Winning Camp NaNoWriMo

After 24 days of writing almost nonstop I could see the end of Camp NaNoWriMo. After slacking off for the last few days I still managed to write about 54,000 words. I was waiting at 12:00 a.m. on July 25th to hit the validate my word count button, and as I did so I breathed a short sigh of relief.

As with National Novel Writing Month in November, I instantly went to the winners’ goodies page and navigated my way through the library of software discounts and free publishing tips. I downloaded my winner’s certificate and shut down my Hp Envy m6 notebook for the night.

Winners' banner from Camp NaNoWriMo
Winners’ banner from Camp NaNoWriMo

I took a break for a few days, wanting to slip back into my summer schedule and finish my AP summer homework for my upcoming AP Government & Politics class and my AP Literature class. I succeeded with the former, and I managed to get a considerable amount done with the latter. Throughout the whole thing, I had an itch in my mind. My inner writing was screaming “FINISH! FINISH YOUR NOVEL!”

Camp NaNoWriMo may be over, but my novel Prophecy of Misharedra is far from done. I am currently at 118 pages out of what may end up being a close to 300 paged novel. The quest for the prophecy has only completed half of its trek across dangerous lands, and the rest must be completed before the novel comes to a temporary close before I work on its sequel.

All I need to do is keep writing and to stay away from distractions!

Everyone now! (In the tune to “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, who, by the way, I am seeing live today with Motley Crue).

No more YouTube, no more reading, no more hanging out with friends. (Like that’s gonna happen…)

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Greatest albums from each year: 1990 – 2002

Go here to view 1970-1974: http://wp.me/p48tmx-4l

Visit this post to see 1975-1989: http://wp.me/p48tmx-4x

This is the second-to-last post in the greatest albums from each year series. So far, I have covered my love of glam metal bands and hard rock icons. This next set of albums will definitely feature a music change as the Grunge movement from my home state of Washington was brought to the forefront, and with it, many great albums.

Some albums on this list may come as a shock to you, or maybe you have never even heard of some of them. I tend to have discovered many great albums during the past six years of listening to rock music. 

Enjoy!


1990

1. The Razors Edge – AC/DC

AC/DC was able to regain their level of success and fame that they had received in the early 1980s with their album The Razors Edge. It really didn’t different much musically from their previous albums, but this one did contain a few more hits that were able to propel the album’s sales. Tracks like “Thunderstruck,” “Moneytalks,” and “Mistress for Christmas” reached old AC/DC and new ones, causing them to return and buy the album. My personal favorite songs from the album would be “Shot of Love,” and “Rock Your Heart Out.” AC/DC was unstoppable after having been successful in three different decades. Unfortunately, their next album would have an extremely long wait, coming out five years later in 1995.

2. Empire – Queensryche

Empire is Queensryche’s supreme album. It is their most commercially successful album to date, and helped make Queensryche a headlining act. It differred slightly from its predecessors, Operation: Mindcrime and Rage For Order, by toning down many of the heavy/progressive metal elements and by creating a very commercial album. Now, this isn’t to say that the album was disappointing, because it isn’t. Empire is an amazing album from start to finish, and it contains many of my favorite Queensryche songs such as “Empire,” “Jet City Woman,” “Best I Can,” “Silent Lucidity,” and “Resistance.” The Empire reissue and deluxe edition also included the amazing songs “Last Time in Paris,” and “Dirty Lil Secret.” 

Unfortunately, no Queensryche album since has been able to capture the greatness of Empire, although many have come remotely close.

Honorable Mention: Facelift – Alice in Chains


1991

1. Nevermind – Nirvana

Nevermind is the album that made Grunge a worldwide music scene. Coming from the town of Aberdeen in my home state, I wish I had been alive to witness the Grunge bands rise and play shows. However, I was born six years after Nevermind, after Grunge had died out as a mainstream music genre. The album contained the hit songs “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come as You Are,” “Lithium,” “Polly,” among others. It also has my favorite Nirvana song: “Lounge Act.” 

2. No More Tears – Ozzy Osbourne

No More Tears is the ultimate Ozzy Osbourne album. Every song on the album could have been a hit, and probably would have been it Grunge hadn’t knocked 1980s musicians off the charts. Still, the album sold better than all previous Ozzy albums and contained a few big hits for the Heavy Metal legend. “No More Tears,” “I Don’t Wanna Change the World,” and “Mama I’m Coming Home” were massive hits, while the songs “Mr. Tinkertrain,” “Hellraiser,” and “Road to Nowhere” were very deserving of that status. It was the last album to feature the Prince of Darkness’ signature sound of heavy metal and glam rock, before he moved into a darker sound and his voice became a bit older sounding.

Honorable Mention: Ten – Pearl Jam


1992

1. Adrenalize – Def Leppard

Def Leppard’s follow-up album to the massively successful #1 album, Hysteria, came as a disappointment to many fans. The album lacked the power and attack of the band’s previous two albums, and it lacked major hit songs. Perhaps the album would have been more commercially successful (it hit #1 on the Billboard charts and sold over 3,000,000 copies in the U.S., so it actually did pretty good) if Grunge had not taken the mainstream audience and guitarist Steve Clark had not died prior to the album’s release. Either way, the album proved important to Def Leppard’s career. It was the last glam metal album to chart at #1 and was the last one to be even remotely successful before the genre collapsed and many bands found themselves label-less. I personally enjoy Adrenalize. I don’t think it is nearly as different as people claim it to be: it still contains the pop-rock hooks Lepp. is known for and  has quite a bit of attack. Unfortunately, a lot of the songs are more ballady than usual. “Let’s Get Rocked,” “Heaven Is,” “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad,” and “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion” proved to be pretty successful hit songs. “Tear it Down,” is one of the hardest rocking songs the band has ever done and deserves more praise than it received. If you haven’t heard this album, I recommend checking it out (Def Lepp isn’t on iTunes, so try Youtube.)

2. Grave Dancers Union – Soul Asylum

Soul Asylum’s Grave Dancers Union is a great alt. rock album. It is one of those albums I can listen to all the way through on any day, no matter how I am feeling or what I am doing. Songs like “Black Gold,” “Somebody to Shove,” “Keep it Up,” “99%,” and “April Fool,” keep the album going strong. However, it was the hit “Runaway Train” that brought the band to fame. 

Honorable Mention: Dirt – Alice in Chains


1993

1. Candlebox – Candlebox

I really don’t know why people haven’t heard of Candlebox. The Seattle-based grunge band had every bit as much talent as, or even more than, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, yet they didn’t receive the same kind of response. Candlebox went on to sell over 4,000,000 copies in the US, but all of their later albums quickly fell off of the charts or didn’t chart at all. They are one of the bands I need to see before they retire, which is hopefully a long time away. The album features the amazing songs “Far Behind,” “Don’t You,” “Blossom,” “Arrow,” and “Cover Me.” This is one of my feel good albums and one that I wish everyone knew about.

2. Get A Grip – Aerosmith

While Get a Grip may not be as good as its predecessors, it definitely sold better worldwide, becoming Aerosmith’s best-selling album in almost every country except for the US (that title is held by the band’s 1975 album, Toys in the Attic.) The album features a change in music direction with a bit more experimentation. The songs “Eat the Rich,” “Livin’ On the Edge,” “Fever,” “Cryin,” “Crazy,” and “Amazing,” were hits. 


1994

1. Jar of Flies (EP) – Alice in Chains

Jar of Flies is the best album to ever come from a Grunge band. It may even be the best album from the 1990s. The album is mostly acoustic, which enhances Alice in Chains’ sound. Layne Staley’s vocals had never sounded better and the album produced the hits “No Excuses,” and “I Stay Away.” At the time, it was the best-selling EP ever released. I listen to the album frequently, singing along to every song.

2. Superunknown – Soundgarden

Superunknown should have been a bigger hit, even though it was massive. Soundgarden deserved more praise than they got simply because they were always better than Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Every song on the album showcases what Grunge was meant to be. The songs “Black Hole Sun,” “Fell On Black Days,” and “Spoonman” were big hits, especially in my area. “Fell on Black Days” is one of my all-time favorite songs and I love to hear all the time. 

Honorable Mention: Throwing Copper – Live


1995

1. Ballbreaker – AC/DC

Ballbreaker is not as good as the previous AC/DC albums, but it still rocked hard and stayed true to AC/DC’s sound. It also surprises me that this album wasn’t bigger than it was. The songs “Hail Caesar,” “Hard as a Rock,” “Cover You In Oil,” and “Burnin’ Alive” are some of the best AC/DC songs ever recorded. 

2. Above – Mad Season

This supergroup featured Alice in Chain’s vocalist layne Staley, which helped to bring the album to life. Although it wasn’t popular, the songs didn’t differ much from better-side of Grunge music. Once listening to the album, you can’t resist “Wake Up,” and  “I Don’t Know Anything.”

Honorable Mention: Balance – Van Halen


1996

1. Slang – Def Leppard

Slang received a lot of criticism from critics and fans of Def Leppard because of its drastic departure from their usual glam metal/rock song. The album lacked the pop-rock hooks and the twin-guitar attack of the previous albums, and it tanked in terms of album sales. However, much of the album’s criticism is unjust and unfair. Slang is as good as its predecessors, even without the great top 40 hit songs and euphoria over them (no pun intended, but you would only know it if you know DL). The songs “Slang,” “All I Want Is Everything,” “Gift of Flesh,” and “Move With Me Slowly” are some of the best in the band’s catalogue. Furthermore, the 2014 Deluxe Edition of the album includes the amazing songs “Burn Out,” “Worlds Collide,” “Can’t Keep Away From the Flame,” and “Move on Up.” Def Leppard has yet to record another album as good as this one.

2. Down on the Upside – Soundgarden


1997

1. Nine Lives – Aerosmith

2. Hear in the Now Frontier – Queensryche


1998

1. Hellbilly Deluxe – Rob Zombie

Hellbilly Deluxe is Rob Zombie’s first solo album after the end of the band White Zombie. The album is a powerful, in-your-face groove/horror metal/rock  that leaves you wanting more. The album has many memorable rock hits, including “Dragula.” 

2. Sunburn – Fuel


1999

1. Buckcherry – Buckcherry

Buckcherry’s debut album was a great one. Its glam rock style meshed with modern alt. rock allowed the band to develop a large following and open up for bands like Motley Crue. The album features Buckcherry’s best song, “Lit Up.” The album has a summer/beach feel to it, although it is perfect for any time of year. 

2. Euphoria – Def Leppard

While not as good as any of the band’s previous albums, Euphoria marked a return to Def Leppard’s traditional sound, just with a bit more pop and a bit more ballads. The album is the last one the band has put out to receive any RIAA certifications. The song “Promises” was a big mainstream rock hit and the song “Paper Sun” did relatively well on the rock charts. The songs “Demolition Man,” “Day After Day,” and “King’s of Oblivion” are highlights from the album, while “All Night,” is a fun little tune that reminds us of old Leppard. 


2000

1. Something Like Human – Fuel

When fans thought Fuel couldn’t get any better, after their FAR UNDERRATED debut album, they did just that. Their second album, Something Like Human, did well on the US Billboard charts, giving the band a massive hit song “Hemorrhage (In My Hands).” The entire album is hard rocking and had the potential to go even further. Every song on the album is packed with great alt. rock, including “Slow,” “Last Time,” “Scar,” “Bad Day,” “Solace,” and “Prove.” 

2. Stiff Upper Lip – AC/DC

AC/DC’s 2000 album, Stiff Upper Lip, is their worst album to date. That being said, it is still great rock n roll, which just goes to show how good AC/DC really is. In my opinion, no AC/DC song is bad, and that applies here as well. The songs “Safe in New York City,” (Controversial because it came out before 9/11, but whatever) “Satellite Blues,” “Meltdown,” and “Stiff Upper Lip,” remind us of why we love the band so much. 


2001

1. Time Bomb – Buckcherry

Time Bomb may be the most underrated album of all time. Buckcherry’s second album quickly fell off the charts and sold so poorly that it is no longer in print. That’s right, NO LONGER IN PRINT. This is unfortunate, because it is Buckcherry’s finest moment, and perhaps the finest moment for rock in the 21st century thus far. The album was fierce, loud, and full-on rock n roll glam attack. “Underneath,” “Frontside,” “Ridin’,” “Place in the Sun,” “Whiskey in the Morning,” Slamin,” “Fall,” and “Open My Eyes,” are AMAZING! Check this album out on iTunes and buy it ASAP. You won’t regret it.

2. The Sinister Urge – Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie’s second album may be his greatest moment. The album didn’t do as well as the previous one, but has done better commercial than all of the following albums Rob Zombie had put out. The album is great groove/horror rock all the way through and no song disappoints.

Honorable Mention: Come Clean – Puddle of Mudd


2002

1. Stone Sour – Stone Sour

Stone Sour should have been a big band, and their debut album should have shot up the charts. Perhaps it would have it had come out in a time where pop and rap didn’t rule the charts and radio. “Bother,” “Get Inside,”  and “Take a Number”  are album highlights. The album closes with a hilarious (to me anyway) ‘voice memo’ titled “Omega.”

2. And the Dancehall Doctors – Tim McGraw

Shocked? Just because I prefer rock and metal doesn’t mean that’s all I listen to. I have been a Tim McGraw fan since I was really little, thanks in part to my Mom’s crush on him and the number of times I have been to his concerts. And the Dancehall Doctors is McGraw’s finest hour. The songs on the album are comforting, straight-forward country music like one would find in the 1990s, just with a bit of a modern twist. It is likely the last amazing country album to ever come out, before the genre slowly went to pop. 


Check back soon for the final part in the series: 2003 – 2014 (so far)

Greatest albums from each year: 1975 – 1989

You can see the in-depth post and explanations from 1970 – 1974 here: http://wp.me/p48tmx-4l

In a time where kids my age listen to Lady Gaga, Green Day, and Macklemore, I have always been a bit of a music outsider. I have always listened to what my parents listened to, rock and metal. This list has some of my all-time favorite albums (yes, I call them albums).

When I started my list of the greatest albums from each year, I wanted to write up a blurb for each one to explain why I chose that particular album. This time around, I feel that I should keep it as a list. I will only offer some insight on certain albums that I feel like discussing.

Enjoy the second part of this collection, or don’t, your choice.


1975

1. Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin

It’s Led Zeppelin. While that answer should cover every explanation needed, Physical Graffiti does deserve some extra praise because of its length, being a double album, and because it was their best album following IV. Led Zeppelin’s final two albums, Presence and In Through the Out Door, while awesome, were not quite enough to top Physical Graffiti, making it Led Zeppelin’s last big hit studio album.

2. Toys in the Attic – Aerosmith

Toys in the Attic is Aerosmith’s most successful studio album to date. That being said, it contains many fan favorites and hit songs. The album starts off with the fantastic title track, and then into the well-crafted songs “Adam’s Apple” and “Uncle Salty.” “Walk this Way” may be Aerosmith’s most recognizable song, especially after being covered by Run DMC in the late 1980s. “Sweet Emotion” is another hit song and fan favorite from the album that you can’t help but sing along to. “You See Me Crying” may be one of the most raspy and raw ballads ever recorded, although the song is often overlooked in Aerosmith’s massive catalog.

Honorable Mention: Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac


 

1976

1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – AC/DC

AC/DC claims both top spots for 1976. Let’s just get this out of the way now: whenever there is an AC/DC album, it always makes the top two on my list (except in 1977). You will definitely get used to seeing them. AC/DC is the best band that has ever existed, and maybe ever will.

Dirty Deeds and High Voltage were AC/DC’s first studio albums, and they definitely started the AC/DC legacy of straight forward, simple rock n roll songs that stand the test of time. How can AC/DC not make you want to sing along/ be happy?

2. High Voltage – AC/DC

Honorable Mention: Rocks – Aerosmith


 

1977

1. Rumours – Fleetwood Mac

Rumours is one of the best albums ever recorded. It captured the raw emotions that Fleetwood Mac endured while everyone in the band suffered from break-ups with other band members, cheating, divorce, and other problems. All of it ended up in the songs. Stand outs definitely include the hit “Dreams” and the fan favorite “Go Your Own Way.” However, the album’s real gem is a Stevie Nicks’ song called “Silver Springs,” which was left off of the album until the 2013 reissue. Stevie Nicks’ vocals in the song are her best, especially during the last part of the song where she wails and yells “I’ll follow you down ’till the sound of my voice will haunt you!” Perhaps the song was left off because guitarist Lindsey Buckingham got Nicks’ message and tried to prevent it from haunting him. I suppose it all came back to bite him in 1997’s live album, The Dance, where the song was performed live and Stevie Nicks sang the song to him with all of its force.

2. Love Gun – KISS

Honorable Mention: Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf


 

1978

1.  Powerage – AC/DC

2. The Cars – The Cars

The Cars’ debut album is a force strong enough to prevent Van Halen from making the top two, which is a very notable achievement. Who can really resist the powerful chorus of “My Best Friends Girl” and “Just What I Needed”? The answer could very well be no one. The Cars were left with instant fame and the struggle to try and outdo their first album, a feat they never did accomplish in sales, although their 1984 album Heartbeat City came very close (and also made my list).

Honorable Mention: Van Halen – Van Halen

Honorable Mention: Some Girls – The Rolling Stones


 

1979

1. Highway to Hell – AC/DC

AC/DC’s final album before the death of vocalist Bon Scott was definitely noteworthy. This album brought AC/DC to worldwide fame and brought rock n roll some of its finest tunes. “Highway to Hell” has ruled the radio waves for decades, becoming a staple of AC/DC’s catalog. “Touch Too Much” is a contender for the best AC/DC song and the rest of the album contained songs that all had the ability to become hits.

2. Van Halen II – Van Halen

While Van Halen may have been a fan favorite and worldwide hit album, it was not their best musically from the David Lee Roth era. That title belongs to their second album, Van Halen II.


 

1980

1. Back in Black – AC/DC

Back in Black was the commercial highlight of AC/DC’s career. With sales of over 22,000,000 in the United States alone, it is one of the best selling albums ever (and I believe the 2nd best selling rock album). It was the first album with the current vocalist, Brian Johnson. Everyone knows the hit AC/DC songs “Back in Black,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” and “Hells Bells.” Additional fan favorites from the album include “Shoot to Thrill,” “Givin’ the Dog a Bone,” and “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.”

2. Women and Children First – Van Halen


 

1981

1. For Those About To Rock – AC/DC

2. Don’t Say No – Billy Squier

Billy Squier’s second album was a hit. I first heard this album two or three years ago when my mom bought a CD copy of it and played it in the car. I loved it from the very first song. “In the Dark,” “The Stroke,” and “My Kinda Lover” have all become massive rock hits and are still played on my local rock radio. Billy Squier never did match this album’s success. He released a follow-up that produced his biggest hit song, but then his fourth album contained only a minor hit.

Honorable Mention: High n’ Dry – Def Leppard


 

1982

1. Screaming for Vengeance – Judas Priest

Screaming for Vengeance may be Judas Priest’s most successful album to date, but it is not their best. That being said, it is a strong competitor that even beats out Thriller for 1982. “Electric Eye,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” were memorable rock hits that are still held in high regard today. Judas Priest was different from the other heavy metal bands in that its songs were similar to hard rock and glam metal.

2. Thriller – Michael Jackson


 

1983

1. Pyromania – Def Leppard

Pyromania was one of the most defining albums of the 1980s. It also launched Def Leppard’s career into super-stardom, reaching #2 on the US Billboard charts and selling over 10,000,000 copies in the US. Pyromania is the last album to feature Def Leppard’s heavier sound, and boy was it good. Every song on the album had the potential to become hits, and many did. Hits included “Photograph,” “Too Late for Love,” “Foolin’,” and “Rock of Ages.” Other notable songs are “Rock Rock (Till You Drop),” the fun and entertaining “Stagefright,” and the overlooked masterpiece “Comin’ Under Fire.” This album, and its 1987 successor Hysteria prove why Def Leppard ruled the 1980s.

2. Flick of the Switch – AC/DC

Honorable Mention: Shout at the Devil – Motley Crue


 

1984

1. 1984 – Van Halen

1984 is the last Van Halen album until A Different Kind of Truth in 2012, or whenever it came out, to feature vocalist David Lee Roth. The album went on to tell over 10,000,000 copies in the US and included the hits “Jump,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Panama,” and “I’ll Wait.”

2. Heartbeat City – The Cars

The Cars really cemented their status as international superstars with their fifth album, Heartbeat City. It is their second-best selling album to date and featured their biggest hit sings “Drive,” “Magic,” “Hello Again,” (my personal favorite) and “You Might Think.”

Honorable Mention: Defenders of the Faith – Judas Priest


 

1985

1. Fly on the Wall – AC/DC

Fly on the Wall was an especially raw sounding album, even for AC/DC. The growls and mumbles of Brian Johnson were intensified on this album, which may have been the reason it sold so few copies compared to their other albums. It did, however, contain the minor hits “Sink the Pink” and “Shake Your Foundations.” The album itself is a real treasure.

2. Heart – Heart

Heart is one of those special bands that has always been good. Their self-titled 1985 album was their commercial peak and boasted many of their best known hits. Heart is the ultimate woman rock band and they still kick butt live.

Honorable Mention: Under Lock and Key – Dokken


 

1986

1. Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi

While Slippery When Wet is not my favorite Bon Jovi album (that title goes to his debut album, Bon Jovi in 1984), it was the stand out from 1986. It contained his best known hits “Livin’ on a Prayer,” which is an ultimate ’80s song, “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.” It ended up selling over 12,000,000 copies in the US alone, reaching #1 on the Billboard charts.

2. 5150 – Van Halen

Van Halen’s first album with Sammy Hagar as vocalist rocked. I am a big fan of Sammy Hagar: solo, with Van Halen, and with Chickenfoot. While many Van Halen fans did not appreciate the change in musical direction that Hagar brought, I loved it. It brought Hagar’s supreme vocal abilities to the forefront of a worldwide audience and meshed well with Eddie Van Halen’s guitar techniques. The album included the hits “Dreams,” “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Best of Both Worlds,” and “Love Walks In.”

Honorable Mention: Turbo – Judas Priest


 

1987

1. Hysteria – Def Leppard

Hysteria was the ultimate album of the 1980s. It was Def Leppard’s commercial peak following the already super-successful Pyromania. It sold over 12,000,000 copies in the US and reached #1 on the Billboard charts. It contained some of Lep’s finest songs such as “Women,” “Animal,” “Love Bites,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Armageddon It,” “Rocket,” “Excitable,” and “Hysteria.” Hysteria still remains the greatest glam/pop/hair metal album ever made.

2. Girls, Girls, Girls – Motley Crue

Girls Girls Girls was an album that should have been a number one hit. Motley Crue created a fine collection of blues infused glam metal, producing the hits “Wild Side,” and “Girls Girls Girls.” Every song on the album is made to perfection.

Honorable Mention: Permanent Vacation – Aerosmith


 

1988

1. Open Up and Say…Ahh! – Poison

2. Blow Up Your Video – AC/DC

Honorable Mention: OU812 – Van Halen


 

1989

1. Dr. Feelgood – Motley Crue

Motley Crue’s greatest album through and through. Every song offers the most powerful glam metal punch with great guitar riffs and solos and excellent whines by vocalist Vince Neil. Dr. Feelgood was the right way to end the ’80s, with legendary songs such as “Dr. Feelgood,” “Kickstart My Heart,” “Without You,” “Don’t Go Away Mad,” and “Same Ol’ Situation.” I will be seeing Motley Crue again this Saturday for their final tour, sad to see that these legends are going to stop rockin’.

2. Pump – Aerosmith

Honorable Mention: Skid Row – Skid Row

Prophecy of Misharedra: excerpt from chapter seven

I would like to share an excerpt from my Camp NaNo novel that I wrote today. It will need some revision to make it a bit more fluid, but I think you will all enjoy that it has a raw feel from being so recently thought of and spit out onto paper. I had been chewing on the idea for this scene for a while. It is based off of a scene from the original unfinished draft of my novel, but I have completely moved it around  and added stuff to make it more relatable to the storyline.

Enjoy.

From Prophecy of Misharedra, chapter seven: Of Greetings and Goodbyes


The prophecy is also being sought out by King Avakt, or rather his imposter-

The last word she wrote was blurred onto the page as a crash came from the kitchen. She dropped her quill on the floor and knocked the ink over as she hastily stood up. She felt goose bumps pop out all over her arms as she listened for any other sounds from outside. She cracked her door open. The house was silent.

She turned around to grab her things and noticed a shadow blocking the light at the window behind her. She wasn’t sure if it was coming from outside, or if somebody had managed to sneak into her room. She decided to act natural, as though she hadn’t noticed anything at all and the ink spill had been just an accident, in case someone was watching, and she had the feeling that someone was. She picked the vial up and put a lid on it, stowing it into a drawer. As she grabbed her diary and slipped it into her tunic pockets she wondered how she would escape if someone really was there.

Finally, she decided to turn and face the window, her hand on her knife. No one was there. She breathed a short sigh of relief and grabbed a new pair of robes, deciding on gray, to put on. She pulled the door to the hallway open and crept slowly down the dark stone hall to avoid making any noise. It was possible that the intruder had moved on to a different room. She peeked her head around the corner to observe the living room. Someone had been there alright. The door was wide open and glass, from what she thought would have been the kitchen window, was scattered all around the wood floor. The candles had gone out and the curtains appeared to still be drawn. What she really wanted to know was where Iboref had gone.

As she approached the kitchen she heard a crack from beneath her feet, freezing in place. What if the intruder had heard her break the glass? She decided against going to the kitchen and turned back towards the front door. If she ran she could be out of the house in seconds.

Then she felt the cool sharp edge of a blade against her neck. Someone had crept up behind her. Her attacker’s moves were silent and swift and she was certain that it was a trained assassin. She stood there for a second, fright overcoming her. The blade tightened on her neck and she knew she had only seconds to live. Her fingers tight around her knife, she brought the sharp blade straight into the man’s hand, feeling the hot river of blood drain down her neck. The attacker’s grip was instantly loosened and Arrellia sunk down beneath the sword, rolling across the floor to get away from her attacker.

She jumped up onto her feet to see the cloaked man running at her. She narrowly avoided his stampede, elbowing him right in the rib-cage. The man ran straight into the table, breaking it in half, splinters of wood flying towards the wall. Arrellia wasn’t sure why her magic hadn’t come to her defense, but she knew that it didn’t matter. She raced out of the front door. Iboref was returning from a nearby market stand at a run. Another man appeared on top of a neighboring apartment balcony, preparing to jump at him. Arrellia noticed his black furs and leathers.

“Iboref, watch out!” She screamed, hoping for the best.

The man leaped down toward him with a black sword in hand, but Iboref was quicker. In an instant his sword was out of its sheath and implanted into the Aaniean’s chest. He forced the sword out and the man’s body sank to the ground, his blood oozing onto the once light gray stone. He twitched as he tried to get up again, but his allies came to his aid, including the man that was in Arrellia’s house. They bounded the pathway and another jumped down from behind them. Iboref thrust Arrellia out of the way and under a hedge as he dueled with another one of the Aanieans.

Iboref was outnumbered and Arrellia saw no other option than to assist. She crawled out from under the hedge, her cloak getting snagged on a sharp branch. As she worked to free herself the man that was in her house came right for her, his black cloaks whistling in the wind. She threw her knife, which lodged itself in the man’s exposed throat. He choked and fell to the ground, struggling to pull the knife out. She knew that he wouldn’t live much longer as the blood began to clog up his airway.

She finally freed herself and dodged an arrow that flew towards her, landing on the stone and scraping her arms raw. She wasn’t sure how they were going to get out of it alive. She tried to summon her magic to save Iboref, who was now fighting two men at once and clearly tired out. She tried to remember what Austrevur had said. “Make it happen, channel your magic,” she repeated out loud, hoping that it would work.

She closed her eyes and tried to discover her magic. “Come on,” she whispered. She held her hand out towards the Aanieans and hoped that she could produce something, even if it was fire again. She was desperate; she needed to save the man that she finally knew that she loved. She commanded her mind to save him. As if answering her pleas for help, she finally felt her hands begin to warm. She opened her eyes to see that they were glowing a bright red.

Channel your magic, Arrellinor, a voice commanded in her head. It was a voice she had never heard before, but she felt comforted by it.

Without even thinking about how she released her magic, sending rays of fire at her enemies. They began to burn in the topaz flames, falling to the ground. They rolled to try and put the fire out, but she knew they wouldn’t be able to. Multiple piles of ashes littered the pathway, the remains of her attacks.

Iboref was still fighting off more Aanieans as they continued to arrive by the numbers. Arrellia wasn’t even sure how they had managed to get into the city. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to use her magic again; she was drained of her energy. She collapsed to the ground as an Aaniean rushed for her. He kept her on the ground, threatening to snap her ‘little witchy neck.’ Suddenly the man flew off of her and crashed into a nearby building, making a dent in the stone with his now flattened body. She looked up and saw the gray cloaked shapes of Austrevur and Oakley. Austrevur thrust his staff forward, knocking more men off of their feet. Iboref had also finally defeated his assailants, splitting one of the Aanieans in two. Soldiers of the guard had also arrived on the scene, fighting the fur-clad men by the numbers.

Arrellia forced herself off of the ground, just in time to see Austrevur implode a man’s neck. Bodies littered the streets in front of her house and blood speckled the plants and stone. It smelled horrible.

Camp NaNoWriMo: An Excerpt From My Novel

For Camp NaNoWriMo this month I have been rewriting my novel from National Novel Writing Month in November. It isn’t really a revision because I never finished the draft of my NaNo novel, despite reaching the goal of 50k words in under a month. This time, I am trying to finish a full draft of the novel so that the real revision can begin.

And it is now my pleasure to post an excerpt of my novel. I will be doing more of these throughout the year as my novel becomes more and more the way I want it to be. Without further ado, here is an excerpt from Prophecy of Misharedra, the prologue: Sanctuary. Enjoy and comment with your feedback/ criticism, my feelings won’t be hurt.


 

Ascateheleah raised a wrinkled hand, silencing the man. “I understand your worries, Austrevur. I share the same concerns, but I don’t see any way around it. She goes to her family, where she will be safe,” he said hoarsely.

“Safe from what?” Austrevur questioned. “I don’t think anyone besides those in the Order even know that Lisuacar and Egarnas Justiques had a child. The attack was a freak incident, nothing more.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” Ascateheleah admitted, scratching his beard. “At any rate, Gasheicium is going to bring the baby with a few others of the Order. I told them not to come along, but they insisted. Ah, there they are now.”

A group of robed individuals wearing silly hats: pointed hats, lopsided hats, and flat hats, approached them. The ones in the front carried small lanterns with green flames, and another carried a white bundle in his arms, which was cradled like it was made of precious glasswork.

“You expect no one to notice a group of silly looking people with lanterns?” Austrevur shot out, his face turning tomato red. “The flames are green for Zeylon’s sake! What happened to this being a secret operation?”

Ascateheleah smiled at this outburst. He seemed to find the situation humorous. “May I offer you a flask of Euphinorian Mint Ale? You seem to need it. If anyone sees us we can simply wipe their memory clean.”

“I have some at home, but…” Austrevur took up the offer as the cloaked men and women surrounded them. The man with the baby was frowning.

“What happened to Lisuacar and Egarnas…it is a sad day. Do we know who attacked their vessel, Sir?”

Ascateheleah smiled at the baby girl. “No, we do not. It very well could have been pirates, but seeing as the eternal storms have kicked up again in the North…”

“No!” The man yelled in shock. “Zardocyla? Surely not, Faspeu is still sleeping.”

“For now. Gasheicium, it would seem that we have all been mistaken. Dark times lie ahead of us all; we just need to be ready for when they strike. How is the girl?”

Greatest albums from each year: 1970 – 1974

As part of a new series I am starting: Music in the eyes of young adult, I have decided to kick it off with my favorite albums from each year. This will be the first of many parts, offering my two favorite albums from each year and an explanation. A few years also have a honorable mention because of the hard decisions a list like this entails.

Enjoy!

 


1970

1. Led Zeppelin III – Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin III is the pinnacle of Led Zeppelin’s career. The songs on the album are mostly acoustic or softer in nature than the rest of Zep’s catalog, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t rock. The album starts with the famous “Immigrant Song” and the wails of Robert Plant, which has become one of the most recognizable Zeppelin songs. The album proceeds through the great “Friends” and eventually into “Out on the Tiles,” which is probably one of their better songs. The second half of the album gets interesting and shows Led Zeppelin’s musical diversity. The cover of the traditional song “Gallows Pole” is transformed into a Zep trademark with its catchy arrangement. “Tangerine” is one of my all time favorite songs and is also the first Led Zeppelin song I ever heard. The album then proceeds into “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” which is the best song on the album. Its beat is easy to stomp or clap along to and the song just has a fun feel to it.

2. American Beauty – Grateful Dead

American Beauty is the best album the Grateful Dead ever put out during their long spanning career. Unlike many of its predecessors, the songs on American Beauty are easy to hum or sing along to and they are generally more upbeat than before. All of the songs share a similar formula that soft rock bands everywhere could die for. The album’s highlight would be “Ripple,” which is a song that really grew on me over the years, hearing my brother play it loud while burning Nag Champa in my old house’s basement while I was in elementary school.


 

1971

1. IV (Led Zeppelin IV, Zoso) – Led Zeppelin

The most popular of Led Zeppelin’s catalog, IV remains one of the most influential albums of all time. Practically every song has become a hit over the years and I have heard all of them played on my local radio station in Seattle within the past three years. Why? The album is timeless. It is straightforward rock n roll at its finest. No song on the album could be considered filler. “Stairway to Heaven” is also probably the most recognizable song of the 1970s.

2. Pearl – Janis Joplin

This one might come as a bit of a surprise, especially coming from a 17 year-old. Janis Joplin was one of the most important female vocalists. As Steven Tyler of Aerosmith put it on FOX’s “American Idol,” “If you don’t got what Joplin had, then the only roots ya got are in your hair.” Pearl is fitting as the last album Janis Joplin put out before her death, because she went out with a bang and on top.


 

1972

1. Machine Head – Deep Purple

Deep Purple’s Machine Head is through and through a great rock album. It also helped to form the basis of heavy metal. “Smoke on the Water” has become a song known world-wide and it is the most commonly played song on guitar. I will even admit that it is one of the only songs I can play on guitar because you can learn it so quickly. While “Smoke on the Water” may be the most memorable song on the album, it is certainly not the best. “Maybe I’m a Leo” has such a great rhythm you can’t help but try to mimic the guitar and keyboard noises or sing along.

2. Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones

I have always prefered the Stones music after Some Girls, but Exile on Main Street is such a strong album that not considering it as one of the best albums of 1972 would be a sin. “Tumbling Dice” is definitely a highlight of the Stones’ career and I can’t help but sing along to “All Down the Line” every time I hear it.


 

1973

1. Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin

We aren’t quite done with Zep just yet. Houses of the Holy is a fitting follow-up album for 1971’s best-selling IV. It is the first album to move away from the traditional Led Zeppelin sound and start to move to a more vocal and keyboard driven rock, which is also repeated on Zep’s next album, Physical Graffiti. Many of these songs are still played on my local radio. “The Crunge” and “D’yer Mak’er” are definitely stand-out tracks.

2. Aerosmith – Aerosmith

Aerosmith’s debut album is definitely one of the greatest debuts in history. “Make It” starts off the album with that bluesy-hard rock feel that would become a staple of Aerosmith’s early sound. The album also includes the hit “Dream On,” which features Steven Tyler’s great piano playing and screaming, and the song “Mama Kin,” which is still a fan favorite today. Guns n Roses also covered the song two decades later.


 

1974

1. Get Your Wings – Aerosmith

Get Your Wings follows the same sound as Aerosmith’s first album, but it also further progresses itself into hard rock. The album contains many concert staples such as “Same Old Song and Dance,” and “Train Kept-A-Rollin.”

2. Kiss – KISS

KISS’s debut album ranks as one of their best. It contains many fan favorites and concert staples such as “Strutter,” “Firehouse,” “Cold Gin,” and “Deuce.” The album showcases the vocal abilities of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, while Peter Criss and Ace Frehley did not sing on many or any in the case of the latter.

Hope It – Dream It- Cure It: Relay for Life

Photo courtesy of Chuck Woodcock
Photo courtesy of Chuck Woodcock. Plane flew over Relay for Life as relayers painted HOPE

Firstly, I apologize for my absence. Life happens.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life again. I was the team captain for The Rockin’ Entourage, a team made up of mostly my family and a few close family friends. I chose to do the relay for my senior community service project because of how much the event means to me.

Why do I relay? Originally my mom was part of a team called the Walk N’ Rollers. The team lasted for quite a few years and had even claimed the Top Fundraising Team for two years in a row. My mom had even claimed the prize of Top Individual Fundraiser in 2008. The team was put together because my brother’s aunt got cancer. Although she survived, she was near death many times and still suffers from the damage chemo and radiation did to her body.

Then on June 8 of last year my grand grandpa died of cancer at the age of 90. He was too old to undergo any treatment and he was given a window of the time he had to live. 

I signed up for the event and registered by the first team captains meeting. I was ready to help finish the fight and put an end to cancer. Then cancer struck back.

My journalism teacher, who is definitely one of the greatest people I have ever met, was diagnosed with cancer near the end of the school year. This came just months after another teacher at my school was diagnosed with cancer and had to take leave for the remainder of the year. He was okay, he took the last week of school off and had the cancer removed, but it was just a reminder for me that cancer can strike when you least expect it.

The relay itself was a joy as always. My team dressed up as 1980s hair band members and my tent site was decorated by stringing my family’s ’80s rock t-shirts together. We also made a team sign and sold Epic Donuts (thanks to my neighbors, the owners of Epic Donuts, for donating six dozen to us) and held a raffle on a massive bird house. Our efforts to compete in every spirit activity and to act silly paid off. 

We won Best Decorated Tent for our unique ideas. We didn’t win best baton, but our Aqua Net hairspray was pretty clever too. And, unfortunately, we didn’t win most spirited team, despite our 24-hours of running around the track in zebra-print pants and wigs while doing guitar solos to rock songs. It was still a fun event, and a very important fundraiser. We contributed nearly $2000 to the relay, which isn’t bad for a brand new team. 

I will never forget the Luminaria at the end of the first night, where we remember those who we have lost to cancer and recognize those who are still fighting or who have succeeded in their fight. I will never forget when we painted HOPE on the field and a plane flew overhead to take out picture. The Relay for Life is a very powerful thing.

I really recommend the Relay for Life experience to anyone who has been affected by cancer, or who knows someone who has. Even if you just want to help raise money or just show up to see what relay is all about, it is bound to be an exciting time.

Hope It – Dream It – Cure It. 

As the American Cancer Society puts it, “follow us to a world with more birthdays.” PASS HOPE ON.