14.8.13

What's Up Wednesday

 
What's Up Wedneday is a weekly meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk where writers post about what's up by answering four questions. If you want to participate go here:



WHAT I'M READING
 
I'm still reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.

 
 
 
 
 
WHAT I'M WRITING
 
I'm still at the same wordcount as Friday, less than 600 words from the 25K mark. (I posted my What's Up Wednesday post on Friday because I was out of town that week, and couldn't post it earlier.) I did, however, rework the opening of Unfair and post it on WriteOnCon. You can read it here. I got a lot of great feedback, and even though I am nowhere near finished with Unfair, the opening is starting to look a lot better. If you posted anything on WriteOnCon, and you want a critique, feel free to post a link in the comments, and I'll try to get to it.
 
 
WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
 
I love this post about Diversity in Writing by Ellen Cho. She hits on a lot of great points, and I think everyone should read it.
 
I have to say that I love it when people in the writing community talk about diversity. I run across a lot of racist people on the internet, and though it's never been directed towards me, some of the things that people say to other people still hurt. There are times when I just want to give up the internet because of all of those things, but then I remember the community I am apart of. No I don't know A LOT of writers but the ones I *know* and the ones I see post on writing-related forums or articles are so respectful and kind and eager to learn. I can't explain how much that inspires me; how much that makes me feel like the world we live in won't always be the way that it is.
 
Speaking of the writing community, I am glad to have written with y'all this summer. I honestly don't know where Unfair would be if I hadn't stumbled across What's Up Wednesday/Ready. Set. Write! I don't think I would've gotten any writing done. I started this summer feeling down because I couldn't find the story that stuck. Now I have characters that I truly love, and the drive to actually finish this story. I couldn't have gotten to this point without everyone's support. Thank you.
 
And a HUGE thank you to Alison, Elodie, Katy, Jaime, and Erin! My writing care packages came and they made me so happy. There are a lot of great things that I can't wait to use to finish Unfair. Ready. Set. Write! was a great idea, and I'm so glad that I was apart of it.
 
WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
 
School shopping! I spent the whole of yesterday going from store to store, getting things that I need for this semester, and I got most of what I need, which is good because I LOATHE shopping. The less time I have to spend in a store, the better.
 
I go back to school next Wednesday so this might be my last What's Up Wednesday/Ready. Set. Write! post for a while. Once I get settled into school and get a feel for the semester, I'm going to work out a schedule, so I can write and still stay on top of school work.
 
I'm going to miss having loads of free time but I am really excited about going back to school. People look at me funny when I say this. There are a lot of people who don't like school and that's understandable. College is stressful. I can't begin to count how many nights I've stayed up until three o'clock in the morning studying or trying to finish an assignment. But college is also A LOT of fun. Plus, I have a suite with two of my friends. Freshman year, I really couldn't connect with my roommate, so it's going to be fun having not just one but two roommates that are my friends.
 
 
Thanks for reading! How was your writing week?
 
9.8.13

What's Up...Friday?



Since I didn't get a chance to post an update on Wednesday, here's my What's Up Wednesday post two days late.


WHAT I'M READING

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. I am LOVING this book. Elisa is one of the first realistic female MCs that I've read in a very long time. I love that she likes food and is smart. I love that she has morals and that even though she grew up sheltered, she is not using her upringing to stop her from fulfilling her potential. The writing is great and even though I am not very religious, I like the religious undertones that the story has. I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a YA Fantasy that doesn't 'sugarcoat' the harshness of living in a fantasy world and has a main character who grows from a sheltered princess to a hero.

WHAT I'M WRITING

My writing has been put on hold for a few days because I was out of town* but I wrote 2, 834 words last week which brought my word count up to 24, 431. I am so close to the 25K mark that I can taste it and it's hard to believe that I didn't have any idea what I wanted to write when the summer started.


        The alto nascidos (highborns) didn’t share our superstitions. They would want to cut out their tongues if they found out that they were eating pigeons, but we’d never let them find out. Working in the kitchen wouldn’t be fun, if we were no longer able to have a good laugh at their expense.

“Did something happen in Artao?” Wynn asked.
I tried to keep my voice measured. There was no use in lying, especially since it wasn’t my strong suit. Wynn would be able to tell I was hiding something if I answered his question falsely, so I asked him a question instead. “Why do you ask?”
His shoulders rose, then fell. Strands of his hair blew into his eyes. It was more gold than red. I suspect the sun was to blame for that. He’s changed since we were kids. Then he was a pale boy with clear eyes, and hair that was almost as red as his cheeks. Now his skin is tanned from the Southern sun, and his eyes are muddied with memories of war. “That man, the crippled one…” He stopped, thinking over his words. “He looked at you in a strange way.”
I smiled but it didn’t feel genuine.“Maybe he’s never seen a girl wearing pants before.”
“Maybe.” He looked up at me from underneath his long, thick eyelashes. “Those men wanted to kill us. If I didn’t take down that archer in time, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”
“They were Calyans. They live for a good brawl.”
His eyebrows furrowed. “How do you know they were from Calyo?”
I searched around for an answer, not wanting him to call me on my lie. “One of the archer’s arrows hit Shadow. When I pulled it out of his thigh, I noticed that it was made of wood. They don’t believe in fighting with weapons but when they do use them they’re always made out of wood.”
Wynn turned to look at Shadow; his eyes moving over him, as if he were trying to figure out how he could be walking upright with an injured leg. I wondered the same thing. Shira’s words still echoed in my ear. But he isn’t just a horse.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

The worldbuilding in The Girl of Fire and Thorns. As I have mentioned before,  Unfair is set (partly)in a 'country' called Solterra (which is a combination of the Portuguese words for 'sun' and 'land') and Solterra is inspired by Cape Verde, an island country off the coast of West Africa. I am still trying to figure out how I can make the language unique to my story but for now I have been trying to teach myself Portuguese (it's the official language of Cape Verde), and throwing a few Portuguese words in every now and then. It helps that I know a little Spanish because some of the words are similar. But...I kept debating about whether I should keep everything strictly in English, then I started reading TGoFaT and it inspired me to give incorporating another language a try. I hope that I can somehow make it my own later on but for now I think it helps add to the setting of the story.

*WHAT I'VE BEEN UP TO

I was at a leadership conference in State College, PA which is why I wasn't able to put up a What's Up Wednesday post. Since I am an orientation leader and the newly appointed Student Affairs Director for my campus, I had to go to a leadership conference to prepare for both positions, and while I had loads of fun meeting people from other Penn State campuses, I also learned a lot about being a leader, and came up with a few ideas for what I would like to achieve during my term as the new Student Affairs Director.

It's my last year at my current campus (I'll be transferring to University Park next Fall), so I really want to make a difference while I'm still there, and hopefully inspire the newcoming freshmen to get involved in clubs and be active in the collegiate community.

While I was away, I found out that 'Glass House', a story I wrote for a teen writing contest is a finalist! This news seriously made my week and I'm happy that, even if my story doesn't win, I at least got this far.


Thanks for reading!
31.7.13

What's Up Wednesday


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk where writers post about what's up by answering four questions. If you want to participate go here.

WHAT I'M READING 

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo! FINALLY. I have been waiting to read this book for a very long time, and boy was the wait worth it. I'm not too far in but I am enjoying it. Also, Sturmhond is my new favorite character.






WHAT I'M WRITING

I reached (and surpassed) 20K!!! Last week Unfair was at 18, 560 words, this week I was able to bump that up to 21, 597 words. That's 3,037 words written for those of you who like numbers. Since I didn't share a teaser last week, I'll post one today. Keep in mind that this is the first draft.

Background: Camellia (my MC) is on a ship that appears out of thin air and carries goods collected from different parts of the kingdom. The Queen gave the merchants who sail the ship reign over the sea, but no one knows where they came from. In this scene, Camellia is talking to one of the merchants. (Spoiler: The merchants are sirens. Also, her sword is made out of pure gold. A strange woman gave it to her in an earlier scene.)


         “You have a sharp tongue,” he said, and I could hear a semblance of a smile in his voice. Only I couldn’t be sure. One look and he’ll drive me mad. The chuckle that resonates in his throat sounds empty, as if he had pulled it out of a soul that hadn’t been there for many years.

“My tongue isn’t the only thing that's sharp.” I held up my sword. “What could I buy with this?”
“Half of this ship if you wanted.”
“I need iron.”
“I tell you that you can buy half of this ship, and you want to waste this gold on iron?”
I turn to face him, staring at his chest to keep from meeting his cerulean gaze. “Don’t question what I came here to buy. It’s none of your concern.”
His hand moved up to touch my chin. Fingers grazed the skin there, ever so gently. I would’ve cut each one of them off, if a wave of calm didn’t wash over me in that moment. “Look into my eyes.” That is when I could hear it. The voices. The singing. It replaced every thought that I ever had. It was both beautiful and horrible. It shook me to my core, and it would’ve driven me to madness if there wasn’t something inside of me fighting back.When I finally met his blue-green gaze, his power had no affect on me.
The merchant withdrew his hand. “Impossible,” he whispered.

My Ready. Set. Write! goals for the week? I'm going to keep it small. I want to see if I can write around 1-2K. Will try for more but we'll see.


WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

I have been writing for more than a decade (started writing when I was five) and I don't necessarily worry about ever being published. One day I would love to query and share my stories with other people but for now I am content with writing for me. There are a lot of people who write because they want to be bestselling authors one day, and while it's okay to have dreams, don't let that dream be the only reason you want to write.

I think it's good to remember that you're always going to be a writer. If you don't have an agent or a book deal it doesn't make you less of a writer, and even if you do have those things, it doesn't make you more of a writer. Once you commit yourself to writing a story; once you write that first word and never stop then, from that moment on, you are a writer for life. It doesn't matter if you get paid to do it or not. As long as you're writing for yourself first, nothing else matters.

I don't want to ramble but just having the ability to think up stories, build worlds, and create different characters inspires me every day. Storytelling is what has gotten me through childhood, high school, and my approaching adulthood. Being a writer is awesome, so whenever you're feeling down, remember that. Always remember that.


WHAT I'VE BEEN UP TO

I'm an Executive Scholar for a non-profit organization in Pittsburgh that gives out scholarships to kids who do well in high school and attend Pittsburgh public schools from kindgergarten up.

To celebrate getting through the first year of college, the organization gave me and other Executive Scholars free tickets to the game and we got to meet the players, hang out in the VIP suite, and to make a long story short, I had a blast, and the Pirates won!!!! They beat the Cardinals 9 - 1.  It was a great game and an AMAZING day overall. I'm really glad I went.


Top Left: View from the suite, Top Right: A really cute bowl shaped like a baseball cap (I kept it), Bottom Left: View from the Roberto Clemente bridge (that boat just happened to be passing by), Bottom Right: Me walking across the Roberto Clemente bridge after the game (it's a little blurry but I like it).


 I hope everyone had a great writing week!

Thanks for reading. :)


24.7.13

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk where writers post about what's up by answering four questions. If you want to participate go here.


WHAT I'M READING
 
I'm still reading Eyre House. Yes, I know I should be finished with it by now. I honestly don't know what's taking me so long to read it, but I am determined to finish it before the week is over. I have so many other books that I need to read.
 
 
 
 
WHAT I'M WRITING
 
Unfair is still coming along...slowly. But it's better to move at a slow pace than at no pace, I guess. 20K seemed like an easy enough goal to reach but for some reason I didn't reach it. I did, however, bring last week's wordcount (15,981) up to 18, 560. That's 2, 579 words for people who like numbers. So I guess that's not too bad. I'll try to do better this week though.
 
 
WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
 
This post by Stacey Kade, Writing to the End of Your Story. There are a lot of times when I have doubts about my story, and times when I just want to start from scratch, start the story over and try to make everything perfect. I am a huge perfectionist but I know that if I don't keep moving forward, chances are I am going to get stuck and this story won't get told. So I'm going to try my best to write to the end of this story. First drafts don't have to be perfect. You can't fix a blank page (or Word doc) so it's better to get everything out first, and then work on fixing it later.
 
 
WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
 
  • There is a (small) part of me that wishes that summer vacation for me wasn't almost over but I honestly can't wait to go back to school. I'm eager to start sophomore year, see my friends again, and make so many new memories.
  •  
  • I'm going to a baseball game next week. For those of you who follow baseball, then you know that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been doing really well this season. I get to spend the entire day with the team, which I'm excited about because I get to meet some of my favorite players and *crosses fingers* hopefully get autographs.
  • I was interviewed on DiversifYA! If you haven't heard of this blog, I highly recommend that you take a look at it. I'm glad that it exists because often times we label people but we don't care to think about how they see themselves, you know? I think the more we see people for who they are, instead of 'what' they are, the more we'll grow as a society.
 
Thanks for reading! What's going on with you guys?
 

20.7.13

Operation Diversity: An In-Depth Look

Some time ago, I talked briefly about a project Patrice Caldwell and I are putting together (tentatively titled) Operation Diversity. Today I want to talk a little more about the project, why it's important to me, and (hopefully) get a few more people to join this endeavor.
-------------

I *met* Patrice through What's Up Wednesday, a blog meme run by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. We both feel strongly about the lack of diversity we are seeing in literature (MG, YA, & NA to be more specific) and from there we had a few conversations through DM and email talking about what we can do to make a difference. From our dialogue came the idea for Operation Diversity. It's still in the planning stages but we would like to reach out to all writers/bloggers to be apart of this project.

Since we have a lot of emails (and some of them are long), we thought it would be best to simplify our discussion into a proposal so that you guys can get an idea of what we want Operation Diversity to look like, and maybe contribute some ideas/participate if you're interested in being apart of a group blog:

  
Operation Diversity is a blog whose focus will be to highlight and celebrate diversity in MG, YA & NA.  The blog will be run by a group of bloggers who will take turns posting throughout the week on topics such as debunking stereotypes, interviews with authors and other industry professionals, book reviews, and Q&As.

The blog will also comprise of stories of our journey to publication and lists of book recommendations from MG to NA with characters from backgrounds not typically portrayed in these books.

We are seeking bloggers age of all ages to be a part of this blog.  We are especially looking for people from a wide variety of backgrounds so that we, as the bloggers, will be able to speak from our own experiences.  Note: Not all bloggers must be writers.

Some things we hope this blog will accomplish:

* Raise awareness about ALL kinds of diversity

* Have a place for writers to document their journey to writing/querying/publishing their diverse wips

* Highlight why diversity is important to us (and to other people)

* Showcase diverse novels/make reading lists so people can know what's out there

* Possibly have discussions on different aspects of diversity (this can go under getting more people aware of the issue)

* Interview authors who write diverse YA (or maybe librarians/book sellers/editors etc.)

* Have a place where people can submit questions OR maybe pick stereotypes that we often see in YA books and possibly debunk them.

We are open to suggestions for this blog, so all ideas are welcome.

The topics that were outlined in this proposal are not final. Again, we are open to any and all ideas/suggestions. This is a group blog, so we are open to discussing any changes or additions future participants want to make.

If you are interested in this project, please feel free to contact us at operationdiversity@gmail.com.

I'm really hoping Operation Diversity gets launched someday because in order for change to happen, not only do we have to talk about the issue, but we have to do something about it. This is why I encourage people who are currently writing books with diverse characters to contact us because it will be nice to meet other people who are trying to make a difference through their writing.

Understand that diversity isn't just about race/ethnicity. A lot of people (from what I read) seem to only talk about diversity in terms of skin color. While that's a kind of diversity, so is sexual orientation, disabilities (mental and physical), religion, nationality etc. Diversity is such a broad term, so I cannot stress the importance of having people who come from a variety of backgrounds join this endeavor.

With that said, I want to tell you guys a little about myself and why I think this project is important:

I am nineteen.

I was raised by a single mother.

I am an only child

I grew up in what some people would call a 'bad neighborhood'.

I am a sophomore in college.

I am straight.

I am black.

As a collective, these are facts about me. But individually? Well, a lot of people could relate to being raised by a single mother or growing up in a 'bad neighborhood'. Individually, these facts that I have shared about myself, can each be used to describe hundreds of people, if not more. I think when people think about writing diversely, they get too caught up on what makes the characters that they're writing different from them, and while it is okay to recognize their differences don't get to caught up on them because in doing that you put up a wall and you start seeing them as people that you can't relate to, instead of seeing them as people.

Everyone no matter their skin color, their sexual orientation, their religion etc. has something in common with each other. Yes, we are all different. But people forget that despite our differences, we are all the same in some way or another. I want Operation Diversity to remind people of that. I want Operation Diversity to break down barriers, to help people learn about the many different kinds of diversities, so that conversations about more than ethnic diversity can be had. It is time that literature for young readers, teens, and young adults alike reflect the society we live in. Not everyone in the world is white, straight, able-bodied, and Christian. And because not everyone is, it doesn't mean that they shouldn't be able to see themselves as Harry Potter or Katniss or any of the heroes/heroines of popular kidlit fiction.

Often times when a book about a POC or someone who is LGBTQ or disabled is all about them being [insert ethnicity] or [insert orientation] or [insert disability] and I hate it. No one is the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or their disability whether it is physical or mental. Everyone on this planet is human. We all feel things. We all have moments when we want someone we think is cute to notice us or just wish we could wake up with cool superpowers. We all make mistakes and break promises. We all fall in love and we all hurt somebody either on accident or intentionally. We all are human, and just because someone is different than you it doesn't make them any less human.

Operation Diversity is a project that probably isn't going to make an immediate change in literature but it will get people to talk about things that we don't neccessarily talk about, maybe even inspire people to write characters they were afraid to write about.

If you don't want to be a blogger that's fine, but there are other ways you can participate in this endeavor and both Patrice and I encourage you to get in touch with us. We would love to interview people. So if you are writing a book with a diverse cast or have one coming out soon or already have one out, we would love to talk to you. If you're interesting in doing a guest post (and you have something specific that you want to talk about) please get in touch with us. If you just have questions or want us or any of the other bloggers to talk about something or cover a specific topic, please please PLEASE shoot us an email. This project is about bringing people together and making a difference.

Again, you can get in touch with us at: operationdiversity[at]gmail[dot]com.

There is an official form that you can fill out over at Patrice's blog, if you want to get in touch with us that way. The form is really cool because it gives you a chance to tell us a little about yourself and what you want to contribute to Operation Diversity.

The only way we can make a difference is if we do it together.

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from some of you soon. We got a few responses from people interested in being bloggers. So don't feel bad if you don't want to be a blogger. Just know that there are other ways you can be apart of this project!
17.7.13

What's Up Wednesday



What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk where writers post about what's up by answering four questions. If you want to participate go here.

WHAT I'M READING
 
I'm about a little more than halfway through Eyre House. I haven't had much time to read between writing and doing other things* but I do try to read a little bit eveyday. It's growing on me slowly, and though I don't think it will ever surpass my love for the original story, it is unique and I like the setting. Some of the dialogue is a little strange because I'm not used to people talking like that and even though it still catches me off guard, it's becoming a little bearable. We'll see how I feel about the overall book once I finish it.

WHAT I'M WRITING
 
Last What's Up Wednesday Unfair's wordcount was 12, 406. This week I am happy to report that I was able to raise that to 15, 981. So that's about 3, 575 words. It's not the 5K I wanted to write this week, but it's a lot more than I expected. (I also made a Love List for Unfair).
 
Here's a little teaser. In this scene, Camellia has just arrived at the Port. If you remember from one of the last teaser's Lord Beck asked her to run an errand for him. The queen is offering a reward (more food and supplies) to any of the village's whose blacksmiths make a hundred pairs of iron shoes the fastest (the reason why she needs them will be explained later in the story). The Port (for lack of a better name) is where people go to wait for a ship that carries a lot of valuable things, including iron:
When I reached the Port, the sun was just moving over the water, making the surface shimmer in it’s golden light. There were other horses along the shore, tied to wooden post; their owners either standing beside them or moving through the small crowd talking with other people and waiting for the merchant’s to arrive.
You never knew when the ship would come to port. It was almost as if it appeared out of thin air. It shouldn’t have been hard to miss because of it’s size. It was a large, hulking mass of wood with sails that seemed to stretch across the sky. I used to think the reason why no one ever saw it arrive was because it hid underneath the ocean’s surface, but that was wishful thinking. A boat of it’s size and mass couldn’t possibly rise up out of the sea without anyone noticing.
Part of me wanted to see if I could catch it on the horizon, but if Wynn and Lord Beck had been right about one thing, it was that the Port wasn’t safe. Many people went missing, others were robbed of their gold, horses, and other valuables.
I wouldn’t dear tie Shadow to a post. He was a very fine horse, and I had seen many people eying him upon my arrival. I tightened my grip on his reigns. The only way anyone would be able to take him from me was if I were dead, and even then I’d still put up a fight.

My Ready. Set. Write! goal for the week is to reach 20K, since I didn't get to it last week. I'll figure out my next goal from there.
 
WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

 
My imagination. I'm pantsing Unfair so I have no idea what I'm going to write when I write it. I try to have some idea of how I want the scene to play out beforehand but most times I don't. I'm just focusing on having fun writing this, because this is only the first draft. Maybe some of the things I add to the story won't make it into the next draft or even through revisions but that's okay. The more I let my imagination run wild, the more chances there are that I could write something great.
 
I've learned that every project is different. Some want to be outlined, and others just want to be free.
 
Unfair wants to be free. And pantsing has been working for me so far in the wordcount department. I might have to take some time to 'outline' the last section of the story when I get to it but until then, you know what they say about not fixing things that aren't broke.
 
*WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
 
I've been a little busy lately. I'm in the last stretch of my summer vacation. I move into the dorms August 20th. Classes don't start until a week after that but I'm an Orientation Leader so I have to help the incoming freshman move in, and we have a lot of events planned for them, including a boat ride that I'm really excited about because I didn't get a chance to go during my orientation (I can't believe that was a year ago or that I'm now a sophomore...wow.)
 
Right now I'm taking an inventory of the things I have left over from last semester, and making a list of other things I need. I also have a friend from out of town coming over so we've been trying to do a little bit of cleaning/moving things around in my room to make room for her. I have A LOT of boxes from school that I haven't gotten around to unpacking. So there's that.
 
I also might be a little late getting to everyone's What's Up Wednesday posts. I'm going to go visit my grandma today because she's finally home from her summer of travelling. That lady is always going places! So my mom and I will be spending a day with her.
 
A few days ago, I wrote a short blog post about Operation Diversity. It's a project that Patrice Caldwell and I are putting together. We were supposed to put up a more in-depth post on Monday, but it completely slipped my mind. I was a little down over the weekend (which is why I didn't write as much).  After hearing the outcome of the Zimmerman trial, I just lost a lot of my spark. I didn't want to read or write or do much of anything really. So I just sat on my bed looking at the wall. I prayed for a little bit, and then I started thinking about what I could do.
 
Because we all have a part to play in this society. When people say things like 'well it's the society we live in' they forget that we ARE society. Operation Diversity is an important project to me for many reasons, and it's sad to say, but Trayvon Martin's death has become another reason why I think we all need to do something about the current state of literature for teens and for younger readers, especially.
 
 
Maybe adding more diversity in MG/YA won't make an immediate difference but it's a start. We can't change what was done but we can make sure to do better each and every single day of our lives.
 
For the sake of future generations, we have to.
 
(I apologize for making the end of this post depressing. It's just what's been on my mind these last couple of days.)
15.7.13

Love List

I love making Love List for my wips. It helps you remember all of the things you love about your wip so you can go back to it on days when you feel like it's the worst thing in the world. I made one for my YA Contemporary Things Left Unsaid, and even though it's trunked for the time being, those are the things that still make me want to rewrite it (someday).

YA author Stephanie Perkins came out with this amazing concept. It truly did help get me through TLU. I was ready to trunk it at 33K until I found that post. Hopefully, if I ever lose steam on Unfair, I'll be able to look back on it's Love List and remember why I fell in love with it in the first place.

Here are some of the things I love about my wip:

 
Poisoned Apples
 
"The green ones are safe..."
 
 Kick-ass Heroine
 
Deadly Winter
 
Shadows
 
Magic
 
Evil Queen
 
Glass Coffins
 
Cloaks
 
Ice Creatures
 
The Huntsman
 
Mysterious Stranger
 
First Love
 
Forgotten Kisses
 
New Friends
 
Girl Power
 
Long Journeys
 
The Number Seven
 
Family
 
Spellbooks
 
Unforgettable Kisses
 
Loyalty
 
Campfires
 
Sword Fights
 
Flowers
 
Secrets
 
Mirrors
 
Forgiveness
 

 
(Because this list wouldn't be complete without a few of my favorite pictures from the Unfair Pinterest board.)
 

If you want to check out other Love List, here's Katy Upperman's and Alison Miller's. Also, I'd love to see yours (if you make one), so link them in the comments.
 
Thanks for reading!

12.7.13

Operation Diversity: A Preview



If you follow Patrice Caldwell, then you probably have read her latest What's Up Wednesday post. If you haven't read it, then I'll just reiterate what she said here.

Both of us are writers and avid readers. So being able to see from both sides of the spectrum, we came to an agreement that something needs to be done about the lack of diversity in literature for middle grade, young adult, and new adult readers. This is an important issue for us, so through a series of  emails, we planned a project that we are tentatively calling Operation Diversity.

Operation Diversity will be a group blog (think Publishing Crawl meets Diversity YA) and will hopefully be launched sometime in the near future. It will focus on diversity in MG, YA, & NA and it will give bloggers a chance, not only to share their respective writing journeys but will also (hopefully) open up dialogue about ALL kinds of diversity.

With that said, we are looking for bloggers ages 16 - 25 to be apart of this project. We are aware that this age group limits a lot of people from participating but we both talked about this and we thought it would be important to reach out to younger writers because their voices aren't heard that much and it would be cool to connect with other writers our age who feel strongly about diversity, write diverse stories, and want to seek publication one day. We are looking for bloggers from different backgrounds so please, if you're interested, feel free to contact me (raven.ashley187@yahoo.com) or Patrice.

Also, if you don't fit the age requirement, please don't feel like you can't participate in this endeavor. One of the reasons why I want to launch this blog is because I think it's important that EVERYONE talks about all aspects of diversity. Dialogue is important because sometimes dialogue moves people to ACT. So if you feel strongly about diversity please do not hesitate to contact me (again at: raven.ashley187@yahoo.com). I think it would be great to have guest posts from other people who might not be writers of the blog, but do think diversity is important. If you have any ideas as to what kind of topics you'd want to be discussed or questions you want to ask or if you just want to help us get the word across about Operation Diversity that would be fantastic.

I really don't want to exclude anyone from this project, so please don't be discouraged by the age criterion.

We don't know when this blog will launch because we're still in the planning stages, but we just wanted to get the word out there. Patrice and I are planning to post in-depth post on this project tomorrow afternoon so stay tuned!
10.7.13

What's Up Wednesday



 

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk where writers post about what's up by answering four questions. If you want to participate go here.

WHAT I'M READING

I finished The 5th Wave a couple of days ago and it blew my mind in so many ways. I've read a lot of good books, but this one it's more than good. It's just...I can't put it into words right now. I tried when I reviewed on Goodreads (don't think I did the book justice), but just know that The 5th Wave is what everyone says it is and more.



I'm supposed to be reading Siege & Storm right now. I've been waiting for that book for awhile now, seeing as though I couldn't buy it until I reached 10K (which I did) but then another book caught my eye.

Eyre House is a New Adult retelling of Jane Eyre and if you don't know this already Jane Eyre is my favorite novel. I read it for the first time when I was eleven, and have read it at least a hundred times (this is not an exaggeration) since. It's the book that inspired me to write. It's the book that got me through stormy nights, and made me fall in love with the idea of storytelling/becoming more serious about writing. Jane Eyre could never be redone in my eyes. I'm even picky when it comes to movie adaptations (the one with William Hurt is terrible and I have a strong dislike for it). But when I heard about this book, I couldn't help myself. NA? Male POV? Modern retelling of Jane Eyre?!

I bought it last night and I have not regretted my choice so far.  Eyre House is set in a 'haunted' Bed & Breakfast in an island in South Carolina and the writing is perfect. It's modern and it has charm and a darkness that pulls you in. I'm nowhere near finished with this book, but if the first few chapters is how the rest of the book is going to be, then I think I'm going to love this one in the end. I might even read Jane Eyre again when I'm finished (sorry Siege & Storm).


WHAT I'M WRITING

So, as I mentioned, I reached 10K! This was my goal because every wip since I've started since I finished writing my first novel has never surpassed 10K. It's like, as soon as I hit 9.5K I run into a wall, and then the story just never goes anywhere from there. My current word count is 12, 406 which means I wrote about 3, 263 words last week. It probably would've been more if I didn't cave and finish that last couple of sections of The 5th Wave in one setting. But progress is progress and the fact that I passed 10K means a lot to me. It means that I can finish this. One word in front of the other.

I wrote a Next Big Thing post yesterday talking a little more about Unfair, if you guys want to check out.

I couldn't decide on what to share from my wip, so here are two short paragraphs:

I do know that people still talk about that night, about the things they had seen. In the darkness, in the shadow of the fire that swallowed the city. There is talk that there was something there. Something dark, something that once was. There aren’t that many documents from the Dark Ages but the ones that have been preserved talk about creatures made from the absence of light, they move in the darkness, and some would even argue that they are darkness.

And

Malodyra used to be the capital of this kingdom, now it was just a skeleton, what was left of the kingdom once the fire ate through the skin, and burned away the flesh. The king once said that the Sun would never set on us, but it had, and now that it has, it doesn’t seem like it will ever rise again. Not completely. Though it may hang in the sky from time to time, we will always be submerged in a perpetual darkness.


My Ready. Set. Write! goal for this week is to finish this chapter because it's dragging on longer than I thought it would. I also want to try to add another 5,000 words this week. I'm also doing a good job ignoring SNIs which is something that I have hard time doing. Like a good writer, I've been writing them down, and leaving them alone. No shiny idea is going to take me away from Unfair. I am really determined to finish this.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

A lot of quotes. Sometimes I find quotes that explain my book better than I can, and so I make sure to put them on my Pinterest board, to remind myself that this isn't just some random idea. I do know what I want the book to look like (even though I am pantsing at the moment hehe). But, yeah. Loads of quotes, especially this one:

"I believe I have seen hell and it's white, it's snow-white.” 
― Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South


This is the line that sticks out every time I watch the North & South miniseries (I have the book now *squee*) but it took on a different meaning this time because of my wip and it just has so much meaning. It's one sentence but it means so much to my story, to the characters, and it's just perfect.

Doctor Who is also a huge inspiration right now. I'm falling in love with David Tennant's Doctor all over again (and I feel like I'm cheating because the Ninth Doctor will always be my favorite) but I think it's amazing how they can take one character, who is essentially the same man, and make him different every single time. I meant to write a post about this but what I learned from Doctor Who is that it's okay for your character to change. It's okay for them to be...different (if it fits the story). The Doctor in the first series is completely different in the second, and it's not because he's played by a different man and has a different face. He just changed internally and that's okay. Don't know if this makes sense but I have been thinking a lot about characters, everything from their beliefs to their motives, changing.

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

Another thing  that is inspiring me right now is the proof copies for my first novel. Those of you who participate in NaNo know that the reward for winning is a coupon for free proofs from Createspace. I finally used mine so I could have copies of my 'first' (It's more like my third but I don't count the first two...for reasons haha) novel and if I wanted to, one day, go through one of the proofs with a red pen. Though after they arrived, I haven't had the heart to write in them. They're just so pretty and shiny. I have used Createspace to order proofs before, and they do a fantastic job.



My mom (and a few other people) have asked to read it and they all get upset when I tell them no. This is a first draft, and there are a lot of holes in it. My last chapter? It's only two pages long! I was reading it yesterday, and there are a few passages/chapters that I am especially proud of but...it's not ready for anyone to read. One day.

Thanks for reading guys!
9.7.13

The Next Big Thing

Hello everyone!

I haven't seen one of these post in a while. So this is me bringing it back! Unfair is currently at 12, 243 words. To celebrate I want to tell you guys a little more about it. If you want to do this (and please do) consider yourself tagged!

1.) What is the working title of your book?


I like to procrastinate make covers

It's a play on words. Well, sort of.

Since this is a Snow White retelling, the story itself has a lot of elements of the original story in it. This title is inspired by the Evil Queen's famous lines:

Mirror, mirror on the wall
Who's the fairest of them all

Unfair works in so many ways because a lot of what happens in the story, to the main character, and to other characters isn't fair. Of course, this isn't the fair that the Evil Queen is referring to. That said, this title also has a lot to do with beauty (what it is and what it isn't).

2.) Where did the idea for the book come from?

The idea for the story stems from a lot of questions that popped into my head one day. For example: Who is the man in the mirror? What was going on in the rest of the world (because Snow White's world isn't the center of the universe)? etc.

From there I was able to figure out who my characters were and what the story was going to be about. A course I took last semester called Rhetorical Theory is another source of inspiration (college is useful, guys). We explored the rhetoric of beauty and war, two themes that play an important role in the story.

3.) What genre does your book fall under?

YA High Fantasy.

4.) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in the movie rendition?

When I get a new idea for a story, I usually know what the main characters look like right off the bat. Luckily, I was able to find pictures of people who looked exactly how I pictured them in my head. OK. Maybe they're a little prettier than I pictured them to be (and two of them aren't actors), but oh well.

Camellia (Portrayed by Senait Gidey)
The Huntsman (portrayed by Alex Pettyfer)
Prince Gaspar (Portrayed by Marlon Teixeira)

Just noticed how intense everyone looks in these pictures. This was not intentional lol

5.) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

I happen to have a pitch. It's a rough one but IT'S A PITCH!!!

When kidnapped by the Huntsman, eighteen year old mage-in-training Camellia, is left with only two choices: escape and go search for her sister or stay with her kidnapper and help save the kingdom from the approaching darkness.

There is a lot of action, a journey, magic, and kissing because it wouldn't be my kind of story if there wasn't kissing involved. Though I don't think I'll be able to write a kissing scene any time soon. My main character hasn't even met her LI yet. *pouts*

If you need a pitch or are just looking for something fun to do, I highly reccommend that you check out Carissa Taylor's Pitch Factory. I tweaked mine a little (it was a lot shorter) but it's a really helpful resource for those of you who have finished manuscripts and want to enter a pitch contest or something. They don't come out perfect, but it's a good start.

6.) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Only time will tell. I'm open to both routes. I do know that I want to query someday, and if that lands me an agent, then I will be happy about that, but I just want to share my story with the world, so if that means I have to self-pub then that's also fine with me. I have a lot of respect for people who self-pub, and I think people look down them a little too much. Sure it might be extremely hard and difficult but being represented by an agency isn't a piece of cake either. So there's that. Anyways, I'm not thinking too much about it right now. I just want to finish this draft, and work it into the book I envision in my head.

7.) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I'm still working on it. I don't know how long it's going to take to finish but I hope to have a good chunk of it written before summer is over. *crosses fingers*

8.) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I'm not really sure. I could be getting ahead of myself here but I'd say it's Kristin Cashore's Fire meets Leigh Bardugo's Shadow & Bone. The former because it's an adventure story, and just like Fire, Camellia is taken from her home, and has to travel to far away places. There is also a prince but sadly Gaspar isn't Brigan. I still love him, though. As for Shadow & Bone, it doesn't have too much in common except for the fact that like S&B, Unfair doesn't take place in your conventional fantasy world. The setting is inspired a lot by Portugal/Cape Verde and I still don't know how I'm going to incorporate language into the story (because I want this world to have it's own unique language) but Shadow & Bone has inspired me to play around with the worldbuilding. Hopefully something good comes out of my experimentation.

9.) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I really wanted to write a book with a diverse cast. So I guess you can say the lack (yes, I know it's getting better but still) of diversity is inspiring me to write this. But it's more than that. Like I said, not only do I want to see more diversity in YA, but...I need it. As a POC, a reader, and teenager (for the time being), it sucks when you don't see characters (MAIN characters not sidekicks) that look like you. Sure I can relate to ones that don't look like me, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to read about a black girl saving the world [enter kick-ass female character name here] - style.

Camellia (my main character) is a badass, and I think she can give Katniss a run for her money.

To make it simple: this book is for me and that's the ultimate inspiration for Unfair.

10.) What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I don't know about reader's (it's going to be awhile before I have those) but what keeps me interested in the story is my take on the fairytale that I chose to retell. Maybe it's not going to get awards for originality but it does tell a different side of the Snow White story. Unfair isn't told from Snow White's POV and you don't hear much about her until later on in the book. And since this takes place in a different part of the kingdom, I have to rebuild the story from the ground up, with characters (the only two characters that come from the original story is the Prince and the Huntsman) that are entirely my own.

Also, I think readers will like Camellia. She is very opionated, and says what's on her mind, though half the time what she says can get her in a lot of trouble. I wanted to play around with a few overused tropes. So this isn't a story about a seemingly not-special girl who finds out she is, in fact, special or the Chosen One. It isn't a story about a girl who is self-conscious and cares about what other people think. Not that those characters aren't important (because I know I'm not the most confident person in the world) but I really want to read a MC who is comfortable in her own skin, one who doesn't need a guy to tell her she's beautiful, and at the same time isn't afraid of getting her hands dirty. Camellia knows she's 'special'. She knows she has powers from the start of the book (and even before then). This book is about her learning how to control them and save the kingdom.

I hope you guys get to read it one day.

Again, anyone who reads this, consider yourself tagged! If you don't want to do this, that's fine, but if do decide to put up a Next Big Thing post please drop a link in the comments.

Thanks for reading!
3.7.13

What's Up Wednesday

 
What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk where writers post about what's up by answering four questions. If you want to participate go here.


WHAT I'M READING 

I am still reading The 5th Wave. If I wasn't trying to get a novel written this summer, I would have finished reading this by now but because it's SO GOOD and I can't seem to get anything done when I read...I'm going try my best not to read more than I write this week. This is actually easier said than done but...baby steps.


WHAT I'M WRITING

I am still plowing through Unfair. I didn't get a lot written last week, mainly because the weather has been extremely dry/hot lately and it's driving me insane. But I played catch-up yesterday/this morning. My current word count is  9,143. I hope to reach 10K before the day is over, and then I can buy Siege & Storm!

I'm so glad you guys liked the teaser I shared last week. Maybe my first-draft writing isn't so bad after all? Anyways, here's another one. It's a little long (and rough):


“I can handle myself,” I tell him.
He wipes at his mouth with a cloth but the red fabric does nothing to hide his smile. He finds me amusing. I can see in it is bright green eyes. Lord Beck was laughing at me inside his fat head. “You are an interesting woman, Miss…”
“Just call me Thorne, my lord.”
His shoulders rise and fall all in one breath. “It suits you,” he said. “You have a sharp edge to you. I’m sure you’d be lovely if you dressed like a woman.”
“No one takes me seriously when I wear a dress. Now what is this errand you speak of?”
Lord Beck held out his meaty fingers, gesturing to the untouched food on my side of the table. “I will tell you after you have had something to eat."
I chose one of the green fruits, and picked at the skin for a few moments before holding it up to my nose. It smelled earthy and sweet, different from what I was used to but the hunger didn’t care. It forced me to sink my teeth into the flesh, and let the pinkish-red juices drip down my chin. A bittersweet flavor filled my mouth.
 It tasted like guilt.
And it was. I shouldn't be here, dining on fine food. Not when people in the village are waiting for night to bring them their only meal of the day.
I set the half-eaten fruit down on the table, and repeated my question, only instead of words, Lord Beck answered me with another smile. One he didn't make an effort to hide. But I wish that he had. His crooked teeth, and wine-stained lips made my skin crawl. "Now I see it," he said, slamming a hand down on the table. The dishes clattered at the impact. "You're the coffinmaker's daughter."
There was a playfulness in his tone, and a twinkle in his eyes as he looked at me.  The coffinmaker. Does he forget who my father used to be? The title he once had? I want to remind him but the words don't come. Not the right ones, anyway. “Yes, I am."
“How is old Efar these days?”
“The suns have blessed him." 
Lord Beck nodded, “Some time has passed since we last spoke to each other. I hope that he will stop by so that we can reminisce on old times.”
It hurt to  return his smile. He called it old times, though I’m certain my father would have used other words to describe their friendship. Or maybe he would say that they didn't have a friendship at all. What was left of it was destroyed years ago by Lord Beck's betrayal.
“Please be sure to pass along an invitation to your father. I would very much like to speak with him about some important matters.”
My patience was wearing thin. “And I would very much like to speak with you on the important matters you wanted to discuss. My time is precious, Lord Beck.”
He smiled, yet again. I’m starting to think that this is the only thing this man knows how to do. Maybe he can’t help it. Maybe his smile isn’t a smile but a crease in his bloated pink face. But then I see it. The fire. The flame. Sondra told me that my mouth would get me in trouble one day, only I didn’t think that today would be that day. Not when I had a dagger on my person, and could slit Lord Beck's throat before the guards managed to get to the room.  
“You’d take care to watch your tone with me, Camellia.”
So he did remember who I was.
“I beg your pardon.” The words tasted like ashes. “Sometimes I forget that I am no longer a highborn, and that my father is no longer Lord of Malodyra.”
“It would do you some good to remember. Now,” he said, taking a sip of his wine. “Let us discuss these important matters. I don’t want to waste any more of your precious time.”


Goals for the week:
  • Finish Chapter Two
  • Start working on Chapter Three
  • Draw a map: My MC is going to be travelling pretty soon and I think it would be helpful if I had some kind of map to keep all of the locations straight. I also just want to have an excuse to use my mom's good colored pencils.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

  • "The power of fantasy is that you can do anything. Anything at all. You start with that core of reality and from there you’re allowed to grow anything from that fertile seed-bed. And yet, so much fantasy looks like so much other fantasy. Stop that. Embrace the wide open openness of the genre. The power of magic is that it’s motherfucking magic. You are beholden only to that which you yourself create. Go big. Dream weird. Be original. Why do what everyone else has already done?" - Chuck Wendig  I ran across this quote on Tumblr this morning and while I was reading it, I couldn't stop myself from nodding. I haven't read a lot of fantasy novels but the ones I have read are too safe. They don't really explore different parts of the world, and I want to do this with my book. I want to let my imagination run wild and see where it takes me.

This post is getting to be really long (I think) and since I don't have anything going on right now, let me just say to all my fellow Americans: enjoy tomorrow! I'm not looking forward to all of the fireworks (it's the one thing about the 4th of July I can't stand) but I hope everyone has a happy/safe holiday. Also, this is a little late but Happy Canada Day! I hope everyone who is from Canada had a good one. :)

Thanks for reading!