Friday, December 16, 2016

Cool Stuff

1.) Finals are over.

2.) A blog post I wrote, “6 Amazing Antiheroines” is up at The Fangirl Initiative. TFI is a site full of articles about tons of different fandoms, and I’m so happy that I got a chance to contribute. You can find out more about TFI here and read my post here.

3.) This cover for Wide Sargasso Sea:

I’m a little more than halfway through and the language is just as gorgeous. The story ain’t bad, either, even though it promises to be depressing.

4.) I discovered this podcast thanks to Tess. Lore is a cool mashup of history, folklore, and true crime. My favorite episodes so far have been “All the Lovely Ladies” and “On the Farm”.

I promise I’ll put together an actual post before the end of winter break. Maybe. For now I’m enjoying not feeling guilty about not doing homework and looking forward to Christmas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Taking Stock: November 2016

Pinterest: Nuggwifee☽ ☼☾:

Christmas is coming--and so is the end of the semester. Things are starting to look up.

Dreading: Finals. They’re never as bad as I think they’ll be; the anxiety leading up to them is actually worse. This semester, though, I have a cumulative Chemistry final, so all bets are off. 

Switching: Majors. In October I transferred into English Education (from Nursing), and I’m already feeling a lot happier and less stressed. My goal’s always been to study for a job where I can help people, and English Education combines that with the subjects I’m best at and love most. I’m a little sad about giving up Nursing, but not sad enough to plow through Organic Chemistry. 

Reading: The Boston Jane series by Jennifer L. Holm (I’ve yet to read a book of hers that I don’t at least like); Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, Issues 1-6 of The Dreamer by Lora Innes, The Trespasser by Tana French, Dune by Frank Herbert, and The Fall of the House of Walworth by Geoffrey O’Brien. 

Scrounging: For Thanksgiving leftovers. At this point we might have a little bit of turkey left, but everything else--three-berry cranberry sauce, loaded mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, pumpkin pie--is long gone. 

Missing: Sleep. 

Raging: Over the election. Sort of. At this point I’m more depressed than angry...but also still angry. We’re in for a rough couple of years, and right now I’m praying there’ll only be four. 

Thankful for: My family. Books. Writing. Netflix. College. 

Watching: An ungodly amount of TV, especially during break, plus four horror/true crime documentaries. Each one was creepy in its own way, but my two favorites were Killer Legends and Cropsey. They’re both centered around urban legends, available on Netflix, and very, very good. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Why I Haven't Been Writing

 I’m not the kind of person who gets lightbulb moments. Especially not when it comes to writing. Maybe I was on the brink of a revelation at some point—the secret to having faith in my own ideas, or writing the perfect opening paragraph, or finishing every draft I start (and better yet—turning those first drafts into actual readable stories). If I ever was, though, I can say with absolute certainty that I was too stressed/distracted/lazy to notice it. But that’s okay. Because I’m finally beginning to understand why my writing process sucks so much.

 Sort of. Maybe. And I still can’t type they next sentence out without agonizing over how flaky it sounds, but here goes: My writing process has become all about fear. And, okay, fear is something I’ve come to expect, but lately things have been getting out of control.

When I have no ideas, I’m worrying about finding ideas. Once I get ideas, I’m worrying about whether they’re good ideas. While I'm trying to turn those ideas into stories, I worry about the sound of the sentences and the structure of the opening paragraph (and the paragraph after that and the paragraph after that). I worry about word counts. I worry about editing. I worry about every single time I’ve failed before and all the ways I could fail this time. I worry about what I should be writing. I worry about what I shouldn’t be writing. And at some point I finally realized that all I was really worrying about was the finished product. I’d stopped caring about the process of actually writing.

 The thing is, whether the finished story is any good or not won’t matter if I was absolutely miserable the entire time I was creating it. It’s not that I shouldn’t work to make my stories as well-written as I can, but whether other people see them as quality literature or not isn’t up to me. And instead of beating myself up for all the stories that never quite took off, I should be glad that I somehow worked up the courage to try writing them at all.


 I’m not sure how I’ll fix this. For now I’m trying to ease back into writing regularly (I haven’t had much time for that this semester) and trying to enjoy just putting words on the page. Thinking in terms of process instead of product pretty much goes against my entire nature, and I don’t think I’ll ever master it. At least I’m finally trying. I want to quit seeing writing as something I have to do and start seeing it as something I have the privilege of doing. I want to write joyfully. Otherwise, what’s the point?

 (Also, I just looked back over some old posts and saw that I've complained about my fear of failure in at least every other post on writing I've ever published. I didn't plan on this becoming a running theme on my blog, but here we are.)

Picture via Pinterest. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Things

Stealing a page from Olivia’s book today.

   1./ The first frost.
   2./ Gray days.
   3./ Buckets of extra-buttery movie theater popcorn.
   4./ Heading home after a day of classes.
   5./ “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys  and “Forever Young" by Bob Dylan.
   6./ Picking up books at the library.
   7./ Rain. (Rainy days in October can be beautiful. Alternatively, they can be miserable—but the ones around here have mostly been beautiful.)
   8./ Friday night movies with friends.
   9./ Knitting. (Yep, still working on that scarf. Note to self: next time, use bigger needles.)
   10./ Fresh apple cider. 
   11./ Alphabear. (Thanks for the recommendation, Joni!)

Image result for alphabear

In other news: this semester has been tough, and I’ve got to admit that I’m glad it’s winding down. I have a couple of ideas/newsworthy stuff for future posts—hopefully those will be going up soon. And I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Reading Slumps, Part 2

via Pinterest

Or, will Alex ever stop whining about her first world problems?*

 I’ve decided that they’re two types of stories—the ones that show you how you want to write, and the ones that show you how you don’t want to write. Not that anything I’ve read in the past couple of months has been outright terrible. Everything has been good, decent, or okay. And that’s the problem. I’m ready for something like The Monstrumologist or The Reapers Are the Angels. Something that makes me want to cry because I didn’t come up with the idea first.

Through all the good-to-okay books I’ve read since fall semester started, one thing that most of them had in common has stuck with me. None of them are unexpected. It’s not so much a question of plot or character development but some weird, impossible to define ingredient—that bit of whatever-it-is that makes a story seem new and unfamiliar, even if the plot’s actually been done ten billion times before. I don’t expect each book I read to have that, but when it’s missing, I notice.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading a bunch of short stories on Some of them are better than others, but they’re all just the right length for reading in between classes.

Image result for that game we played during the war

That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn
Modern day fantasy of two prisoners of war who meet to finish the game they started years before. I ended up loving the concept a lot more than the story itself (mostly because of the length—I’d love to see this as a book). Still well-written and emotional.

Image result for the night cyclist

The Night Cyclist by Stephen Graham Jones
This one didn’t scare me. At all. Bicyclist vampires are still a cool idea, though.

Image result for men who wish to drown

Men Who Wish to Drown by Elizabeth Famma
 The best atmosphere out of these three, plus it’s about mermaids and whaling (two of my favorite things), so I can’t complain. The narrator’s voice is also wonderfully lemony:
 “As long as you have known me, I have been Grandfather Henry. But when I met my wife, Martha, I was still Resolved, a name that since our wedding day I have only signed to legal documents. No man was permitted to call me Resolved, because none could accuse me of any such virtue."                                                                                                                                A man after my own heart.
 What have you guys been reading lately?

*Not likely. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

5 Minute Reviews: The Magnificent Seven

 Let the record show that Vincent D’Onofrio as Jack Horne was almost my only reason for seeing this one, and he did not disappoint. Neither did anyone else--this movie was so much fun, guys. So. Much. Fun. I’m kind of surprised by how much I ended up loving it.

 First, though, let’s go over the mediocre stuff. The villain is named Bartholomew Bogue, so it’s a miracle anyone ever took him seriously, even if he is one step away from bathing in the blood of infants. The town he invades is called Rose Creek and looks a little...shinier than I’d expect an old West mining town to look. (Then again, I’m no expert on the old West.) And if the name Bartholomew Bogue didn’t tip you off, the story is not exactly morally complex.

 None of the mediocre stuff bothered me. The plot’s predictable, but watching it I never got the feeling that anyone thought they were reinventing the wheel. It’s the predictability that lets you relax and just enjoy the characters--like I said, my favorite is Jack Horne, but I also loved Faraday (who’s played by Chris Pratt), and they’re a couple side characters who I REALLY would have loved to see more of. In a nutshell: there’s not so good stuff mixed with very good stuff, and I think the very good stuff wins out in the end. I’ll be rewatching it once the DVD comes out.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Catching Up

 Hey! It’s been a while.

Thanks to my fall semester classes, anything approaching a regular blogging schedule is off the table, but since I posted exactly once in August, a roundup is in order. Here are some of the things I’ve watched/read/done since then.

Pacific Rim fan poster by crqsf
by crqsf

Pacific Rim
Saw the trailers when it first came out, made a “watch this one day” mental note to myself, finally sat down and watched it three weeks ago. I loved it. LOVED it. The jaegers, the kaiju, the hand-wavy science, the fact that everyone’s essentially one big, dysfunctional family...objectively, I get that it’s not for everyone, but I also don’t think it’s possible to hate a movie where the guy with the least ridiculous name is called Raleigh.

Fringe TV Poster #8 - Internet Movie Poster Awards Gallery:

 My sister checked this out after hearing that John Noble (aka Denethor) played one of the main characters. We’re about a quarter of the way through season 1. As far as the plot goes, I’m not hooked, but I adore the relationship between Walter and Peter Bishop. They flip the traditional father-son dynamic--Peter’s forced to become the legal guardian of his not-all-there, mad scientist dad--in a way that’s both very sad and very funny.
Also watched: Pan’s Labyrinth, Horrible Bosses, The Witch, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (season 1).

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer:

The Wicked Boy
This book is nonfiction and true crime (one of my biggest guilty pleasures). It centers around the case of a 13-year-old boy living in Victorian (1890s-ish?) London, who admitted to stabbing his mother to death. It’s hard to describe why I enjoy books like this without feeling sleazy, but it basically boils down to wanting to know the motivation. It’s like reading a mystery--the main point, at least for me, isn’t figuring out who did it, but why they did it. Not that they’re many good reasons for killing your mother…

Writing has been sucking-pudding-through-a-straw slow, and I honestly don’t mind. Aside from learning how to fit it in without slacking on schoolwork, I’ve been thinking about which direction I want my next stories to take. I’ll never stop loving fantasy, but lately I haven’t been inspired to write many fantasy stories of my own. Most of my new ideas are in a more contemporary/realistic fiction vein, and I’m excited to start working on something again but also terrified that I won’t be able to pull it off. Hopefully I’ll be blogging more about this soon.

How was August, and how has September treated you so far?

Monday, August 8, 2016

MMGM: Once Upon a Crime

 In my personal ranking of ‘fantasy series you really should read’, The Sisters Grimm is right up there with The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. I adore these books, and Once Upon a Crime is one of the best of them all.

 Here’s the setup: After their parents mysteriously disappear, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are forced to move to Ferryport Landing, a podunk town in upstate New York overrun by fairy tale characters. In Once Upon a Crime, they, their grandmother, the ex-Sheriff, and Mr. Canis, and old man acting as a human vessel of the Big Bad Wolf, travel to New York City. They’re searching for the kingdom of Faerie, in order to help Sabrina's sometimes friend/mostly enemy, Puck. He was injured protecting Sabrina, and only his family can heal him.

 Unfortunately, Puck’s family is even more dysfunctional than the Grimms. Before long they’re roped into solving a murder. Sabrina struggles to protect Daphne while consulting psychics and chasing suspects in a stolen subway car, but her sister is more independent than she’d like to believe. They share an extremely sarcastic, slightly mean-spirited sense of humor, which is--let’s be honest--my favorite type of humor.

“Daphne was still sound asleep, so Sabrina shook her until the little girl opened her eyes.
‘Whazzabigidea?’ Daphne grumbled.
‘Get up, we’re going to jail,’ Sabrina said, helping her out of the car.”

These books have a bit of a Roald-Dahl-type vibe to them--halfway through their murder case Sabrina and Daphne are kidnapped by pirates, then picked up by Social Services, then fostered by a just-paroled serial killer. It’d be awfully grim if it weren’t so funny, and by the end Sabrina’s more than earned her happy ending. Still, I can’t wait to read her next adventure.

What are some of your favorite middle grade books?

MMGM is hosted by Shannon Messenger. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Publication News: "Salty Tea and the Sea"

Photograph nymph by elena strawberry on 500px:
My selkie-inspired story, Salty Tea and the Sea, is out today. It’s a short (just under 2,000 words) piece about families reuniting, fairy tales, and, of course, tea. I’ve wanted to write a selkie story for ages, and this one couldn’t have been published in a nicer magazine. Kith Issue 03 is full of other food-themed fantasy stories, so do go check it out if you’re interested!

There’s a sense of loss, loneliness, and mystery to selkie folklore that’s always inspired me, and I hope it comes across in my own story. In hindsight, another big inspiration was Jane Yolen’s poem The Selchie’s Children’s Plaint, especially these lines: But Mama goes first, leaving us/ with only a box empty of promises/ and a cold kitchen.

You can find my story here.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Writing Resolutions 7.4.16


* Write the stories you want to tell, not just the stories you want to read.
* Work hard and make your stories the best they can be.
* Know when to stick with it.
* Know when to quit.
* Giving up isn't always a bad thing, if you've done your best.
* Be crazy.
* Experiment.
* Have fun.
* Worldbuild.
* Pay attention to atmosphere—it's really important if you want to enjoy what you're writing.
* Check the logic of it.
* Nothing is wrong with middle grade.
* Nothing is wrong with YA.
* Nothing is wrong with any other age category/genre/tense/type of story. Do what you want.
* Your routine doesn't have to be like anyone else's.
* Productivity just for productivity's sake isn't worth it.

I’m posting these here mostly so I won’t forget them. I might elaborate on a couple later, especially resolution #1, which I’ve been thinking about A LOT lately. Writing has been tough lately, but getting better.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Birthstone Book Tag

  I stole this one from Joni. It looked way too cool to pass up.

  January - Garnet
  Name a character who you think is evil/dark
  The Governor from The Walking Dead comics is pretty much irredeemably bad (the guy could eat puppies for breakfast and it wouldn’t surprise me). Opal Koboi from the Artemis Fowl books is pure evil but also hilarious. The Beast from The Magicians is terrifying.

  February - Amethyst
  Name a book you think of as regal
  The Lord of the Rings trilogy, obviously, but also the Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin, especially book number three, The Farthest Shore.

  March - Aquamarine
  Name a character who you think of as weak, or as more of a follower
  My birthstone is aquamarine, so I kind of resent the “weak” implications. :) I’m going with Clover from Entwined. On first impression she is more of a follower (quiet, cripplingly shy, avoids conflict), but as the story goes on she proves herself just as strong as her sisters.

  April - Diamond
  Name a book that you love, but isn’t very well known
  Her Own Song by Ellen Howard is one of the saddest, sweetest middle grade books ever, but it’s been out of print for a while. On the plus side, you can still find cheap used copies on Amazon. It’s about a white girl growing up in the early 1900s who discovers that her first adoptive parents were Chinese.

  May - Emerald
  Name two characters who balance each other out.
  Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson from Marvel’s Daredevil comics, Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth from DC’s Batman comics, and Willy Henry and Pellinore Warthrop from the Monstrumologist series.

  June - Pearl
  Name a character who’s loyal
  Leo Demidov from Child 44.

  July - Ruby
  Name a book that aggravates you/makes your blood boil
  Not too many. I tend to be pretty laid back about most books. Charles Dickens’ treatment of most of his female characters does get on my nerves, and anything with a really strong patriarchal bent (so, some classics and a certain subset of Christian books) rubs me the wrong way.

  August - Peridot
  Name a supporting character you preferred to the main character
  I waver back and forth on whether I prefer Susan to Lucy in the Narnia books.

  September - Sapphire
  Name a book that you found to be calming.
  Reading anything by Susanna Kearsley is very relaxing.

  October - Opal
  Name a book with a pretty cover
  I ADORE this copy of Peter Pan.

  November - Topaz
  Name a book with a resilient protagonist
The first one to jump into my mind was The Outsiders. Pretty much all the main characters are resilient, in their own individual ways. S. E. Hinton’s other book, Tex, has a main character who doesn’t appear to be resilient at first, but actually is.

  December - Blue Zircon
  Name a fictional friendship you’d love to be a part of
The entire gang in The Outsiders (kind of feel like a girl would throw off the dynamic, though). Most superhero groups, but especially the batfamily. Hanging out with the Pevensies (or just C. S. Lewis) would be fantastic. Gen and Costis from The Queen of Attolia have the weirdest, most adorable bromance ever, so I wouldn’t want to intrude, but then again...

Friday, July 1, 2016

Problems With Plotting

Delta Breezes...:

So, I’ve been plodding semi-steadily through the fourth draft of my mermaids & Neverland short story, and trying to get some other projects off the ground. It’s been slow going, guys. Partly because I’m feeling drained and a little discouraged, partly because summer isn’t usually a productive time for me, and partly because I can’t plot to save my life.

My idea-getting always begins with relationships. Not even specific characters, but a specific type of dynamic I’d like to explore. If I’m lucky, there’s enough to this relationship to suggest the kind of characters who’d be involved in it. For my Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, I knew I wanted to explore the relationship between the sisters, plus the eldest princess’ interactions with the soldier. I was also lucky enough to have the basic plot already laid out for me. Most times, I don’t, and this is where things get tough.

I can’t plot, at least not as well as I’d like to, and never easily. For some reason, getting characters from point A to point B is a struggle for me. They’re so many times when I’ve written a decent opening scene before realizing that I have no clue where the story should go next. I’ve tried outlining, flash cards, and freewriting, but so far I haven’t found the magic bullet that will turn me into a plotting whiz. Mostly I just have to muddle through and hope I make it to the end.

Maybe I’m more of a character writer, but 100+ pages of nothing but pointless conversations and introspection do not a good story make. I love tightly plotted books, and I’d love to learn how to improve my plotting “skills”. So my question today is, how do you guys plot? Whether you outline or don’t, whether your stories are plot- or character-focused, I’d love to hear how you navigate from point A to point B.

Picture Credit: X

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Taking Stock: June 2016


❝ after all this time. ❞:

fresh peaches:

Feeling: A little discouraged. Writing was going so smoothly until last week. I have lots of ideas, and high hopes for July, though.
Missing: College. I’ll have a pretty hectic course load next semester, but I’m already excited to get back.
Reading: In the Woods by Tana French, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, To the End of June by Cris Beam, Batman: City of Owls by Scott Snyder, and Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith.
Rereading: Entwined by Heather Dixon. I adore this book.
Wondering: If I’ll ever get to a point where I’m able to produce stories consistently, instead of in twice-a-year spurts.
Watching: The Simpsons. They’re episodes where I identify with Homer way too much.
Knitting: The scarf that will never be finished. Next time I’ll use wider needles.
Journaling: Barely at all this month. Things have been pretty quiet around here. :)
Eating: Fresh peaches.
Craving: More fresh peaches.
Loving: Cassandra Cain, Barbara Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth...basically the entire batfamily. Also that they’re actually called “the batfamily”.

Picture Credits: X, X, X