Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bad Meg Cabot, Bad!

I've grown up in a family that prizes intelligence.
It's always kind of been assumed that I would be relatively bright. No, that isn't any kind of bragging--I just happen to be book smart. Quite frankly, even if I wasn't naturally, my mom has been handing me literal books for so long that anything I might have lacked in genetics has probably been made up through some sort of literary osmosis. From the time I was tiny, I can remember being labeled as 'one of the smart kids.'
I've got to say, too, that I'm proud of that. I like knowing answers. I like learning.
But there's an interesting point made in Meg Cabot's latest novel, Runaway.
http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs261.snc1/8833_304109310651_155577620651_9065638_391333_n.jpg
Girls that are intelligent very rarely are confident about how they look.
It all comes down to one question--Am I pretty? In one form or another, I think that runs through almost every girl's head at least once a day. It might be when you glance in the mirror, or when you tug self consciously a shirt that doesn't fit quite as well as it used to. It might be when your friend gives you 'that' look. I'm sure you know the one. It's the look that says 'I'm too polite to say anything, but dude--couldn't you have at least TRIED today?'
On some level, the airhead novels are about beauty. But on another, the girl inside--Em--is very, very bright. The two levels tend to clash. More than once, you catch Em thinking about the shallowness of beauty. In the third novel, though, Meg and Em seem to explore something new.
It's okay to be both pretty and smart.
I don't think a lot of girls get that. For me, I have always prided myself on being bright. I love that about my family, generally. However, I've never--not once--been super confident about outwards appearance. I'm not good at makeup and I generally chose comfort over style, and there has always been a good way to justify it--I'm smart, so why on Earth would I need to look good?
I have never wanted to be a silly girl.
http://www.zwani.com/graphics/girly/images/girlie4.gif
I like sparkles, sure, and bright colors, but I haven't wanted that. At least not seriously. I've never wanted to act like a bobble head. But I've got to say, there are times when it seems like intelligence shouldn't be everything.

One of my earlier memories is coming to Missouri with my dad and my sister to visit my grandmother. My grandma and I were sitting at the table alone, and I was reading--I'm not sure where everyone else was. Suddenly, she looked over and kind of laughed. When I asked her why, she told me it was because when I got all serious, she could tell what I would look like when I was 'all grown up.'
"Really?" I can remember asking. "Am I going to be pretty?"
She just kind of looked at me for another few seconds before finally answering. "You," she told me, "are going to be smart."
...
Huh.
Well. That's just what every seven year old wants to hear. I can really clearly remembering wanting to press the issue, but she got up and left. It bothered me for a long time. Even in the second grade, I knew that I was 'smart.' That wasn't that big of a deal. Just by paying attention and occasionally answering a few questions, I was 'smart.'
I can't tell you the first time I brushed off thoughts of appearance by justifying my worth through intelligence, but I'm sure it wasn't long after that, or even before. I can certainly tell you it's happened since dozens of times. Girl's that pretend to be stupid have since always really, really annoyed me. I know several, and am friends with a few. It's always seemed weird to me.
But does the reverse say the same thing? If you pretend to be dumb so that people notice how you look, that's bad, right? But if you dress down so that people take you more seriously, isn't that bad too? Either way, you're selling yourself short.
It's weird. I like dressing somewhat nicely because people treat you differently. I like speaking up for the same reason. But I'm much more comfortable with being complimented on the second than the first.
I guess it's the new wave of feminism. Girls know they're smart. We just need to reminded, every once in a while, that it's not everything.
And god, let me just tell you--that hurts to admit.
Stupid Meg Cabot.
She's making me reevaluate my stinted ways of thinking. I'm not fond of it.
Oh well. If I get nothing else out of the musings, at least that prized intelligence of mine might get to learn something new.
-rolls eyes-
More later.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Blue So Dark

Remember back in January, when I first got up the guts to do an author interview? The smileyitis, the nervousness, all of that? And remember how Holly Schindler gave an absolutely amazing interview?
Well, I had the chance to meet her yesterday, and I was lucky enough to get a copy of her book, which officially comes out this coming Saturday. It was a truly awesome experience meeting Holly--I had to keep from squealing and clapping.
Anyway, I finished the book last night.


Now, I'll be the first to admit--I was predisposed to liking this book. For one thing, Holly was the first author to give me an interview. For another, the fabulously beautiful cover appeals to my shallow side. Yet another, I got to actually MEET the author, and for a fourth, she signed it to me personally. I'm pretty sure it's the best early birthday gift I could have gotten.
So, yeah. I'm sure that I was set out to be biased.
But I've got to tell you--that doesn't matter. Not at all. Because this book?
It was amazing. Aura, the main character, is dealing with one of the most terrifying situations in the world--a mentally ill family member. She's got a best friend who seemed utterly real, and another family member (I don't want to say who in case of spoilers) that I would love to be related to. There's poetry inside the pages, too--both literal poems and some of the prettiest writing I've ever read.
The book was real, honest, at points horribly sad, and at others, uplifting. I couldn't believe it was her debut book, and I don't think you'll be able to either. In a way, her style of writing reminds me of Maggie Stiefvater, the author of Shiver--it's the same rich, really beautiful way of weaving words together.
Seriously, go read it. Check out her blog--it's linked up above. Check out the interview, also linked, if you like.
That's about it for now. Maggie, though, is doing an author interview, and is taking questions over at her blog. She's interviewing Kiersten White. I suggest going over there. I mean, come on--just look at what happens after the interview comes out. :P
More later.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Desensitized

Today in school, one of the boy I know walked up and started doodling on me. (It was debate. This isn't uncommon.) Generally, there are smiley faces, lewd sayings, or proclamations that 'SO AND SO TOTALLY OWNS SAM!' Generally, I find it kinda amusing. However, today, what did I get? A swastika.
I know that it's a modern symbol in many parts of Asia. I know that it has a long, rich history. However, I also know that it was a sign used to represent one of the darkest times in recent history.
Oh, and one other thing? Um, well, you see, dear boy, there are Jewish people within my family. In fact, quite close within my family.
So, today, I didn't really find it amusing.
I'm not posting to rant about ignorance. The fact is, the boy knew what he was doing and quite honestly, while I snapped and him and made him get it off of me, there wasn't too much I could do. Why?
Well, if you're American, maybe you've heard of the Living Room War. Maybe you have if you aren't American. I can't speak for anyone from outside of the town I live in, but I know the story of that war. It was Vietnam. It's what television first entered into war. Before that, war was kind of glorious. At that point, when people saw what war was actually like, they were horrified. Disgusted.
Anymore, though?
War is not that big of a deal to teenagers. When we talk about genocide in class, people hardly blink. When we watched Anne Frank in eighth grade, some kids were even laughing during several scenes.
From the time we were small, we have been bombarded by pictures. It's the Living Room War in reverse. Back then, it was the first time people had seen horrible things like that. For my generation? We see it every day; fake, sure, but it doesn't look all that different than the real thing. I saw my first R rated movie a long time ago. I've been reading about war for years. Recently, I watched a movie where blood cascaded out of casino machines in these really nasty rivers, and bodies hung from the ceiling.
Disturbing? Sure. But not nearly as much as it should have been.
The boy that drew the symbol didn't mean anything by it. I guess you can argue that it's only a symbol, and that symbols don't have power. But I don't think so. I think it's something else; I think it's that my generation is a tad different than previous ways. It isn't that we're a sick generation, or even a jaded generation.
We're desensitized.
Not all of us, sure. I still cry when I see really horrible things and so does most everyone else. But too often, I've got myself just saying 'Huh. That sucks' when I read about something bad. In English, when we talked about the gladiator fights, no one even cringed.
It's weird, huh?
I heard something once. I'm not sure if it's true, but it seems probable. Decades back, some people went to a theater. It was the first time. A train was in that particular flick; a train that came barreling towards the viewers.
They fled the theater in mortal fear.
Now, to get someone to cringe, you've got to do more. I'm squeamish, but it takes a lot to really, REALLY creep me out.
This isn't just a rant about the media and ignorance and all that jazz, though. It pertains in this way to my general topics;
How do you write for an audience that has seen everything? How do you pull that gut wrenching feeling out of a kid who has been watching horrors and reading tragedies for literally most of their life?
Authors do it. But how?
It isn't in the blood and the gore. Sure, it could be, occasionally, that a really nasty scene has people--or at least me--grimacing. But that's not what gets the true reaction.
It's suspense.
But beyond that, I think it's making sure that the reader really empathizes with the character. They aren't just sympathetic--the reader truly, truly needs to feel for the character. If something happens to a friend of yours, you will be horrified. If it happens to a stranger? Sure, it'll suck, but you might not have the same reaction. It's a disgusting truth, but it seems to stand solidly.
--rant at disgust of the modern world? Nah. We have our problems, but so does everyone. Just look at Rome and the discarded children. THAT was sad--
Anyway. What do you think? Are you growling at how annoying I am? Do you agree? A mix of both? (Hey, I admit, I can be annoying. :P)
More later. And that post, I promise, will have pictures.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Construction Notice

So, as much as I love the spring background, it was hard to read. So, I'm trying to find a new one. That's proving kind of difficult, so here it is; a construction notice. The blog will might be changing some the next few days. Hey, if you see something you like, go ahead and tell me. I'm just going for readability.
Hmm.
Well, that's a lame post. So, let's see. What to talk about...
Nope. I got nothing. State wide testing just finished, and my brain is fried. My sister, a friend and I just got back from watching the dragon movie of epic awesomeness for the second time--
http://images2.fanpop.com/image/photos/9600000/Hiccup-Toothless-how-to-train-your-dragon-9626254-1920-816.jpg
(The Last Song was way too late, otherwise we would have gone and saw that.)http://images.dailyradar.com/media/uploads/showhype/story_large/2009/05/15/liam_hensworth.jpg
Oh, wait, that's not a picture of the movie. That's just a picture of Liam Hensworth. My bad.
http://www.hbg-international.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/Website%20covers/Movie%20Tie%20In/The%20Last%20Song%20MTI_Final.jpg
...No offense, Miley, but I liked it better when you weren't there.
On the book front, there's this;
http://bookends.booklistonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/summer-i-turned.jpg
I can't remember if I blogged about it or not. Hmm. Well, if I haven't, I would like to take this moment to say how much I loved it. It was sweet and funny and fluffy, and sometimes you just need a sweet, funny, fluffy book. I think I cried at one point, too. Basically, it's like a detox in a book.
-Nods-
I really, really recommend this one.
What else...
Well, on last week's Gossip Girl....

http://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/news/00029382.jpg

....
No. I won't subject you to my shallow television habits.
I'm going to take this time to bow out and go read my latest acquisition--

http://www.trashionista.com/runaway.jpg
Thank goodness for book loving mothers. :P

(And, as a side note, Gossip Girl really did tick me off last week. I mean, come on. Seriously?)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Because, you know, I have a thing for lying

Yeah. I lie a lot in this blog, apparently.
Not.
However,
Well, I was tagged by Cipherqueen to tell ten truths about myself (as opposed to my usual drivel) and tag three other people…
So. Hmm. Ten interesting-ish, true things about me.

1) I'm a political buff. I know. -Hangs head in shame.- It's so not writerly, but I like politics and government and such. It's interesting. Also interesting; pictures of the Obama's dog. I don't know why, but Bo fascinates me.

2) I'm a procrastinator. Bad. Even now, my English paper is sitting in front of me, sadly untouched from editing. Instead, I blog.

3) I generally don't tell people in my personal life that I write. For one thing, the almost ALWAYS response is --Oh. Yeah, I wrote a book once. But I couldn't get past the first page. You should help me.- and that's annoying. Second, no one really gets to whole 'writing' thing in high school. It's just easier to keep quiet, generally.

4) I always have a book on me, however, so people tend to get the whole 'you like English' idea.

5) I have a verrrryyy low tolerance for stupidity. I tend to be one of the horrible bratty girls that rolls their eyes at dumb comments (I don't mean like genuinely unaware. I mean ignorance) and follows up with a sarcastic comment.

6) I'm also one of those annoying people who prides themselves on being intelligent. It ties in with 5. I probably am a lot dumber than I think. It comes from two years in debate--to survive, you HAVE to believe that not only can you succeed, but anything less than success is absolute zero.

7) However, I don't really pride myself on appearance. I like to look better than my bloodhound, sure, but I'm not girly enough to do perfect makeup or hair. So...yeah.

8) My two favorite shows? Ahem. Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries. -hangs head in shame again- This is really not helping me with the whole 'intelligent' thing, huh?

9) Ummmm. I'm running out of truths about myself. This is hard. For like, the last year, I've been harassing my mom to take me to California, off and on. Why? Well, partly, I'd like to see some friends, but also partly? I miss good seafood.

10) There are four book series I read so often as a child that the covers either fell off or dangerously cracked. Which ones? Well, the first few Harry Potters (this was before I knew to be nice to books), the Squire Kel books by Tamora Pierce, the first few Circle books by Tamora Pierce, and then Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones.

Hmm. I'm not very interesting. Sad, for such an intelligence snob, huh?
Well, I tag Maggie, Maddie, and Aspen.
Go, go, go!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Grow up, please!

All right, so I've been fed books since the first grade. That was about the time my mother tricked me into reading the first Harry Potter book, and I've been reading--A LOT--since then.
http://img1.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n1/n5584.jpg
That means that I've read a lot of series. Some of them, like the awesome, fantabulous, utterly amazing Harry Potter series have nothing wrong with them. (Well, there's probably something, but I guess I'm a tad biased. -coughs-)
But here's the thing with series. When you grow up with a character, isn't it nice when . . . well, when they grow up too?
I mean, look at Harry. I started reading about him when I was six and finished at like . . . thirteen? Every year, he got older. A little more mature. So did I--it was great. Granted, that isn't true with everyone--at least not in the similarity--but it is nice to watch a character change. You aren't the exact same person with every book you read, especially when the series spans years. It's weird when the character is.
Just look at the Percy Jackson series.
http://liveforfilms.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/percy_jackson_and_the_olympians_the_lightning_thief.jpg
Percy starts off as a scared little kid. By the end of the series, he's a kick butt teenager. It's part of what makes the books great--watching the characters grow.
It sets up dedication, too. If I had to sum up my childhood in a book, I would name Harry Potter. Not because I was a Witch
http://images.eonline.com/eol_images/Entire_Site/20090302/300.watson.harrypotter.030209.jpg
(if only)
but because I grew up with them. I don't think it matters the literal element to that, though I'm sure it makes my devotion stronger. Any amount of watching the character change makes you like them more. It makes you empathize, and even grow to love them. I mean, it would be kinda creepy if Hermione had looked like this for 7 years.
http://blog.taragana.com/e/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/hermione-granger.jpg
Yes, she's adorable. But unless she had taken a dip in the fountain of eternal youth, or even just stepped into Never Never Land, it's not practical to look like that forever.
What set off this rant?
The book I'm reading now is part of a series. I've been reading it for YEARS. I've seen dozens off new covers, and a maybe movie in the works, and guess what?
When I started reading, I was younger than the main character.
I'm now older.
It's kind of annoying, actually. In a one or two book series, fine, that's okay. Even in a trilogy, I suppose. But in a --six? seven?--book series? It's getting kind of annoying. I'm reading about the same character that I loved a long time ago--but I'm different. Why the heck isn't she?
I mean, I started reading when I had bad hair and a strong attachment to pink. I think it might have been pre braces. The character at the time seemed like this in my mind.

http://www.cluas.com/indie-music/Portals/0/Blog/Files/5/464/ilona2.jpg

(Okay, not really, but she's cute.)
Anyway, five years have passed. She shouldn't look like that anymore. I don't care if it's two years or three, but more than six or seven months should have passed. She should be resembling this, now.

Or something similar. For one thing, she's learning how to solemnly pose and offer a great brooding look. That alone deserves major kudos.
And the romantic interest? Yeah, he definitely shouldn't be staying young. It's one thing if you're a vampire.
Emmett-Cullen.jpg image by plushpout
Emmet Cullen allowed to look like that forever. In fact, I approve.
But otherwise? Come on. The characters just need to grow up.

--note--
Myra McEntire interview soon! If I don't get more questions, I'm just going off of what I want to know. That seems to generally work.
Comment if that seems okay, please.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ooh, yay!

So, there's this author. Her name is Myra McEntire and she is fricking hilarious. She also seems to understand the need for pretty, and she conducts pretty dang awesome interviews of her own. Check her out. Now.
I'm not kidding. She has one of the best blogs I've ever read, if not the best. It's sooo funny. I keep emailing back and forth with Maggie about it.
And guess what?
I have an interview!
-grins-
I'm really excited about this one. (Of course, I'm excited about all of them . . . so maybe you shouldn't really pay attention to me on that one.)
But yeah. You know the drill. Questions.
And seriously? Check out her blog. I am not joking. It is AMAZING. Go. No.
Shoo, shoo.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Not my usual

Nonfiction is something I generally am not fond of. In fact, if I'm being brutally honest, it's pretty much synonymous with 'not fun.' Granted, I've read a couple nonfiction books that I've liked, and granted, there is something to be said about a book that you truly get 'read world experience' from.
But come on.
No hot guys? No snarky dialogue? No sparkly magic?
Pft.
Not worth my time.
Yeah. Wrong.
In fact, just to prove me how wrong I was, along came this book.
http://a4.vox.com/6a00c2251d19928e1d00e398c966140003-500pi
Not just nonfiction, but almost a mini text book. However, I love history, and I'm a fan of controversy, so I figured I'd give it a go.
Well, here I am. It's a little past midnight. I tried to go to sleep an hour ago, but guess what?
THIS STUPID BOOK IS STUCK IN MY HEAD.
(Stupid in the best way.)
It is SO interesting. An Indian tribe that was matriarchal, and sustained for hundreds of years through peace? Awesome! (Until, you know, we killed them.) The slavery patterns in Africa as opposed to those in America? So intriguing. (In case you're wondering, we were ten jillion times worse.) Oppression by tyranny from England? Well, sure, I've read dozens of books and sat through a couple of classes, but it was way more interesting in this book.
I've always loved history. However, there always seems like you're missing something in the text books. You miss the human element.
This book has that.
Just to show you how much I love it, there's this little fact; I'm only a hundred pages in and already blogging about my love for it. (Insert quiet groan. Yes, it took almost two and a half hours to read that much. I'm not used to putting so much cohesive thought into reading.)
(Insert another groan here. I just realized how dumb that made me sound.)
....
Well, the clock just chimed 12:45 and I have a Spanish test in the morning. Plus, you know, I think I might be getting stupider the longer I drag this post out.
So, I'm going off to read some more.
I mean--um. Yeah. Sleep, like a good little girl.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8eW7PlmG_mU/RzJ1WAkrNHI/AAAAAAAAARA/sSt_TapYRgQ/s400/sleep.jpg
G'night, all, and I hope you had a good Easter.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Well. . .

I'm not really sure how to put this. I've been spazzing about inkpop for about a month now. I really, really wanted Altered to make it into the top five so that it could go to editors at Harper Collins.
And . . .
It did.
I'm really, really excited about that. I mean, come on. How many fifteen year olds get their stories read by editors? Editors of one of the top publishing companies in the country?
Seriously. How cool is that??
So.
I figured I should say thank you to a few people. (Oh, yes, I know, how pretentious. But hey, let me have my moment. (: )
Thank you, Sarah, for showing me the site. Thank you, Aspen, for being so nice and supportive. Thank you, Cipherqueen, for being a very awesome cyber cheerleader, and for everything else. And thank you Maggie, because I never would have had the guts to post the first few chapters online if it weren't for you. Oh, and because, you know, you're my emotional pillow.
Ahem.
And now, because I'm feeling mildly awkward of a post celebrating my so called success, I am going back to my comfort zone.
Hellllllo, Comfort Zone.