Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Year, New Start

There's a lot on my mind as we approach the new year. For me, this isn't "New Year" so much as it is mid-year. I'm halfway through my first semester of graduate school. For most of my life now, I've been accustomed to the start of summer feeling more like the new year than New Year's does. 

But this year feels more like New Year's than it usually does.

Earlier this year, I was in a pretty crappy living situation with some people who turned out to be bad roommates. Things were fine at first, but as the weeks wore on and the "shiny" of being in a new place wore off, they basically started to care less and less. The risk of rooming with two other people is, of course, that they will gang up on you, which is pretty much what happened there.

The house itself didn't really help us get along. It was bigger and built so that we could go for days without even having to see each other. There was a lot more to it than that, but basically, they did everything they could to shut me out and drive me out -- but got all pissy when I wanted to move out because they still wanted me there paying my part of rent; they just didn't want to live with me.

Anyway, I'm not someone who's easily intimidated or hurt or cowed. I knew I needed to move before my semester was over or it would wreck my school and job performance. So I reached out to family, friends (yes, former roommates, I DO have those), and people at college and got myself out of there and into a better house with better people.

But all my things weren't out of the old house until Thanksgiving. And financially this was also a giant pain because I did double bills one month, and then had one of the former roommates try to rip me and my mother off to the tune of $100. (We did get the money eventually).

And.

I didn't have TIME for that shit. I didn't have time to try to be a graduate student, read the entire Shakespeare canon in a semester, work a job, play cello for money, write, have friends, run this blog, be ME while I was dealing with these people. This was incredibly stressful and also time-consuming. It was so stressful that I actually reestablished speaking terms and a functional, if distant, friendship with my ex.

I knew my roommates would go out and misrepresent the situation, misrepresent me, to all my friends, to people in the graduate program, and that's exactly what they tried to do. They are more outgoing and chatty than I am, and they have no problem airing all their dirty laundry. Last I heard, they were whining to our mutual friends about me and telling everyone they were going to hire the family lawyer to force me to stay in the house. 

I am a private kind of person. I was worried that this incident would affect my reputation in the graduate program, that they would deliberately paint me as the villain to people whose good opinions I value. That didn't happen, but my schoolwork did suffer. My job performance suffered as well, though not as much. Mostly, my health suffered. They created an unsafe environment where my nerves were wracked and I was sleep-deprived most of the time.

I got off to a terrible start to a first semester of graduate school. I think I did pretty well for myself, but I know that I could have done better. When I'm functioning at my best, I'm better than this. But because of those people, I couldn't function at my best, and my performance suffered. I will always resent that. 

So that's why this feels more like a New Year. I'm out of undergrad, and out of that house. Last semester felt almost more like a trial run than anything. I'm ready to start graduate school in earnest, at my best, not holding back. For real this time. It feels more like New Year because it's a new start.

Now let's see: my hair still isn't long enough to cut and donate as per my resolution from a while ago. I'm going to resolve to be better at managing finances this year. And some other things, but mainly I'm going to approach this upcoming semester with my head in the game. Finally. 

If nothing else, it couldn't be worse than fall semester of junior year. *knock on wood* It helps to have a litmus test of "How bad is it?" This roommate fiasco makes the list, definitely. But it's still not as bad as some other stuff. It's helpful to know I've come through worse.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Now What?

So, Ferguson.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you what happened there. Or rather, didn't happen. A grand jury didn't charge a man who shot down a teen. 

Though I think it's misleading to call it a lack of action or something that didn't happen. It was a choice that people made, a clear choice not to pursue justice. 

I don't often write about these things. I am made uncomfortable by the reactions afterwards, the cultural quagmire I have to sift through in my Facebook feed, the racism, the self-righteousness, and the confusion as to what is supposed to be my reaction. I am made uncomfortable by writing about my own emotions and reactions to these kinds of events.

I don't know what the right reaction is. I don't know what is acceptable for me to express or admit. Today I saw several posts on Facebook. One status: "If you are white and you are not angry about Ferguson, you are the problem."

I had an ex who constantly criticized me for not being open with my emotions and sharing my feelings. True, I'm not the most touchy-feely of people. But it's more difficult to be "open" with my emotions when I have trouble identifying what those emotions are. And here, I'm trying to identify what this is. I don't really have any deep emotions to share in this post because mainly I just feel blank.

Blank, or empty, because "dead inside" is a little too melodramatic. But there is some kind of numbness or deadness to this. Blank; that's a good word. Compartmentalization? Maybe.

I understand on an objective, intellectual level that this is not the correct, good way to feel about Ferguson. I ought not to feel blank or numb because that leads to cynicism, and cynicism doesn't enable change; it impedes it.

I don't think feeling blank necessarily has to lead to acceptance of "the way things are." It doesn't have to be this way. I'll keep following and signing my petitions and voting and doing the things that I do. I still want change in race relations in this country and I believe that that is possible and I can do my bit to help that happen.

And do all that feeling sort of blank. Like when you try to run a program but it's too big so your computer just quits and gives you the blue screen of nope. Maybe there's just too much here for me to process.

Oh, look, it's another white person twisting Ferguson to be all about herself.

But it's kind of misleading to say that this isn't about me, isn't it? That this isn't about all of us, all of America? Because every time a white person denies that Ferguson has anything to do with them, they abdicate guilt and pretend their privilege doesn't exist, and that is wrong.

Anyway, I wrote this post because I couldn't get away from the need to express something about police brutality. I am tired of hearing about these "he-said-corpse-said" scenarios. Tired also of the talking heads on Fox News claiming that police brutality or people's reactions to it have nothing to do with race. Tired of how invested America seems to be in sweeping shit under the rug. 

Tired. Tired, tired, tired. Fed. Up.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

When Writing Doesn't Make You Bleed

I keep stumbling across posts along the lines of, "Write the Thing That Makes You Bleed." That theme is present even in posts that don't specifically focus on that topic. The message? Writing hurts. You should write the painful thing, the thing that makes you bleed, the thing that scares you.

You have to bleed to make it real. It must hurt you to be valid.

I do acting things. In my experience, that method of work is unhealthy -- dangerous, even. You should take care of yourself and your mental and emotional health. You come before the work. It doesn't always have to hurt, and it certainly doesn't have to be painful to be valid.

Writing, to me, is like a more static form of acting where I get to be all the characters. Some of those characters have almost nothing in common with me. Do you know what I do when I don't "feel it"? I pretend. It's called acting, after all. I can pretend and sometimes that is safer than bleeding.

I got onto this topic thinking about my two main writing projects. One is more "bleed-worthy," shall we say, while the other is less so. I find that I enjoy the less "bleed-worthy" project more. I have fewer hangups. My writing is better, more efficient, and I get more words out per day. I also really love these characters and their story, precisely because I am less emotionally invested in them. I can like them as characters and not as scattered pieces of self.

The other project requires more emotional commitment from me, and I'm beginning to suspect that that's why it has dragged on for so long. Emotional investment means that I'm too close to the story to see it clearly. This story doesn't hurt, but I am closer to it emotionally, and that makes me a worse writer.

I knew a director who wanted to cast someone as Ophelia in Hamlet because she had recently and suddenly lost her mother. The director thought it would make Ophelia's grief over the sudden death of her father more "authentic." I pointed out that it might not be a good time for the actress to play that part. The director countered that it could help her work through it. I pointed out that Ophelia commits suicide.

Theatre as therapy? Writing as therapy? I agree with and support those things -- in a controlled setting, when the writer or theatre-maker is ready for it. Your journal is a safe space. Art therapy is a safe space. Writing professionally for something that you intend others to read and publish -- not necessarily a safe space.

When you are writing, you need to know when -- if -- you are ready to write the thing that makes you bleed. And part of that is being able to realize that writing the thing that makes you bleed is not necessarily the best thing for you to write right now. Or, hell, ever. Healing is realizing that you might not be ready. Healing is prioritizing your health and not feeling guilty when something you want to write scares you.

I reject the notion that you need to hurt yourself to be valid.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Acting Woes

Brief update, not on writing, because I'm mostly not doing that at the moment, but on the other side of my life: theatre.

I'm facing an odd problem in rehearsal. The scene is done with a spa concept. And everyone is talking about spa things and props and stuff you stick between your toes, face masks, pedicures, what people always do when they go to the spa. What spa days are like, what they look like and feel like. The process. The atmosphere. Things that are not my "normal."

Pedicures and manicures were a treat for me, for special occasions. I have had one pedicure and one manicure in my life, both before junior prom. In high school. Never a spa day. I've never been to a spa place. And as for the dinner party exercise we did, well...nope. Not much experience with those, either.

Now, I don't need to go all "method actor" and have a spa day just to be able to understand this scene. I pick things up, take cues, and besides, I've seen plenty of movies. It's just been a very illuminating experience. The thing that gets me is how everyone talks about it like it's totally typical. A commonplace feminine experience. My understanding of this experience is assumed. Yet I was never privileged to have this experience because spa days were expensive and impractical -- at least for people of our means. 

It just makes me aware of difference. It struck me at this time because of another comment in class, about how basically everyone has iPhones nowadays. Yes. Many people have iPhones. Many more people can't afford iPhones, though. That is not their normal. It is not my normal.

I mean, I'm in grad school. I have a certain amount of money. My family is not poor. Experiences like this, though, are just...illuminating. Interesting. But not necessarily in a good way. No one is deliberately excluding me or anything malicious, but...

Awareness of difference. That's what has been on my mind lately.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Quick Pulse Check

I haven't been active on the blog or on my Examiner book review channel, or even on twitter and Facebook. I wish I could say this is because I'm busy with "real life." Graduate school and a part-time job are time-consuming, yes, but the main reason is because I was sidelined by illness. When I get sick, my body goes into full-on pouty brat mode and refuses to get better or do anything. And everything is so hard to do that I find myself slacking not only on online stuff and writing, but on my homework, reading, job performance, and various other functions. Basically, everything that requires effort.

I had tonsilitis, lost my voice, got it back in raspy form again, am still coughing a lot, had an asthma attack last Tuesday, and a migraine on Wednesday (probably partly due to coughing so much) and I hurt all over and *insert paragraphs of whining here.*

I don't really want this blog to become my diary, so I'll leave off there, with the promise that as soon as I feel better I'll be back.

In the meantime, I stumbled across an interesting post: Divergent Tastes in Books? by Chuck Wendig of terribleminds.com. The post challenge is to list a book you love that everyone else seems to hate, and a book you hate that everyone else seems to love. Here are mine:

Image source: waldina.com. This book has also been banned before...

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: This was the book in high school that everyone had to read and hated. I chose it as free reading from the library and I really liked it. I think most people hate it because it's not plot-driven, their teachers made them read it, and most modern American high school students probably can't relate to the culture the book is about or what it meant in that culture for a woman to commit adultery with a preacher.

Image source: Wikipedia.

Paper Towns by John Green. Actually, most of what I've read by John Green. I feel bad -- I really like his YouTube personality and I've tried really hard to like his books. But I am forced to conclude that they're sentimental drivel. Most that I've read use the mysterious unattainable girl as a prop in the male character's coming of age story cliche. And John Green never can seem to resist explaining the moral at the end in an unnecessary three pages or so. I hate books that do that. He's funny -- he does humor very well. It's when he tries to get all deep and philosophical that it ends up sounding forced, moralistic, and sentimental.

What do you think? Have you read either of those books? Are there books you love that others hate, and vice versa?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We (Still) Need Diverse Books: Mind Games by Kiersten White

A little while ago, I wrote a post inspired by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag, begun by Ellen Oh (@elloecho).

The book I chose was Mister Monday by Garth Nix, an MG fantasy/steampunk/alternate universe adventure about an adopted kid with debilitating asthma. It also portrays a "non-traditional" family. I picked that book in particular because Arthur has asthma and so do I, but also because I've noticed that people are a lot less willing to mess around with traditional family values in fiction than they are willing to use other elements of diversity.

We still need diverse books, and to do the hashtag justice, I'm thinking this post might become a weekly thing. Today's pick is Mind Games by Kiersten White, which I chose for one of the same reasons that I did Mister Monday: it portrays two main characters with disabilities.


http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-n-M0f7Jc6x0/T-QGQptiAAI/AAAAAAAAEgM/uOPRV9umHjk/s1600/MindGames_cover.jpg

And yes -- both main characters have superpowers, but no, it isn't handled in an insulting way to people with disabilities. At least, I didn't think it was. If you think otherwise, please feel free to share in the comments.

What it is

Mind Games is a science fiction/paranormal-ish novel about seers, empaths, and mind readers who are controlled by a Big Bad Corporation that uses their psychic talents to its own benefit. Fia is a unique psychic who has the gift of intuition; her gut feelings and instincts are always right. Annie, her sister, is a seer who is blind. Bid Bad Corporation holds Annie hostage to get Fia to spy, steal, and assassinate for them. Meanwhile, they train Annie to spy on Fia, since no other seer can predict her actions.

Why I liked it

Actually, this wasn't my favorite book, and I don't know if I'll read the sequel. Parts were quite good and I loved some of it. Overall, I didn't get a very good sense of the heart of the conflict and I wasn't a huge fan of the plot or even the concept. Its strength was the characters (even though it did resort to the tired good-boy bad-boy dilemma). Annie and Fia are very well-written, I liked the viewpoint chapters, and their relationship development was great even though they are depressingly co-dependent.  

Part of the conflict, and problems which may make the reader uncomfortable, are how each sister views the other as a liability that needs to be protected because of their disability. For Annie, this is amplified by being Fia's older sister and needing to look out for her. When their parents were alive, Fia got the rather negative message that it was her job to protect her blind sister (despite being a child who was in no way equipped for this). Both are willing to do extreme and often horrible things for the other. Their relationship is a complex, frequently toxic mix of deep love and deep resentment. They are raised together as hostages and to some extent see each other as obstacles to their freedom.

Diversity

First: Annie. I think Mind Games skirted a problem with Annie by having her go blind at the age of four, long before she develops any psychic powers. This avoids the all-too-common trend of giving a character cool superpowers to compensate for a disability...and making that character the best ever at the superpower (or at overcoming their disability, whether or not such a thing is physically possible). When she gets her psychic ability, it isn't portrayed as a substitute or compensation for her physical disability. Annie isn't any better or worse at being blind than anyone else. Neither is she The Best Seer Ever. Big Bad mostly uses her to spy on Fia, considers Annie expendable, and actually sabotages her seer training so that she doesn't get too powerful. Mind Games doesn't sugar-coat Annie's life. Nor does it portray being blind as the worst thing that could ever happen to someone.

Second: Fia. Annie has a psychic/mind-based ability and a physical disability; Fia has an instinctual/physical-based ability and a mental illness. I thought that was a neat parallel. Annie is blind, and Fia is suicidally depressed. She also seems to have an addictive personality and self-destructive tendencies. I enjoyed Mind Games's portrayal of her depression because it showed someone who is depressed in an angry way, and I haven't seen that very often. Many people with depression cycle through angry and depressive periods.

I don't think Fia's mental illness is handled as well as Annie's blindness, and this is also where the plot starts to fall apart. The bad guys have empaths and mind readers -- but apparently they can't treat Fia or see the warning signs. They don't care about the mental or physical health of their most valuable asset and the only known person with this ability. The Big Bad Guys spend all this time manipulating and cozying up to Annie, who is barely useful to them, and let Fia become a suicidal, angry wreck who hates them all. 

I know they're supposed to be EVIL, but really -- that's no excuse for Oblivious Evil. "Murder-suicide attempt? Here are some pills and a long vacation without any mental health professionals, adults, or bodyguards, unstable spy/assassin-in-training! Oh, and we'll just send along the (superhot) heir to the company. Not like Fia has any reason to hate him. He's not valuable at all! She won't have plenty of opportunities to kill him and her romantic rival and/or herself!" 

This entire plot could have been solved if Fia had taken Hot Heir (pun intended) hostage for her sister's freedom. Which they gave her ample opportunity and motive to do. But I suppose if they had done the logical thing, there wouldn't be a plot. 

Have you read Mind Games? What did you think?

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Best Part of #NaNoWriMo

It's September 1st and still far too early to be thinking about NaNoWriMo, yet I find it on my mind as I wait for November. I'd like to attempt it this year, even if I don't finish the 50k goal. 

http://myrenaissanceblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/sophie-keep-calm.jpg
Source.
Why? While I do like racking up the word count, the best thing about National Novel Writing Month has been the writing community. I love hanging out on the forums. It's a place to post questions, answer questions, pick and choose ideas, and chat. I've found critique partners and some other interesting people there as well. 

There's a whole writing community that I never would have found if I hadn't done NaNo, and my writing would be the poorer for it. NaNoWriMo is helping me get over my intense fear of sharing my writing. I used to be exceptionally paranoid even among other writers I knew when it came to sharing my writing. This is helping.

It hasn't been entirely positive, and the forums can be an extremely distracting place. However, the "Word Wars, Prompts, and Sprints" and the "Adoptables" forums have been extremely, AMAZINGLY helpful in getting new ideas, forcing myself to write, and beating my own personal procrastination monster.

Every year around this time, I see a flurry of posts on NaNoWriMo -- why you should do it, why you shouldn't, etc. Most people do the plug about how it forces you to speed-write 50k in a month, which helps you focus on discipline and ignore perfectionism. It does do those things -- but I've never seen or heard anyone to recommend it for the writing community. 

So I will! :) The best part of NaNoWriMo is that all the other people on the forums can be extremely useful, helpful, and fun. Of course you have your nasty people, too, but the moderators generally do a good job. (I can recall only one time I was really and genuinely offended by a moderator's response to my concern.) And the best thing about the forums is that they don't close when November ends. There's a small but dedicated group of people who hang out on the forums all year long.

Have you done NaNo? Have you "won" NaNo? Did you use the forums at all?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Stop With this ALS False Humility Bullshit

To those of you doing the ALS ice bucket challenge, I applaud you. It's quite a clever idea, especially for a summertime activism/awareness campaign. The most effective of these campaigns make something trendy in order for it to spread farther faster. 

It works a hell of a lot better than guilt-tripping or shock value. It requires donors to participate in a way that's more active than sharing a status. Take the challenge, donate some money, share, post, challenge others.

Most people -- judging by the admittedly limited sources of my Facebook and twitter feed -- seem to enjoy taking part in a big cause in a small way. Then there are those who scoff at it as "slacktivism" and refuse to participate. Opposite the "too cool for this" group are the few people who appear to believe that dumping a bucket of ice water on one's head makes them an expert on ALS and is the most important thing they'll ever do to help the ALS cause -- whether they donate or not. 

Then there's a fourth group. And this fourth group, while probably the smallest, angers me the most -- the False Humility group.

They're sort of like the "too cool for all you 'slacktivists'" group, except that they actually donate. However, they take the challenge with a sneer and a "holier-than-thou" attitude. Others in this group don't take the ice bucket challenge. Rather, they make sure you know that while they won't be doing a silly challenge, they're donating money to the cause because I guess they're just too good for childish antics.

I've seen protests from these supposedly humble activists that no, they won't be filming and sharing an ice bucket challenge because they're not narcissistic enough to use social media like that. They'll share on social media that they are donating, but specifically not doing the challenge. Because, you know, that totally shows how humble they are. And, you also know, it would be totally narcissistic to put the challenge on social media and get more people to see it, donate, or get curious about the cause. It's not like social media sharing is how this cause got so popular or anything.

Mainly, though, this defeats the purpose of what they're trying to say: that the Ice Bucket Challenge is silly and pointless. It got viral enough to get them to hear about the cause and donate, so clearly it accomplished its goal. 

There's nothing wrong with saying you don't want to dump a bucket of ice water on your head. I wish this last, oddly smug group of people would just admit that instead of spitting on the rest of the people doing the challenge -- without whom they would have heard nothing to be smug about. The pride and false humility is more about a disdain for being seen to participate in current trends rather than any specific objection to the cause or the awareness campaign itself.

You want to be humble about your activism? Donate some money -- and then try not to brag about how you donated money out of the goodness of your soul, instead of dumping water on your head like all these other fools.

http://thatdingostolemy6pack.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Shut-up-and-take-my-money.jpg


I won't be doing the challenge. I may or may not be donating, either, depending on my financial situation. Perhaps I'll set a donation by for a later date when I have money to spare. However, I'll leave this link here in case you would like to donate or read more about ALS:

http://www.alsa.org/donate/

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Summer Without Internet

Some of you may have been wondering where I've been all this summer. I've barely posted any reviews to examiner, I've been completely absent from here, and I said I was going to do that Ready. Set. Write! thing.

Unfortunately, I haven't had Internet access for most of the summer. Sigh.

This is probably the part where I'm supposed to wax eloquent about what a relief it was not to be so busy and connected, and how being shut off from social media and the web was a blessing in disguise. I've read enough posts about taking Internet breaks; I know how it goes.

Something-something, enlightenment, the corruption of the modern world...
Well, it wasn't. I understand Internet breaks, but I'll be very happy to get my Internet back. It's been annoying at best and at worst, has interfered with my job. I couldn't email my supervisor (or my mother), or go online to check important life kinds of things without taking myself to the library (where I am now). And with two jobs, I haven't had a lot of time to go to the library during regular hours. I couldn't check email for updates on grad school. I know, I know, first world problems. But I hate being cut off from my writing, entertainment, and news sources. Perhaps that makes me petty and shallow like all the kids nowadays. Personally, I just think I like being connected. I especially dislike getting news by word-of-mouth from people with no idea what they are talking about, with no way for me to fact-check.

I've hated not having Internet. My roommate was supposed to set up our account back in June. June. She volunteered to do it because she had a phone with Internet access, so it was easiest for her to do. The thing is, because her phone had Internet, it wasn't exactly as urgent an issue for her. We got our account in mid-July-ish and we're finally getting our cable outlet installed. We were supposed to get that done Friday, but the techs never showed up. We get a discount, fortunately, but I'd rather just have my Internet.

Anyway, this has all been a valuable life lesson in living without Internet and with roommates. Adulthood. Yay.

Not that Internet is essential. Clearly I've been surviving without it, mainly by crocheting and reading a lot. (And drinking.) If I'd bothered, I probably could have gotten it all set up a lot earlier. Just like I could have mowed the yard today. Oh, well.

So, what have I been up to?

I am currently working two jobs, though I'll have to drop one when school starts again in September. I'll miss the extra money, but I'll probably appreciate the extra time for reading and homework. I'm living off-campus in a house with two roommates and no pets. It also has a yard, which I simultaneously hate and like to mow. I'm getting all my drinking and partying out of the way over the summer. I gained some weight, which my mother is only too eager to point out every time I see her. I lost some weight, too, but since I'm still over 110 pounds, my mother feels the need to point out that I've gained weight.

I'm looking forward most to my Stage Combat class, though less so to getting up at 7:30 AM for it. I'm beginning to feel the panic setting in as classes approach. I'm reading a lot -- a lot of dark fiction, oddly, seeing as how I typically read lighter stuff in the summer. I'm barely writing, though I do knit a lot. I also broke up with my boyfriend -- who has finally stopped texting me. The unfortunate part of that situation was that my phone doesn't allow me to see who sends a text without opening it. Grr.

And...that's about it with me. OH WAIT RIGHT and I'm watching The Legend of Korra. If you aren't, then you should be. Actually, I'm going to go catch up right now, while I'm still at the library.

Have a good week, blog readers!

*crickets*

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ready. Set. Write! Goals

This summer kicks off Ready. Set. Write! Hosted by Jamie Morrow, Erin Funk, Katie Upperman, and Allison Miller, Ready. Set. Write! is a weekly blog hop about summer writing goals. Anyone can participate, and we all give help and encouragement along the way. 


This is the goal-setting week (which I'm coming slightly late to). For this week, I will:
  • Return to my editing journal for The Book 
  • Add 500 NEW words -- not edits or revisions -- to The Book
  • Add another 1,000 words to Contracted
In the following weeks, I'll update with these headings: 
  • How I did on last week's goals
  • Goals for this week 
  • A favorite line from my story
  • The biggest challenge I faced that week
  • Something I love about my wip
Since I will be moving this weekend, I am not sure how much I'll be able to get done. I might have problems with updating the blog as well. When things settle down a bit, I'll be back. Until then, have a great rest of the week! :)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

It's the Little Things...

Everyone has their writing "thing." Some people like notebooks -- college-ruled only. Some people have to listen to the same song over and over again while writing. Others make playlists. Some people use only pen, some pencil, and others only type. I've heard from people who prefer to use typewriters when drafting. Some people have to find the "right" font for each story.

I used to think that a lot of this was just silly at best, and ways to procrastinate at worst. Weird writing "things" seemed like just more stuff to get in the way of actually writing. What did it matter if you used blue or black ink? Did it really make a difference to use Arial instead of Times New Roman? It all seemed like a lot of sugar pills to me.

I don't believe the "Muse" is real or necessary to start writing, and I used to think of all these writing "things" in exactly the same way. I thought people just made them up to make themselves look special, or to make it look like ONLY THEY knew the REAL secret to writing. Use Helvetica, and YOU TOO can write a bestseller!

Until, of course, I found my own writing "thing."

I used to double-space my wip's in Word. It took me forever to write anything, and my transitions were terrible. I tried single-spacing, but nothing improved.

Then I wrote Contracted after the format I use on this blog: no indents and a space between paragraphs. For some reason, being able to see the text this way gave me a better idea of how long to make paragraphs, where transitions should fall, and how much writing "ground" I was actually covering. Who knew. It wasn't a one-off thing, either. I changed my other wip to this format, and my writing has gone so much more smoothly since then.

I'm officially a convert. If it floats your writing boat, use it. Writing can be hard, so anything that makes it easier for you is good.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Diverse Book Blog Tag!

Perhaps you've heard of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks twitter hashtag, or have seen some of the diverse book buzz going around -- especially in MG, YA, and NA. It's important for all types of people to be represented in publishing, whether it's representing more diverse characters or publishing more diverse authors. 

"Diverse" is a rather wide umbrella that can include a lot of things: ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity, LGBT+, body types, and disabilities to name a few. For this blog tag...

1. Post a diverse book.
2. Say why you liked it.
3. Explain what the diversity meant to you.
4. Link to the post that tagged you and tag someone else!

My book is...


http://libbysguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/monday.jpg

What it is/Why I liked it

This is the first book in The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. It's an MG fantasy/steampunk series of 7 books about a kid named Arthur who's chosen to be the heir to the universe because of a bureaucratic hiccup. The Architect of said universe has disappeared and Her creations are fighting amongst themselves over who gets to control things. Arthur unwillingly attempts to fulfill his Chosen One role in order to get the minions of his competitors to leave him, his family, and Earth alone. I really enjoyed the extremes of imagination that went into this book and the whole series. It was a wild ride from start to finish and it never did what I expected.

Diversity

Arthur comes from an unconventional family. His dad has a few kids from different mothers from his rock band days, his mom has kids from a previous marriage, Arthur is adopted, and his parents have kids together. Not all of the siblings are close in age or in ethnicity, but they all consider themselves to be part of the same loving, functional family.

Also, Arthur has asthma. His is a pretty serious case, and (spoiler) it's the impetus behind the entire plot. When I first read this book, it was gratifying to see an asthmatic protagonist. I could sympathize with people not taking him seriously, and how he struggled with physical activities that most people take for granted. I used to do a lot more sports, but it was always harder for me, and it got frustrating when even my relatively mild case of asthma stopped me from being as good as I wanted to be or having fun. Having an asthma attack is terrifying, and Mister Monday did a scarily good job of showing that.



Have you read Mister Monday? What do you think about diversity in books?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Graduation Thoughts

What's Up Wednesday is hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, to help writers and bloggers keep in touch as we scribble. :)

What I'm reading

I'm relishing the chance to sit down with Fragments by Dan Wells, the sequel to Partials.  It's a post-apocalyptic science fiction YA series, and it's phenomenal. Dan Wells' world is the most well-thought-out, detailed, and possibly most scientifically accurate vision of the post-apocalyptic Earth that I've ever read. Also, I love these characters, and my recent favorites are some new introductions. I love seeing how the changing circumstances affect these characters and their relationships.

What I'm writing

I'm on break from writing right now. I wrote up until when I would have to write the awkward sex scene and the really complicated public event scene. Those scenes will be harder technically. I don't have writer's block; I'm just avoiding them. I'll admit it. In the meantime, I'm planning to do Camp NaNo in July with a new project. It ought to be fun...

What else I'm up to

I graduated on Sunday! I even wrote a post about it.

My feelings are mainly of relief. As Ty commented on the above post, college is "one of the final times that most of your movements are judged so closely by the standards of someone else's views of success." I'm still going on to graduate school, but at least now I can focus on what I really wanted to study all along. 

What inspires me right now 

Chocolate. And Fragments. And the big, exciting TBR pile that I will now finally have time for. Also, crocheting. I'm making a blanket/couch throw in "springy" colors, and it's coming out really well. It looks lovely.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Finally: Graduation

Yesterday, I graduated from college with my B.A.

Hooray!

Finally. Thank God. 

I wish that I could say college was the "best four years of my life," like people kept telling me it was going to be, but first of all I hate that saying, and second of all, it wasn't. It was good, of course, but it wasn't the best. Trying to classify parts of your life as "best" just leaves you constantly disappointed. So I try not to think of things in terms of "best."

I had a post planned out about things I did and learned while in college, but I'd like to keep some of that to myself for now. 

I started this blog as a freshman. Somehow, I managed to keep it up. If I could do it again, I'd rename it something less cheesy and more truthful. The "voices" in the title were meant to refer to the different characters I had knocking around in my head -- yet, specifics about my writing are one of the things I hardly ever talk about on here.

When I examine myself, I'm sometimes surprised to think that I write a blog at all. I'm more internally focused. I don't like sharing personal things even to friends with whom I am close, let alone strangers online. A lot of what I write here reads as shallow to me compared to other bloggers who regularly bare their souls in their posts and wear their hearts on their sleeves. 

I keep feeling like the college will call me and tell me that I forgot to do something, or that I'll wake up back in the fall semester of junior year (aka: Hell). I'll start believing I've graduated in a week or so, when I continue to wake up in my parents' house and not my dorm room.

And then I'll go back to graduate school.

And keep writing. And doing other things. And, finally, getting around to beta-reading everything from my CP's. Seriously, though, the incentive of finally being able to get back to their manuscripts really helped motivate me to grit my teeth, finish my final requirements, and graduate. I like beta-reading. If any of them are reading this, thank you for writing your stories and sharing them with me.

What's next? I have only a general idea. First, though, I have to unpack.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Recital Week

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Jaime Morrow.

What I'm Reading

I've been assigned The Covenant with Black America by Tavis Smiley for class. It's an engaging read. It's different from other non-fiction works I've read in that it is a proposal for a plan of action, on the individual, local, state, and federal levels. Other non-fiction I've read has mostly been "here is this cool true story" or "did you know these facts?" or "you should do this thing here do it based on my opinion no really it's totally the thing you should just do." The Covenant beats all of them out of the park. (Is that the correct expression?)

I also finished The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand. I have a soft spot for angry characters, and Olivia's arc was complex and emotional. She was a character I related to on a more personal level than I usually do. 

At one point, she's being taunted by shades who fling insults at her and demand, "Why can't you be nice?" That hit home for me. There's no room in our culture for girls to be allowed to be angry or respond to bad things that happen to them with outrage. We're expected to be benevolent Disney princesses who smile sweetly in the face of suffering, poverty, and personal loss and deny our own pain because pain isn't attractive and anger isn't feminine. Olivia's mom leaves them and her dad loses everything. They're homeless and squatting in the symphony hall. No, she doesn't have to be nice.

To be honest, I expected some kind of sappy, make up with everyone, look all the problems are fixed now type of ending. What happened instead felt so much more honest and compelling.

What I'm writing

This blogpost. Papers for class. I'm supposed to find time to interview a lot of people. I don't know how this will happen. This is basically a full semester's worth of work crammed into a two-and-a-half week term. On top of this, I am taking another class, I have work, I have to volunteer for 25 hours (outside of class), and I'm supposed to practice the cello for my senior recital on Saturday. In Laura terms, I KNOW it's bad when my recital is the thing I'm LEAST worried about. 

What Else I'm Up To

I'm avoiding sleep. My brain does this absurd anti-logic where it thinks, "Maybe if I don't go to sleep, the next morning won't happen."

I also randomly fainted in the bathroom on Friday and had to go to emergency care. I may or may not have had a seizure as well? I remember twitching, and actually lucid dreaming before waking up. But no one came into the bathroom during the 7 minutes I was unconscious (the first thing I did when waking up was check my phone to see the time and call a friend; thank God for cell phones), so there's no way to tell what actually happened.  

My scans were normal, though. The doctors concluded that some combination of sleep deprivation, lack of adequate food that day, and hitting my funny bone on the door (I broke the skin) caused me to black out. It's called a "Vaso-Vagal episode," which basically means "We don't know why you passed out." Luckily, I could feel something was wrong and knelt down before blacking out. At least I did not hit my head.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Wow. Great movie. In some places, they play fast and loose with the laws of physics, even with characters who are not super-soldiers. Despite me sitting there muttering "The Falcon's legs should be broken by that fall" and "That pilot would never fly so close to the helicarrier and anyway he might have passed out from all those g's, I should ask my brother if that move is even plausible but I think not," that is my only complaint with the movie.

I made a bet with my mom that she will cry when she sees it. She doesn't think she will. But she cried in Frozen, so I think I'm going to win this one. Also, I already knew the big plot twist/reveal, and I don't think she does. This should be fun. It's like when I watch Game of Thrones with people who don't read the books. Though lately, that show has been surprising book readers and show watchers alike.

In the meantime, I've been making up terrible Frozen lyrics/Winter Soldier mashups with my roommate.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: May Term

Well, it's been a while since one of these. I thought I'd ease back into blogging with a What's Up Wednesday, a weekly blog hop hosted by Jaime Morrow.

What I'm Reading

I'm nearing the end of The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand. I really love this one, and I also loved Ms. Cavendish's Home for Boys and Girls. The Year of Shadows is an MG ghost story, while Ms. Cavendish is MG horror. I have a feeling that Claire Legrand will become a favorite author of mine. Both these books are so good, and so different. What with this and the new Nick and Tesla, I've been reading mostly MG. However, I still have a big TBR pile to get to, which includes a mix of genres and age ranges.


What I'm Writing

Reviews and blog posts! I just reviewed the ARC of Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle, an MG mystery. I'm also getting ready to jump back into writing Contracted. I was really overwhelmed with spring semester stuff, but now that it's the short May Term, I should have more time on my hands. Well, we'll see... 

What else I'm up to right now

I'm still watching Hemlock Grove. It hasn't gotten better...It's getting worse. Which means that each episode is even more corny, terrible, and so-bad-it's-entertaining. 

I turned 22 (did I mention that?).

I will also be able to work on things for my CP's. At least, this is the theory. In between all this, I am trying to find a job to work during the summer and graduate school. I have a house with two roommates and I've been accepted into the program that I wanted, but I am worried about being able to pay rent, bills, house upkeep, and tuition. Ugh. Things are hard.

In the meantime, I just have to finish my last graduation requirements and do my senior recital for the cello. I have my recital hearing tomorrow. I can't tell you how much I am not looking forward to this. I am a good player, but I am not the strongest performer. I like the music that I have programmed; I just wish I could get an A for learning it without having to actually play it for people and stuff. Ugh again. Things are hard.

What inspires me right now

It's not freezing anymore. That's always good.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review: Hemlock Grove, ep. 1 and 2

Hello! I'm back from my blogging hiatus. I've been on a horror kick lately, and most recently, I watched the first two episodes of Netflix's Hemlock Grove. I'm a bit late to this series, but for what it's worth, here's my review.

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I have some...issues. 


Pacing

It's based on a novel, and you can tell. Once the show introduces something that might be interesting or lead to tension and conflict, it snatches it away like a precious plot-gem that it doesn't want you to see. There is way too much exposition and filler. The plot hangs together pretty well, but not much really happens.

Case in point, it should not have taken two whole episodes to find out Main Character is a werewolf. Especially since everyone seems clued into this fact and accepts it as truth -- except the viewers. Then suddenly Rich Boy is asking if he can watch the transformation like it's understood that Poor Kid Main Character is a werewolf. No warning, no lead-up, nothing. The show did spend a lot of time working in hints that Rich Boy is a vampire, such as...

The Sex

Rich Boy vampire gives oral sex to a girl on her period in the bathroom stall of their high school. Yep. That happened.

Missed Opportunity Target Audience

Hemlock Grove has the feel, writing, and characters appropriate to a teen paranormal romance show. The sex, adult characters' storylines, swearing, and other attempts to make it "edgy" and "adult" feel out of place. For the most part, the sex and violence happen offscreen or just out of the shot. It's all pretty tame stuff, giving the flavor of horror without actually showing it -- like you'd expect in a show targeted towards a younger audience. Just enough to make them feel cool for watching more adult content; not enough to tick off their parents. 

So in the few scenes with explicit content, it's like, "Wait, what? Where is this coming from?" It's inconsistent with the feel of the rest of the show. It's like a teen paranormal show that has slasher aspirations but is too scared to go all the way.

Hemlock Grove could have had great success if it had been conceived as paranormal show for teens. "Rich vampire kid teams up with poor werewolf kid to solve a mystery killing in their small town" is classic YA paranormal. Even the casting seems appropriate. Most of the characters are high schoolers with high school problems. The MC's are two hot boys who give each other long, intense looks, have a strange instant connection, and spend a surprising amount of time shirtless or naked. Bringing me to...

Twilight but Without Bella and Edward and Jacob are Bi (Maybe?)


Seriously, this show could not make their relationship more suggestively homoerotic if it tried. Vampire Kid sends Werewolf Kid a note asking, "Can I watch?" He later watches the werewolf transform, completely naked, covered in sweat, moaning and writhing and quite determinedly making intense eye contact with Vampire Kid. By the end, he's covered in blood, which of course Vampire Kid wants more than anything. Stop talking and just make out already.


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"Can you hear the fangirls sing?"
The only thing is...I'm not sure whether the show intends for there to be homoerotic subtext or a romance between these two. It is entirely possible that the writers did this by accident. I hope not. I want it to go somewhere. Besides, watching Werewolf Kid pity-flirt with Vampire Kid's disabled sister is just uncomfortable, as is Vampire Kid's incest crush on his cousin. But getting to my last point...

Worst Werewolf Transformation Ever

I mentioned before that this show is not what it says on the tin. Throughout the first two episodes, there was light gore, offscreen or out-of-shot violence, and nothing that really made you want to throw up. Well, except maybe the oral period sex, but that wasn't shown.

But then the werewolf character slowly and painfully rips out of his own skin to transform. His eyeballs pop out. Wolf teeth grow in, pushing out his human ones. His face rips apart as a werewolf snout pushes its way through. When it's finally complete, the wolf shakes off the human skin and blood like a dog that just got out of the water.

And eats it.

AND EATS IT. He fucking EATS HIMSELF.

You know, I'm not a fan of censorship, but this show gave me NO WARNING that something like that was going to happen. I don't want ratings. I want a "this show has an autocannabalism scene" warning to pop up. Or something. I was NOT prepared to see that and absolutely nothing in the show so far gave me any warning that I should expect that level of gore and JUST FUCKING GROSS LIKE ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WHYYYYYY.

I guess it makes sense that the werewolf should feed on his own flesh so that he doesn't hunt down humans later in the night. But still, shouldn't he just hunt animals? Like a normal, non-human-eating wolf? Also, there was a MURDER in this town. It's going to look really bad for his mom if the police stumble upon a PILE OF HALF-EATEN HUMAN FLESH AND TEETH in the backyard.

Oh, God. His mom has to clean that up every month. *gag*

Monday, March 17, 2014

Absent Until April

Things are getting down to the wire with classes and my senior project, so I'll be turtling into my anti-social shell until after my thesis defenses. I have two. One for my major, and one for my Honors qualification.

The performance of my project goes up on April 5th, and the defense will be sometime after that. Err, I should probably schedule that. Soon. Unfortunately, my schedule is full of things like that that I should have done yesterday. Until I do all of them and get this thing over with, no more blogging for me! 

I might still publish the odd review on Examiner just to keep my active status -- and I have a big backlog of reviews to get to, anyway -- but more likely I'll hold all that off until April.

Also, I am still beta-reading for two people right now, but I will not have your stuff back to you until mid-April at the earliest. I'm really sorry about that. I'll still be checking email, so you can send me questions related to your MS and I will respond. However, I won't be able to get you the actual documents until later.

In the meantime, you college students can still submit to Outrageous Fortune literary magazine, which I intern for. :) Send me more plays and art!

When I do eventually return, I want to redesign this blog. I'll also be able to tell you a bit more about my senior project after it's done (when I'm not teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown).

Then on to my senior recital, graduation, and the world beyond.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Another Love Triangle? Really?

I'm currently reading in anticipation of April, and it looks like there's going to be another love triangle. Several more love triangles.



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Their reactions, if they'd known then what puberty had in store. (Image credit)
Sigh.

I do like love triangles -- sometimes. Everything in moderation. I've read plenty of books that don't have a love triangle, too. But Eternity had a love triangle, even though the main character tries to pretend it doesn't exist. The Lord of Opium also ended up having one, albeit a very unusual one. I'm also really hesitant to read Throne of Glass  because I know there's a love triangle in that as well, and it plays a central part in the story.

Even Fire and Hemlock had a sort-of love triangle. More like a love Twister. That one was weird.

The love triangles I see most often are:  
  1. Girl torn between obvious right choice and bad boy. The girl usually has some kind of savior complex that makes her fall for the bad boy, hoping she can "fix" him, often later to realize that she needs saving by the "good" boy.
  2. Two men fighting over the same woman, whether or not the woman knows about it or likes either of them. If she does know about the rivalry, she'll usually be turned on and flattered by the conflict (a Bella Swan). Otherwise, she'll try to keep the peace between them (a Hermione). More rarely, the girl has no clue, either because she thinks of both of them as friends or because she's completely in love with one of them (like Em from Eternity).
The Lord of Opium was a rare example of a boy trying to decide between two girls. Even Harry-flippin'-Potter had a type #2 love triangle, albeit one that was mostly in Ron's head. 

Sigh again. 

By no means do I hate any of these books for having love triangles. I think I understand why it's such a popular device. It creates quick and easy conflict and is a way to develop character. It can also elevate the "other woman" or the "best guy friend" character into a more interesting character. If characters don't have any other issues with each other, introducing romantic conflict is a good way to start a subplot. Love triangles also get fans really involved by rooting for the pairing they support.

Because of all these things, the love triangle sees a lot of use. In fact, it sees so much use that it's practically a cliche by now. When I run across a love triangle in a book that is not a romance novel, my automatic reaction has become:

"Another love triangle? Really?"

I'll still read the book. Sometimes the love triangle is executed in a fresh, original way that surprises me. Sometimes.

Sigh.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Losing My Mind, One Book at a Time

Whew! Thank you to everyone who recommended some books for me to read and review this coming April. I still have a couple of spaces to fill, and my list has changed a little bit.

I've started, but...this is quite the list. I'll get as far as I can. If nothing else, this has forced me to read a lot more than I normally would be reading right now. Here are some mini-reviews and thoughts, in case I don't have time later.

Have finished:

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones: Fairy Tale Retelling/urban fantasy

This one was good, but...weird. In a surreal way. It took me a while to figure out what the ending meant. Also, the undercurrent of pedophilia was icky. Tom is set up as a father figure for Polly from the beginning, but then she has a crush on him, and he turns into a love interest after she's 19. And he says "at least I can ask you now," implying that he's had feelings for this underage girl for years. It wouldn't be so bad except that Tom's real age is never mentioned. Ever. And also the fact that his immortal ex-wife first "adopted" him when he was a child, eventually marrying him/casting a spell over him...and then he ends up in a relationship with a much younger person...So, it's evil when the Fairy Queen ensnares young boys, but it's OK for the main characters? 

Also, he and Polly start out as pen pals whose fantasy world ends up coming true. Polly wrote in a romance between them in the fanfic of their lives, which ended up coming true. Would he have fallen in love with her if she hadn't done that? She basically did to him what his ex-wife did. The romance in this one is all kinds of fucked up. It's the only thing that kept me from completely loving this otherwise fantastic book.

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer: YA sci-fi/dystopian


The House of the Scorpion (the first book) has been my favorite for years. I love it. The sequel, amazingly, did not ruin it. I really liked the sequel, too, despite the love triangle.

This book is ultimately hopeful, but also heartbreakingly tragic. It will stab you in the heart and then twist the knife a little just to hear you scream. BUT my favorite character didn't die!!! FOR ONCE. I wish some of the old characters got more "page time," but the new ones are great, too.

The Shining by Stephen King

I found this to be overly sentimental crap. Which is odd for a horror story. But the amount of screaming and running away is dwarfed by the amount of time characters spend crying and hugging each other and spouting life lessons and wisdom. It also uses several storytelling tropes that I despise -- but which, I'm happy to say, King seems to have grown out of in his later books.

Have started:

Apollo Academy by Kimberly P. Chase: NA sci-fi

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig: YA urban fantasy

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Mind Games by Kiersten White: YA paranormal/sci-fi
      The stream-of-conscious writing makes it really hard for me to concentrate on this one. 

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence: Dark Fantasy 
      Basically a fantasy dystopia. Plot twist -- I bet it's Earth in the future. Or at least alt-Earth.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: YA high fantasy
     I am honestly dreading the love triangle in this one so much that it makes me not want to read on.

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: The Empire Striketh Back Is "nerd heaven" a genre?

The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand: MG horror
     I am over halfway through this one. It's really good. I like to see angry characters done well.

Despite the facetious title of this post, I'm enjoying all this reading. The point of reading is to lose one's mind/thoughts in a good book, after all. I think we all need a break from reality every now and then.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

First Wednesday "What's Up?" in a While

Hey, I remember when I used to do these regularly. WUW is hosted by Jaime Morrow.

What I'm reading

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones is everything I hoped it would be. :) I am also reading various academic sources I need for my senior project. Next up on my TBR is, well...this post should explain it. I'm doing the #AtoZChallenge in April, but with book reviews. Which means I have 26 books to read between now and then. I still need some recommendations, so please feel free to drop off a book on that post!

Also, CP's, I swear I have not forgotten you. I am working on your stuff. Very slowly. But it is happening. 

What I'm writing

Contracted got another 1k added to it last week. I have had almost no time to work on my non-college, non-work writing. Part of the problem is that now that there's no immediate threat to my MCs, it's harder to write. Faster-paced sections are always easier. 

The Book is coming along well in re-writes. I am lazily not writing a transition section. I just want this transition and introduction of these characters to be perfect. Because once the MC meets these people, it's like a point of no return. And then I'll have to be really, really mean to him from then onwards. I have a soft spot for this guy, for some reason. I have never had any problem being absolutely tyrannical towards my other characters, protagonists or not.

Meanwhile, I've done all manner of useful worldbuilding and even outlined a Shiny New Idea for future reference.

What else I'm doing

Not sleeping. I didn't pull an all-nighter. I literally could not sleep on Sunday or Monday night. When I heard the church bells chime 7am and my roommate started getting up and getting ready for class, I was like "f*** it" and got up to go to breakfast. Just in case you're wondering, that's the worst f/ing feeling in the world. It is the WORST. Whenever anyone jokes that they wish they had insomnia because sleep is useless/they could get so much work done, I really just want to send them to sleep. Right then. With an extremely powerful slap.


Anyway, I went to bed around 4:45 this morning and fell asleep around 5 or 5:30. I've had insomnia and delayed sleep phase for years, but usually I have small bouts on occasion, not three f/ing days' worth of mostly-sleepless nights.


What inspires me right now

The play I'm concentrating on for my senior project, 12 Ophelias. It's a really good play. It's just...really good. It's weird and unrealistic, but it's awesome. The language is really beautiful, and the plotting is simple yet genius.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Book Recommendations Needed!

As I said in my last post, I will be doing the #atozchallenge this April -- with a twist. I will write a book review each day. 

Next step: find 26 books to review, one for each letter of the alphabet.

They have to be books I haven't read yet. Also, examiner.com requires members to publish one article minimum per month to retain active status. I've recently read The Republic of Thieves, Eternity, and something else, the title of which escapes me right now. I'll review those in the months between now and April, as well as books I've read before.

But for April, I need a reading list asap. *cracks knuckles* Here's what I have so far:

Apollo Academy by Kimberly P. Chase
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Double Dead by Chuck Wendig
Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King
Fragments by Dan Wells
Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
H
Iscariot by Tosca Lee
Jack 1939 by Francine Matthews
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer
Mind Games by Kiersten White
Night Shift by Stephen King
The Opposite of Tidy by Carrie Mac
Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Queen of Attolia by Magen Whalen Turner
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Sebastian Falls by Celeste Holloway
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
U
V
Wool by Hugh Howey
Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand
Z

That's a lot of letters missing. If anyone has recommendations for books beginning with H, U, V, or Z, please let me know in the comments. Any genre is fine, really. Most of what I have up there are books that have been on my TBR list for a while, that I'm finally getting around to.

Thanks!