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FLUX Blog Tour

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FLUX, by Ellie Carstens, is out today ~ Happy Book Birthday to Ellie, REUTS publication, and FLUX!


“The last thing sixteen-year-old Alaina Oftedahl-Miller expected was to watch her mom brutally destroy their life.

But, in the wake of tragedy, strength forms. Shipped off to live with her birth father, Alaina finds herself dealing with more than just being the new Canadian girl in a Norwegian school. Juggling the formation of a relationship with the man who abandoned her as a child, and a budding attraction to Kaius Vargøy–the mysterious, beautiful classmate who’s been assigned as her personal translator–Alaina can’t shake the feeling that every move she makes is being watched. Judged.

She soon learns there’s far more to this sleepy Norwegian town than she ever imagined. Kaius and his friends aren’t exactly what they seem, and the repercussions of that could send her traveling through the most unexpected experience of her life. Murder and relocation is one thing, but add in supernatural occurrences and Vikings, and even she may not have the strength to survive.”


Sounds awesome, right? I’ve been following the release of this one for awhile. When the puzzle pieces of the cover came out, I scoured twitter to find them all. Guys, have you seen this cover?



That’s some serious cover eye-candy. The cover evokes a new world, almost intergalactic in a sense, and there seems to be something magical about it. I can’t wait to find out why. I mean, seriously, Vikings? That’s bad ass.
And now, here’s a gem for you guys: we get to meet the star of the book, Alaina!



So that’s it for me. I’m going to be not-so-patiently waiting for my copy to arrive. Sure enough, I’ll have a review to follow. Let me know what you guys think of this book, which you can purchase from REUTS Publication. Don’t forget to wish Ellie and REUTS a happy book birthday on FLUX!



Ellie Carstens

ellie-carstens-author photoFor as long as she can recall, Ellie Carstens has been a huge fan of reading. The genre and content are not important as long as the story holds her captive. She believes that life is too short to be taken seriously all the time and to lose one’s self in a good book is an escape worth taking. Now, she writes science fiction, fantasy, romance, and beyond, creating stories that will hopefully bring that same passion for reading to others.

Flux is her debut title and the first in a Young Adult sci-fi/romance trilogy.


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Never, never give up!

It’s been way too long since the last installment of my “Kpop for Writers” series. All that PitchWars and writing shenanigans eclipsed my music, especially since my iTunes is currently gone. Yeah, crashed computer and all that. But boy, do I have a new ear worm for you guys. This one is not just a scene-inspiration song, it can also be a personal theme song or hype helper, if you will.

In recent years, with some of their main members in the military, including their leader, Leetuk, and vocal back-bone, Yesung (*swoon*), Super Junior has been on a small hiatus. I featured Super Junior (SuJu) in my last post, and I also mentioned that they have several sub-units. Super Junior’s sub-unit “M” (for Mandarin) launched a mini album in China a few days ago and the rest of the world has another week to wait. This 8-member unit is made up of six original Super Junior members, one Chinese singer, and one Canadian-born Chinese/Taiwanese jack-of-all-trades superstar (seriously, Google Henry Lau). Today’s pick is Super Junior M’s latest single “Swing.” No, it’s not Kpop despite 6/8 Korean members. It’s Mandopop! Take a listen.

Their music video for “Swing” came out this weekend, and I’ve been shamelessly listening to it on repeat since I got to work today. This song has some serious energy and hype. By the eighth play-through, I was rocking out in my office and praying my boss wouldn’t pop in. Though my “Kpop for Writers” picks up to this point have contained almost no English lyrics, that’s not actually typical. You’ll notice in this song that one English phrase stands out over everything: “Swing! Never, never give up!”

Coming on the tail of PitchMadness and just before PitMad, I thought this song would be a perfect pick. Not only can you play this while you write your Rocky Balboa montages, but you can also play it as a pick-me-up to press onward after a rejection letter or your name absent from the short-list.

Some of my favorite lyrics from “Swing.”

Hurry and shout with all your might along with the music
Swing never never give up
Even with worries, no big deal, you’ll forget it in a second
Hurry and shout with all your might with the music
Swing never never give up


Life sometimes complains with exaggeration
Don’t mind it, with me it will be a perfect show
So relax, be cool
Come with me, happiness is attracted like magic
Open your eyes everyday, there will be new experiences
Be the truest you

Sometimes you’ll lose your way
Your heart will sink to the deepest sea floor
Let this tune give you an escape
Dance with me tonight
Swing my baby, tonight!
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Plus, no one’s fooling anyone. We’ve all wanted to break out into dance like that at work, too. ^_~

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Nerdom Hobbies

I’m deviating from the writing topic this time. I intended to post my other projectREUTSway entry that didn’t make it into the final cut, but I feel I should space it out form my last one. Just to torture you guys. For now I’ll just tease you: it’s a Beauty and the Beast Japanese cross-over. A young Ronin adheres to both roles as Gaston and the Beast in a Jekyl and Hyde shape-shifter. I promise, you’ll be able to read it soon!

In the meantime, I wanted to get your opinions on something. I have a hobby that I started in January, as a way to de-frag my brain after a full day of work and writing. It’s called perlering. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably been exposed to a few pieces that I’ve worked on.

IMG_0777Perlers are little round beads that slide onto a peg-board and are then melted down with an iron to create one cohesive plastic image. I first saw these at a local anime convention. My jaw dropped at the sheer magnitude of images that can be created from these little beads – game sprites and 8-bit lovelies tickled my nerdliest fantasies. I bought a Kirby perler and told myself “one of these days, I’m going to do this.”

Fast forward to a year and a half later. Part of my movement to get away from computer screens and gaming consoles, I finally bought a starter set of beads, pegboards, and an iron (I don’t iron clothes – no judging!). I started simply with a small batch of pokemon sprites. Perlering is EASY if you copy patterns off the internet. Seriously. Four black, two yellow, three red, two yellow, one black – it’s as easy as counting and naming colors.

The hardest part is perfecting your ironing style. It sucks – black melts faster than other colors, heat zones on the iron will press the middle flat while you’re working on an edge – getting a perler image to melt evenly without ironing lines or the parchment paper pulling up and making the perler pieces jump out of their places is a real hassle. Then there’s a quick freak out of peeling the newly melted piece off the pegboard without burning your fingers and putting something heavy on it fast enough so it doesn’t curl up on you. Oh, yeah, and the part where you burn yourself with the iron on occasion. Yes, much practice is required. (I feel I need a Doge here – much practice, so perler, very hassle.)

IMG_2917After doing a few small pieces, I jumped into an 18” perler image of Bundt from Mario RPG. It looks great on the pegboard, but when I ironed it… well, let’s just say I learned a few lessons. There’s no such thing as melting two pieces and then melting them together. And if a perler piece falls out of the image, there’s no putting it back in once the surrounding pieces are melted, or you’ll ruin it. None of the perler sites and blogs I read mentioned these things. I learned them all the hard way. So, yeah, perlering is not as easy as it looks.

However, with Bundt, I couldn’t find a pre-existing image pattern on the internet. Instead, I took the sprite into photoshop and blew it up, then manually with a paint brush, colored each pixel on the grid to so I brought 56 shades of colors (I’m guessing here) to 12 (also guessing here, but you get my point). Then, once I got it all layed out, I still had to maneuver perler pieces around to make shading areas look more fluid or even out lines and such. I found all these step to be quite rewarding, so it sucked hardcore when I botched the final melting.

IMG_2953Anyway. I went back to practicing on smaller pieces, like this pair of Mario and Peach. That’s when I started to notice something. I really liked this pattern for Peach that I found, but the more I filled in her dress and her hair, the more I hated the color options that were shown with it. The lines inside the dress were brown, and her dress was a different style than the “iconic” Peach dress. So I changed a lot of the coloring, including her hair, eyes, and lip color. I really liked my version way better than the original. And even though I spent way more time on it than I originally planned, and it was a pain to keep moving perlers around, I really enjoyed executing my new vision. Mine is the top image.

Now, I’m at the point where I’d like to open an Etsy shop. I back-burnered the idea since I started perlering. Here’s the dilemma: Most of what’s out there for character sprites has been done and is available on Etsy already, except big and complicated pieces like Bundt.  Even then, I couldn’t justify sinking money into big, complicated pieces that would go for $50 or more. Those kinds of pieces are better off made-to-order.

IMG_2995Then, last week, I had a random conversation with my BFF Michelle (@Mah_Hoehn) about Chai tea. She said “often times when I drink Chai tea, I always think of Chaiaiaia. Like Psyduck, only he’s Chaiduck.” Brilliant. I already did a character alteration with Peach, how hard could it be to add a scarf, glasses, and cup to Psyduck? For her birthday this past weekend, I assembled a Psyduck and made him into a hipster with a steaming cup of Chai tea in his hand. From the original pattern, I adjusted colors and shading, opting for the hard, black outlines, and then I had to completely reposition one of his hands so he could be grabbing onto the cup. It was pretty fricken hard, but I enjoyed it.

I’ve decided that my Etsy shop calling, to be unique and different, is to do alterations to pre-existing characters. I started my line of hipster pokemon with Chaiduck and added Pikachu with an iPod (suggestions for a name?). This hipster pokemon will further expand once I decide on the next pokemon to transform.

On Facebook, another friend suggested that I go steampunk, so now I have a steampunk Bulbasaur on the perler board, just waiting on the metallic perlers I ordered. I also have an idea planned out of Plusle and Minun cosplaying as doctors 10 and 11 that I can’t wait to try. Also, Harry Potter pokemon, like Pyroar wearing a witch hat and Gryffindor scarf or the Hogwarts crest with pokemon.

What kind of character combinations do you think would be fun to see? It doesn’t have to be a pokemon mashup, but could be My Little Pony, or Doctor Who, or anything else. Tweet at me (@Fifi_The_Ninja) or leave me a comment here.

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Pimp My Bio – cake is not a lie

Okay, so, better late than never. The end of November, complete with a string of migraines, has been a whirlwind for me. But here it is – Pimp My Bio!

By now, some, if not most, of the mentors have already selected their mentees. If you don’t know what Pitch Wars is, you’re probably not around the writing circles of Twitter. In that case, you should be logging into Twitter and following the ever-wonderful Brenda Drake (who is also a secret Google ninja assassin).

The mentors themselves had a chance to plead their cases on why they should be our mentors. So now it’s the potential mentees who get to tell the mentors why they should pick them. So, now I present my list:

1. Gamers Unite! I’ll be your World of Warcraft healer if you’ll help me bind my book’s wounds. I will be your Water Temple dungeon guide and teach you how to slay Anduin. And if you’re really craving some competition in Mario Kart or Dr. Mario, I’m your gal. Trust me though, you don’t want me on your FPS team. Seriously, I’ll be stuck in a corner somewhere with my gun pointing at the ceiling.

2. I will Nerd-out with you. Zelda & Warcraft? X-Men & Batman? How about Harry Potter & Mortal Instruments? Anime, manga, and all the things Japanese? Korean? I will fill your nerdy void! Just name your topic and from my mouth will spew a plethora of fangasm.  I like all kinds of fantasy, Asian cultures, cosplay, video games, comic books, and the oxford comma. Seriously, I do.

3. ALL THE KOREAN POP MUSIC! I can give you some awesome song suggestions. Seriously, if you want some fun music to listen to while writing, I highly recommend Kpop. Not knowing the Korean lyrics is actually a good thing. For one, you don’t need to know the lyrics to feel what the song is about. It’s like classical, except… not. It allows you to focus on writing your scenes without a singer putting words into your head.

4. ALL THE CAT PICTURES! Do you have an adorable kitty? I want to see! I have a kitty too! I will show you! Weeeeeeeeeeee! Cuteness abounds! I can’t post any pictures right now, though, because my laptop is dead and I’m writing this from my boyfriend’s work laptop. When I first wrote that last line, I wrote “work boyfriend’s laptop.” That could have been awkward. But, yes, cats! If you haven’t been to my about tab, you’ll find my lovely Jaden there. ^_^

5.  As a graphic designer, I have thick hide (+100 dexterity and strength) from countless projects verbally torn apart in front of me. I understand that second opinions are often the necessary to spark that bigger and better idea. Sometimes “Killing your baby” (Yes, that’s what we called it in design school, however morbid it sounds) is essential if it means sewing a frankenstein that encompasses your vision better than you could have thought alone.

And if that wasn’t enough, my twin sister has her own cake business. I can get you cake! Lots of delicious cake!

So pick me, mentor – the cake is not a lie!

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