hiatus on account of conferencing.

| Friday, July 23, 2010
Today's Tune: Such Great Heights

OH HAI.

By the time you read this, I will most likely be preparing for my brother's wedding. PARTAY AT A MARRIAGE CELEBRATION WOO HOO.

I thought I'd announce that I'll be taking a short hiatus from blogging - after the wedding, I will be spending time with my family, then attending the SCBWI Conference in L.A.! It's okay to be jealous, really. I promise to come back with tons of useful notes, information, and stories about how I gushed praise all over M.T. Anderson's shoes.

I'll be returning to blogging sometime around August 4th. In the meantime, see my earlier entries for some cool contests to enter. Go go! You can't win if you don't enter!

Aloha until I return again!

review: LIAR

| Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today's Tune: Why Do I Lie?

<--- That book? Read it. Awesome.

Honestly, this book was twisty and turny and deliciously screwy. Micah's voice is rough, seedy, and oddly genuine. Given the fact that she's a complete liar-faced liar with a side of liar, I mean.

Yes, this is the book of whitewashing fame. I admit, the whole debacle over the coverfail was what informed me about the existence of LIAR in the first place, which I both find horrible and am thankful for, since I loved it. I wonder if I would have heard about it otherwise. I hate to think I wouldn't have.

LIAR is the sort of book that straddles genres in an effortless way that few can. I can't go into too much detail without giving major plot points away, but suffice to say Larbalestier makes the unbelievable believable in brisk, easy strokes.

She also does something many have attempted and few have succeeded at: she created a character who should be intensely disliked, but is somehow able to draw us into her pain and make us genuinely care about her. Micah is odd, aloof, and fairly mean. She's also a compulsive liar. Yet I spent the majority of this book pulling for her.

The style of the chapter breaks is something a little different, as well. A little convoluted to follow if you're not paying attention, but very clever. The writing is a splendid split between literary and gritty, while still believably teenager-y.

After plowing your way through, you'll still have no idea what exactly to believe. The web of lies is so flawless, so complete, it'll have you wondering what was real. If any of it was real.

Buy this book. It's worth your money. Plus, in doing so you can send the message to bookstores that consumers WILL TOO buy books with people of color on the cover. Win-win, really.

once again, VICTORY IS MINE.

| Monday, July 19, 2010
Today's Tune: Landmines

First, an announcement:

I FINISHED MY DRAFT OH GLORIOUS AND HAPPY DAY OF REJOICEMENT AND FAERIE CHOIRS AND SPARKLY, SPARKLY JOY.



This manuscript gave me quite the run for my cash-monies, let me tell you. I suffered a case of Am I Crazies, a touch of Demotivation, and a fair amount of Bogged Down In Detail. At the end, I just had to do what ALL THE ADVICE EVERYWHERE EVER says: just write. Ignore the voice in your head that tells you it has to be perfect the first time, and just keep pushing through it.

A hard lesson for a perfectionist, I tell you what.

But now! I can finally stop looking pitifully at my little word counter, and relish in the fact that IT IS DONE. And now I can proudly say that I am EDITING my novel. Not writing it! Editing it! YAY!

That's right, TTTH. You have been a difficult partner with your naysaying, but I showed you!


HA.

Okay, I'm done gloating. For now.

I also have a pair of contest announcements! If you haven't participated in one of The Clarity of Night's much-loved short fiction contests, then GET OVER THERE! His 13th contest begins today. You'll have 10 days to write a 250-word flash fiction based on a photo prompt.

I entered his last contest and made the Forties Club, which is no easy feat. These contests bring out talent in droves. So much fun, so much fiction to read and enjoy, and awesome prizes. If you want to sharpen your writing chops among some really incredible and classy folks, you should absolutely participate.

Also. ALSO! Simon over at Constant Revision is holding a contest for some random books he had laying around or something. But seriously, copy of the 2010 Writer's Market? Worth it.

As for me, I'm going to start EDITING MY NOVEL EEEEEEEEE.

So excited.

concrete and abstract are not mortal enemies.

| Friday, July 16, 2010
Today's Tune: Glass

So today, I wanted to talk a little more about science.

HEY HEY HEY. YOU WITH THE ENGLISH DEGREE. YOU COME RIGHT BACK HERE.

Ahem. Now that I've roped you all to your chairs with my extremely clever witticism... I'll toss you a phrase you may have heard a lot if you happen to be an artsy-type.

"I hate math/science. I suck at it. Numbers and laws are boring. I'm too creative for that."

Which I always LOL at, because, come on. Science isn't creative? O RLY. How do we think scientists do anything? By coming up with a hypothesis and acting on it. By testing, poking, prodding, and otherwise breaking and rebuilding the world to see how it works. Not creative? PUHLEEZ.

I always wonder how many of us actually suck at math or science. I'm about as head-in-the-clouds arty-pants as they come, and I don't suck at math OR science. I don't like doing some of it, but I'm not bad at it. There was a point when I bought into the idea that these were all separate, foreign subjects that couldn't be shared or blended. You were either good at one, or good at the other. One was for concrete thinkers, one was for abstract.

No. You think music isn't based in logic? That building a functioning symphony doesn't take some level of concrete planning? Then take a music course. Shoo! Go on!

This is flawed thinking. When we limit ourselves to one area of study, we are actually restricting our creativity. The brain isn't some compartmentalized cubby, with math over here and writing over here and physics in this corner and painting on the top shelf. When we use one area, we are actually exercising multiple sections of our brain. Seriously, go bug Livia about it, she'll tell you.

I can't speak for everyone (obviously), but personally, I can't just read, eat, sleep and breathe fiction, and expect my creativity to keep up. The more I learn about the world, the more ideas work their way into my conscious mind. Taking a break from writing in order to work a puzzle or watch a science show gives me that much more to draw on.

The idea that art and science are at odds is a myth. It's often conditioned in us creative types that we're not supposed to be good at math or science because that's just not how our brain works. Therefore, many of us don't try. Don't get invested. Bullocks, I say. It's entirely possible we're just out of practice.

I'm not suggesting that we all go out and study topics that we loathe and find mind-numbingly boring. After all, I'm not a fan of pre-calculus or chemistry. Blech. But biology, astronomy, string theory? That stuff is FASCINATING. Sudoku? Good brain exercise.

All I mean to say is, give science and math a chance again. How much of your "ineptitude" for these subjects is real, and how much is conditioned? Sure, some people are genuinely bad at math. It happens. But I bet it's less likely than we think.

reading, reading, reading.

| Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Today's Tune: Connect / Disconnect

This week, I read Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron. I had won a signed copy in a contest held by the lovely Aprilynne Pike a while back, so it's been on my to-read pile for a long time.

It was an enjoyable, fast read. Definitely a haven for indie music nerds. I enjoyed the characters a lot. I thought Mr. Skovron did a great job of creating varied characters with quirks and fun personalities, and he did so without going overboard. Even minor characters had fleshed out habits and motives. It was a good character study - I'd recommend it for that alone.

I've also been reading Shiver by Maggie Steifvater, which I'm sure you've all heard of by now. She has a sequel out or something? ;) It's an interesting read. She's very talented - the imagery she uses is just beautiful.

So, you can see I've been reading an awful lot. It's also my goal for the week to finish my draft of Tick-Tock Hearts. Wish me luck!

science fiction: more than aliens and jumpsuits.

| Monday, July 12, 2010
Today's Tune: I'll Still Be a Geek After Nobody Thinks It's Chic (The Nerd Anthem)

A while back, the Sci Fi Channel changed its name to SyFy. I'm pretty sure when I started seeing the commercials advertising the name change was coming, my eyebrows went into my hairline. It didn't take long for me to figure out what they were doing.

Science Fiction is for nerds, see. Antisocial weenies with zits and glasses who play Dungeons and Dragons and lust after Seven of Nine. The theory was that the network wasn't receiving more viewers because people saw "Sci Fi" and were thinking, "Ew, geek TV. I hate Star Trek and alien movies." So they had to "coolify" Sci Fi's image by giving it a sleek new name to lure in all the SF haters. And yes, they so much as admitted this was true.

This attitude annoys me to no end, but what annoys me more is that it's not entirely untrue. People have preconceived and misplaced notions about Science Fiction. That it always involves space travel and/or aliens, for example. It's full of boring technobabble. Only people who eat physics for breakfast could enjoy such entertainment. IT'S DORKY.

And I'm here, of course, to tell you... UM, NO.

Here's a little factoid for SF haters... you don't hate SF. Maybe you don't like space operas or Doctor Who. But you don't hate SF. If you enjoy Star Wars... The Fifth Element... The Matrix... Weird Science... The Maze Runner... Leviathan... Boneshaker... Back to the Future... Ender's Game... Watchmen... A Brave New World... Firefly... Serenity... LOST... A Wrinkle in Time... The Golden Compass... Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...

I have news for you. YOU. LIKE. SCIENCE. FICTION.

And if you maybe sort of know of this one author who wrote a book with the tagline "Science Fiction for people who don't like Science Fiction?" Tricked, because YES YOU DO. Oh, and the fact that the vampires in said author's other universe are attempted to be explained by biology rather than myth? SCIENCE. FICTION.

Yes, I said it. If you like Twilight, YOU ARE A SCI FI NERD HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Sort of.

See, this is how insidious the aversion to SF has become. Even authors who are ACTIVELY WRITING LOOSELY BASED SCIENCE FICTION will not admit that they like it, or that they write it. How sad is that? I mean, genuinely, Ms. Meyer kind of hurt my feelings when she put out The Host with the caveat that SF was good enough to write on a lark, but not good enough to enjoy more widely.

But this is the thing: SF is a huge genre, and the only requirement is that the elements of a SF story are plausible within the natural or postulated realm of science. Outside that, the possibilities are endless. There's action, drama, spies, romance, hilarity, humanity, and really cool gadgets. James Bond? Also kind of Science-Fictiony, guys. Q doesn't magic those gizmos into existence.

There are hybrid genres, such as Science Fantasy, which is what Madeline L'Engle's series are often classified as. Unicorns who can travel via folds in the fabric of time and space? YOU BETCHA.

Why am I blabblering on about SF, anyway? Well, I write it. Almost any writing sample you're going to read on this blog is drenched in it. I feel obligated to break down the barriers that surround SF, and to remind everyone that it's not inaccessible. It's not all "hard" science. It's not nerdy. Not like being a nerd is bad ANYWAY, but I digress.

All I ever ask is for people to open their minds a little. Forget your biases. I promise you, there is a science-y novel out there for you somewhere. And hey, if you give it a chance and find you still think SF is totally boring, no harm no foul. I only want you to try. You don't have to go for the SF section of the bookstore and pick up the craziest looking space opera or anything.

Try some steampunk. Or FEED by M.T. Andersen. Something that piques your interest and makes you want to read.

Then read it.

wip update.

| Friday, July 9, 2010
Today's Tune: Do You Wanna Date My Avatar

Wow, I've really made a habit of posting bits of fiction for the past week, eh? Thanks to everyone who commented. It gave me a happy.

No fiction today, unfortunately. But! I do have a status update on my WIP. I'm on the cusp of my final scene, and it's a doozy. It's very powerful in my head, and now I'm trying to organize how I'd like it to play out.

AND THEN I'LL GET TO DO THE WHOLE THING ALL OVER AGAIN YAY.

But anyway. I'm excited to be so close. When I had the idea for this novel, I knew it was good, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull it off. I was so afraid that I'd get to the end and go, "UGH SO TERRIBLE." But I'm not. I'm actually really, really pleased with this story. Sure, it's not done and there are several points I'm going to have to revisit - characters I added later in the manuscript, plot twists that were way over the top, lots and lots and LOTS of fluff - but I'm confident I can make it function. Maybe even make it publishable.

O_O

Okay, I'm not very exciting today, so here's an episode of The Guild for you to enjoy. It's extra funny if you've ever played an MMO and/or RPG.

I have an entry planned for Monday regarding science fiction and why it is effing cool and not some nerdy thing for superbrains only, so stay tuned!

101 word story.

| Monday, July 5, 2010
Today's Tune: The Sun Ain't Shining No More

Flash fiction time! I wrote this for Janet Reid's contest over the weekend. We had to write a story in 101 words or less which included certain words. My entry didn't win, but I did get a mention for having a great line, so you know. Woo! :D Sometimes it's the small things.

I have definitely noticed I have a tendency toward taking my stories the sci-fi/fantasy route.

***

My double scoop coffee ice cream hits the ground. Splat. It looks like melting Jersey cowpie. Appropriate, since that’s how I feel.

They’re still laughing at Keith’s joke. Look at Ann, all raggedy-ass clothes bought third-hand at the Razzmatazz Thrift Store. I didn’t know they made “Rolled in Shit” hair color.

The bonfire and sticky spilt beer call, and they wander off. Keith stays behind for more.

I spit in his face.

His eyes dart as the paralyzing agent works. He can’t even scream. My tongue flickers. The air tastes like terror.

I unhinge my jaw. Pop.

WriteOnCon.

| Friday, July 2, 2010
Today's Tune: Breathe Me

I'm sure by now you've all heard of this super-rad FREE online kidlit writer's conference that's going on in August, right? It's called WriteOnCon?

What? You haven't? Dudes. DUDES.

Go sign up. Right now. It's easy, you just have to register for the forums, which is where it's all going down. There's even a practice room to post excerpts and get prepped.

DO EET. Did I mention that OH YEAH, IT'S FREE? And open to anyone ANYWHERE who writes children's, MG, or YA lit?

You're welcome.

;)
 

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