COVER REVEAL: Dr. Flynn’s Shelter for Peculiar Animals

Hello everyone! I have some exciting news today. I had the pleasure of meeting Alea Harper, an aspiring Christian author like myself, through her blog, and she graciously agreed to design a book cover for my Wattpad story, Dr. Flynn’s Shelter for Peculiar Animals.

Alea is an amazing cover designer, and her blog has some awesome articles on everything from writing tips to book reviews, so please check out her site. ๐Ÿ™‚

I decided this cover reveal would be a fun opportunity to showcase my story as a whole, for those who may not be familiar with it. But first, without further ado, the new cover!

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Cover design by Alea Harper, Font design by Ani Petrova

Isn’t it amazing?! Okay, I’m just the tiniest bit psyched about it…Alea did an amazing job and it was so fun to work with her.

Want to look beyond the cover? Below are some fun tidbits about Dr. Flynn’s Shelter for Peculiar Animals. Don’t forget to read the full story on Wattpad!

Story Synopsis:

I never asked to be different. Still, I guess a girl named “Althea” couldn’t expect to be totally normal. My parents never really helped matters either. It was their idea to go to Dr. Flynn’s Shelter for Peculiar Animals for my thirteenth birthday, instead of an ordinary dog shelter as I requested. That visit to Dr. Flynn’s brought my life to a whole new level of “different.” But I’m getting ahead of myself…

My name is Althea Monroe, and the book you’re holding is my story. Hang on tight.

Best Lines (so far):

Chapter 1: It’s my destiny to be different. At least, that’s what I assume, since I never asked to be. (Ally)

Chapter 2: My parents look at me, then at each other, doing this weird silent-communication thing with their eyes. I can’t even count how many times in my life they’ve made decisions without saying a word to each other. But I can count on one hand the number of times those silent decisions ended well for me. (Ally)

Chapter 3: I lift my head and follow [my dad’s] gaze out the window. On the side of the road is a sign staked into the ground that I’m positive wasn’t there before. It reads, “Turn here for Dr. Flynn’s Shelter for Peculiar Animals.” (Ally)

Chapter 4: I see more deer, five of them. These look more ordinary, except for large, lumpy deformities on their sides…Suddenly, one of the deer raises its head and the deformities move, unfurling into a huge pair of wings – wings!” (Ally)

Chapter 5: This…is the last surviving dragon on earth. Or, at least, he’s the only one I’ve been able to locate. (Dr. Flynn)

Chapter 6: I walk carefully, maneuvering my feet around Scorch, who is squealing louder than ever and jumping around my legs, flapping his tiny wings in excitement.

…and many more to come!

Similar Stories:

My goal in writing Dr. Flynn’s Shelter for Peculiar Animals was to create the traditional “kid meets pet” story with a fantasy twist. Here are a few books I loved growing up that have a “vibe” similar to my story:

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth

Thank you for visiting my cover reveal post! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Happy reading!

My Top 5 Bucket List Cosplays

Hi there! Today I have a fun post for you – a little glimpse into my cosplay hobby. ๐Ÿ™‚

I think every avid cosplayer has a list of costumes and characters they want to do. I have quite a long one myself, ranging from traditional cosplays (like Eowyn) to unique twists (like an Elsa/Elphaba mash-up) to original costumes of my own design.

Today, I want to share with you five of the cosplay ideas at the top of my list. These won’t necessarily be the ones I’m doing next, but they are some I’m pretty excited about. And, as time and money permit, I’m sure I’ll start working on them – a writer’s got to have a hobby, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

1. The Favorite Character Cosplay – Captain America

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As you probably figured out from my fem Steve Rogers cosplay, Marvel’s Cap is one of my all-time favorite characters. I identify with him on a lot of different levels, especially the traditional values.

Although my Rogers cosplay was fun, it was also pretty low-key. The Cap costume I’d really love to do is the one he wears at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, after “robbing” the museum to get his original uniform back. To me, this costume just symbolizes his origin and how he consistently holds on to who he is in the middle of an ever-changing world (yes, even in the Civil War movie. Don’t get me started. You have been warned).

I also have a friend who wants to do a fem Winter Soldier with me, so this cosplay should be pretty epic. I’m hoping to do this costume within the next year, so hang in there for pictures down the road. Also, my dream is to start doing a short choreographed fight with my Winter Soldier friend in the middle of a con, so we’ll see how (and if) that goes (gulp)!

2. The Favorite Fandom Cosplay – Galadriel

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Most girls who love The Lord of the Rings wish they could be Arwen or Eowyn. But I’ve been told indisputably by my nerdy friends that I am far more like Lady Galadriel than either of them. And, considering that Galadriel is beautiful, wise, and the most powerful elf in Middle-earth, I take that comparison as a high compliment.

While I much prefer The Lord of the Rings films to The Hobbit adaptations, I was absolutely floored by Galadriel’s gown in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I mean, the flowing white material, the subtle sparkles – definitely a dress for an elven queen.

However, I’m going to need to acquire some serious sewing skills before I can pull off this cosplay. I’ve seen a few cosplays of it before that looked a bit cheesy and not at all like the original material, so I’d like to avoid that. Whenever I do attempt it, I want to do it right.

3. The Unexpected Cosplay – All-New Wolverine

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For those of you who saw my fem Wolverine photos, this cosplay might not be so unexpected. But, those who know me well might be surprised that I want to do such a characteristically violent character: Laura Kinney, a.k.a. The All-New Wolverine.

In the comics, Laura eventually takes up the Wolverine mantle following Logan’s death, and I’d like to cosplay her in the full-on, blue-and-yellow Wolverine costume. Wolverine has always been one of my favorite superheroes and now that there’s a girl one, I can’t resist the cosplay opportunity – although, when exactly I’ll get to do this one is uncertain. When I do, though, I’d love to play around with some possible methods for making claws that can actually retract (into gloves, not my hands ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

So why do I want to represent Laura? Well, as I said, I think it would be great to cosplay a female Wolverine after all my years of liking the character. I’m not super familiar with all of Laura’s comics (they tend to be too violent for my taste), but from what I do know of her, she’s got quite the story of redemption. She was made to be a weapon, but through the intervention of Logan and some other caring people, she was able to become a hero. Now, in the All-New Wolverine comic series, Laura herself is protecting others, just as Logan once protected her. That’s pretty worthy of a cosplay in my book.

4. The Impossible Cosplay – Ruby Rose

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If you’ve never watched the web-based show RWBY (pronounced “ruby”), then you are really missing out. It’s a fun, sweet, epic show (with short episodes) that will take you through unexpected levels of feels.

There are a number of cosplays I’d like to do from this show, mainly because the characters are so enjoyable and unique, but my favorite character just has to be the adorably awkward Ruby Rose. We share the same perky personality, love of all weaponry, and loyalty to friends.

The costume I’d like to do is her original one from seasons 1 and 2. It’s the first costume I saw her in while I was falling in love with the series, so it’s special for me. It has a black-and-red color scheme with a red hood, a bullet belt, and a “combat skirt” (fellow RWBY nerds, I know you got this joke).

This cosplay isn’t technically “impossible” and it has been done numerous times. However, all the RWBY characters have complicated costumes with weapons that tend to defy the laws of physics. If and when I do this costume, I’d love to have a scythe gun prop (Ruby’s weapon) that actually transforms. It’s been done before, but it’s definitely not easy.

So, this cosplay is one I’ll have to save for a really long vacation. ๐Ÿ™‚

5. The Original Cosplay – Bree Silverstar

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Tolkien’s Middle-earth will always have my heart more than any other fantasy world – so much so, in fact, that I’ve created original characters for it over the years. One of my favorites is an elf character I came up with named Celebrian “Bree” Silverstar.

Bree is a Mirkwood elf – a child of King Thranduil, in fact, along with her twin sister. Bree is the older twin and, predictably, the more responsible and cautious one. She’s an expert with swords, a decent singer, and a defender of those in need.

Someday, I’d love to bring this character to life by doing an original cosplay. I’ve sketched out some concept ideas and spent way too much time on Pinterest for its sake, but this costume still has a long way to go. So far, I’m working with some earthen-brown base colors for the main costume parts, such as the skirt. I’m making some armor pieces from dull turquoise leather and even hand-weaving chain maille accents.

Hopefully when it’s done, it will be a knock-out! Now I just need enough free time to finish it…

Bonus: The Csoplay I’ll Never Do (But Wish I Could) – Toph Beifong

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If you never watched the show Avatar: The Last Airbender, you missed one of the best animated shows ever made. Also, you probably don’t understand why I put a random photo of dirt with this cosplay idea.

For those of you who have seen the show, hopefully you got my visual reference to earth-bending (okay, so dirt doesn’t look that appealing, but oh well). Avatar fans, let’s face it – Toph is a total boss. I’d rather face first-season Zuko a hundred times than get on Toph’s bad side. I mean, she’s the only one in the world who can bend metal. Don’t tell me that’s not cool.

Sadly, I don’t look a thing like Toph. While wigs and makeup can do a lot, I’m not a cosplayer who likes to spend hours in the bathroom manipulating my face. So, thanks to my completely non-East-Asian looks, I’ll have to leave the Toph imitations to those who can do her justice.

And thus we come to the end of my top five (or six) cosplays post. I hope you enjoyed it!

What about you? Any dream cosplays you’ve been planning? Comment below and tell me! I’d love to hear about them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy crafting!

STORY UPDATE: Chapter Six of Dr. Flynn’s Shelter for Peculiar Animals

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Hello friends! At long last, I’ve posted an update to my novel, Dr. Flynn’s Shelter for Peculiar Animals, on Wattpad! You can read the latest chapter (Chapter Six) and its precursors totally for free on Wattpad! All you need to do is make a free Wattpad account and find me on the site @authorcaitlineha! You can also use this link to find my Wattpad profile.

In the previous chapters of this tale, Ally Monroe finally convinced her parents to buy her a dog for her thirteenth birthday. That plan backfired when the perfect dog was not to be found at any of the shelters they visited, but on the way home, they happened to stop by the newly-opened Shelter for Peculiar Animals, owned and operated by Dr. Flynn, a kindly cryptozoologist dedicated to researching and rescuing unusual and mythical creatures from around the world. There, Ally found Scorch, an orphaned dragon chick, and chose to adopt him. Because of Scorch’s tender age, however, Ally agreed to care for him at the Shelter until he is old enough to come home with her.

In Chapter Six, Ally returns to the Shelter for her first day with Scorch. She meets Dr. Flynn’s widowed sister, Mrs. Myrtle, and finds Scorch napping contentedly in his cage. Dr. Flynn proceeds to instruct Ally in Scorch’s care, beginning with a rather unusual meal. As for the rest, well…you’ll have to read that for yourself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hope you enjoy! Happy reading.

Top 5 Most Common Screenwriting Errors

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Hello everyone! It is high time for me to post a new article about writing. Lately, I’ve been working with a group of aspiring screenwriters and doing a lot of critiques on their work. Not surprisingly, I find myself correcting almost the same errors in all of their scripts. So I thought this was good opportunity to consolidate my advice into an article.

I’ve been writing fiction in various forms since I was a kid, but screenwriting is a relatively new (and addicting) format for me. I love the streamlined format of the spec script; because so much is left to the potential director, cinematographers, costume designers, and so on, scripts really give you the chance to focus on the action and plot. And I love it.

For those of you who might also be looking to step into the world of screenwriting, here are a few pointers I’ve had driven into my memory, both through being well-taught and through reading too many scripts that had examples of what not to do.

1. Only Write What You Can See

Screenwriting is all about the visuals. Even though you’re putting words on paper, those words are not the end result; they’re the guidelines to creating a purely visual product.

This means that there is no point in writing what a character thinks, why a particular object is significant, or even anything about a character’s personality – unless you can show it.

For instance, you can’t write “Holly thinks Justin is handsome.” Write that Holly blushes when she sees Justin, or that she whispers to her friend that he’s cute. If you can’t tell something through visuals or sound, it can’t go in your script.

Also, don’t fall into the trap of writing lengthy dialogue scenes with no action description. Your script could exist without sound (um, silent movies?) but it won’t go anywhere without action – otherwise, the most we see is people talking, which is boring.

2. Break Up Those Text Blocks

As I’ve said, scripts are a streamlined format. They should be easy on the eyes, and that means lots of white space. Your action paragraphs should never be large blocks of text, and neither should your dialogue unless you have a good reason for a character to deliver a long speech.

Restrict your paragraphs to a couple of lines each. The “enter” key is your friend. Also, think about how you can use paragraph breaks to emphasize and sort your content. The sentence, “suddenly the bank robber enters,” is a lot more powerful if it’s in its own paragraph instead of bunched together with other sentences.

3. Beware of Too Many Tricks

Beginning screenwriters especially seem to enjoy playing with script elements such as voice over, dissolving or fade-to-black screens, and even text popping up on screen. The reason is that we’ve all seen these tools used in movies for great dramatic effect, and we want that drama in our scripts, too.

While there is a time and a place for all of these tools, be careful that you don’t overuse them. It might be best, when you’re writing your first draft, just to stick to basic action and dialogue scenes. Once you have the story in a good place, then you can go back and get more creative with the “extras.”

The main question to consider is, what tells your story most effectively? If it’s a voice-over, great. But it could also be a character speaking normal dialogue. Only you can figure that out.

4. Don’t Rely Too Much on Parentheticals

Parentheticals are those little “asides” you see in dialogue sometimes, between the speaker’s name and the dialogue itself. Parenthetical content I’ve seen before ranges from simple comments like (whispering) to elaborate ones like (looking angry enough to spit).

Here are the problems with parentheticals:

  1. They’re distracting and visually crowd your text (as if it isn’t hard enough to keep dialogue from looking blocky).
  2. They’re usually unnecessary. If your character is sneaking through a house at night, you don’t need to tell the reader that s/he is whispering because it’s obvious.
  3. They’re bossy. When an actor interprets your script to play a role, s/he doesn’t want to be told exactly how to say something. Make it clear enough through the surrounding action and situation that the actor can figure it out.

Most of the time, the content in a parenthetical should be written in an action sentence, especially complicated ones like (looking angry enough to spit). That’s just too much information for a parenthetical, and it doesn’t say anything about how the dialogue is delivered; it says something about how the character looks.

If you use a parenthetical, make sure the way you’re specifying the dialogue to be said is not immediately obvious. Only use them when they’re really needed for clarity.

5. Use Clear and Proper Formatting

I know, I know, you think formatting is tedious. Actually, if you use a screenwriting software (and there are some decent free ones out there, like Celtx), some of the simple formatting is taken care of for you.

The truth is, even though I find scripts freeing in many ways, they are unforgiving on format. If your script has slug lines with time descriptions like MIDDLE OF THE AFTERNOON instead of just DAY, or dialogue compressed against the left margin (instead of centered), or any text font besides Courier New, you are going to get penalized. The reader will toss your script aside and move on.

The good news is, screenwriting format is not particularly hard. It’s just a matter of knowing theย  right formula. There are a number of helpful websites on formatting that can be found through a simple online search, but of course, the number one resource you should definitely have is The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier.

Be tough on your format and your reader won’t have to be. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Although I’ve been pursuing screenwriting for a while now and learned much along the way, a lot of these tips originally were presented to me through reading the 6th edition of The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier, the mainstay reference book of the screenwriting world. If you are serious about being a screenwriter, get a copy of this book as soon as possible and read the whole thing. It’s inexpensive, easy to read through, and full of valuable info.

Also, look for some real scripts to read and look at the way they’re constructed. It helps!

Cosplay Showcase: Wolverine (Fem)

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Welcome to my second cosplay post! Before I share too many pictures, I want to say that this costume is not entirely screen accurate. It’s based on Wolverine’s casual outfit from the beginning of the first X-Men movie (the one he wears in the bar scene and later).

X-Men was one of the first “grown-up” superhero films I ever saw and Wolverine has been one of my favorite comic characters ever since. The character has been interpreted a lot of different ways over the years, but my favorite version of him is in this film: rough around the edges, but a hero underneath it all. And, let’s just admit it, it’s pretty awesome that he has retractable short swords in his hands.

While I think this cosplay is pretty close to the mark, it’s not perfect because I threw it together in about ten minutes. I had a chance to use some Wolverine claw props in a photoshoot so, of course, I had to have a costume! Who passes up a chance to pose with Wolverine claws?

With that in mind, enjoy the photos of my casual Wolverine cosplay!

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Favorite memory in this cosplay: Trying to act serious, fierce, and/or cocky while my best friend snapped the photos, and then cracking up in between shots because of how ridiculous it felt. Wolverine is a very different persona from my actual personalityย  – case in point, I was using apple juice for the “bar” photos.

Favorite thing about this cosplay: This pretty much defines a no-brainer, especially for a sword-crazy person like me…100% the prop claws. It took some time before I was willing to put them down…

Changes in mind for this cosplay: This was more of a fun cosplay than a super-accurate one, so if I was to do it again, I’d like to make it more true to the film. I’d also like to take some more pictures in better lighting, because while I’m really happy with what I have, indoor lighting is just difficult to work with.

Thanks for visiting! Hope you enjoyed the photos. And for those of you who go see Logan this weekend (I’m too squeamish for R-rated films, so I’ll sadly be missing out), have fun and say farewell to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine for me (sniff sniff).