NaNoWriMo 2012 Has Arrived!

Today is the 1st of November, which means one thing – the start of NaNoWriMo! Actually, it also means another thing – I have been incredibly slack this year, and not blogged about NaNo at all yet. Crazy, I know! Thing is, this year at university, studying at postgraduate level, it’s really kicked my butt, hahaaa. And so I’ve been scrambling to get my Honours thesis written and rewritten and rewritten again and finally handed in. Hooray! But because I handed it in on 29th October, it means I’ve had little time for NaNoWriMo blogging, for which I am very sorry.

But, anyway. Here I am! And I am fizzing with excitement, ready to spontaneously combust, wheeeeeee! πŸ˜€

NaNoWriMo truly is my favourite time of year. It’s pretty perfectly placed for me actually – normally, I just about finishing up my study for the year, and summer is starting to make itself at home. NaNoWriMo is like a reward for surviving uni, really. Something which I feel is especially true this year, as this year has been a bajillion times more stressful than my past three years at uni, and I seriously felt like I was losing my mind sometimes. But now, NaNoWriMo. A whole month where I get to write what I want to write, not what I have to write. A whole month of putting aside special time to do something I love. A whole month of writing.

Fittingly enough, this year I’ve decided to write something purely for fun – Star Trek XI fanfiction! As you all might know, I write quite a bit of fanfic (when I have the time!), but for NaNoWriMo I usually choose to write original fiction. But this year… I just had this idea that wouldn’t leave me alone! It’s an AU fic (Alternate Universe) which means that it’s not actually set within the Star Trek universe – instead, my fic is set in a contemporary FBI environment, but using the Star Trek XI characters. It’ll focus on Jim and Bones, two FBI agents. Actually, I might as well paste my synopsis here!

Jim Kirk has been around the block more than a few times, despite being pretty new to “all this FBI stuff”.Β  Jim knows he capable of being an awesome FBI agent though, and has a desperate thirst to prove himself. When his ranking officer, Christopher Pike, sends him off to the only known address of a “retired” Agent Leonard McCoy – a seedy downtown bar – Jim finds himself in a whirl of suspicion, mystery and, inexplicibly, attraction to the rugged agent. Because while Leonard might seem like just a handsome but jaded divorcee, his background at the FBI holds more questions than Jim can find answers for. Jim and Leonard are thrust into a game of cat and mouse with their supposed FBI colleagues – and the stakes are paid with lives. Jim and Leonard must learn to trust each other enough to work together, to discover exactly what the hell is going on, and to avoid getting each other killed. Although they might be more in danger of killing each other, the way they’re getting along. On top of this, Jim has to deal with his new found attachment and attraction to Leonard, which may or may not be returned. Not even love is easy for these two, though – in fact, that might be their biggest obstacle of all.

I’ve always wanted to read a fic like this, so I thought, why not write it myself? πŸ˜‰ I have… an outline of sorts. I’m certainly not as organised as I usually am! But I do have one thing that I don’t usually have – an epic playlist. Music has always been a great inspiration to me, and so compiling a list of songs that are relevant to my characters’ journeys has been so helpful in figuring out what they’re feeling and doing. I also have some awesome soundtrack music from The Bourne Legacy film to get me into the crime/thriller mood.

And, of course, there’s my favourite NaNoWriMo staple songs, about NaNoWriMo, which you can find here πŸ˜‰ AND this year, there’s a NaNoMusical! *flail* I think this is such an incredible idea – I adore musicals, and I adore NaNoWriMo, so I can’t think of anything more perfect πŸ˜€ You can find the first episode here!

Now, I wish I’d had time to write a blog post with some advice for any fellow Wrimos out there. I did write a post last year which I still fully abide by, my NaNoWriMo Toolkit. As for the Desktop Calendar, the same artist has a 2012 one here – it’s amazing! I love the inspirational quotes and prompts (and occasional tough love :D). And I’m using an updated 2012 version of the NaNo Report card here!

Other than that, my best advice would be to…

If you like, you can add me as a NaNo Buddy here, or follow me on Twitter here, where I am and will be tweeting madly about #NaNoWriMo!! All that’s left to say is… let’s have some fun this month!

Word Count: 1,308 words
Write on!
Bri xx

I MET MARTIN FREEMAN AND IAN MCKELLEN!

[post includes PHOTOS and a VIDEO :D]

I literally CANNOT BREATHE FOR EXCITEMENT RIGHT NOW.

As some of you may have known, I was lucky enough to have purchased a ticket for Ian McKellen’s one man show, ‘Ian McKellen on Stage: with Shakespeare, Tolkien, and You‘. He’s been putting the show on all over New Zealand to help raise funds for Isaac Theatre Royal repairs, which was damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes. Good cause, plus the chance to see Ian McKellen in person – I couldn’t pass it up! I’d also heard whispers of maybe some of the other Hobbit cast members being in Wellington around this time, and that they might show up… but I thought about this only as a dream, not thinking for a moment that it would ACTUALLY COME TRUE.

Ian’s actual show was really fabulous. He started things off with a brilliant rendition of perhaps Gandalf’s finest and most memorable moment, from The Fellowship of the Ring when he confronts the Balrog, shouting “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” (and yes, he sounded exactly the same, squeeeee! :D) The first half was based around audience interaction, with Ian recounting stories, and inviting members of the audience to call out random questions about his fascinating life. The second half was pretty much a tribute to Shakespeare – he challenged us to name all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays, and as we did so he acted out parts from some of them – including the Balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, where he spoke both Romeo and Juliet’s lines, pure gold hahaa! He gave us an epic version of Hamlet’s “The play’s the thing!” speech, and the emotional, moving “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun” ‘funeral’ speech from Cymbeline. As I am a massive fan of Shakespeare, as you already know (*wink*), I adored this part – Ian truly is a master of Shakespeare too, telling us all about the different roles he’s played over the years.

So that was the actual show. Which was epic!

But.

NOT AS EPIC AS WHAT CAME AFTER.

As a special treat for Wellington, and this being his second-to-last show, he called ALL THEΒ  HOBBIT CAST MEMBERS THAT WERE PRESENT ONSTAGE WITH HIM. Obviously not all the cast was there. I eagerly scanned the growing group onstage, looking for familiar faces – I think I recognised a couple of the dwarves, but I haven’t done enough fangirl research to identify them or anything.

AND THEN.

My heart truthfullystopped when my eyes landed on… MARTIN FREEMAN.

*hyperventilates*

It was beyond exciting, you have no idea! To actually see Martin Freeman, one of my top most favourite actors of EVER, in REAL LIFE with my VERY OWN EYES. He was looking ADORABLE as usual, and gosh, I realised fully how short he really is! πŸ™‚ Ian lead them all in a tiny spot of acting from Henry V, which basically consisted of the Hobbit cast and the audience members who’d joined them onstage all falling down dead. LOL. I took a video of it, which you can watch here:

(please excuse the part where I’m moving closer, and my aim goes all wonky for a few seconds, hahaaa. Martin Freeman is off to the left, looking all cute and short :D)

So anyway, after that, Ian and the rest of the Hobbit cast went out into the foyer to collect extra donations for the Isaac Theatre, and Ian said he would be available for photos and signing etc. Now, I hardly ever carry cash anymore, so I only had my EFTPOS card on me. And, as it happens, I’m having a particularly poor week (well, I’m used to it, being a poor student and all!!) and I only had $21 on my card. I was thinking that $10 would be an alright amount to give, and if it meant I got a photo with Ian McKellen, then why not!

However, the ATM machines outside only gave out $20 notes… decisions. I thought about it for three seconds, before dashing to the nearest ATM and withdrawing $20 of my $21 in the world (well, in a dramatic manner of speaking, ROFL – and anyway, next payday is on Tuesday :P). And besides, I actually do care a lot about theatre, so it was definitely for a good cause. I ran back inside, and braved the mass of people to finally squeeze my way along to Ian McKellen, and…

Ta-dahhh! πŸ™‚

He also signed my little notebook, as it was the only thing I had on me. (KEEPING IT FOREVER.) He was honestly so lovely to all the fans, and so smiley – well, you can see for yourself! Adorable.

So now that I was happy with having met Ian McKellen, I peered around for Martin Freeman. BUT ALAS. No luck! It seemed that he wasn’t hanging out in the foyer – I overheard someone saying that he’d left already. I was a bit disappointed – but as I hadn’t really expected to see him at all, I was still stoked with just having got the video of him, and so left the theatre happy.

The story DOESN’T END THERE. *dun dun DUN* xD

As it happens, my friend was having a big gathering/party at one of the bars that very same evening, as she’s heading off to Harvard soon (just casually!!) to study, and so won’t be seeing us all for a long time! I must admit, I was feeling kind of tired, it was raining on-and-off, the bar was in theΒ opposite direction to my home, and frequenting bars/clubs isn’t really my thing… BUT I really did want to see my friend before she left the country, and I knew that she really wanted to see me, so I made up my mind to stop by and say hi/bye! So off I went, and it really was lovely to see her again, and a couple other people I hadn’t caught up with for ages either. I didn’t stay very long, only around half an hour, so I was soon on my way home again. And, randomly, someone stopped me on the street for directions – amongst all the drunk crazy people walking around, I must have looked like one of the few sane people, hahaa (11pm Saturday night, folks!), so no wonder they asked me! Anyway, after helping them, I set off home again – BUT x2. I had to pass the theatre again on route to my house. I noticed that there were still some people milling about, and that Ian McKellen himself was still there, the trooper, giving photos and signatures.

And for SOME REASON, I went inside, just a few steps inside, forever hopeful.

AND THERE HE WAS.

Martin Freeman, looking like the most beautiful angel to walk the earth to my eyes just then, WAS STANDING THERE TAKING PHOTOS.

There were only about seven people waiting to get a photo with him, because most everyone had left the theatre already. I RAN over there, clutching my camera, and…

YEP. THAT HAPPENED.

IT IS SO SURREAL. Martin Freeman is seriously one of my MOST FAVOURITE ACTORS EVER. Like, he’s right up there with Karl Urban and Chris Pine and Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephen Fry and ALL THE BEST PEOPLE THAT I WOULD DIE TO MEET.

And here, in tiny Wellington, New Zealand… DREAM COME TRUE.

I told him that I love him in Sherlock, even though that didn’t really have anything to do with the Hobbit, to which he replied “Thank you!” And when I asked him if I might be able to get his signature in my notebook, he was like “Ohh, I see everyone’s run out of money to buy programmes to sign!” And I was like “Heh, I literally have $1 left on my EFTPOS card!” to which he kindly said “Ah, I won’t nick that from you, then.”

(nerdy fact: he sounded JUST LIKE JOHN when John says “Nicked all his smurfs?” to Mycroft. <3)

ALSO. MARTIN FREEMAN HELD MY PEN. NEVER THROWING THAT AWAY.

DAY = MADE. Actually, more like LIFE = MADE.

Bounced all the way home. Couldn’t contain my grin – poor passersby, wondering what I was smoking! – but did contain my fangirlish screams and dancing until I got home, thankfully. Ran around my room like a maniac. You know how it is πŸ˜‰

But more than just meeting two incredibly amazing actors, all of this showed me – reminded me – that if you love, be kind, and give, good will find you, will come back to you. I gave monetary support to the theatre funds, gave my time and love to see my friend, and gave a kind word to the lost pedestrian… and I was repaid with the PRICELESS meetings with Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman.

Life is Love. ❀

LOL, so that’s kind of the “moral of the story” bit. And I feel every word as true! But. Anyway. The main point of all this really is…

I MET MARTIN FREEMAN AND IAN MCKELLEN AAAHHHHHHH *fangirls* xD

That’s my excitement for my week YEAR LIFE! Next up, the Hobbit Premiere this November at the Embassy in Wellington… BRING IT ON! (After all, still have Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephen Fry on the list! :D)

Have fun!
Bri xx

‘Frequently Asked Questions’: Some Truly Fine Theatre!

I have literally just returned home from a very enjoyable excursion to the theatre – Downstage Theatre, it’s so charming! – where I saw a stunning performance called ‘Frequently Asked Questions‘. It’s part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival that’s happening at the moment in Wellington, which is always a fantastic showcase of talent and spectacle. Anyway, out of a long list of events that I wanted to go to, I narrowed it down to this play – I *am* a poor student, after all, so could really only afford to go to one.

And man, I do not regret picking ‘Frequently Asked Questions’! πŸ™‚

Firstly, let me give you a little info as to what it’s actually about. ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ focuses on a man named Hamlet, an insomniac who is haunted by some extremely gripping questions – for example, ‘What a piece of work is a man?’, ‘Am I a coward? Who calls me villain?’, and, unsurprisingly, ‘To be, or not to be?’ Oh, and the all-important ‘Why am I wearing tights?!’ *clears throat* Mm-hmmm. Hamlet, however, is not left to his own devices – he is paid a visit by his fellow famous tragic heroes: Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello. Chaos obviously ensues. Admist all the hilarity, however, the play still manages to end on a beautifully poignant note.

What is most striking and important to know about this play is that there is only one actor – Michael Hurst. And yep, you guessed it – that means he has to play more than one character at one time. A perfect set up for comedy – and Hurst really takes every opportunity that this presents to him. The different voices for each character are just spot-on, as were the particular affectations each character has. Macbeth was my personal favourite – I mean, the Scottish accent, and the copious amount of creative swearing? Genius! πŸ˜€ I made a special effort to commit my favourite line of his to memory – for future use, of course! – which was: ‘What are you doing, talking to me or chewing a brick? Because both’ll get your teeth knocked out!’ It totally sounds ten million times better if you say this with a Scottish accent, by the way. Probably the most frightfully funny element – and there were many! – was when Hurst had to stage a fight between Hamlet and Macbeth, and then between Macbeth and Othello. Frickin’ hilarious, watching someone beat himself up… teeheeee. Oh, and did I mention that Hurst fully fries an egg onstage, makes a sandwich, and eats it?! All while delivering his lines flawlessly. So yeah, I really applaud Michael Hurst for such amazing talent. *bows down* He’s a New Zealander, and I just read on his website that he has also directed several episodes of the current TV series ‘Spartacus’, which I adore! πŸ˜€ So that makes him even cooler. *nods*

As for the whole Shakespeare element of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, well… I’m sure you all know of my love affair with The Bard, and nothing pleases me more when people use Shakespeare in innovative and creative ways. Hurst drew so many clever quotes from his plays, it was a scholar’s dream. It all made me think of Tom Stoppard, and his fabulous play ‘Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead’. I’ve already shared with you my admiration for Tom Stoppard, and that particular play, which I was lucky enough to see performed in Wellington too. *sighs happily* One day, when I’ve published a novel and become wealthy, I’ll go to the theatre every week… πŸ™‚

So yeah, that was my extremely pleasant evening! πŸ˜‰ As this showing of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ is a ‘world’ premiere, I really hope it does well enough to take to other places around New Zealand, and then overseas too! Everyone should get to experience this awesomeness. If you’re currently in Wellington, I strongly encourage you to go along – the show is on until 11 March, and you can purchase tickets here πŸ™‚ Dooooo itttt! πŸ˜€

Finally, while we’re talking about the Arts Festival… it also includes the epic ‘Writers & Readers Week‘ which starts this coming week. It’s just brilliant!! *drools* The tickets are quite a lot cheaper than the other festival tickets, so I’ve treated myself to three ‘sessions’, which means three amazing writers… Jo NesbΓΈ (his amazing Norwegian Crime novels with his detective Harry Hole), Alan Hollinghurst (awesome writer of ‘The Line Of Beauty’, and his most recent ‘The Stranger’s Child’), and Robert Shearman (the man who brought the Daleks back to the new RTD-revamped ‘Doctor Who’!). I am so excited, I can’t wait! I am sorely disappointed to have to miss out on the Harry Ricketts talk (I have class), but then… I don’t need to be too sad, as I’ll get to see him and soak in his brilliance quite often this year… because… he’s going to be my supervisor this year for my Postgraduate English Research!!

*hyperventilates* πŸ˜‰

Gosh, I’m such a fangirl.

I love Wellington.

Anyway, must away to bed. Farewell, my friends – parting is always such sweet sorrow. A thousand times, good night! πŸ˜€

Have fun!
Bri xx

Fun With A Chelsea Cupcake Masterclass!

*wipes forehead*

What a weekend of fun I’ve just had! After being lucky enough to go to Elton John’s concert in Dunedin on Friday night (blog post coming this week), I was then also lucky enough to get to go to Auckland on Sunday, for an afternoon Cupcake Masterclass run by Chelsea Sugar! My Mum (of course!) had won two spots at the Masterclass for us both. We got flown up to Auckland by Chelsea Sugar and everything – I felt like such a VIP, what with having our taxi paid for (and I’m glad it was, the taxi fare from Auckland Airport to Parnell is not pretty!) and arriving to a wonderful gluten-free lunch made especially for me and my Mum, with THE nicest caramel/chocolate slice ever! Om nom! We were given a brilliant goodie bag, filled with baking treats from Chelsea, a cupcake cookbook, and a lovely apron, as modelled by moi above πŸ˜‰

The Cupcake Masterclass itself was run by Milly’s Kitchen, and so we were treated to amazingly skilled instructors. We were given a heap of epic skills to create our masterpieces… and so, I thought I’d share my cupcakes with you guys! πŸ™‚

So, first up was the Lemon Cupcakes (which I’m holding in the first photo). The different elements were…

  • lemon curd filling, which we punched inside the cupcakes with a nozzle (no scooping out the cupcake, wheee!)
  • a lemon cream cheese icing made using the yummy Chelsea Lemon Flavoured Icing Sugar
  • the fondant flower decorations…

…which were incredibly fun to make! First off, we used a leaf cutter to make the leaves.

The ones on the left are Mum’s, the ones on the right are mine. That white instrument you can see in the background was what we used to mark the veins on the leaves πŸ™‚

Next came the actual rose! This was one of my favourite parts of the class πŸ˜€

The top ones are my roses, and the bottom ones are Mum’s roses. Hehee, as you can see, mine are rather less elegant! My second attempt (right) *was* much better though, and I don’t mind if they don’t look exactly like roses… I don’t actually know that much about real roses vs other real flowers, so… πŸ˜›

Now, to put them all together! – and, we couldn’t forget the BLING! (ie. edible glitter, wheeeeee!)

Next up… Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes. These had…

For the chocolate filigree, we had to pipe out melted chocolate from a piping bag made from baking paper. It was… an interesting experience, that’s for sure! πŸ˜€ I learnt that laughing while piping does not make for the most even of lines. However, at least I wasn’t quite as unco as my dear mother, who went through THREE piping bags because hers kept spilling out over the top, or escaping all over the fine nozzle we had. *giggles* ‘Twas very amusing. Here were my chocolate patterns:

As you can see, I had a bit of fun with my own designs too. Heheee. After they’d set, all that was left to do was put them on the cupcakes! (and BLING it up. Big Time! :D)

Somewhere amongst the mass of chocolate, there is a “L” on the left cupcake, and a “B.J” on the right cupcake. That means that the left one is for my darling brother, and the right one is for me πŸ˜€ Om nom. Virtual cookies (or, should I say, cupcakes!) if you can spot them!

Which leaves only… Raspberry and Vanilla Cupcakes. These consisted of…

  • berry glace icing made from the YUMMY Chelsea Pink Berry Flavoured Icing Sugar. This is my personal fav of the Chelsea Icing Sugars, because it is amazing to watch the white powder turn pink when you mix it! AND when you open the bag, your nose is happily assaulted with the smell of pink marshmellows. *drools*
  • sugared flowers

To make the flowers, we just brushed edible flower petals (we used roses) with the tiniest amount of egg-white, and then coated them lightly in sugar, and left them to dry. That was a novelty for me, because I honestly had no idea you could eat flower petals! *pokes out tongue*

The end result (with the most BLING of them all!):

And so ended our afternoon of fun! And honestly, it was fun in the true sense of the word – silly, crazy, unadulterated and creative, with no rights or wrongs. I don’t think I spend enough time having this kind of fun, so it was good to be reminded of how good it feels πŸ™‚ So, thanks Chelsea Sugar and Milly’s Kitchen! *squeeeee!*

I almost don’t believe that *I* made those! πŸ˜‰ Now, time to eat them… *beams*

Have fun!
Bri xx

Zachary Quinto’s ‘Coming Out’ Epicness.

Alright. Time for me to admit to the full extent of my epic nerdiness.

I have recently fallen in love with another fandom… Star Trek! πŸ˜€

For some reason, I hadn’t watched the 2009 Star Trek film before, and so about a month or so ago I decided that as a self-professed Sci-Fi nerd, it was only natural that I should. Not to mention, a massive slash fan – Kirk/Spock were the original slash pairing, after all. Felt like I should pay hommage to it, or something. πŸ˜› So… I watched it! And fell in love. The characters are so fascinating, and the cast is bloody spectacular – Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, Karl Urban (woo, fellow Kiwi!) Squeee. Easy as that.

Anyway, my new obsession isn’t actually the point of this post – it was just an opportune moment to tell you all, so you don’t find it odd if I suddenly tweet or post about it. πŸ˜‰

…which leads me onto the real reason why I wanted to write this post, now.

Okay, so for those of you who don’t know, that is Zachary Quinto, AKA the actor who plays the new Spock (he’s also in Heroes, which I now feel compelled to watch). Since becoming obsessed with the Star Trek fandom, I’ve also become obsessed with him! Obviously, he is incredibly pleasant to look at… πŸ˜‰ He is wonderfully intelligent, like a walking talking dictionary… *drools* Overall, Zachary is just a really sweet guy.

And he’s also just ‘officially’ come out as gay.

The way Zachary did so was just perfect. The original interview is here, and if you’re not paying attention, you could even miss it! He slips it in almost casually, not trying to make a big deal of it, but at the same time using it to say something really important about the state of our society in regards to this. He’s talking about his role in a play called ‘Angels in America‘Β  – his actual quote is:

Doing that play made me realize how fortunate I am to have been born when I was born. And to not have to witness the decimation of an entire generation of amazingly talented and otherwise vital men. And at the same time, as a gay man, it made me feel like I β€” there’s still so much work to be done. There’s still so many things that need to be looked at and addressed. The undercurrent of that fear and that, you know, insidiousness still is swarming. It’s still all around us. To revisit that world at all, it took a toll on me. It definitely was an incredible experience but it was really daunting at times.

After this admission, Zachary also posted a wee personal note on his website, which states even more explicitly his passionate feelings on the issue (he’s talking about Jamey Rodemeyer’s suicide being the catalyst). Here’s the bit that spoke to me:

but in light of jamey’s death – it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it – is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.Β  our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered citizen of this country. […] i believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society – and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action.Β  jamey rodemeyer’s life changed mine.Β  and while his death only makes me wish that i had done this sooner – i am eternally grateful to him for being the catalyst for change within me.Β  now i can only hope to serve as the same catalyst for even one other person in this world.Β  that – i believe – is all that we can ask of ourselves and of each other.

To me, that… it’s just so heartfelt. Almost made me tear up the first time I read it. Because it’s true, every word.

I mean, I can see why Zachary probably hadn’t come out earlier. He seems like quite a private person, and so probably didn’t see why he should have to talk about his orientation – after all, it’s really no-one’s business. If I were in that position, I think I’d feel the same way.

And yet, on the other hand… when you feel truly passionate and committed to a cause, and want to help in whatever way possible, sometimes these admissions are necessary. I mean, I could be completely wrong here, but this is just my (educated) guess as to the reasons behind Zachary’s decision. He has never denied being gay. As an actor in the spotlight, you can’t really blame him for wanting some privacy wherever he can get it. And now that he has come out, I feel fully confident in saying that I believe he will continue on as he has always done, being true to himself.

So, Zachary Qunito – I thank you for being so elegant, so brave, so heartfelt, and so honest about everything. Seriously, I thought I adored him before this. I sure hope it can pave the way for others.

::EDIT:: Look, he’s inspired someone already! πŸ™‚ Dan Kloeffler’s ‘To Boldy Go…‘ post.

It all makes a difference.

Love yourselves,
Bri xx