% percent done with that goal, and yet I am only halfway through the book. But this couldn't possibly go on to 140000 could it? Well, at any rate, this draft is going to wind up around there somewhere. When I get to third drafts, I will probably cut it down a good deal. 
Currently, there is one chapter with crazy amounts of information just dumped in, so that at least is going to be spread out a little, and dispersed throughout the rest of the story. My plot got so confusing that even I have no idea what is going on any more, so that will probably change again in third drafts. 
Its okay though. I needed to work through it to even figure out what was so confusing. One of the things that I find most annoying in books, is plot gaps. Parts that don't add up or don't make sense. I have a lot of those right now, and I intend to destroy all of them in TD. 
A little voice in my head was telling me that when your plot gets out of hand and things feel like they need 200000 words just to get out, you should separate it into two books. But honestly, my plot seems so simple that I am sure it only belongs in one book. 
No one reading this post, except the Lady Awdur, has any idea what I'm talking about when I say that the scribe must go. But I have finally come to the decision that the stupid story of the scribe just makes unnecessary confusion. So by by, my dear, wonderful scribe. I love you, and you can stick around until I am finished with this draft, but you have to go. 
Condensing extraneous characters is one of the most beneficial things for a book, but I find it very difficult, as condensation just means killing one of them. Some people take similar personalities, and make one person. I take similar purposes in my story, and make on person.
It makes much more sense for Djedefre to write the scroll, since he originally found the destroyed shrine, and the Pendant. Really, the only real purpose of the scribe, was to explain why Reni's mom did what she did, and make her seem more noble. Its much more realistic, for her to have no idea what is going on, and just leave the Pendant among her things, go to visit her sister, and get murdered. That would probably cut out a couple thousand words by itself, since Reniseb naturally spends a lot of time trying to figure things out. The problem was, I realized that there wasn't any way that everything I put in there could all fit together and still make sense. 


I think I mentioned my giant information dump chapter? I struggle between dumping too much information at once, and reading suspenseful books, where the only thing I can think is "why wouldn't they have just said all that at the beginning, and made everything easier?"

And Reniseb's dad being crazy? Created merely to drive Reniseb out of the house....but Reniseb is a very logical and sensible person, if timid and shy, and she wouldn't really need any motivation except for "if you don't go, people will die and it will be your fault." She would know this was true, and she would realize that she needed to leave, and she would leave. Boom!

Reniseb's weird shell of creepy unemotional reservedness. At times like this, when I realize that something is really stupid, I can't help but wonder why my friends let me write it in the first place. Perhaps they too are only just now realizing that it must die. Of course, this particular weirdness is not dead entirely. Merely....less extreme? In theory, it worked really well, but I discovered as I was writing, that Reniseb just wasn't THAT dead inside. At least not any more. I am now toying with the idea of her development being less 'suddenly I am childish and fun' and more 'I am no longer as shy and timid as I was' 
She will still remain the Reniseb I know and love though.....with all her dislike of laughter and tears, and strange ability to control them for the longest time. It is interesting, because a lot of people think of the ability to never cry, and never laugh, and never show much emotion, as being some sign of strength. But I like the idea that as Reniseb becomes stronger and braver, she is no longer afraid to laugh or cry, or yell, or do silly things. And of course, she is not afraid to fall in love....did I mention that she and Ukani are adorable together?
[H]e stood directly behind me and wrapped his arms around me, resting his chin on top of my head.
Ordinarily, it would have been very difficult to remain rigid under such circumstances, but I was tired. I had just been abruptly jolted out of a rather depressing memory, and I suppose I should have been grateful, but I wasn’t. I had been awake too long to think logically, and I was not at all pleased.
“Doesn’t this make you want to forgive me?”
“Your chin is hurting my head, and I can’t breathe,” I said flatly.
“Tseskos, how do I bring back Reniseb?” Ukani pleaded. 
I can't explain everything that I plan on changing, but there are a lot of things. Hopefully they will make everything a little simpler, and better in general. 
Oh! I just had an idea. I was never planning on cutting Ukani being sick for two months, but I can spread at least half of my information dump chapter, over that time. 

Anyway, I have a long way to go before third drafts, so I must not let myself waste all my time thinking about them. 
I am very impatient though. Now that I know of so many things that I want to change...its hard to stop myself from changing them.

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65000 words! WHAT?

This is exactly how I feel right now.
Hold your horses, how is that even possible? I mean, I was at 40000 yesterday right? Or was that really twenty five days ago? HOW??? Where has the time gone, and why don't I remember living those twenty five days? Its like I just blinked, and a month of my life disappeared. Boom! Kaput. Nada. 
I vaguely remember writing every morning, and feeling like I was going so slow and I would NEVER get to 50000....and then, somehow, I am at 65000. Time warp anyone?
I've been writing steadily everyday, for what, three months now? Minus the fourteen days I spent in Colorado (which was awesome, by the way).  
If I blink now, will I suddenly be at 90000 words? *blink* nope. Didn't work. 
But I almost forgot, I should be congratulating myself and saying yay, right? Somehow, I am not feeling very excited. I know that I should be. I know that its really cool that I am at 65000. I know I should be dancing happily. But I'm not. Odd, when I reached 60000, I did a victory dance in my room. And now, blah, who cares? 65000? That's nothing. 

Its also interesting when I am trying to remember exactly what a character said, and I look back in the beginning of the book to figure it out, and then it amazes me how horrible my writing was in the beginning. There is no way to win. No matter how good something is, in two weeks it just looks HORRIBLE. Which means I'm getting better....I guess?
The nice thing is, whenever I am feeling down about my writing, I just go back and look at first drafts. And suddenly I feel like a genius, by comparison to what I used to be. For instance, in first drafts, I had Nefru say an entire sentence, in all caps. I mean....how on earth did I think that was acceptable??? In a blog post, where it is just me talking, THEN it is okay....but in a BOOK????? 

Another piece of good news. Reniseb and Ukani finally kissed already. I kept on telling her to kiss him, or tell him that she loves him, but NOOOOO! Reniseb has to have "problems" andshe has to be shy. She has to be really sweet. She has to not want to make him uncomfortable. I used to think she was so smart, and now I realize that she is a very intelligent idiot. A long long time ago, when I was JUST starting second drafts, and friend described Reniseb as the most intelligent stupid person she knows. Or it might have been stupidest smart person. I don't actually remember her exact words, but you get the point. At the time, I thought it was a pretty good description, but I was slightly miffed that she thought Reni was stupid. Now I realize how right she was. 
AND, Nefru and Co. are finally at the stupid Bahariya Oasis, and tomorrow, they find the shrine. At long last. It only took them three months. 
Its funny, when I was writing Ukani being sick for two months, it seemed to take forever, but now that I think about it, its only two chapters or so. Funny the way that works. 

Everyone is changing, and its kind of sad. Mendes, Reniseb, and Tseskos were all like children when the book began, and now they are all grown up. MY BABIES!!! Who are mostly older than me....
Actually, Mendes is only two months older than me, so its not THAT weird. He is fifteen, and his birthday is in November. Its really strange to write the character of a mature, grown man (who is sometimes young and adorable and naive) and then suddenly remember that he is actually the same age as you. But in the time that the book is set in, boys were pretty much expected to be grown up by age 13. Probably caused by the fact that fathers usually died while their sons were still in their teens. I mean, think about it. Most people back then didn't live terribly long. And most guys were about thirty when they married sixteen year old girls (back then, that was not nearly as weird as it would be now). Which means that most fathers, if they were extremely lucky, didn't see their sons pass thirty. Depressing? Why yes, it is. 
Its really sad if you imagine how long Reniseb is going to have to live without Ukani. I mean, Ukani is about 28-29, and Reniseb is 16. Ever notice how 29 sounds SO much younger than 30? Not to mention that women usually lived longer than men anyway. Ah! Sweet love! This book is so much more romantic if you don't think about these things. 


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10 Things To Know About Long Hair

See this picture, that is what the dream of long hair looks like. Since the wind is blowing that way, it figures that her hair would stream out in that direction doesn't it? Wrong. Hair DOES follow the wind, but it prefers to go over your face first. More like this:
 
Or This
This is what my hair does. Except my hair is twice as long as that, and much more wispy and tangled.

Before growing out that lovely hair of yours, here are a few things you did not want to know. Hopefully they will not convince you to keep your short hair. And if you already have long hair, know that you are not alone with your problems.

  1. If you have braces, your hair WILL get caught in them. There is no escaping it, unless you keep it back ALL the time. Not all the time, and not that frequently, but it will happen several times in the course of your braces.
  2. Do not ever, under any circumstances go outside on a breezy day with your hair down, and dangly earrings. This generally works in movies, but everyone knows that movie hair is not to be trust.
  3. If your hair is the type that needs to be pushed back often, do not wear beaded bracelets. And just by the way, it will probably be in your face a lot.
  4. You know all those pretty, decorative bobby pins? The really nice ones with the wire swirls and the little jewels on them? Don't use those. Even if you slide one in, and then take it out instantly, it will still managed to have caught itself in your hair. Its also very painful to try to pull them out. Same thing with those hair ties that have little beads and flowers on them.
  5. Do not use the hose on a vacuum cleaner, while your hair is down.
  6. Do you now have long hair? Congratulations, curling with a curling iron will now take you approximately eight years, and your arms will not be functional for a few minutes afterwards. 
  7. Not even bobby pins will save you from the wind now. The best thing is a nice, sensible braid.
  8. Remember when you cut that hair in the front shorter, so that everything would look nicer? Have you noticed how no matter how long those shorter strands get, the refuse to stay in your french braid for very long? Don't worry, that does go away after about nine years. Its best to never cut them, or keep them cut short so that they come out of your braid in a cute and fashionable manner. 
  9. Brushing and washing your hair is now a full time job that will somehow swallow up that beautiful morning you hoped you'd have when you woke up at six. 
  10. As odd as it sounds, do watch out when you are using the toilet. Hair takes a perverse pleasure in making life difficult for you, especially in the bathroom.

As unnerving as all that may be, long hair is totally worth it. You will probably regret it every summer, and every time you try to walk in a forest, and every time you want to have a snowball fight. But its still worth it. Somehow, its always worth it. And also remember, that when you are sitting around with a bunch of other people thinking about how pretty their hair is, and how awful yours looks at the moment, the other girls in the room are probably oohing and ahing over your hair, thinking about how terrible theirs looks.




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40000 YAY!???? Also, Beautiful People August: Friendship

Well today I hit 40000 words in Pendant Second Drafts. Which is cool. But really not even close to being done. I'm not even half done. Remember way back when? When my goal was 50000 words? How foolish and naive I was. Its funny now, in retrospect, that I thought 50000 was soooo much. I mean....its nothing. I now expect to round out between 90,000 and 100,000. But probably in third drafts, I will be laughing at the way I am thinking now. I will be saying, remember when I thought I could finish at 100,000?? I was such an idiot. For now though, its good.
Having some idea where I am going helps me, it also reminds me that I can't go on forever, and I do need to stop mooning over Ukani and Reni, and get on with the story. (who said I mooned over them? Who said that? Its not true!)
Which is kind of funny, because a few days ago, I realized that I had forgotten to write in two major things. You see, I was happily writing along in my desert scenes, with a sick Ukani. And then I realized that I forgot to make Reni and Ukani fall in love. Like totally, completely forgot. I also forgot to give my little traitor time to make contact with the enemy. Oops.
So I kind of had to run back, and throw in a few hints, but other than that I am too lazy to do much changing. It can wait until Third Drafts right? Right.

So you know the "listen to music while you write to get you into the mood" theory?? Well I used to do that. Switch up music depending on what sort of scene I needed to write. It kind of helped, but not really. Currently, I have found myself listening to the Avatar (Pocahontas with Blue People version) Sountrack when I write in the morning. Like, every day. Same soundtrack. Start at the beginning. Its been going on for almost two months. It has a lot of moods in it, so its nice. So did LOTR though, but the problem with that was that I just wanted to sit back and listen to the music. But I have found Avatar to be very unobtrusive. I don't even like it that much. I never listen to it just for it. But when I'm writing, its perfect.

Which Reminds me. Friendship Beautiful People. Right. I was going to do Reniseb and Tseskos...but their friendship can wait. To me, the Ukani/Tseskos relationship is much more....interesting.
So I give you
TSESKOS and UKANI

How long have they known each other, and how close are they?
Like, two-three months.

What’s their earliest memory of being best friends?

They aren't "best friends". I don't believe in best friends. Or perhaps I do, but I believe that all my true friends are my best friends. The whole idea of best friend is kind of mean and exclusive. Their earliest memory of being friends, is both being highly amused by the same thing. That sort of started things off.

Do they fight? How long do they typically fight for?

They don't fight. Why the assumption that all friends fight?? They banter, and sometimes they argue playfully. Sometimes they calmly discuss their disagreements and differences like normal, mature adults. Define fight.

Are their personalities similar or do they compliment each other?

Fairly similar I would say. They both have a disregard of other people's opinions of them. They both like to tease, enjoy life, and they both love a good joke. They are both loyal to those they love. Often grumpy. Neither of them like people much. (you get it right? Like me. Yes, I shoved myself into my story. If I am the mother of all my characters, it makes sense that some of them would inherit stuff from me.) They both lost their parents young. They both spent a lot of time drifting from place to place. Ukani as a rebellious teen. Tseskos as a slave. They both endured loss and hardship. And adorably enough, they both found peace and healing in Reniseb.

Who is the leader of their friendship (if anyone)?

Friendships have leaders? I did not know that.

Do have any secrets from each other?

Not so much secrets, as just stuff they wouldn't come out and say of their own will, and stuff that never comes up. Either of them would tell the other anything if asked.

How well do they know each other’s quirks and habits?
They are really close as people, and they both understand the other's personality, likes and dislikes etc. very well. Actual quirks and habits, not so much as they have only known each other as friends for three months. Before that, they knew of each others existence, but they never talked or really even saw each other.

What kind of things do they like to do together?

Their choices as the moment are limited to sitting and talking around a fire. Sitting and talking on their camels. And sitting, while Ukani sleeps, and Tseskos worries that he might not wake up. To steep into their modern doubles, I have more options. They do enjoy watching stupid movies to mock them together, and they enjoy watching good movies to enjoy together. They like long walks, but other than that they are not big fans of the whole running around to go sightseeing and amusement parks or even movies in theaters for that matter. Of course one must take into account that modern day Ukani does have a fiance (Reni) and so they don't get terribly much time alone together. Which is fine, because the three of them enjoy themselves quite well together.

Describe each character’s fashion style (use pictures if you’d like!) How are their styles different/similar?

Once again dipping into modern doubles for this answer. Tseskos likes jeans, button downs, sweaters, and T-shirts. She likes a spot of bright color now and then, but mostly goes for muted colors, generally black, brown or blue. Tseskos also likes stocking caps. Ukani is a fan of Converse, jeans, and T-shirts. Button downs are not his friends, and he is constantly mistreating his clothing and dislodging buttons, which Reniseb then has to sew back on again. Its adorable. He is not a leather jacket bad boy, but he does own several leather jackets. Very nice, warm ones that actually serve a purpose in cold weather. 

How would their lives be different without each other?

That is kind of hard to answer. I want to say that they both would have had Reniseb, so they wouldn't be lonely. But its doesn't really make sense that they could both still have her, and not know each other. I honestly have no idea..I've never thought about. They don't have lives without each other when I get to them. Its like trying to imagine life without my own friends. I know there WAS a time when I didn't have them, but I don't really remember what it was like.

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Character Academy: 2

The adventures of young Paul continue in this strange presentation of my brain. If something doesn't make sense, there is no explanation. Its my brain. It makes no sense. Ever. EVER. EVER!!!!
Also, there is mild language in this post. Its modern day Ukani and Tseskos, what can I do?!

Georgette had finally decided on Paul, so that was going to be his name here. Rose had given him a hurried, and very incomplete tour of the main Academy building. They were just passing back through the train station, when Georgette jumped out of a train in front of them, and hurriedly told Rose that she was being moved to another wing. She look absolutely miserable as she said this, and became rather choked when she explained that Rose's old wing was simply gone, and couldn't be found.
The boy called Ben appeared seemingly out of nowhere, now wearing a name tag that said Phillip. People's names seemed to change an awful lot here. He and Rose hurried off together, and Georgette turned to Paul.
"So sorry to stop things so suddenly, but I have no control over these trains. Tess will show you to your room, and I have asked her to answer some of the questions you probably have right now." She glanced at a silver watch on her risk. "Oh crap! I'm late, I simply must leave, do enjoy yourself and poke around into anything you like. Goodness knows everyone else does!" She paused as though listening for something, then bit her lip. "I'd love to stay, but two new arrivals just came in. Bye!"

A train screeched to a halt beside them, and Georgette jumped on, as Tseskos jumped off. 
Paul recognized the girl from his rather abrupt introductions earlier.  
"Tseskos right?" He said, just to be sure.
She nodded, and looked rather annoyed.
"That's my name, but around here everyone just calls me Tess. Georgette said that some people couldn't pronounce my name very well...idiots."
He grinned wide enough to make up for Tseskos' bored expression.
"Great! So does Georgette run this place, like, by herself?"
Tess nodded. "Yes, she's always busy. I don't know that she even sleeps. Somehow though, she still finds time to hang out with everyone here. No sure how."
Paul let a quick breath out between his teeth. "Wow! That's crazy. And Rose said something about a finishing school too."
Tess frowned.
"Yes, and that's where I have to go next year. All of us from the Pendant wing will be the first ever to attend that school, just like we were the first to reach stage six." She sounded proud, but also a little sad.
"So what is this finishing school?" Paul asked.
Tess sighed. "Georgette has told me about it, and from what I hear, it sucks. She manages it from here, so I won't see her the whole time I'm there. She has these people called Beta Readers that pretty much deal with the school, and they pass along info and suggestions to her. I've met some of the Beta Readers, as far as I can tell, they seem to like us pretty well, but they don't care as much as Georgette, and are quite strict. Probably the worst of it is that I won't see Georgette until the finishing school's graduation ceremony, and that can take one year or a hundred years, no one can be sure."

Paul drew his eyebrows together in puzzlement. 
"If Georgette likes you so much, why would she send you to this place?" He asked.
Tess sighed.
"She says that its for my own good. That she is too easy on us and the strictness of the Beta Readers will be good for us and prepare us to stand on our own feet in the real world and make her proud, blah blah blah blah. I think it's bullshit, but she seems to believe in it. I have to admit, I kinda resent it. Hey are you coming or what?"
Tseskos grabbed his hand and pulled him onto a train, that barely stopped long enough for them to get on.
"So what happens after the finishing school?" Paul said.
Tess shrugged. "Not entirely sure. No one has ever gone to the school before, let alone graduated. Georgette said that if the Pendant wing wasn't ready to go out on our own, we would have a year long retreat just with her. Sounds pretty cool to me, so I'm hoping for that. Of course, its not entirely up to Georgette. The day before the finishing school (I think its called 'Third Drafts' or something) has its graduation ceremony, Georgette comes up and has a meeting with the Beta Readers, and they decide whether or not we are ready to go off on our own."

There was a moment of silence while the train rushed on. Then Paul asked "What if they decide you don't need the retreat?"
He was almost one hundred percent sure that she blinked back a tear.
"Then its over, pretty much. She lets us go to live our own lives. She recommends us to these people called Publishers, and hopes that they can give us good jobs. We stay in touch, maybe meet every now and  then, but otherwise never really see each other. Again, I don't like it. Its sad."
Paul frowned. "I don't understand. If everyone would be happier just staying here, and Georgette would be happier that way, why can't you all just stay here forever."

Tess was definitely fighting tears now, no doubt about it.
"Some crap about us not needing her anymore. The story being told. Us needing to live our lives without her controlling everything. I don't know, maybe everyone else wants to get away. I don't. Its stupid, and makes no sense."
The train stopped and Tess yanked him out onto soft grass. There were several other people waiting, who jostled their way onto the train before it shot off into a tunnel. 

Paul found himself standing in a grass field, which extended as far as he could see behind him. In front, it went on for about a hundred yards, then stopped in front of a wall, with two huge gates. The wall and the gates were made of some vaguely shimmery material, and they suggested no definite time period or place. They did not seem to have been built by any particular race or people. 
"Hall of the Homeless," Tess said.
They walked up to it, and the gates opened, revealing a large courtyard, paved with the glistening stone or glass or whatever it was. In front of Paul, were three buildings, occupying three sides of the courtyard, with the wall and gates in the fourth side. They too were built of the nameless material. 

"This is where the undetermined people go. Everyone from Pendant wing skipped this part. At the Academy, you don't ever go through a stage or class, unless you need it. The first building is Character, the second Setting, and the third is Base Plot. They are the first three stages." Tseskos said, pointing to each building in turn. 
"Some people leave the Academy before even making it through stage one, and only a few people actually make it beyond the Hall of the Homeless, and onto stage 4. You could be in any particular stage for a day, or a thousand years. There is no knowing. Sometimes people have to go back and complete a stage again, or for the first time, even after they have moved on. Reni, Ukani, and Nefru all came back and spent several weeks in Character. And I spent two days in Base Plot, before I returned to our wing, and was given my own room. All that was right before the entire wing advanced to stage 7."

Paul laughed. "You guys are impressive. You said earlier that you were the first ever to reach stage six. Are you the first students of the Academy too?"
Tess shook her head. "No. The first students are the Planet Uknown people, but they are still in stage four. We came right after them. But even though they are the first students of the Academy, they aren't the first students Georgette has had. The Dustcart group was here before there even was an Academy to join. And I guess they aren't technically students either. They live with Georgette at the Palace of the Imagination."
"Whats that?" Paul asked.
Tseskos sighed, obviously growing tired of the questions.
"No one is entirely sure what goes on there, or what it is, or anything really. Even Georgette hasn't been able to explain it to me. I don't think she quite knows herself. So, you know how a castle has its grounds? An on those grounds it might have a garden, a zoo, a rookery, stables etc.? Well the entire Academy and its grounds, are just like a stable or a garden on the grounds of the Palace of the Imagination. The Academy is the biggest thing on the grounds, though the Land of Reading is a close second. Georgette spends every spare moment in or around the palace." Tess glanced longingly at the shimmering building, as if wishing to be rid of him. But he couldn't stop himself.

"Every spare moment? Like, away from another job?"

Tseskos groaned, but Georgette had apparently ordered her to answer his questions.
"You are Georgette are a lot alike. She never shuts up either. Yes, she has other duties besides the Academy, and all the other places around the Palace. I have no idea what they are, not do I have any desire to know." She stopped and raised her eyebrows at him as though to say are we done yet?

"How do you know all this stuff?" Paul asked, unable to restrain himself. That had always been one of his faults. He was too curious.
"Georgette and I are very close. Look, I don't know about you, but I'm not some stupid stage 1 with nothing to do. I don't have time for this. No come on."
She stalked off in the direction of the Character building, and Paul followed her meekly. At the entrance to the building, a man bounded up behind them. Paul remembered him to be Ukani.
"Hey Tess! You forget about lunch? Who the hell is he?" Ukani looked down at Paul with contempt, seeming to be personally annoyed by his existence. It was clear that he had guessed the reason for Tseskos delay. Paul was now wishing that he hadn't asked so many questions. Ukani was not someone he wanted to be on the bad side of.
"Newbie. Asks too many questions. I didn't forget," Tess said flatly.
Ukani raised his eyebrows skeptically. "Huh, well Reni was worried. Can't you get rid of him?" Ukani spoke as though Paul were some unwanted dog to be taken to the pound.
Tess nodded. "Yeah, he can find his way from here," she turned to Paul, "just go on in, they will tell you where to go."
"Who is they?" Paul asked. 
She looked as though she were about to answer, but Ukani stopped her. 
"Tess! Don't make me carry you."
Tseskos didn't look terrible bothered by the threat, but she turned and jogged back towards a fast approaching train. Ukani went with her.
Paul stared nervously at the door, and finally pushed it open.
"Hello strange new life in this strange new place," he muttered as he stepped over the threshold.  

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HOW TO: Design A Custom Blockquote For Your Blog

Recently, a friend asked me how to put a border around text in the post. There are two ways to do this. One gives you the ability to have different text in different styles of borders and backgrounds, all in one post. And one creates a standard which can be applied to text with one click. The first one is less convenient, though it does give you more freedom, and I have decided to give a tutorial for the second. 
Probably there will be a tutorial for the first method someday, I am just not in the mood at the moment.





HOW TO MAKE A BLOCKQUOTE FOR YOUR BLOG

You may have noticed this little button up there in your post editor:

That, my fine feathered friend, is the blockquote button. On default, it just turns this:



Into this.









Its a subtle difference, usually used if you are quoting something (blockquote) and want it to stand out a teeny bit.

But you could turn that boring text into whatever you want.
Since I do a lot of design tutorials which use code, I use my own blockquote as a syntax highlighter.

Turning this:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec nec justo sit amet libero viverra fermentum a vel arcu. Fusce id ipsum a orci lacinia auctor. Nullam vel nunc tellus. Maecenas congue tristique neque, id iaculis nibh viverra ut. Donec porta libero dictum, convallis velit mollis, fermentum dui. Vivamus mattis libero eget orci dictum, ac cursus arcu bibendum. Fusce libero mi, tempus nec mattis sit amet, commodo et augue. In bibendum lectus in efficitur ullamcorper. Ut volutpat ac ligula ac pulvinar. Nulla in tincidunt massa. Sed turpis arcu, vulputate non enim id, blandit tristique orci. Fusce tempor gravida sapien rhoncus pharetra. Fusce euismod metus lectus, eu tempus tortor sodales ac.



Into this:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec nec justo sit amet libero viverra fermentum a vel arcu. Fusce id ipsum a orci lacinia auctor. Nullam vel nunc tellus. Maecenas congue tristique neque, id iaculis nibh viverra ut. Donec porta libero dictum, convallis velit mollis, fermentum dui. Vivamus mattis libero eget orci dictum, ac cursus arcu bibendum. Fusce libero mi, tempus nec mattis sit amet, commodo et augue. In bibendum lectus in efficitur ullamcorper. Ut volutpat ac ligula ac pulvinar. Nulla in tincidunt massa. Sed turpis arcu, vulputate non enim id, blandit tristique orci. Fusce tempor gravida sapien rhoncus pharetra. Fusce euismod metus lectus, eu tempus tortor sodales ac.


But I also use it for quotes, and just text that I want to stand out.


So, to start with, you need to go to your blogger Dashboard>>Template>>Edit HTML
Click in the text editor and press Ctr+f on windows Command+f on mac, to bring up a search box.
Use the search box to find the following code:
]]></b:skin>
Directly ABOVE it, paste the following code:

.post blockquote {
That is the base code. All the styling for the blockquote, is going to go under that. First of all, we can add a border:
.post blockquote {
border: 1px solid #000000;
}
That is going to give you a solid black border, 1px thick:
Now your text is really close to the edges, so we are going to throw some padding in like so:
.post blockquote {
border: 1px dashed #000000;
padding: 5px;
}
And that is going to pull the text away from it a little. I have given it five pixels, and if you decrease the number, the text will move closer to the edges, and if you increase it, the text will move farther away.

Now I am going to do the three basic text formats: font, size, and color.
.post blockquote {
border: 1px solid #000000;
padding: 5px;
font-family: 'times';
font-size: 13px;
color: #ff0000
}

And now we have Font: Times, Size: 13, Color: Red or #ff0000
Now, last but not least, we can put a background on it.
.post blockquote {
border: 1px solid #000000;
padding: 5px;
font-family: 'times';
font-size: 13px;
color: #ff0000;
background: #75a8ae
}
Which gives me this rather hideous combination of red and #75a8ae. I trust you won't create anything as disgusting as this.
So there you have it. As you can see, the border is growing rather hard to see, so if you are doing a darker color for a background, you would want to make it more than 1px. Also, if you change the border style from solid to double, you will need to make it at least 3px wide to look like anything.
If you are not sure of the color you want, or its hex code, I recommend http://www.color-hex.com/ for that sort of thing.
Another thing you might not know the code names for, are different border styles.
For a list of Border Styles, look HERE

That concludes things. To use the blockquote, when you are writing your post, just select the text you want to put in the block, and click this button right here:


Do Enjoy!




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