Happy Holidays!

| Friday, December 24, 2010
Happy Holidays, my loves! May all the joys in all the worlds be all yours. I hope you're all gifted with motivation and inspiration and cramp-less hands and endless vocabularies to draw upon. Have a joyous, amazing, beautiful holiday!

the joy of giving + heifer international.

| Wednesday, December 22, 2010
EDIT: What the heck. I had already planned a charity post for today (just that time of year, I guess!), but I'm going to turn it into a comment pledge entry a la Nathan Bransford's post. Please visit his blog entry, comment there, and comment on the other entries from people who have pledged to do similar posts!

I will donate $1 from every comment on this entry to Heifer International, up to $50. All you have to do is comment, and a charity will get some funding! Can't argue with that!

I want to talk about something sort of serious today. But not too serious, don't go away!!!! Woo, rhymes. Anyway, this post is not about writing or books or being author-ly or anything like that.

This is a post about charity.

Seriously, don't go away or I will be VERY PUT OUT.

Charity, philanthropy, giving, donation... these are all words that people have weird reactions to. Some jump on them, some balk from them. All sorts of images pop into our minds. Images of orphans, shelter animals, empty promises, throwing money away, tax deductions, postulating celebrities we suspect are really full of Le Crap. A lot of people get some sort of Good Intention Bug in their head, where they think, "Oh, that sounds like a very nice cause. How nice that someone cares about AIDS/world hunger/water for African kids/protecting the penguins/education for impoverished disaster orphans/whatever. I wish I could do something like that for something I care about. Maybe I'll throw them a bone. We'll see."

And I'm not trying to be a jerk and act like people don't care about things that matter. There's more to it than that. We're in a rough economic time, we have to worry about our own well-being, we can't possibly care about everything that needs to be cared about. Many people have their hearts and intentions in the right place. We just sometimes have trouble taking that last little step into actually doing something.

It doesn't have to be money. Sometimes we're uncomfortable giving money, and that's okay. But we CAN and SHOULD *do* something. We are people of privilege, and we inherently have power. There's no reason why we can't use that power for good. Money, time, clothing, food, love... these are all things we can give. Good intentions are all well and... good... but they don't *do* anything. Sometimes the excuses get stale. It's hard not to be selfish. It's hard to let go of our wants and time and emotional investment. But it's necessary. The human condition demands it of us.

There must be something you're passionate about. A person. A cause. An organization. How can you support it with your time, money, or other input? Do it. This year, do it. Don't put it off anymore. Find a way.

We get so insular. It's only natural. You're not a bad person for worrying about yourself and your loved ones first; none of us are. Even so, we can try to make a conscious effort to branch out. Something as small as being kind to the homeless person who asks you for change is a start. Following people who do good works and supporting them is another start.

Try kindness. Try joy. Try love. Try giving.

What are you passionate about? How can we help?

on the value of humor in fiction.

| Monday, December 20, 2010
Today's Tune: Dog Days Are Over

As many of you know, over the summer I attended the huge and wonderful SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. There were many incredible speakers, and I took many, many, many notes. A few key points from that conference have stuck with me throughout the months that followed.

One such point came from a talk by Gordon Korman. During that talk, he touched on the point that humor is greatly underrated when we consider the validity of a work of fiction.

This point has stuck with me. I can't shake it. As anyone who has ever written a comedic scene or bit (television/film, fiction, stand up) can tell you, that crap ain't easy. Fiction alone is incredibly subjective, but when you add in humor, the subjectivity of a work skyrockets. Making people laugh is something you can't predict. Some are amused by toilet humor, others only relate to dry wit or having their intellect stimulated. Even then, there's no guarantee they'll relate to your brand of humor. There's little worse than having a joke fall completely flat.

So many elements support great humor, especially in literature. Timing, phrasing, word placement and choice, visual (or written) cues, dialogue, action... there are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. Humor is universal, but unbelievably difficult (if not impossible) to explain. Imagine explaining a regional joke to someone without the background. Or explaining to an alien without a concept of humor why something is funny. Where do you even start?

Drama and tragedy are often lauded as the pinnacle of literary artistry. If you can skillfully write a story that causes people to feel something deep in their bones, you're golden. Drama is by no means easy to write, but there are certain themes common to the human condition that we can draw upon to write it -- death, sickness, sorrow, loss, war, love, family, birth, journeys. We all know how to find the stories inside ourselves that make us feel unadulterated joy, pain or sadness.

But do we know how to make people laugh? To add levity to a serious situation without seeming cheap? To write a beloved story for the ages that not only causes people sides to split, but stays with them because it was also moving and poignant? Can humor be taught, or is it something innate within us?

We undervalue humor. It always has a place, but so many of us avoid it because we don't think we're funny enough. It might limit our audience. It might fall flat. It might be inappropriate.

I think it's time to reexamine humor. It's time to view it as something more than a vehicle for relieving tension in a tense situation, or something to spice up dialogue. Humor is its own entity; something to be treated with the reverence and respect it deserves. Laughter is so closely tied to our own humanity.

Let's stop thinking of comedy as the lesser sibling of drama and tragedy. Let's stop being afraid to use it to tell a better story. Fiction does not have to be serious in order to be taken seriously.

Project For Awesome & Erin

| Friday, December 17, 2010
It's been another busy week in the life of Maybe Genius. ACK.

BUT. Today is Project For Awesome day, so all is well. The idea behind P4A is that for one day, YouTube won't be about boobs and cats and laughing babies. It will be about charity. Hundreds (maybe thousands!) of people are posting amazing, brilliantly done videos about a charity they support. The plan is to "fool" YouTube algorithms by liking, favoriting, commenting on and rating those videos. That way, all the most-viewed videos of the day are for great causes!

ALSO ALSO: you can watch all the P4A antics on Twitter by checking the hashtag #p4a. It's currently the TOP TRENDING TOPIC on Twitter, WHICH IS AMAZING.

Now, I'd like to introduce you to my friend Erin. She's an amazing woman who's essentially dropping everything to go on the road and travel for two years. She's visiting over 70 countries, having adventures, doing extreme sports, and most importantly giving back to the communities she visits. For P4A, she's supporting Drop In The Bucket, which is another incredible organization building wells in Africa for those who don't have access to clean drinking water.

So, I would love it if you would please GO HERE and check out her video. If you can, like, comment, rate and favorite it as well. Then do the same for other P4A videos! Share your favorites! Spread the word!

And DFTBA, guys :)

Present Tense vs. Past Tense

| Monday, December 13, 2010
Today's Tune: White Wine in the Sun

This topic really has more to do with how I write short works vs. longer works, but it's still relevant to tense.

So, obviously, past tense is written as though recalling an incident from the past. "Jamie Jones stumbled through the door, hair askew. She collapsed into a chair and began to laugh."

Present tense is written as though events are unfolding in real time. "Jamie Jones stumbles through the door, hair askew. She collapses into a chair and begins to laugh."

There are many reasons for deciding to use one tense over the other. Past tense feels a little more "story-like," as though one is recounting a tale around a campfire. Present tense is more immediate and, when used well, can be great for creating tension.

Personally, I often use first-person present in my short works and either first or third-person past in my longer works. When I write flash fiction or short stories, I want my reader to feel connected to a specific scene -- a small window into the lives of my characters. I want the scene to feel like it's unfolding before them and they're experiencing it at the same time as my characters.

I find that sort of voice incredibly difficult to maintain well in my longer works. Novel manuscripts give me the freedom to extrapolate and take more time to set things up. I find past tense works better for me here. When I write in present, I feel like everything has to be concise and to the point. Boomboomboom. I feel it loses its immediacy if I spend too much time dawdling on character development.

This is how I choose the tenses I do. What tense do you write in, and why?

book review: Paper Towns by John Green

| Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I don't do many book reviews, but I enjoyed this one so much that I'm making an exception.

If you've been into YA lit at all in the past few years, you've probably heard of John Green. He wins lots of awards and is pretty much a badass at writing for teens. But if you haven't, go here. He's the one with the puff.

Anyway, he's been in my to-read pile forever, but I haven't had a lot of reading TIME this year, so I just recently got a chance to read Paper Towns (which won an Edgar Award, btw). I'm a big fan of mysteries, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this. I was surprised. In the best way.

Paper Towns is a story about a boy. And a girl. And another boy, and another boy, and another girl. And some other people, as well. The "mystery" is that the girl runs off and leaves a trail of breadcrumbs in her wake. The others have the time of their life finding her.

But this novel was about so much more than the mystery of finding Margo Roth Spiegelman. It was about finding yourself. More, it was about finding other people and realizing the ideas we have about a person inside our head are never quite reality. We idealize, we demonize, we get lost inside our own brain.

And it was freaking funny.

BUT ANYWAY. The mystery portion of this book was incredibly well-written. Little details, figuring it out... it all read as if it were probable. And the protagonist, while wily and smart, was totally believable. I believed a bunch of teenagers would do this. They were all very well fleshed out, with individual personalities and quirks. Often times I'll read characters that are quirky to the point of caricature, but these kids? They were real people.

My only real nitpick is Margo is kind of Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but I'm giving it a pass because I think that was the point. The protagonist actually realizes he's idealizing her in that way and... you have to read the book.

If you like mysteries, coming of age stories, or stories involving Black Santas and Great White Walls of Cow, this is a great read. Maybe Genius stamp of approval.

IT'S A TRAP: Your Protagonist Knows Everything Ever

| Monday, December 6, 2010

Today's Tune: Snoopy vs. The Red Baron

It's been a while since I've done an IT'S A TRAP! post, hasn't it? Why don't I post one? Sounds like a Monday plan!

IT'S A TRAP!: Your Child/Teenage Protagonist KNOWS EVERYTHING!

You have a middle-grade or teenage protagonist, and they're smart. Totally smart. You want to show your readers just how very smart they are. So, of course, you make sure they already know everything ever. They're bored in class because they've already studied all the topics. They've already read all the classics because, well, they're SMART and they read them for fun. Duh.

I've seen this trope quite a bit, mostly in YA lit. The protagonist has just moved to a new town, and they're going to their new school. They attend their first class and oh, gosh, it's Chemistry. What a bummer. They already TOOK Chemistry at their old school, so all these labs are old news. Next is English! Aw, what? The assignment is to read Beowulf? But Protagonist read that already! How droll. Cue being bored and contemplating own superior intelligence.

Smart protagonists are awesome. I write smart protagonists. But no one knows everything, and when we write main characters that have nothing new to learn, it comes across as irritatingly false. It's especially grating and cliche when the method for revealing their intelligence is to show that they're already So Much Smarter/Well-Read/More Advanced Than Their Classmates. Also, why the heck would a student repeat a course they've already had at a previous school? Of course they already know everything in Algebra if they've already taken the course. This isn't a good way to show that your protagonist is intelligent.

Don't cheat your story and your readers by ensuring your brilliant shining star is clearly at the college level in everything ever. Even geniuses aren't geniuses at everything. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. If your protagonist excels in certain areas, let them suck at something BESIDES Phys Ed. Why do bright characters always seem to suck at Phys Ed?

Characters who know everything and blab about how they know everything aren't generally very likable. They have a tendency to develop an attitude that implies the majority of their peers are beneath them, and that's not a trait you want your MC to have. Unless you've purposely written them that way, that is.

There are ways to show off your protagonist's smartypants without resorting to the cheap parlor trick of "Well, this class is a WASTE OF MY TIME because I already know more than what the teacher can teach me." Let them show their scholarly chops without being a stuck-up brat about it.

Note: this tactic could actually work for a character that you DO want to appear as a know-it-all jerkface. Just sayin'.


December brings you vYou - ask me whatever.

| Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Oh hai. Remember a month ago when I still had time to update this blog on a regular schedule? THAT WAS AWESOME.

I miss blogging! WHY AREN'T THERE MORE HOURS IN THE DAY SERIOUSLY.

Anyway, I'm hoping to do some major catching up this weekend, and I'm *hoping* to get back to my regularly scheduled program in December. There may be a few days where I don't get a post up, but I'm aiming for three a week.

What's new with you, blog friends? Anything major go down in the last month I should know about? I FEEL SO DISCONNECTED UGH. I hope all is well!

In other news, I found a shiny new toy. You can ask me questions! And I will respond via webcam! Exciting!

I will have a "real" post up on Friday. Until then!

SO EXCITE + Hunger Games video

| Friday, November 19, 2010
*stumbles through the door*

OH MY GOODNESS, A BLOG. I HAVEN'T SEEN ONE OF THESE IN A DOG'S AGE. What does that expression mean, anyway? I don't know.

First: I am SO SORRY I've been mostly absent this month and haven't been able to say hello or visit your blogs or interact much at all. Things have been crazy. My NaNo project has pretty much fallen by the wayside, too. I still have time, but I don't know if it's going to happen. ALL THE SADS :(

Second: Guess what I'm doing tonight? I am GOING TO SEE HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS in SAN FRANCISCO with MARK from MARK READS HARRY POTTER. YES, SERIOUSLY. I'm way excited, you guys. You have no idea. I'm going to try and film a vlog, but it's likely to be rainy and loud so it's debatable whether that will work out. BUT I'M GOING TO TRY.

Third: There's this Hunger Games fan video making the rounds that is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and you really need to watch it. As long as you've read the first book, because it contains spoilers. But it's SO GOOD. AND SO SAD. Enjoy! Here's the direct link if the embedded player stops working: http://dft.ba/-HGFanVid

How have you guys been otherwise? Good? I hope so! Let me know it comments :)

braindead.

| Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Okay, so I'm starting to think that I should maybe just give in and say that for the month of November, this blog will be updated on days when I find time to update it? Ack. I hope you're all doing well!

AAARGH CHAOTIC MONTH I CANNOT HANDLE YOU.

Taking NaNoWriMo with a grain of salt.

| Friday, November 5, 2010
Today's Tune: Beat It (cover)

Two NaNo-themed posts in the first week? SHOCKING, I'M SURE.

So there was this Salon article essentially about how NaNoWriMo is a complete waste of time at which I rolled my eyes a little, though some of the points were valid. Let's break it down, shall we?

Writing = narcissistic, reading = selfless. Writers will write with or without encouragement; readers need to be the ones applauded.

Not sure I totally follow this line of logic. I suppose there is a nugget of truth in the fact that writing is always intricately tied to the author's ego, so okay. But reading is selfless? Erm. I guess if you subscribe to the idea that people are giving up their money and time to read, you could make this stretch. Ultimately, however, they're paying for and (hopefully) enjoying entertainment. When did enjoying art or entertainment become a selfless act?

I am under no illusions that without readers/consumers, there would be no more books. That is unarguably true. And some writers can be self-aggrandizing a-holes, no doubt. But I think most authors are thankful for the audience they have, and they continue to write through thick and thin for themselves AND that audience. Writing, really writing, is hard. Heartbreaking. Cruel. Most of us do it because we love it.

Writing has become a commercial thing - there's more money to be made from aspiring authors than people who read.

This point isn't lost on me. There IS a rather large market out there for people who want to write. There are people out there who cash in on this idea that anyone can write a book - people who will plump up the dreams of would-be authors, promise them the moon, and then leave them devastated when nothing comes of it. But NaNo isn't part of this problem. NaNo is about companionship, competition, exercising writing muscles, and good old-fashioned fun.

There may be people who take it the wrong way and assume writing 50,000 words means insta-publication, but the majority of us are not that naive. We'll take it for what it is - a way to get the juices flowing and pump something out that may or may not be worth revising into something that doesn't suck.

Agents and editors are DREADING the coming months and the deluge of NaNovels.

Eh. I read a lot of editor and agent blogs and subscribe to their twitter accounts, too. Yes, many have mentioned that they know the NaNovels are coming. But the idea that this is that much different than usual? Bah. The slush pile isn't new. Most of the blogs/tweets I read are mildly apprehensive, but not overly annoyed or filled with dread.

Want to know what's going to happen to the unpolished NaNovels that end up in agent inboxes next month? The same thing that happens to unpolished manuscripts every other month. In the (in)famous words of one Janet Reid: "This is a form rejection."

The world doesn't need more bad books, there are too many books and not enough readers, there are too many people who want to write but not read, etc.

This isn't news. The very nature of publishing dictates that only a fraction of novels ever written are published, and even fewer are successful. Regarding the bad books... hm. If this is referring to bad manuscripts? Most of those go unpublished. Some seem to slip through, but they're rare. If it is referring to published books, well, even the "bad" books have their place.

I'll admit, I'm a little bit of a literature snob. I don't much enjoy the poorly-written-but-high-concept stuff that always seems to appear on bestseller lists. But here's the thing: they often appear on the bestseller lists. All art cannot be created equal. If everything were a masterwork, nothing would be a masterwork. "Bad" books help keep the industry afloat, and there can be no good without the bad.

As to the last point, yes. There are a lot of people out there who seem to think writing is unconnected to reading. This is a viewpoint I don't much understand - how can one expect others to read work when they're unwilling to read the work of others? And that's not even touching on the fact that people who don't read don't generally write very well because they aren't familiar with their own genre.

Writing "crap" is a complete waste of time, energy, and resources.

This is one point I will 100% completely disagree with. I hate to break this to everyone, but first drafts are almost always complete crap, no matter who's writing them. Learning how to write means you will suck. This idea that even good (even GREAT) writers can pull flawless fiction from their mind on the first try is bunk. NaNo doesn't encourage you to keep the crap. It encourages you to revise the crap.

True, the article touched on this, but it ignores the fact that people who ignore that advice? They're the people who write manuscripts without doing any research anyway. If one chooses to miss the point of drafting --> revision --> novel, they're going to miss it regardless of how they came about completing that first draft. People are inherently lazy. This is not news. Hell, I'm lazy. I should be working on my own NaNo right now, but I'm blogging instead.

Speaking of which... back to the Word document for me.

cutting back on posting.

| Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Why hello!

You may (or may not) have noticed I didn't get a post up this morning. That's mostly because I'm finding the month of November to so far be CUCKOO BANANAS INSANE.

As such, I think it'd probably be good for me to reduce the frequency of my posts this month. After this week, I'll be switching to a Tuesday-Thursday update schedule for the month of November. Potentially for December as well, if things continue to be nuts. You know, just FYI.

How are my NaNo buddies doing? How are my non-NaNo buddies doing?

I'm at a little over 5000 words and still chugging along. WOO.

Obligatory NaNoWriMo Post.

| Monday, November 1, 2010
Today's Tune: The Compromise

OBLIGATORY NANOWRIMO POST!

NaNoWriMo is upon us again, and I'll be willing to wager these delicious TJ's dark chocolate peanut butter cups on my desk that a good chunk of us are going to be swallowed by the novel-writing bug this month. Are you participating?

I'm "cheating" this year, because I'm just rewriting another draft of my current project. But I need to get it done, and what better month, right?

I won NaNo last year, and I'm hoping to do so again this year. If you're interested in tips and tricks of the trade, here's how I was able to crank out 50,000 words in 24 days last year.

1.) Set your limit to 2,000 words a day. Or, BARE MINIMUM, 1,667 words. I made my goal at least 2,000 a day in order to give myself a little wiggle room in case I had to take a day off.

2.) Discipline yourself. This isn't going to be easy to do, but it's not impossible. Set "writing time" in chunks - morning, afternoon, evening. Or like I did: 500 words before work, 500 on lunch break, 1,000+ in the evening after work. You may have to give up sleep, TV, crazy parties, etc., but it's just for this one month.

3.) This isn't going to be perfect. In fact, you're probably going to be lamenting how much it sucks even as you're writing it. But it doesn't matter. Suck anyway. Let the suck flow freely.

4.) DON'T GO BACK AND EDIT. It will be tempting, but DON'T DO IT.

5.) Write whatever comes to mind. Don't worry about rules or everything you're not supposed to do. Write the lengthy backstory. Write the annoying prologue. Write the monologue explanations. Write the adverbs and dialogue tags. Write it all.

6.) Dream sequences, characters randomly breaking into song, and lengthy descriptions of the scene are all good for plumping up word count. And that's what NaNo is about: word count.

7.) Take breaks. If you're getting too stressed out, then it's time to relax. This is supposed to be an exercise. Something fun that will allow you to say "I wrote a NOVEL" at the end. If you're having the opposite of fun, then your brain needs a little R&R.

8.) Make up your own science and have one character explain it to another. Works for me.

9.) Push through writers block. Introduce a new character, a new obstacle, a sudden revelation, a change in plan. Shake your characters up and keep going.

10.) Don't take this too seriously. If you don't finish, it's okay. There's always next year. Just enjoy it.

Happy Halloween!

| Friday, October 29, 2010
Today's Tune: The Invasion From Within

You ever have one of those days where you're just totally burned out for creativity? I wanted to do some sort of cute/silly Halloween post, but my brain, it does not want to work that way.

So I'll link you these TOTALLY AWESOME HALLOWEEN COSTUME MAKE-UP IDEAS for nerds. You're welcome.

Also, here are some kitties in costume that will KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP.






IT'S A TRAP: The "Multitude-of-Genres" Novel

| Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Today's Tune: Le Disko

Halloween's coming up soon... you should write a SCARY 130-CHARACTER TWEET and then post it along with the hashtag #hallowfic. Yes, I'm going to keep pushing this until Halloween. MOAR SCARY STORIES :D

I've met a lot of writers in the past couple of years. A lot. Of writers. And most of us are awesome, dedicated, sensitive, artistic people, and I love that. There are a few duds in the bunch (mostly haughty buttheads who think they are THE MOST AMAZING THING IN THE WORLD), but you'll get those in any group of people.

Every once in a while, though, I'll meet someone who is genuine and really believes in what they write, but they'll do this thing. It's a thing that makes me feel kind of uncomfortable. Like I want to be supportive, because they are a cool person, but I also think they are maybe kind of a little bit delusional.

I'm referring to this infamous comment: "Well, there's not really a genre for what I write. I'm multi-genre. My novel is like, thirteen different genres. I've never seen or heard of anything like what I'm writing."

And I admit that this puts me off. The "thirteen different genres" thing isn't an exaggeration, btw. I actually had a person say this to me once. I'm sure they were being hyperbolic, but still. I hope they were being hyperbolic. Oh boy, what if they weren't?

Anyway. The reason this puts me off is actually threefold.

1.) I am not opposed to cross-genre fiction. It can be supremely awesome. But multitudes of genres? I don't know. It's probably very likely that what you think is this revolutionary new "undefinable" novel actually DOES fit into a genre that currently exists. There are a lot of them. And if your novel genuinely does pull from 4-10 different genres? It's probably going to be a little... scattered. Chaotic. And not in an artful, literary way. In a "this makes no sense" kind of way.

2.) The thing about "undefinable" novels? They don't really... work. Most of the time. There are always exceptions, of course, but we really can't bank on the bookstore/library making a brand new section for our book. And if it can't be placed in a bookstore/library, well... uh oh. If your new "genre" has never been done before, there might be a reason. Sometimes "I'm multi-genre" is code for "I'm not sure what I want to write yet."

3.) I can very much relate to the desire to be unique and special among the rest of the crowd. To have my work stand out. But sometimes I think authors desire that uniqueness so much that they're determined to prove how special their work can be. As much as we like to believe that there is absolutely nothing out there like that thing that's inside our brain, similar stuff DOES exist. I mean, there has been no book about teenage cyborgs in Edwardian Chicago THAT I KNOW OF SO FAR, but there have certainly been books about teenagers and cyborgs and Edwardian Chicago. I'm not that special.

So, I blathered about that for a while. Yeesh. I want to be clear that I'm not discounting true creativity or trying to tell people that they're not special. Well, yeah, okay, I'm kind of trying to tell people that they aren't that special. But that doesn't mean we non-specials aren't capable of breaking the rules and writing THE BIG BREAKOUT FICTION NOVEL THAT NO ONE EVER CONSIDERED BEFORE.

All I'm really saying is: consider not viewing your novel as a BRAND NEW GENRE or a MULTITUDE OF CROSS-GENRE BRILLIANCE. Don't stretch too hard for uniqueness. Just write a novel that works.

And it is late and I'm writing this to post in the morning and I am VERY TIRED so I'm going to bed now. SEE YOU FRIDAY.

CAPSLOCK.




john green plays singamajigs.

| Monday, October 25, 2010
This video makes me so happy, you guys. I love authors.

Also, DO NOT FORGET THAT THERE IS A SCARY STORY TWITTER PARTY HAPPENING AT THE HASHTAG #HALLOWFIC PLEASE POST YOUR HALLOWEEN MICROFICTION KTHX BYE.



speculative fiction.

| Friday, October 22, 2010
Today's Tune: Feathers

Tweet your scary/gross/funny Halloween microfiction along with the hashtag #hallowfic. All the cool kids are doing it!

I wanted to talk about "speculative" fiction.

What is speculative fiction? It's an all-encompassing term for fiction that doesn't take place in the "real world," basically. It includes horror, science fiction, fantasy, dystopias, alternative history, and everything in between. It's a term that's historically been used to distance oneself from science fiction and its limitations, though these days it's come into wide usage as an umbrella term.

It's a term I hadn't heard much until I started getting really involved in the writing community, and I found it interesting. It makes sense to have one term for these genres, since there are so many literary magazines that publish multiple "imaginative" genres, like horror/paranormal or science fiction/fantasy. It also includes all those weird new multi-genres that don't quite have a traditional place yet.

At first, it rubbed me the wrong way a little bit. I thought it was a jab at science fiction - a way to distance oneself from the stereotypically negative connotations of sci-fi (stuffiness, nerdiness, boring). After some pondering, I now believe that while it can be used that way, it actually can be used to break away from the truly negative ideals of science fiction - that it's male-centric, highly specific, elitist, etc.

It also defines the undefinable. Those of us who write sci-fi-that-isn't-quite-sci-fi or fantasy-but-not-really now have a term for our genre.

But what does it really mean? Does it mean the same thing to everyone, or is it one of those "I know it when I see it" things? Is it too broad? Or does it give us the freedom to work without a label while still being able to tell people where our book would be in the store?

Curious. What do you think?

the darkness of teenagerdom.

| Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Today's Tune: Silver Lining

If you're on Twitter, you should absolutely post 130-character Halloween microfiction along with the hashtag #hallowfic. Do it do it do it. I WILL MAKE THIS A THING.

ANYWAY.


"Isn't this too deep for teenagers?"

"Wow, that's dark. I don't know if teens are this dark."

"This makes me think a lot. I don't think teens want to think this much."

"I thought YA literature was supposed to be, you know, light. Easy to read."

Do any of these questions or statements sound familiar to you? They've become very familiar to me over the past year.

Granted, my writing edges toward the dark and heavy (murder, depression, drug use, pain), so it's not an incredibly surprising reaction. Even so, I've never once sat back and thought, "Hmm, actually, this is TOO rough for my audience." I'm very mindful of the variety of teen experience, and very often draw on my own teenage years for the scenes I write.

And here's the thing: I wasn't an especially unhappy youth. Outwardly, I was well-off and well-adjusted. Just your average kid - nothing too horrifying in my past, relatively naive/"innocent," decent high school experience. Very little that would indicate that in reality I was a storm of emotion.

My life certainly wasn't the image of suffering, but no more was it a rosy sunrise. I was a quiet introvert who choked back feelings of rejection, hurt, rage, and terror. I am absolutely positive I wasn't alone, though I often felt that way.

I found escape by finding the darkness inside my mind and heart reflected on the pages of books. No, my parents weren't dead and no one wanted to murder my friends. But darkness in YA isn't about reality - it's about having an outlet for the stormy feelings of being a teenager.

Since I've been showing my work, I've had the strange experience of people telling me they had no idea such darkness could come out of me. On the outside, I'm an optimistic, bright-color-wearing, happy-go-lucky blond. That's who I am, but only in part. There's also a part of me I often keep locked away, where I hide all my wounds, all my pain, all my suffering - a lot of it from my teen years. And that place is somehow always accessed when I write.

Maybe it's subconscious self-therapy. Maybe it's just what makes most sense to me when I write for teens - I'm writing to my own teenage self. I'm not sure. But what I am sure of is that I'm writing for teens, and there are teens out there who understand where I'm coming from.

Even though I've come to expect it now, I'm always surprised when I come across people who seem to think teenagers aren't deep, dark, or pained. That they don't want to think. I'm not sure if their teen years really were a breeze, or if they can't remember that adolescence really kind of sucks. Everything hurts, physically and emotionally. Overthinking is par for the course.

Sure, as adults, we can look back and see exactly how we overreacted, or how that thing we thought would be the end of the world was really no big deal. And it's easy to write off present-day teenagers as silly, frothy and melodramatic.

But it is not so. Those feelings aren't any less real now than they were then. When my high school crush rejected me? I was destroyed. When my parents divorced? Gutted. When my best friend got new friends and left me behind? The pain was so cutting I could barely breathe. I'd react differently now, but it's only because my skin's gotten tougher. Every time something similar happens in my adult life, some small part of my mind remembers. I shut it away immediately, but I remember.

"Teenager" is not some overreaching umbrella term. Teenagers are as varied as adults. Some are shallow, some are deep. Their literature should be as varied and complex as they are. Mine just happens to reflect their darkness alongside their light.

Because that's me - light cutting through dark, reminding me of the way. And everything I went through to get here.




Tweet Your Scary Microfic to #hallowfic!

| Monday, October 18, 2010
Today's Tune: Everyday

AAAAARGH HOW DO MY WEEKENDS GET AWAY FROM ME LIKE THIS.

I apologize for the lack of EPIC CONTENT lately, guys. I keep telling myself I've got to shape up and post something SUPER AWESOME, and then before I know it it's 9PM and I'm staring at a blank entry form going OLHSD*^FP^{(#*Y%({ YT(EGSDHGHUW*)&^$(TYGOHG.

Yes, that is the sound I make when I'm stressed/frustrated.

BUT ANYWAY. I do have a few things.

1.) I am going to another SCBWI conference this weekened! This is my local chapter's conference, and it's just one day, but I'm sure it will prove to be awesome. I'm having a manuscript critique this time around, which will hopefully be enlightening. I will take lots of notes. Since I'll be there with authors, editors and agents, are there any questions you'd like me to ask should the opportunity arise? I WILL DO IT FOR YOU!

2.) If you are on Twitter, you must help me spread the word about the following, because I want it to spread like wildfire across the writing blogosphere. Let's have a scary story Twitter party from now until Halloween! Here's what I want you to do: Tweet scary/gross/funny/creepy stories in 130 characters or less along with the hashtag #hallowfic. Then, tell all your friends to do the same. And we will have a party! And we will creep each other out and make each other laugh with our awesome stories! And it will be fantastic! EXCLAMATION!

P.S. I was going to go with the hashtag #microween, but after polling a few acquaintances, I realized I wasn't alone in thinking it might be confused with small penises. So we'll go with #hallowfic.

Go forth and spread the word! I want to see your scary tweets. We have two weeks. Do it do it do it!

And I will see you again on Wednesday, mis amigos :D

Q&A Vlog: Answers!

| Friday, October 15, 2010
On Wednesday, I posted an open Q&A, and a few followers responded. So here's my video answer to all those questions. Plus some "OMG am I seriously still in college or what?" style recipes.

Seriously, YouTube always picks the ABSOLUTE BEST SCREENSHOTS to show as my stills. BRILLIANT.

/sarcasm

Direct link here if you can't view the embedded video. Enjoy!

Ask Me Anything!

| Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Today's Tune: All You Wanted

AAAARGH BLAH yesterday got away from me and I didn't have time to craft a post. BUT I AM UPDATING ANYWAY BECAUSE IT'S ON MY SCHEDULE.

So let's make it a Q & A post, since I've never done one of those before. Ask me anything, and I will answer next post! Within reason and tastefulness, of course. I'm not going to tell you my social security number or what I look like naked.

Ask away!

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!

| Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Okay, okay, I've kept all my lovely blogfest participants on the line long enough. The day is here!

I could do some annoyingly flashy thing to keep tension high, but I won't be that mean. So without further ado...


THIRD PLACE goes to the lovely Emily White!

SECOND PLACE goes to the fabulous Tessa Conte!

and

FIRST PLACE goes to the amazingly talented Elena Solodow!

Congratulations, winners! Here's the prize rundown:

***

FIRST PLACE: Your choice of one of the following prize packs.

STARDUST PRIZE PACK


The Stardust graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess


AND The Stardust DVD, which is SUCH A GOOD MOVIE


AND your choice of one of the following perfumes from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab*:

Lady Una - Honey musk, green tea leaf, blackberry leaf, vanilla bean, and fae spices.

or Tristran - Dust on your trousers, mud on your boots, and stars in your eyes: redwood, tonka bean, white sandalwood, lemon peel, patchouli, rosewood, coriander, and crushed mint.


or the EDGAR ALLAN POE PRIZE PACK


Tales of Death & Dementia - Four of Poe's short stories illustrated by Gris Grimly

AND an Edgar Allan Poe action figure


AND your choice of one of the following perfumes from BPAL*:

Detestable Putrescence - A melty vanilla ice cream!

or Hideous Heart - A macabre Valentine: Wild black cherries, licorice root, & cinnamon.

*Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab creates unique perfume oils in small vials, and are of very high quality. The scents are not synthetic, and can vary based on skin chemistry. They can be worn by men or women.

SECOND PLACE: You will receive the other prize pack - First Place gets first dibs.

THIRD PLACE: You will receive your choice of a $20 Amazon gift card OR Eat Me perfume from BPAL (Three white cakes, vanilla, and red and black currants).

***

Thank you, once again, to all the participants and voters for this 'fest. It was so much fun! If the winners would please email their addresses to me at sesinkhorn [at] gmail [dot] com, I'll get you your prizes! Elena, please go ahead and select the prize pack you'd like, as well :)

master list of YA lit mags and journals.

| Monday, October 11, 2010
Today's Tune: Unlike Me

~Update 11/11/2012 - Soundings Review added~

Okay. As you may have gathered by now, I write young adult fiction. When I started on my journey toward "serious" publication, I did all the typical research. Including that bit about trying to get a few short pieces published in literary journals and magazines, both to prove dedication to your craft and to show potential agents/editors that other professionals in the industry think your work is worth publishing.

I quickly discovered a problem, though. After looking around quite a bit, I found that magazines and journals directed toward adult writers of YA literature are sort of hard to come by. There are many options for adult fiction, and quite a few available options for young (under 23) writers. Unfortunately, if you're over the age of 23, it becomes more difficult to find outlets for writing aimed at teenagers.

But I was determined. I kept looking. I sorted through Duotrope's Digest and other publishing guides, determined to find short story and flash fiction publishing options for YA authors. And I did. And now I'm going to share them with you :)

These are mostly magazines that are on a paying scale, which means they're pro or semi-pro. Some of them don't pay, but are still of a high quality. I'm going to list the magazine/journal along with a link, the age group it's aimed at, and a short description. Hopefully you'll find this information helpful!

AIM (America's Intercultural Magazine) - Aimed at high-school aged kids. Interested in creating a world without racial and religious prejudice; want stories showing races in equal light. Looking for stories, articles & poems up to 4000 words.

Boy's Life - Aimed at boys 8 to 18 years old. Boy Scouts of America magazine; wants "crisp, punchy writing." Interested in stories up to 1500 words. *Update - No longer taking unsolicited manuscripts.

Calliope - Aimed at ages 9 to 14. Looking for theme-based world history and retold legends. Interested in fiction up to 800 words.

Cicada - Aimed at ages 14 and up. Literary magazine for teens and young adults. Interested in short stories, poems and novellas up to 5000 words.

Cobblestone - Aimed at ages 8 to 14. Looking for theme-based history and retold legends. Fiction and poetry up to 800 words.

College Bound - Aimed at high school students. Wants college preparatory articles and stories; light-hearted and fun. Articles, advice and experiences.

Cricket - Aimed at ages 9 to 14. Literary magazine for preteens and early teens. Interested in fiction and poetry up to 2000 words.

Crow Toes Quarterly - Aimed at ages 9 to 13. Looking for dark, creepy, witty literature for children & preteens. Considered a "creepy version of Cricket." Interested in fiction and poetry up to 3000 words.

Faces - Aimed at ages 8 to 14. Theme-based magazine focusing on world cultures. Encourages viewing the world from different perspectives. Interested in articles, stories and folk tales based on this theme. Takes fiction up to 800 words.

Hunger Mountain -Takes pieces for all age groups, but has a special section for YA and Children's Lit. Literary journal looking for "polished pieces that entertain, that show the range of adolescent experience, and that are compelling, creative…" Takes short stories, poetry, novel/novella excerpts, and creative nonfiction.

Listen Magazine - Aimed at teenagers. Discusses drug-free possibilities for teens. Takes narratives up to 1200 words.

Lunch Ticket - Antioch University Los Angeles's literary magazine. They publish fiction, non-fiction, poetry, young adult literature, and art. Accept YA stories and flash fiction up to 5,000 words.

New Moon - Aimed at ages 8-12. Portrays women and girls as powerful, active, and in charge of their lives. Interested in fiction and non-fiction.

Odyssey - Aimed at ages 10-16. Scientific writing. Looking for scientific accuracy, lively approaches to subject, and the inclusion of primary reasearch. Themed. Interested in fiction up to 1000 words.

One Teen Story - A subset of One Story, Inc., a literary magazine that publishes one short story a month. Submissions are only open for a certain amount of time every year.

Read - Aimed at ages 10-16. Literary magazine intended for schools. High interest to teens. Looking for short stories and novel excerpts.

Scape - Exclusively online magazine dedicated to speculative YA. All submissions must have a speculative element. Takes poetry, art, reviews, and fiction pieces.

Seventeen - Aimed at ages 13 to 21. Beauty, fashion, entertainment, guys, health and teen issues. Accepts occasional issue fiction pieces up to 3500 words.

Soundings Review - A bi-annual publication in conjunction with the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts MFA program, publishes poetry, fiction, children/young adult, and prose, including essays and interviews.

Sucker - Aimed at young adults (teens). Fledgling online-only literary magazine associated with Pine Manor College. Currently seeking YA fiction ONLY. Accepts fiction pieces up to 10,000 words.

Suddenly Lost in Words - A new literary magazine offering professional payment (5 cents a word) for YA short stories of up to 3000 words. Because it is so new, it may take a little time to get the feel for it and make sure it's going to flourish.

Twist - Aimed at ages 14 to 19. Teen mag capturing the "energy, attitudes, and interests of young women." Interested in articles and input from teenagers.

YARN - Young Adult Review Network. Accepts YA poetry, essays up to 3000 words, and fiction up to 6000 words. Also accepts photography.

As a rule, you should always conduct your own research into a magazine or journal's submission requirements before submitting, as they may change from what I have listed here.

I'd like to eventually make this into a master literary journal/magazine list for YA writers, so if you know of more, please leave them in comments and I'll add them!

Reminder: Mash-Up Blogfest voting!

| Sunday, October 10, 2010
Just a quick reminder that voting for the Mash-Up Blogfest will close tomorrow, with winners announced on Tuesday. If you haven't yet voted, please go check out the nominees and give them your votes!

Thank you :D

he singed me with his violet eyes.

| Friday, October 8, 2010
Today's Tune: Blue Eyes

Every time I type "singed" I feel like I'm typing the past tense of "sing." And then I have to remind myself that the past tense of "sing" is "sung" and that I am a total spaz.

But! That is not what I wanted to talk about in this post.

I wanted to talk about violet eyes.

They're everywhere. What is it about smoldering, beautiful, shockingly violet eyes? I've even discovered them in my own writing. Yes, once upon I time, I too fell under the spell of a purple-eyed character.

Is it the mystery? The exotic factor? The "this character maybe-probably has some sort of supernatural ability" foreshadowing? The uniqueness? Or the fact that the color is REALLY REALLY PRETTY?

I'm genuinely perplexed by this. Nearly every paranormal/fantasy writer I know has had a character with violet eyes at some point.

How about you? Have you ever been bitten by the violet-eyed bug? What were you trying to say with those eyes?

So, I'm a runner-up for the Katherine Paterson Prize and stuff.

| Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Today's Tune: The First Single

Don't forget to get your vote in for the Mash-Up Blogfest! Voting is open until October 11th. Help your fellow writers win sweet prizes ;)

I have an announcement today. I've been yapping about this all over to everyone lately, so please indulge me if you've heard it before. I'm excitable, what can I say :D

Much earlier this year, I submitted a YA short story to Hunger Mountain for consideration for the Katherine Paterson Prize. Months and months went by, the deadline came and went, and I just kind of let it slip to the back of my mind. To be honest, I knew I was competing with highly-skilled writers, MFA students and graduates, so I didn't expect much. Maybe the editors would give me some positive feedback. Maybe.

Then, on September 21st, I received an email letting me know that my story, "Chasing Shadows," had been chosen as the YA runner-up for the Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children's Writing. And that they wanted to publish me in the January 2011 online edition of the YA and Children's Literature journal. And that guest judge HOLLY FREAKING BLACK thought my writing was "beautiful and lyrical."

And then I proceeded to wig out.

And I'm still kind of wigging out, because OMG, SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS. SERIOUSLY.

I decided to sit on the information all this time because it hadn't been officially announced yet, BUT NOW IT HAS AND I CAN FREAK OUT IN PUBLIC.

I'm not sure I can put into words how gobsmacked and honored and flattered and excited and crazy and awed this makes me feel. I've always felt like a "real" writer, but now I feel like a REALLY REAL FOR SERIOUSLY SERIOUS writer. Like, a writer who wins literary honors holy crap. People whose job it is to know good writing thought my writing was worthy of a runner-up spot. GAH. GAAAAH.

I know I wasn't the "grand prize" winner (that honor went to Jaramy Conners - congrats, dude!), but that definitely doesn't put a damper on my mood.

Okay, I'll stop gushing now. It's just... wow. Wow. I'm going to be published in a literary journal! SQUEE!

And more congrats to my fellow winners and finalists!

Mash-Up Blogfest Nominees Announced! Please VOTE!

| Monday, October 4, 2010
My gosh, you guys don't make these blogfests easy, do you? THANKS FOR MAKING MY JOB SO HARD OMG.

I'm not really complaining :D I absolutely loved all the entries for this 'fest. The creativity and talent were fabulous, and I adore each and every one of you! Thanks for making my first blogfest awesome!

Alas, I could only select five nominees, and it was extremely difficult. I had to whittle it down to nitpicking for a lot of these. I ended up going with those that I felt were extraordinarily creative, with great characters and a few really good twists. Please keep in mind that my one opinion in no way, shape, or form dictates your worth as a writer. Keep writing! Read all the way to the end for your instructions on voting for the winners.

First, I'd like to give a few Honorable Mentions.

Honorable Mention #1: Christi Goddard, for a really intriguing look at the anonymity of the internet. Creeepy.

Honorable Mention #2: K.C. Robertson, for a sort of Dante's Inferno meets YA Romance. With a spunky narrator!

Honorable Mention #3: Arlee Bird, for an absolutely gorgeously written piece about Sasquatch, which was very unfortunately a few words over the limit.

And, without further ado, here are my "Top 5" nominee selections! In no particular order:

Elena Solodow, who mashed Cookbook and Horror... LOL

Eeleen Lee, who mashed Historical/Military and Science Fiction

JC Martin, who mashed Detective/Crime and Monster Horror

Emily White, who gave us a Steampunk Zombie Romance

and Tessa Conte, who mashed a Murder Mystery with Urban Fantasy

Again, it was SO HARD to select only five, but in the end, I had to do it. I loved each and every entry, and I love you all so much for putting them out there!

Now for the voting:

I've selected five nominees for the prizes, and now YOU, my readers, get to help me decide who wins the goodies! Please read each of the five nominated entries and post your votes here in the comments. Please vote as follows:

1.) First Choice
2.) Second Choice
3.) Third Choice

First Choice gets three points, Second Choice two points, and Third Choice one point. Whoever has the most points... well, you can figure it out ;)

Please vote! In the event of a tie, I'll be the tie-breaker. But please don't make me! This was hard enough, haha. Entrants, feel free to announce the open voting on your various social media outlets, but please don't suggest your readers vote for you in particular, of course!

A thousand thank yous to everyone who participated, read, and commented.

Voting will remain open for one week.

The Mash-Up Blogfest is HERE!

| Friday, October 1, 2010
My very first blogfest has come to fruition! HUZZAH AND HURRAY!

Welcome one, welcome all, to the Mash-Up Blogfest. Today, our gallant entrants will be posting short works of fiction (or poetry) in which they've combined two or more conflicting genres. Will there be Romantic Horror? Sci-Fi Court Drama? Fantasy Spy Thrillers? TODAY WE FIND OUT!

I will be visiting every entry some time before Sunday night, and I will be commenting to let you know I've been by. I will not be posting any sort of feedback (yet!) as I want to reserve judgment until I've read everything. So, don't feel bad if you get a generic, "Okay, been here, read this" comment, because that's what everyone will be getting :)

Entrants may post entries until 11:59 PM this evening (I'll be checking timestamps - if there's no timestamp, I'll use my best judgment as to when it was posted). I will then select FIVE entries based on a number of factors: creativity, incorporation of the theme, entertainment factor, spelling/grammar/punctuation, personal taste, etc. Those five entries will be linked in a post next week, and then my readers will vote for their top three, and those top three will win THE PRIZES! If there is a tie, I will be the tie-breaker.

I was going to participate as well, but 1.) I didn't want to take away any reading time from the other participants, and 2.) my head exploded and this week was very, very crazy.

So! Without further ado, please click the Mr. Linky link below to be taken to the Master List of participants, and enjoy! Thanks so much to everyone who joined in on the fun :)


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter and view the entire list of entered links...

Banned Books Week Vlog: His Dark Materials

| Thursday, September 30, 2010
It's BANNED BOOKS WEEK YAAAAAAAY. Or nay? Maybe? Because banning books sucks?

Either way, I filmed a vlog. YAAAAAAAAY.

I'm discussing Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, which is WONDERFUL and I highly recommend it. The direct link to the video is here if you can't get the embedded player to work. If you have any additional questions about the series, please feel free to ask in comments and I'll be happy to answer. Enjoy!


on rating books.

| Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Today's Tune: Hands Open

You might have maybe heard that it's Banned Books Week or something? Heh.

I'm planning on posting about one of my personal favorite banned books tomorrow (actually, it's a series of three), so stay tuned for that! In the meantime, I'd like to discuss something I see bandied about a lot when the subject of book banning comes up: wouldn't it be easier/better just to impose a ratings system on books? You know, like movies?

And here's my opinion on that: no. No, it wouldn't.

It's difficult for me to explain exactly why this concept bothers me so much, other than telling you that I don't believe literature should be "kept" from anyone, or that there's any sort of blanket age when a person is "ready" to read a certain book. Some children and teens are mature enough to handle certain themes, some aren't.

Also, I feel a rating system would be fairly arbitrary. Who would decide which books are best for which ages? Do we base it on reading level, or specific content? If content, than what sort of content? Presence of sexuality? Swearing? Violence? Themes? Religious viewpoint? Age of the protagonist? What level of violence is okay for a 10-year old, and what is okay for a 15-year old?

What do we rate the Bible? There's a LOT of sex and violence in there. How about Shakespeare? I mean, you've READ Shakespeare's plays, right? That stuff is LOADED. And also taught in nearly every pubic school in America.

What if a book doesn't contain sex, but the characters briefly mention it? Does that need to be noted along with a "contains sexuality" tag? How specific are we going to get here?

Not to mention the monumental nature of this task. First, a universal rating system would need to be put in place. Then, every book (EVERY. BOOK.) would need to be read and ran through this rating system to determine the appropriate rating. That's approximately 170,000 books a year in this country alone. And boy, do we have a serious backlog of previously published work to get through. Compare that to the approximately 600 films released a year. Yeah. Yeah.

And what of self-publishing? Who rates those? And if a book is rated Teen, does that mean a kid has to produce identification to prove that they're X number of years old before they're allowed to check out or purchase a book?

I have kind of a bucking bronto reaction to the implication that literature is something that shouldn't be accessible to a portion of the population, even if that population is children. I like to think that a novel is about the overall theme of the work, not a scene or two. I want people to decide for themselves what literature suits them and what doesn't.

To be fair, I think a parent has the right to decide if they don't think a certain novel is appropriate for their kids. I just balk at the idea of some arbitrary rating system deciding for everyone which books are "okay" for which people. You just can't pigeonhole literature that way. The themes of fiction can resonate for any age group, and who am I to say otherwise?

What are your thoughts on rating books?

public humiliation uncontest. oh dear.

| Monday, September 27, 2010
Today's Tune: Lovefool

First: Oh hey, have you heard I'm hosting an INCREDIBLY AWESOME BLOGFEST? With prizes? And that there are only a few more days to enter and you totally should because it will be SO MUCH FUN? Oh you have? FABULOUS. Moving on.

If you haven't heard, Le R is having a
Public Humiliation Uncontest today. The drill: post deeply embarrassing excerpts from your childhood journals. OH GOD WHY DID I AGREE TO DO THIS.

I was unfortunately unable to find anything from my journals before the age of 13, but my 13-year old self was full of such DEEP THOUGHTS that I definitely found them worth sharing. So OH BOY ARE YOU IN FOR A TREAT TODAY. Punctuation, spelling, and emphasis have been left intact. Names have been removed to protect what is left of my modesty.


***

7-13-97

Dear Diary,

Sup! Not much has happened since last time, but I just thought I’d check in! I don’t want you to have to go unwritten in until something exciting happens in my life (which won’t be for quite a while). I can’t believe I’m out of [jr. high school] and almost a HIGH SCHOOLER already! That went SO FAST!!! I seriously doubt that G will even call me this summer, so I’d better find something else to think about. I’m gonna have surfing lessons! That is so neat! Then I’ll be able to surf in the summer and snowboard in the winter! (I forgot to tell you that I learned how to snowboard last winter!) Well, gotta go. I have some killer ideas for my story!

XOXO,
Stephanie

***

Yes, I was already writing a "novel" at the tender age of 13. Would you like to see an excerpt? OF COURSE YOU WOULD.

***

A full moon shines down upon the Forest of Color, its silver light illuminating the reds, blues, purples and greens of the trees, colors of the rainbow dimmed by twilight. Mt. Majic rises above the Plains of Plenty as if proud, its snow-capped peak glistening with a glowing white light that shines through the mist. A hundred thousand stars shine above in the crystal-clear air, like priceless diamonds, waiting to be plucked from the heavens above the land of Zingawai.

All is quiet; most of the forest and field creatures are asleep. An occasional nocturnal rodent of some sort scurries among the tall, golden grass, searching for opine nuts and regal berries. From the forest comes a quick, silver movement. A creature of majestic beauty steps cautiously out of the shadows, his cloven hooves choosing his steps carefully. A single white horn spurts from his brow, glowing with a gentle gold light. A silver mane tumbles down to his back, and smells of lilac and roses, probably because he has many of these flowers woven into his silky hair. A tail resembling that of a lion twitches nervously.

***

CRINGE. I mean, not terrible considering I wrote this at 13, BUT CRINGE.

But this part made me LOL for serious.

***

As Chris approaches him, he bends just to her eye level and says with a smart smile, “Look, sweetling, no offense intended, but you’re not someone that people envision as saving the world or anything.”

It is now Chris’s turn to break into and amused smile. She looks at Kam and says sweetly, “You haven’t ever seen an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, have you?” She pulls back her right hand and hits him, hard. Her fist connects with his face just below his right eye. The blow takes him totally by surprise. In all his life, he had never seen a girl hurt anything, let alone himself. Not even his sisters or mother had ever laid a finger on him.

***

THAT'S RIGHT, FEMINIST FROM AGE 13. WHAT. I mean, it's absolutely awful that I'm 1.) citing pop culture and 2.) using violence as a means to convey female power, BUT DUDE.

Okay okay, enough fiction. How about another journal entry?

***

In ethics today we were doing ethical dillemas, and one of the one's we did was: If you and someone you love deeply were put in two seperate rooms with only a button in the room, then told that you would both die within 60 minutes unless one of you pushed the button (if you push the button, you die instantly, but the other person lives), what would you do? Well, I said I'd totally push the button. I wouldn't even think about sacrificing my life for someone I love. Yes, I would be all distraught about having to DIE and everything, but it wouldn't even be a question. I love other people THAT much. I would even sacrifice my life for that stud that I'm in love with and have yet to name, and I would bet everything I own that he wouldn't for me.

***

I love other people THAT much, guys. LOOK AT ME I WAS SO SELFLESS. "That stud" OMG. And the idea of dying is like, totally distressing. Totally. Also, yes, I took philosophy and ethics. They offered it at my high school. I WAS VERY VERY DEEP.

Okay, how about some angsty poetry/lyrics? I promise I'll stop after this.


***

This world’s full of webs and lies
It’s trapping me inside
These frozen bars that hold me in
I can feel the ice against my skin
My heart aches to beat
The ground shudders beneath my feet
My tears blur my eyes as they fall
Burning a hole through it all…

When my heart is unclothed
And I’m bearing my soul
Night threatens to swallow me whole
Frightened as a newborn foal
Raise me into a stallion
So I can run away, run away…

I’m walking on a razor blade
I try hard not to fade
Staying true to what’s inside of me
No idea what I want to be
Should I try for love, try for fame
Go for it all, or go insane?

Screaming out from where I stand
No one can navigate this lost land
Put your best foot forward, they all say
But what if it slips and I lose my way?
Just like always, like I always do
I am such a fool…

And I stand naked, no shield for me
Wicked eyes prying away at me
Tearing at my heart and soul
Frightened as a newborn foal…

Raise me into a stallion
So I can run away, run away…

Run away…


***

There you go. The shame of my youth. Bask in it.

friday ramblings.

| Friday, September 24, 2010
Today's Tune: Boys Don't Cry

ACK, late with my post for the second time this week. WEAK, STEPHANIE. WEAK.

Just a few quick things: if you missed Social Good Day/my video yesterday, please check it out. There's a direct link before the embedded video if you can't get it to work. I talk about a few causes I really believe in, and I'd love it if you gave them a shot.

Second, everyone needs to check out Guys Read like, right this second. There have been many blog posts and articles written about the fact that boy readers significantly drop off once they reach high school age, and there are a lot of reasons for that. The Guys Read website is there to inspire a love of reading in boys from a young age, and is a fantastic go-to resource for subject boys may find interesting and want to read about.

I mean, yes, the topics are sort of stereotypically masculine, but I recognize the fact that young boys may not quite grasp the nuances of gender dualism and all that, and the most important thing is to get them reading so they grow up in a reading culture. Also, Grimm's Fairy Tales, The Golden Compass, Tuck Everlasting and others are on the list, so they get a pass from me.

I have clearly been spending WAY TOO MUCH TIME on forums lately, because I just tried to italicize with BB code. DERP.

Aaaaand I think that's about all I have time for today, but I will have LOTS OF SHINY NEW POSTS NEXT WEEK!

Also, we're coming up on the VERY LAST WEEK to sign up for the Mash-Up Blogfest!!! You should definitely join. It will be a great writing exercise and lots of fun, I promise. Plus, PRIZES. You know you want prizes. And in case there was any confusion about this, I am totally willing to send internationally. So if you're in a country other than the U.S. and you've been holding off on entering because you thought I wouldn't ship to you, then you should know I WILL TOTALLY SHIP TO YOU IF YOU WIN so you should join. It may take a little longer, but I will make it happen.

Okay. Have a great weekend, everyone!
 

Copyright © 2010 maybe genius