Friday, November 25, 2011

It's totally awesome -- or, um, not

Hello and good morning, my lovelies! How are you? Good? That's good. Applying to college? (I'm so sorry. It's almost over; the last applications are almost all gone.) To my fellow Americans, I hope you enjoyed a healthy coma of carbs and tryptophan. To those across the world, I offer you this. Because why not.
(I wish I could cook.) (No, seriously. My friends and I tried to fry chicken the other day, and it ended with me sitting on a counter at a safe distance.) (I am obviously a bad American.)
Anyway. As the holidays set in, college searches start to solidify, and debate picks up, my life is in a pattern of complicated comfort. Obviously, this a problem. At all times, something should be stressful. So, last night, I decided to Black Friday Shop.
That's what I thought it was like. She looks happy. Happy, but stressed, which, sure, I'm cool with. But I didn't understand what it truly means to Black Friday Shop.
If you've done this, you understand why I capitalized that.
So, we've all had that moment. The one where you get pumped up. You drink coffee, you tap your feet, you wait and you bounce in anticipation for the moment. (Or, in my case, you get together with friends, you go to dinner, and you goof around a lot while waiting.)
And then the moment totally sucks.
For some of us, it came with the first onscreen appearance of unfortunate sparkling vampires. For others, it was at the release of the final Hunger Games, or the final Harry Potter. Personally, I got through Twilight with a fair bit of amusement, and I cried a satisfying amount through both of the aforementioned books. So it was time to be disappointed and horrified. It was coming. I should have known.
Shopping was crazy. People are crazy. I understand mobs now. Granted, we watched from afar (casually sitting on a bench while people ran by) but it was still very different than expected, and ultimately, rather horrible to watch. (Victoria's Secret, man. People in there are on missions, and they shall not be distracted.)
So, what's up with you guys? Black Friday stories? Stories of disappointment? Holiday happiness? Open reign. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nano, here we go

So, it's the end of the month, and as you can tell from how many posts I managed to make, I'm kind of sort of really, really busy. Debate is alive and well (3 first place trophies? Why, yes, I shall take them, and please, why don't you take a look at my massive ego as well?) and I'm trying to get out a new rough draft on a story.
Which brings NANO into play.
I'm going to actually try and finish the novel this month. I'm not particularly worried about getting the 50k for Nano -- I just wanna get this rough draft done. For me, that's the hardest part of writing. I love editing; it's just a matter of getting something to edit. I started playing with something at Alpha last summer. I think it might actually be decent if I can just get it done.
For now, I'm going to finish my applications for college and then go get ice cream. And then, writing!
More blog posts soon, I promise. I just wanted to make an appearance, and an official acknowledgement of the fact that I'm signing up to get myself killed through November.
Ciao, darlings!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

College application, why you so mean?

Hello, friends. How's life? Do you still have hair? Yes? That's lovely. I, in the midst of applying to college, am going to lose all of mine. That's basically just decided. It's quite sad, too, because I'm ginger and we're a dying breed -- my hair loss, thus, will have horrific ramifications to world diversity.
...Er. Right. (I promise, I'm smart! Just don't look at my math grades...)
But seriously. I shall mourn my hair.
-admires the Ginger-
Amid the endless panic attack marvelous adventures of making perhaps the most important decision of my teenage life, I've spent a lot of time on the Common App. Essays are fine; I don't mind those. I try not to look too long at my GPA, and I'm okay with my test scores. But then I get to the hardest supplemental question a college can ask.
What is your favorite book?
Asking that question to a bibliophile is perhaps the cruelest injustice you can force upon them. (Except, you know, burning books and banning books and all of that really, truly horrible stuff.)
It's evil for multiple reasons.
College is a smart place, and so I am tempted to list smart books. Honestly? I've yet complete Old Man and the Sea, but it seems like the type of book that should be my favorite. But it isn't. Not at all. The thing is, I've got dozens of favorites, and they're completely totally random.
I do really, really love this one:
But somehow I doubt any college would believe that. A Little Princess is my go to comfort book, but that doesn't seem particularly intelligent. I love it for the story and the writing and the nostalgia.
But Harry Potter was the book of my childhood. I pull Ender's Game out when I'm having bad days. Howl's Moving Castle feels like an old friend, and Divergent is that new, sparkling buddy -- and those are just a few.
Asking me to pick one is like asking me to pick a favorite friend (except not, because Maggie wins that) (even though she, now having joined debate, has sided with the boys in incessant and yet amusing mockery)
and ends up being much too difficult.
So, obviously, my response is to just give up on college.
Oh, wait, maybe not.
Anyway. What about you? What's your favorite? Can you pick just one? Do you think that I should drop all hopes of college and wrangler Jaguars.
More later.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Books and friends and bookish friendships

Hello darlings! Have you missed me? (Pretend, please?)
I've missed you all. I've pined. No, really. I mourn the death of my home's Internet pretty much hourly, especially since all the stupid college classes I'm taking aren't stupid at all and in fact need internet to do a large amount of the work.
(No, come back! Come back, I'll stop whining, I promise!)
I'd forgotten that my phone could work blogger, so I'm gonna try and use this to post occasionally (until freaking AT&T gets here with Internet) (Seriously. Doing debate without internet is awful) (Okay, I'm done) because I miss you all.
 But anyway. (Again.)
Do you talk about books? I'm guessing yes, if you're reading this. I always feel weird describing the books I'm reading to random people, because too often I'm just like ...well, there's a boy...and he's a vampire/zombie/werewolf/elf....and he's really cute...
But to real book people? Talking to them is fun. I forget, sometimes, that book people are everywhere, though.
I had a conversation with a guy today about books. (Dude, I know. I talked to a guy, about books. A new guy. How weird, right? Don't you love my stereotypes? No? What about my parenthesis?) But that isn't the interesting part. I haven't discussed books with someone new in a long time. I'd forgotten the friendships that done from yammering about them. Stories and characters and plot make the best bonds.  At Alpha this past summer, people were able to immediately start conversations because of books, because of love shared over stories.
(But still. Don't necessarily be that person in the book store that is like OMG THIS BOOK I LOVE IT ALSO HI YOU ARE PRETTY. Because books do not need to equate pick up lines.) (Unless he's British. Then do what is necessary.)
Actually, the bond with my best friend came from books. They tie people together easily and there's something magical about that. The best writing comes with friends. The best friends often share books. (Like in Tamora Pierce's Circle books omg Briar and Tris.)
Anyway. For now, that's all my fingers can type on this aggravating keyboard. And to my best friend, happy birthday. :P
Maggie, I love you. Here's to another lovely year of books. :P (Even if 18 means adult and adults are scary.)
More later, people. Continue loving each other. Also, discussing books.
(And if you have internet? Hug it for me. Love it. Because someday, it might be gone.)
(Okay, seriously, I'm done complaining now.)
(Love me.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Release Date: Eh, it's out.

Amazon Says:
Lacey Anne Byer is a perennial good girl and lifelong member of the House of Enlightenment, the Evangelical church in her small town. With her driver's license in hand and the chance to try out for a lead role in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin, Lacey's junior year is looking promising. But when a cute new stranger comes to town, something begins to stir inside her. Ty Davis doesn't know the sweet, shy Lacey Anne Byer everyone else does. With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself. As her feelings for Ty make Lacey test her boundaries, events surrounding Hell House make her question her religion.

I Say: 
I live in the Bible Belt. I live with religious friends. Throw a stone in my town and you will hit a church. With all of that, I've never much liked reading about religion. It's somewhat awkward to read about characters that remind me so much of people I know.


Melissa Walker does this beautifully. In the back of the book, she discusses how she hadn't heard of Hell Houses before researching the novel, that when she first heard of them, she thought they were a joke. 

(For those of you who haven't encountered Hell Houses: they're set up in a church, or a house, and each room represents a different sin or a different situation. They start small and get bigger usually. A 'devil' leads you through the scenes, all of which usually end dramatically.)

They aren't a joke, though. I know of three around my surrounding area, and though I've never been, I have friends that have gone and probably will go again. 

Melissa Walker covers the touchy subject well. She neither condemns or endorses the ideas of Christianity; instead, she follows a teenage girl as the girl begins to question the things she's always been taught. Lacey is a character that could very easily attend my high school. Every character in the book could. I did not, however, feel awkward reading about the touchy subjects, or annoyed at any sort of preachiness. The book is a story and not a lesson, which I appreciated immensely.

It's a very internal novel. There is a strong plot, but the crux of the novel seemed to be inside of Lacey's thoughts. It's a novel about religion, but I definitely wouldn't call it a religious novel. All in all, a good read. It wasn't my favorite by Melissa Walker, but it was certainly solid.

More later.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Home, Home on the Range

I think a title like that requires antelope. Right? Antelope?
There we go. You're welcome.
So, I'm home! I'm home, and it's hot and humid, but there is vanilla coke and a queen size bed at my disposal. I am quite fond of this bed. In fact, so fond that I didn't leave it until 2 in the afternoon yesterday, and that was just to go watch Glee project.
(BTW, is anyone else watching that? Is anyone else cheering with all of their heart for Sam? Because I totally am.)

(That's a lie, actually. Part of my heart loves Damian.)
(These are important things, people. I promise. Someday, when the Apocalypse looms, you'll be sitting there wondering, 'Why did I not care more about a random reality tv show in which teenagers sing a lot?')
Anyway. I'm back from Alpha and oozing all sorts of advice. Not sure how to translate it to blog posting, though. 
Well. I think this was probably my favorite advice. It came from several authors at Alpha -- Ellen Kushner, Tamora Pierce, several of the staff. 
And it's quite simple.
Let your first draft suck.
No, really.
It needs to suck.
It will suck.
There is no doubt that your first draft is going to suck.
That doesn't matter, though. What matters is getting it down. You just have to finish It was something we talked about a lot -- a majority of people will never finish something they work on. Many people at Alpha had never finished anything. Finishing? Yeah. It's half the battle. 
Finishing turns you into THIS.
...What? Not bad a$$ enough?
This, then?
Fine. Finishing yours novel turns you into this. 
Yeah. You're welcome.
Anyway, writing makes you a soldier. Finishing makes you a warrior. Editing turns you into a general, and getting published means that you, My Dear, have won the war.
But first, you must become a cat with a melon on its head as Jane Yolen put it, "Just finish the damn book."
Anyway. More later. I'm going with Maggie to see MAGGIE STIEFVATER OMG this weekend, so yayness. Possibly some on that.
Also, there might be a little Tamora Pierce fangirling. 
Anyway. More later.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Help me, don't hammer me

Hello, my lovelies! So, I'm at Alpha and have been getting some really incredible advice. Today, Ellen Kushner is lecturing and gave a great speech on critiquing. 
I think you can see where this is going.
I'm going to pass some of it along. It involves a hammer. I could not find a good picture of a hammer, readers. I wanted one that sparkled and was possibly quite pink. Instead, I found this. 
Yeah. You're welcome. 
(I understand, though. The pink would have been much better.)
We're talking about how critique is not a time to show off. I've seen it -- I bet you have too. People try to show off, show that they are Very Awesome At Fixing Stories. Yet, instead of fixing, they just berate the writer and then the write goes into Emo Corner of Shame -- and, quite possibly, stops writing.
So. The point of critiquing?
That would be to help. 
Not to hammer.
(Even if the hammer is purple or pink or sparkly.)
As Ellen Kushner put it, "As a writer, when you critique someone else, you need to think ‘what do they need from me’ not ‘what can I do to them'".
The thing is -- as Ms. Kushner pointed out -- you take a first draft to a friend when you can't take it any further alone. You don't take a first draft to a friend so that they can be all UNICORNS AND SPARKLES AND DRAGONS OMG THIS IS AWESOME. You take it to them so that they can say 'Hey, I love the unicorns, and I thought the sparkles were really innovative, but I am not connecting with the dragons. They just aren't quite ugly enough."
And then you realize that, hey, your dragons look like this--
and you need some more fangs to get them here.
(And then you laugh, because the dragon does not stand a chance. It's totally gonna be purified and made to sparkle.)
She also pointed out that you learn more from critiquing than you do just from writing your own stories. You need to analyze, need to look at what works and what doesn't. First drafts are allowed to suck. They're sometimes supposed to suck. So you don't need someone meanly telling you what sucks, but instead how to improve and turn it from sucking to awesome.
♥ ~Welcome To My World~ ♥
We're going to pretend that my five hours of sleep are not starting to hit.
Just -- go look at the puppy. Or read Ellen Kushner's book. Or, hey -- go check out a friend's story. Pull out the carving tools and start playing with them, and just let the hammer alone.
That is all. More later.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This might be heaven

No, not Alpha, though I am at that and loving that. However, heaven requires a little bit more blankets. BUT. It is incredibly lovely and you all should apply if you are able because omg it's kind of sort of awesome and I'll talk about that more later.
For now.
There is a contest, and you should enter.
It is here on Myra McEntire's blog. If you are a long time follower of this blog, then you've seen my well documented obsession respect and insane love admiration for Ms. McEntire. If you have not, then here is an interview with her and here is a review of her book.
And she is going on tour.
And I cannot go.
But I am going to talk about it anyway, because you should go.
Beth Revis, Myra McEntire, and Victoria Schwab are going on tour in their home cities. Here is the link to Myra's page, talking about it.
Seriously, guys.
If you can, you should go and worship.
Just, you know, because.
Anyway, more later. Probably about Tamora Pierce and my love for her.
Because, you know, why not?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: September 5th, 2011

Amazon Says:
Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

I say:
Kody Keplinger is awesome. She did an interview with me last year and is incredibly cool. Her agent is awesome, she has a great blog, and she's really young.
That said, I'm not sure how much I loved The Duff. It was a good, easy read, but not necessarily my favorite sort of book.
Shut Out, however?
Totally my favorite kind of book.
The characters seem real. Lissa is accessible to many girls for a myriad of reasons. She connected with me on way more levels than the characters in The Duff. She has issues with her friends, issues with her family, and most of all, is really confused on the whole 'relationship' thing. Her world gets way too tangled up in that relationship. You watch her compromise elements of herself and of her life for her relationship before she finally just gets fed up and decides that something needs to change.
The plot was really enjoyable, twisting and turning without being predictable or unnecessarily confusing. It was a great, fast read and one that I can definitely see myself picking up again. Plus, you know, there are cute boys.
Boys aside, though, Shut Out addresses bigger elements. It  points at the many issues of high school dating and brings solidarity to a lot of different types of girls. Relationships in high school are aggravating, hard, heart wrenching and way too tricky to deal with alone. Kody Keplinger's new book makes sure that girls don't have to.
Plus -- seriously, people. There are some very cute boys.
More later.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Release Date: July 12, 2011
Goodreads Says:

When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from a curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives. 


That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt. 


Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.
Oh. Wait. That's not a review.
I love these books. Shiver and Linger are two of my favorite novels. I didn't like Forever quite as much as the other two, but then, I'm ideologically opposed to one of my favorite series ending.
The plot follows Grace, Sam, Isabel, and Cole through the end of the storyline -- but it didn't quite delve as deep into the characters are the prior novels. That might be because we've already heard so much about them, but I just didn't find myself connecting as much as I had previously.
That said, the prose was beautiful as always. There were lots of really funny comments and a good feel of the relationships deepening. 
But I didn't really feel like the story ended.
The story didn't seem resolved by the final pages, which slightly bothers me considering that it's the end of a trilogy. I don't like loose ends, and I felt like there were a lot of them. I have a closure issue, and I didn't really get it at the end of Forever.
Meh. Still good. I still love the series, and I would be happy to see a spin-off series; I was left wanting more, a lot more.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I am in denial

I don't really have words for the horror and anticipation of this coming week. No, not Alpha (because, um, I totally definitely have edited all of the stories I was supposed to, right, yeah) (and yeah, I'm meeting Tamora Pierce and no, I haven't been stressing about what to wear all week) (Purple nail polish? Blue? Green? OMG THE CHOICES, GUYS I JUST DON'T EVEN) or the fact that the people at Alpha shall first meet me after I get off a plane that leaves at 6 AM and hence I shall be ugly and mean or the fact that I'm checking out colleges today and tomorrow (That's how I have internet.)
That is not the horror or anticipation.
This is.
Guys, it's ending.
My childhood is totally ending with the last movie. 
My love and thanks have already been ranted about  beautifully chronicled several times, namely here.
But I wanted a worship post to be up anyway. Because hey, if my childhood is ending, then I should make note of it. I mean, you get a diploma just for graduating for high school, so I definitely feel as if this moment needs something.
I swear.
This movie had better not suck.
Elsewise, there will be intense sadness. 
(Oddly, this now seems necessary.)

I'm not sure how else to say it.
But Harry Potter, I love you. I love the world. Thank you for my childhood. 
(You're crying, aren't you? It's okay. I don't judge. Have a cookie.)
-kisses the entire Harry Potter world-
-feels gross-
Seriously, though. If this movie is ruined in any way, I am going to be so, so sad. Or angry. Evil attack of the millions of Harry Potter fans will follow. We're dangerous, people. Like this.
Be scared. 
Anyway. More later. (Seriously, I actually have book reviews scheduled for this week. Two! WHAT IS THIS OMG.)
Farewell, dears.
(Also -- seriously. Blue or purple?)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Practice, practice, practice?

Nats is over. I am 9th out of 700 people. So yay. :D
I am now going in for a coma of books. This is me, checking in and complaining about lack of internet (I'm at a coffee shop with a friend right now. She's swearing loudly at Angry Birds. People are slowly taking away their children.)

(Seriously, guys. That game is evil.)
However, something interesting about that. The more you play the demonic game, the better you get. Same with debate. Same with writing.
And so, now, I shall get back to practicing blogging. And, you know, sanity. Because my sanity needs to be used. A week with a bunch of a talky boys definitely wore at that. For the moment, I'm going to lust after this book.
Girls at a public high school start refusing to put out. At all. I'm weirdly amused by this concept, and I really want to read it. The DUFF was funny and cute, and I am ready for that kind of read right about now.
Oki doki. I have to go before parents call the police on my cursing friend.
(On a separate note, one of those parents keeps calling their toys 'boy toys'. I don't think she realizes why all the surrounding teens are laughing...)
More later!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reviews! In the plural!

Oh, hai, guys.
So. My Junior year of high school is DONE. Yeah. I know, right? It was awful and awesome and now I'm done, and I can BLOG YAY WOOT WOOT. (Well. When I have internet. Which is when I go to the library. Which is often. So yeah...)
Also, erm, if you'd like to not point out what a crappy blogger I've been these past couple of months, that would be awesome.Cool? COOL. Guys, I love you. I love you like, this much.