29.5.13

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 reading One a few days ago, and that was perfect timing because a book I won in a giveaway came in the mail. So my current read is Real by Katy Evans. This isn't the kind of  book I would normally read. But I can say that after reading Beautiful Disaster (which I didn't like but...I won it in another giveaway...so I can't complain that much) that it's way better in writing style, and in plot. I'm not really a fan of the main character. But it is an interesting story. It deals with bipolar disorder and Underground boxing and it has been compared to Beautiful Disaster but, like I said, it's a better read. Granted the main character makes me roll my eyes at times, this book has been an experience so far.

WHAT I'M WRITING

So over the weekend I wrote over 7K for the NA Science Fiction that I'm plotting. I have the first act and parts of the second act outlined which really makes writing a lot easier. I am a pantser though I am desperately trying to change my ways. I'm learning a lot about what works for me as a writer, and I now know that it's better for me to have an idea of what I want to write before jumping in to it like I normally do.

I am also thinking about reworking the beginning of my NA Mystery wip because I'm the kind of writer who needs a solid beginning in order for me to go on, and I also think this new beginning would fit the story more and I might be able to keep most of what I have already written if I do a little reworking.

As for my NA SciFi it's called Starfall, and it's told from two POVs. One is a girl (Seren) who discovers that her friends aren't who she thought they were, and is pulled into a secret agency that deals with extraterrestrial affairs (think Men in Black meets the X-Files) and another is a prince (Nico) from another planet who cares more about the history of Earth than his duties to the throne. When his dying father asks him to find the 'fallen star' and use it to destroy earth, he is forced to choose between saving the world or obeying his father.

I love Science Fiction a lot and so I am really excited for this project. Here's a snippet from Nico's POV:

My energy bar is now at fifty percent. At fifty five percent I can fight back but I don’t think Altair will wait that long to recover. He doesn’t. His hands find my neck in a matter of seconds, and squeeze tighter and tighter until the air starts thinning and stars dot my vision. Only they’re not really stars. They’re flecks of light against the darkness that is slowly starting to set in. I’m too weak for this, and my body is slowly shutting down in defense. Once that happens he’ll kill me. My brother will kill me without any remorse in his heart.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

Whenever I start a new project, I make a board on Pinterest for it. I'm a very visual person and sometimes I need to look at pictures whenever I'm writing so that I can get a feel for the setting. Also, for me, whenever I find pictures/music/quotes that fit a project I'm working on, it just makes the book feel real, like it can actually be written, and knowing that inspires me to keep writing, if that makes any sense. You can find the Pinterest board for Starfall here.

Speaking of quotes, the one that inspired most of Starfall's plot is this:

Be humble for you are made of Earth. Be noble for you are made of stars. -Serbian proverb

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

  • I went to the meeting with the company who will most likely give me an internship next summer and was told that I might be able to shadow someone who works in their law department to see if I would like to intern there, which is really exciting because I want to go to law school and I'm trying to decide if I want go into criminal or corporate law. I do know for a fact that I want to be a lawyer, it's just deciding what kind I want to be is the tricky part.
  • Oh, and I decided to watch Doctor Who from the beginning. Not the beginning, beginning but from the reboot with the Ninth Doctor. I have a deep love for Christopher Eccleston's Doctor and I was sad to see him go, but rewatching this series has brought back some great memories. I also can't seem to find my Doctor Who set. I have series 3 on DVD and I was looking forward to watching it, only my mom decided to move things around while I was away at school and she can't remember where she put it. *sigh*

I hope everyone is having a good week so far.

Happy writing!
22.5.13

What's Up Wednesday

This is my first time doing this but What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. If you want to participate click here.

Okay, let's do this!
 
WHAT I'M READING

I am currently reading ONE by Leigh Ann Kopans and believe me when I say it's really REALLY GOOD. It's light sci-fi with a side of sweet romance. That sounds awesome, right? Well, I'm almost done reading it and it's making me sad because then it means I'll have to say goodbye to the characters until the sequel comes out...*sigh* But, yeah, you'll definitely want to buy this when it releases next month. :)

WHAT I'M WRITING

I am *this* close to reaching 5K on my new project, The Deduction of Shana Nichols. It's a New Adult mystery inspired by Elementary, Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars (just a little). I love the story and my goal is to have a shiny (okay, maybe not TOO shiny) first draft by the end of next month. If you want to read the first page, you can find it here. But, let me be the one to warn you. It sucks at the moment. Really, it does. I'm not even sure I'll keep this beginning but for now it works. Also, the main character, Shana, is so much fun to write. She's really smart and isn't afraid to find answers to questions she has even if it means getting in loads of trouble.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

Well, I will say, at the moment, Elementary is a huge inspiration. I started watching it not too long ago and it is now on my list of shows that I really really love. Not only that but the dynamics between Sherlock/Joan is really interesting. Also, I have a slight crush on Johnny Lee Miller. (And by slight, I mean HUGE.) If you don't watch the show, the first season wrapped up not too long ago so you have time to get caught up before the second season. You won't regret it. I promise.

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

  • Nothing much, to be honest. I'm catching up on my shows, writing, and reading. I hope to get a job somewhere soon. I'm going to fill out some applications and I hope I get hired somewhere because being a broke college student IS NOT fun.
  • Next week, I have a luncheon with the company who might be giving me an internship next Summer *crosses fingers* so I went to go get an outfit for that. It's supposed to be casual but I still wanted to look nice. Hehe, sorry my life isn't that exciting at the moment. Hopefully I have something more fun to report about next week. :)

How are things going for you guys?

 
19.5.13

When stories sneak up on you


So while I was plotting my NA Science Fiction idea, Starfall, another set of characters fought their way into my head and demanded I give them attention. I would've just pushed them aside, if the voice wasn't so strong. It has been months since I've been able to write ANYTHING. I had hoped plotting Starfall would help me get me back into the groove of things, but the truth is...I can't hear the MC for that story yet. I could hear this one though. And so I let her tell me her story, now I'm almost at 2K and it feels so good. My goal is to finish this wip before my birthday (June 21st) so I am speed writing like nobody's business. I'm going to try my best not to edit as I write. I'm going to let the writing be raw, and just hope that something can come out of it when I'm finished writing.

I like the story a lot. It's called The Deduction of Shana Nichols and it's a NA Mystery inspired by one of my new favorite shows: Elementary. I loved the dynamics between Johnny Lee Miller's Sherlock and Lucy Liu's Watson so much that it helped me come up with a story of my own. Shana isn't in any way Sherlock, but she does think logically about things and she does deduce things just as easily as she breathes. My MC is super intelligent and I hope I can make her seem that way without it feeling forced.

Here's a snippet (WARNING: Rough Writing Ahead):

Soon isn’t today, but its one day. I just have to keep providing my services to people. Thanks to Morgan, that’s not going to be a problem. The text she sent me was about another friend of hers who needed an essay written. That was the beauty of having a best friend who went to a gigantic university. Not only did she know a lot of people, but the people she knew had a lot of friends as well. Once I help out one person other people find out about me through them. I’m not sure why they trust me – a girl who isn’t in college – to do their work but they do. And I’m glad they do because working at Benny’s isn’t enough. Minimum wage will never be enough.
Today I will be eight hundred dollars closer to my goal.

I'm super excited about this story, and I hope by the end of next month I have a first draft ready. I have always wanted to write a mystery so I hope I can do it justice. So, yeah. When another story sneaks up on you and the voice is strong and it's something you really really want to write don't be afraid to put the project you're plotting or drafting (only if it's not going anywhere but if it's going somewhere then...you know the drill...WRITE) aside and write something else. If you want to get more of an idea of what the story is about, check out the TDoSN Pinterest board.

So...what are you guys working on? Has any stories taken you by surprise lately?

Thanks for reading!
11.5.13

In which I talk about outlining and new projects


Hey guys!

So if you read my blog, then you know that I am a dedicated pantser. The first novel I finished was a complete disaster. It didn’t have a plot and though I really liked the characters, I had no choice but to trunk it in the end. For some people, not having an outline works for them. There are writers who can spit out semi-good first drafts without having any kind of guideline. I am trying to accept the fact that I am not that writer. I need to have some sort of plan before I start working on a new project. Though I would much rather delve into the story right away, I know I need to learn from my mistakes, stop being lazy, and actually outline a project for once.

In case you're wondering, I'm working on a New Adult (Light) Science Fiction novel (think The X-Files meets any movie/book/ TV shows about aliens taking over and intergalactic wars). It's called Starfall. This idea is not really new. I've been sitting on it for a few month now only when I first thought of it, the story was supposed to be YA. Ever since I started college, I found myself not being able to connect with high school anymore and I really wanted to write a story set in an environment that I was more familiar with. Starfall doesn't take place entirely in college, but the main character is a college freshman in the beginning of the story before she gets sucked into this world of aliens and lies.

So, yeah, Starfall has A LOT of layers. Not only that but it's told from the perspective of two characters. I thought about just making Seren (the girl narrator) the only POV of the story, but Nico's side of the story is important to the plot. It's going to be really hard making their voices distinct, especially since Nico is a guy and he's from a different planet but...if this is the way the story wants to be written then I'm going to take my chances, and hope for the best. Since I want to stay somewhat sane throughout the process of writing this novel, I am going to outline Starfall before I do anything else.

I'm a visual person and though there are a lot of brilliant blog posts about outlining I wanted to watch a video showing me the step by step process. So...I went on Youtube and searched around for a few videos.

This is what I found:



This video is pretty long so I suggest you watch it when you have a little bit of time on your hands. If you don't think you'll have time to watch it any time soon, here's a shorter version of it:



I hope these videos help you guys as much as they helped me. I already have Act I and part of Act II outlined. I had to change the structure of the outline a little bit because I have two main characters, but that's what I like most about this outline; it's so flexible!

Happy Plotting!
8.5.13

In which I talk about coverflipping and what it reveals about covers



I read a very interesting article from Maureen Johnson about what she calls 'coverflipping'. A lot of people are talking about it on twitter, tumblr, and on their respective blogs so I thought 'hey, why not jump on the bandwagon'. If you want to see what all the buzz is about, head on over to Huffington Post and read these two articles (here and here). You should also check out some of the coverflips of popular novels that people have done. They are very interesting, and they are the reason why I am writing this blog today.

I wrote a post last year entitled 'The Problem Isn't Just the Covers' and if you don't feel like reading that, I'll just say that my whole point for writing it was because I had noticed two things about the covers for Young Adult novels:

1. 'Boy books' (Note: I don't really believe in the notion that there is such a thing as books for boys and books for girls. Last time I checked, books, regardless of the gender of the author or the main character, are for everybody) have covers that are 'female-centric'. If you're not sure what I mean by that, take a look at these three covers:



If you read this book then you know that the main character of this story is Frank (the guy with the tattoo.) Now, I'll admit, that part of the reason that I wanted to read this book besides the plot, is because the cover is so appealing. I love the colors and his tattoo (which is not a really a tatttoo but a symbol for the fact that Frank tried to hang himself) and this cover, when I first saw it, worked. Then I actually read the book, and it didn't work anymore. Yes, there is a love story embedded in this heartbreak of a novel but this book isn't about love. It's about something heavier than that and it deals with more serious subject matters like suicide and I only wish that this book had a cover that represented that.

I was thinking about cover-flipping this book but then I realized that in order to make this cover even more female-centric (Note: I'm using this term because the cover of Crash Into Me stereotypically suggests the idea that more female readers will read this because they'll appeal to the romance factor of the book which is again, stereotypically, what 'most' female readers look for in a story) than it already is, I'd have pulled a Paper Towns (Hardcover edition) and make Audrey the only character on the cover. Not sure what I'm referencing to?


I'm not going to say word for word what I said in the 'The Problem Isn't Just the Covers' post but let me just say that the hardback cover for Paper Towns infuriates me. I have the paperback version and I feel that that version fits the story more because Paper Towns isn't just about Margo. Sure, she's an important character, but the hardback cover completely ignores the fact that the main character of the novel is a guy, which is why I prefer the paperback version. It's more gender-neutral and has the ability to draw the attentions of both male and female readers. That's not to say that guys won't buy the book with the cover on the left, but...why can't we have books with gender-neutral covers? Especially since this book isn't about a girl.

I concluded from my analysis of books with male main characters that most of the covers either feature the male character with a female counterpart, are completely replaced by that female counterpart, or the male characters are overly sexualized on the cover.



(2) The 'White Girl in a Pretty Dress' trend. I think this is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, why do these girls ALWAYS have to be in a dress. Unless, it's apart of the story (which, usually, it's not) I don't see the point of them being in the dress, and another point that I brought up about these covers is race. I get that the model on the cover is supposed to represent the main character (in most cases) but...part of me wonders what would happen if there was an Asian girl on the cover of The Hunger Games or if the girl on the cover of any other book with a  white model on the cover was a different ethnicity. There has been quite a few cases of white-washing but what if it were reversed?

There are people who are all for race-neutral and gender-neutral covers, and to be completely honest, after seeing books written by both men and women whose male main characters are not represented as they should be, I'm all for the latter. I'll tell you how I feel about the former another day.

The idea of coverflipping stems from the belief that female authors are given the 'girly' covers even though they might have books similar to ones written by male authors. Let me just start off by saying, that in my opinion, the whole problem is marketing and 'what sells'. Since the pretty covers like the one for Crash Into Me is what grabs people's attention (Note: When I say people's attention, I mean the attention of the female audience). I'm not sure about adult books but more females read YA than males. That's a fact. So it only makes sense (it doesn't really) that the industry caters to their biggest consumer group.

I don't agree with this approach because there are boys out there who will read 'girly books' and don't you dare tell me that that's not true. A lot of guys I know love the Harry Potter series which is written by a woman, and though her author name isn't 'feminine' (for lack of a better word) now that everyone knows that she's a woman her gender HAS NOT deterred men or guys or young boys from liking the series. Then there's Twilight. I would be lying if I said I didn't know a few guys who liked the series (which I do). There are boys out there who are open to reading anything but, often times, it's the gender-exclusiveness of the covers that turn them off. This is not the case for every guy and in no way am I saying that it is but it's certainly something to think about.

Maureen Johnson challenged people to take a cover of a book written by either a man or a woman and 'flip' the cover. So if it was written by a woman and had a somewhat 'girly' cover, then a person would make it so that the author was a man and the cover was more male-centric. You can check out some of my favorites over on my Tumblr. I think the whole concept of 'flipping' covers is pretty interesting and really, I see the point of it, but one thing that I couldn't help but notice, once I saw the covers that people came up with, that the covers for the female versions of the male-written novels are less gender-neutral and more gender-exclusive while the male-versions of the female-written novels are completly gender-neutral.

For example, take a look at the flipped version of Throne of Glass by S.J. Maas. And then look up the U.S. cover for the novel (if you're not already familiar with it). Now I have never been a fan of the original cover because, in my opinion, it doesn't live up to the wonderful story that ToG is. So when I saw the flipped version, part of me wished that it was the real cover for the novel because it works and it's beautiful AND, as a plus, it's gender-neutral and...wow. If you need to look at it one more time, here you go.

Maybe someone can write a post about the covers of Adult fiction, but as an avid reader of YA novels I notice these things, and because YA (again, in my opinion) is female-centric (and people can disagree with me and say that male writers get more attention or whatever but that doesn't change the fact that the YA industry seems to sell covers that cater to girls and, might I add, one type of girl) and this project only proved that point.


A commenter on Maureen Johnson's article had this to say:

"Soo add lots of pink, flowers, flowy hair, and soft focus abstract images of a white girls. -_- I think most of the "male" versions were better AND they were ACTUALLY more gender neutral AND at least racially neutral as well. If she was doing this for "female empowerment of (All) women" then she failed." - lolalogo

And in response to this comment, someone else said:

"She wasn't. She just made the point that most people look at covers before they read them and most people(like men) wouldn't buy the one with the flowers and girls. And that's pretty much all they give female authors." - Lady Random

I think the first comment brings up a good point. Before I go on, I'd like to say that I commend Maureen Johnson for coming up with this because it has gotten more people to talk about book covers and books and that is ALWAYS a good thing. I might still be trying to figure out my thoughts on it but it is, nonetheless, a clever idea. Okay, getting back to what I was saying. The part of lolalogo's comment that stuck out to me the most was "I think most of the "male" versions were better AND they were ACTUALLY more gender neutral AND at least neutral AND at least racially neutral as well. If she was doing this for "female empowerment of (All) women" then she failed". I don't necassarily agree with the idea that this whole project is just about 'female empowerment' because the bottom line is the covers that female authors get are not gender-neutral and if anything, they are stereotypical and they exclude two audiences of people. One being the male audience, and the other, non-white girls. I, too, found it interesting that the female versions of the male-written novels were both gender AND racially exclusive, while the male versions of the female-written novels were neutral on both fronts.

Now THAT is definitely something to think about.

I just want to end this post by saying that it isn't only female authors who get the 'girly covers' or as Lady Random put it 'the one(s) with the flowers and girls'. There are a handful of male authors who have 'girly covers' that do not correctly represent their books. I think author Adam Selzer (whose covers are 'pretty girly') had it right when he said "The "girly" cover thing has less to do with the author's gender than what market the publisher is going for."

I'll leave you guys with that.

Thanks for reading,

Raven.

(If you want to see more flipped covers all you have to do is search 'coverflip' on Tumblr and you'll find a lot of them. If you decide to make some (or have already made some) please feel free to link where I can find them at in the comments)

(Again, note that the terms 'girly books' and 'boy books' are used loosely.)
4.5.13

In which I talk about finishing freshman year, what I'm currently reading, and my writing goals for the summer



Hello all!

It feels good to finally be able to update my blog after months of neglecting it. I am FINALLY finished with freshman year, and I cannot think of enough words to convey how excited I am that I made through the year without going prematurely gray.

There really isn't much to tell. This year was great. I made a lot of new friends. I made the Dean's List this past semester, was chosen to be the Student Affairs Director for Student Government, and I'm an orientation leader which means I get to move in to the dorms earlier and help the freshman get settled in.

My birthday is next month (I'm going to be 19...yikes!!!!) and I have a luncheon with a company who is giving me an internship for next summer coming up, so I'm ecstatic about that. Um, I wish there was more I could say. For the past couple of months, I have been sooo busy trying to balance school, hang out with friends, and keep up with all of the clubs that I'm in (I'm in six...yeah, I know, I'm crazy) that I didn't have time to write or read anything that wasn't school related. To make up for that, I've been spending the last couple of days catching up on the gazillion books I have on my Kindle.

The two books I am currently reading are One by Leigh Ann Kopans (which I started a while ago, but didn't have time to get back to it) and The Space Between by Victoria H. Smith. Both books are really good so far. I'm almost finished reading One so expect a review from me soon. Just know that you're going to want to buy this book when it comes out next month. Until then, add it to your TBR shelves on Goodreads. You won't regret it. I promise. :)

As for The Space Between, I like it a lot but there's a few things that are making my eye twitch about the story. The writing is solid but...I don't know. I'll wait until I'm finished reading it to make my final judgment.

And about...writing. Like I said, it's been a while since I've worked on any of my wips but my goal is to finish writing one of them by my birthday, June 21st. I have so many ideas and more attack me daily...I just have to find what I want to work on and stick to it, otherwise I won't get anything done.

If you're curious about what I'm working on check out the tabs at the top of the blog. Both of my current projects are Science Fiction, which I find funny since all of my SNIs are contemporary. Well, wish me luck. I'm not sure which wip will be finished towards the end of next month, but whichever one it is, at least I'll have another novel underneath my belt.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

Thanks for reading,

Raven.