Monday, January 30, 2012

renee writes

So I've got a new blog. 

For one of my classes this semester (Editing & Publishing) having a blog is part of the curriculum. I could just use this blog for class, but then my professor and classmates would have to weed through all my other posts (or I'd have to stop posting about anything other than what's assigned). So I created Renee Writes.

Luckily, for most of the posts on this new blog we're allowed to write about whatever strikes our fancy. And because of that, I'm occasionally going to repeat posts between the two blogs, like the post below on Kimbra (have you listened to her yet? do it!).

Mostly, I'm just excited that part of my homework time can be spent blogging :)


I fall in love with songs. It's very rare that I fall in love with a musician. 

Almost all the new songs in my iTunes were added as singular songs, not albums. And if I do download an album, I usually end up deleting most of the songs because they sound too similar or I simply don't like them. Of course there are artists that manage to snag more than a few slots on my iPod's playlists, but they don't come around often. The last artist to have the honor was Kimbra. 

If you haven't heard of her, Kimbra is a 21 year old alternative/jazz musician and my favorite thing to come from New Zealand since Flight of the Conchords. A friend introduced me to her in September or October of last year and amazingly, I've truly enjoyed all the songs I've heard from her so far. Granted, she doesn't have a lot of material out yet. Her debut album Vows was released last fall in Australia and New Zealand and won't be released in the United States until this March.

She has a unique, soulful style and her songs range from quirky jazz ("Settle Down," "Good Intent") to alternative ("Somebody That I Used to Know," in which she teamed up with artist Gotye) to pure pop ("Cameo Lover"). Her voice has a great range and she likes to experiment with it, throwing it around and using its tones in unusual ways (sometimes reminding me of Regina Spektor). But despite her unique take on jazz and pop, her songs are still catchy and addicting. After listening to Good Intent for the first time, I had the song stuck in my head all night (and may have attempted some of the moves in the music video too).

Right now, likely because Vows has yet to be released, it's difficult to find more than a handful of Kimbra's singles online. I can't wait until more of the songs surface, but until then, I'll probably be playing the songs below on repeat. If you haven't yet had the pleasure, I insist you give at least one of them a listen too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

by norton juster

I thought from time to time I'd share quotes from books I've read. Lines that struck me for their style, cleverness, ingenuity, humor, poignancy, or whatever it may be. Excited?

The first quote I'd like to share with you comes from The Phantom Tollbooth, which I read a couple of weeks ago. It's a children's book, but so inventive and funny that people of all ages can enjoy it. I'd recommend it to anyone. I hope this little quote makes you smile :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

first craft project of the year

It's the first week of classes but I set down my books and picked up my paints the other day to make this little beauty.

Not only do I have a pretty poster to always remind me of my New Year's resolutions, but I worked on one of my resolutions in the process! 

Using watercolors was definitely harder than I thought it would be, but fun too. They're so uncontrollable. Only an expert, I think, could make them seep across the page just as they'd planned. But part of the fun is just seeing what they do on their own and embracing that messiness and unpredictability. 

I didn't mean for the tree to turn out so black and the sky is much darker than I imagined too. Once you start trying to overcorrect the streaks, all those layers of paint start to become murky and messy. I also learned to always test the potency of the color on a spare sheet of paper before applying it to the finished product. It's so easy to accidentally make a color darker than you intended. I'll just have to keep practicing :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the hunger games

For years, I've seen The Hunger Games series on the bookshelves of libraries and Barnes & Nobles. Thinking they were geared for an audience much younger than me, I never gave them a shot. But this year, I came home from Greece to find that my whole family had either read them or was in the process of reading them. If four very different people, all of whom are over the age of 18 (my constantly reading mom, my rarely reading dad, my 24-year-old sister, and my 19-year-old brother) can enjoy them, they must be pretty good, right?

If you don't know the story, here's a plot summary of the first book courtesy of Goodreads:
"In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love."
It's been awhile since a book captured my attention and held it so well. Short enough and quick enough to finish in a couple of days, I was completely absorbed in the world of Panem in that week or so it took me to finish the three books. The plight of the districts is absorbing and so are the main characters- archer and hunter Katniss Everdeen, her best friend and fellow hunter Gale Hawthorne, fellow tribute in the Hunger Games Peeta Mellark, and mentor and drunkard Haymitch Abernathy. 

This series is action-packed. I can't elaborate on the second two books without spoiling everything, but the first book, as you might assume, is entirely consumed by the Hunger Games. The twenty-four contestants roam the arena and kill each other off one by one. It's such an interesting plot for any book but especially for a YA book, which are sometimes a little more tame. For some reason, throughout the first few chapters I doubted that any of the kids would be killed. I thought maybe they'd band together, protest, escape . . . Obviously I didn't understand the cruelty of the Capitol at that point! Within minutes of the Games beginning, kids are killed off and Katniss is running for her life. It definitely sets the tone for the rest of the series.

Like so many YA books, there's a love triangle that splits readers into pools based on their favorite romance. Throughout the books, I was always rooting for Peeta, but I know there are plenty of Katniss/Gale shippers out there. Really though, I just felt sorry for both of them. Katniss can never seem to choose between them (which is understandable, she's got a lot going on in her life), and she toys with both their emotions by showing affection to whoever's around at the time (which is not understandable and just plain rude). 

The first book was by far my favorite and the second and third went a little downhill from there. But even then, I still really enjoyed them and was always interested enough to want to keep reading. This is a true case of plot trumping writing style, I think. I had a lot of little problems with the story and I didn't write down any quotes I particularly liked, but I'll always remember and enjoy the plot as a whole.

Anyone else a fan of The Hunger Games? Excited for the movie? It comes out in March and I can't wait to see how they've interpreted it.

And if you haven't read these books, give them a shot. And "may the odds be ever in your favor!" (Okay, that's one quote I liked, but it's really more of a slogan).

TITLES: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay
AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins
PUBLICATION DATES: 14 Sept. 2008, 1 Sept. 2009, 24 Aug. 2010
The Hunger Games: 4/5 stars.
Catching Fire: 3/5 stars.
Mockingjay: 3/5 stars.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

the secret lives of books

Amazing, right? Like Toy Story with books. I can't even imagine how long this must have taken, but bravo!

Friday, January 13, 2012

a quick red fox

The quick red fox jumps over the lazy brown dog.

Before I go into anything else, see that braid above? That's commitment right there. My #10 New Year's Resolution- Fewer ponytails. Bam. Already busting out of that rut.

You might also have noticed the new header. I'm just starting on my #12 New Year's Resolution- Continue my blog. "Renee in Greece" was fine when I was Greece, but now that I'm home and want to keep writing, I've gotta change it up a bit. So the title of the blog is changing to "A Quick Red Fox" and the hyperlink has changed too, to (so please update your links, if need be!). The new name combines my love of foxes with my love of words :) A perfect fit, I think. 

I've also added a new tab called "my bookshelf" where you can view my recent reads. 

In the future you can expect posts on reading, writing, and (*fingers crossed*) more traveling. I hope you stick around!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

new year's resolutions

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions. And if I do, they're vague and unofficial and probably because of that, they never pan out. But this year, I'm doing it. And I'm actually really excited to get started. Some of my goals are small and fun, some will take a lot of work, and some are already on their way to being accomplished.

Bill Watterson
Renee's Goals for 2012

1. Read 30 pages everyday. Whether for school or for fun.

2. Read 30 books. And thanks to Goodreads, I've got a handy way to track my progress:

3. Make a weekly schedule that includes (1) classes, (2) work, (3) writing time, and (4) workouts. And stick to it! I'm pretty sporadic with my writing and exercise. Scheduling them into my week like they're classes or work will make me less likely to slack off. Also, I'll make the workouts specific (pilates, walk, jog, dance, strength, etc.) so that I can't blame laziness on my indecision. I'll make this schedule next week after I get my classes for the semester figured out.

4. Don't spend so much time reading blogs. I could read them all day but I know I shouldn't.

5. Or watching TV. Might as well try.

6. Write a short story I'm proud of. I've always hated writing short stories. I used to hate reading them too, honestly. But in the past year or so I've stumbled upon some really great stuff by really talented authors (Raymond Carver and George Saunders come to mind, but J.D. Salinger's always been a favorite so I have to mention him too) and I think I should try again. And if this goal happens, I'm tacking on another goal: 1/2-- At least attempt to publish the story. For the hell of it. Because even if it's not accepted, I could get my first rejection letter! The first step to become a writer, they say.

7. Make a detailed plan for my novel and write it from the beginning. It's all scraps right now and half of it is in the trash. This is the only story I've tried to write without an outline and it's just not working. I need the organization and I need to write from the beginning. And since I'm scheduling in writing time, I should definitely make a lot of progress on this one.

8. Don't always have a dessert after lunch. Have fruit instead. Or a fruit snack (which is still kinda dessert, but at least it's not a cookie).

9. Eat more of the following: vegetables, eggs, apples, yogurt, beans/lentils, soup. Because they're good for me.

10. Fewer ponytails. I used to be so creative with my hair. I'd curl it, scrunch it, braid it, twist it, but these days it's rarely seen out of a ponytail. Gotta start switching it up.

11. Attempt painting with watercolors. Just for fun. They're so pretty.

12. Continue my blog! Originally I planned to discontinue this little blog after I came home from Greece (hence the title), but I've got a new plan now. Stay tuned for a few changes in appearance, address, and content.

* * * * * 

So that's it. Twelve goals for 2012! And because I tend to forget or ignore goals if I can't see them, my next craft project is to create some kind of poster/visual to hang in my apartment. That way, I can't forget (*purposely ignore but then claim I forgot") them. Cheers to the new year!

Do you have any New Year's resolutions? 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

my travel wish list

I know I just got back from Greece, but I can't help but dream about all the other places I would love to see in the world. Some are a little more practical and will hopefully happen in the next few years (all those in North America), while others would take years and years of saving and planning. Still, a girl can dream.

Here's my travel wish list. Some cities, some countries. In no particular order.

Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny . . . 


And while I'm there, I'd love to see the tulip fields . . . 


CHICAGO, Illinois

This one better happen within the next year or so. It's so close and not very expensive.



MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada

It's known as the Europe of North America!

MUNICH, Germany


NEW YORK, New York



PRAGUE, Czech Republic


Edinburgh, Glasgow








*All photos found on Google Images.

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