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, 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
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
Wool by Hugh Howey
Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand

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.


Friday, January 24, 2014

#AtoZChallenge -- With a Twist!

It might seem a bit early to start planning for April's Blogging A to Z Challenge, but then again, people start planning for NaNoWriMo in August. Usually I have the same reaction to that as I do to stores putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween. Seriously? Can't they wait?

But if I'm going to do this challenge, I need to start planning now.

I did the #atozchallenge once before. While it was good for making me write, I didn't enjoy it very much. The novelty of seeing letter-themed blogposts in my stream also wore off pretty quickly. So I wasn't planning to do the challenge this year.

BUT THEN I had a shiny new idea!

What if...I did book reviews A to Z?

"But Laura," you shudder, "why would you do that to yourself? You have a senior project to do, college to attend, papers to write, and a recital to prepare for -- not to mention all those wips you keep having to put off. Why?"

Well...just because? 

Really, though, one of my resolutions for this year was to write more book reviews. I have an book review channel, but I really slacked off on it last year. It's been a goal of mine to pick up the pace. I would probably publish all of the reviews on the examiner platform, and write weekly blogposts here about my progress.

Also, it's different. I like doing challenges when I can twist the parameters to fit my own goals and needs. I NaNoRebelled in 2013, for instance, which was way more helpful than starting a new novel would have been.

Then there's the fact that I need to read for fun more often. Last year was my most stressful year of college, and I barely read at all. This year, I've been taking time out to read a few pages of a not-for-class book every night. The effect it's had on my stress level is unbelievable. I've finished two books and am halfway through a third. As long as I budget my reading time, my schoolwork won't suffer. Sometimes it's necessary to put Official Stuff To Do on the sidelines in favor of your mental health. After all, I do worse on the Official Stuff To Do when I'm stressed, bored, and stuck in the same mental rut.

"Er," says the pragmatic voice in the back of my brain, raising a hand. "How is forcing yourself to read 26 books and review them all going to relieve stress?"

Well...maybe it won't. But it will be fun to try. After all, I can start reading now. The challenging part will be making up a reading list by letter. More on that in a later post. 

What do you think? Good idea? No? Will any of you be doing the #atozchallenge?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thoughts After the Martin Luther King Jr. March

Tonight, I, my classmates, and people in my town participated in a candlelight march around town in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

There was chatting, some singing, some hand-shaking and meeting of new people. Many pictures were taken with phones and many candles were blown out only to be re-lit from a neighbor's. It was a relaxed atmosphere. 

We had a police escort.

Let me reiterate: we had a police escort. We felt safe and relaxed walking down the streets of town. No one made threats or shouted rude comments or even so much as honked their horns because of blocked traffic. It just made me realize how lucky we are.

In King's day, the police didn't show up at marches to escort people. They weren't there to make people feel safe, but to make them feel afraid. To beat, discourage, shame, abuse, arrest, and silence them.

It didn't work. 

It didn't work, and in 2014, here we all are walking down the streets of a Southern town with the police to escort us safely.

In King's day, the marches weren't relaxed. Or safe. They weren't something you did because you were required to go for class. People who showed up to these marches knew that they could be harassed, arrested, and abused.

They did it anyway.

They did it anyway, and in 2014 a group of people of different races chatted and sang and made new acquaintances as we marched in their honor.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day isn't just about one man. It was about all the people who marched, protested, and refused to be silent in their demands for human rights and equality under the law. 

Today is not just about the past, either. It's about right now, about us and the problems we still face. It's about appreciating the changes King made while refusing to ignore the changes we need to make. It's about realizing that the fact that we had a respectful police escort to make us feel safe is still amazing, and for many, sadly unusual. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Outrageous Fortune Literary Magazine: Calling All Undergraduates

It's that time of year again!

Outrageous Fortune is a literary magazine that publishes outstanding undergraduate work from colleges all around the USA and beyond. It has twice been featured in the national anthology Plain China for artwork. Outrageous Fortune is student-run, a literary magazine run by undergraduates for undergraduates. And it's currently accepting submissions for publication in the Spring 2014 issue.

Outrageous Fortune is accepting submissions in...
  • Short fiction
  • Nonfiction and essays
  • Novel excerpts
  • Poetry
  • Plays and one-acts
  • Dramatic monologues
  • Artwork
Submission guidelines here. I encourage you to submit in any category -- but since I'm the Art and Drama Editor, I especially encourage you to submit in Art and especially particularly encourage you to submit in Drama. :) 

I've had the privilege of working on the magazine as an intern since my sophomore year of college. I regret having to take a semester off last year, but overall it has been a very rewarding experience. When I graduate, it will be one of the things that I miss most.

And that's today's PSA. Surely I know some uni/college writers and bloggers who will be interested!

Review: Style by Chelsea Cameron

A book I read was good, and I want to share it with you all via a review! :) I'm reading more of Chelsea Cameron's stuff, and this...