Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Love My Life

Today was a good day. I hung out with preschoolers, repeatedly managed to sing four high A's in a row, noticed I got three pageviews from Russia, and finished book 70/100 for the year.

What was that? Oh right, I GOT THREE PAGEVIEWS FROM RUSSIA!!!

I don't think they're from legit people, just some weird blog advertising site, but still. RUSSIA. My favoritest of all favorite places. I would say my life is complete, but I haven't been there yet so...

That's all really. I am strangely tired and have nothing else of consequence to say. Other than this!

Official More Blessed Word Count: 5,960

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On Diversity

This article just popped up on Facebook (sorry, I've already forgotten who posted it) which reminded me of a topic that's been roaming around in my head for a couple of weeks.
Read the article here
I don't want to start an argument about affirmative action or institutional racism, but I do want to point out something people have been talking about in YA recently. I can point you to plenty of blog posts and stats if you need them, but basically, there isn't a lot of diversity in YA.

There's not a lot of diversity in most media, if you think about it. True, there's a lot of supporting characters who are minorities in race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, whatever else you can be a minority in. There are even some main characters like this, just not the ones that get talked about. Twilight? A bunch of white kids (as far as I can tell from two chapters and the movie trailers). Harry Potter? The main characters are all white.

I'm not criticizing these or any authors for writing "normal" white characters. I just think it's something we ignore that we need to think about. I read a fabulous book recently, Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves, and didn't realize until halfway through the book that the MC is half-Finnish...and half-black. It took a while for my visual image of characters in Tamora Pierce's Trickster series to match their actual skin colors. I'm just as guilty as assuming whiteness as anyone else.

However, I don't think the biggest thing YA lacks is racial/ethnic diversity. What you really don't see often are gay main characters or characters with any sort of disability. (The one thing YA is amazingly good at is family diversity. It seems like almost no one in teen or children's books has a nice, traditional nuclear family.)

So, partially inspired by this, I added a deaf character to More Blessed and decided to make the MC's hometown resemble...several countries in Asia. I want to point out that I wouldn't have done this just to make it more diverse. Delaney needed a friend she couldn't talk to, so she signs instead. The city she lives in didn't have any culture, so I'm giving it one.

I also realized just a minute ago that I haven't been making updates on my book like I was supposed to. I got a bunch of work in this weekend, including a lot of words, some plotting and backstory, and changing the genders of one of my characters. There are currently 14 pages of story and who knows how many of other stuff :)

Official More Blessed Word Count: 5,451

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What I Want

I've been meaning to write this post all week. Well, not this one specifically. I started a couple of drafts of other posts, but those feel too serious for today. I mean, it's Saturday. Even lame college students who spend Saturdays cleaning and reading can have partyin' days!

But anyways, I'm about halfway through Eat Pray Love (by Elizabeth Gilbert, if you hadn't heard) and it is fabulous. It's really deep and funny at the same time. She makes me want to pack a suitcase and run off to Russia right now. So instead, I'm contenting myself with Disney songs in other languages. (You'd be surprised at how often this happens. On the other hand, you might not be surprised at all. It is me we're talking about.)

A lot of times, though, people are confused or shocked by my desire to travel, to get out of this country and do something big somewhere else. I've had people tell me that the Peace Corps might be a nice idea, but I should stay to help my own country, that it never works out well. People say, why learn a language only spoken in one country? (To which I think, since when is Russian spoken in one country? Romanian, yes. Russian, not so much.)

And you know what? I want to do these things because I want to do them. So I was thinking about what I really want and (because I am helplessly OCD about these things) I made a list. Just for right now, mind you, this is what I want.
  • To read
  • To mess around with my hair (cut/dye/braid/who knows?)
  • To get homework done
  • To sing
  • To speak lots of languages
  • To write 1000 words in a day
  • To do laundry/dishes/sweep/generally clean up my apartment
  • To look up recipes from PerĂº
  • To knit something
Why should I do all these things? I think it'll be a blast. I think it'll make me a happier person. I think it'll keep me stress-free. I think it'll be a party (a lame party, I admit).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Delaney Changes my Mind (Again)

I'm writing More Blessed in present tense now.

I've been going back and forth on whether I really wanted to do that for a while now. I started in past tense because that's what feels natural for books in general. But then I'd keep writing bits of it in present without really realizing it. So last night, writing more of the first chapter, I did half in past and half in present.

And I figured out that the parts I like best are the parts I've written in present. Delaney just did not like talking about stuff in past. The whole thing is getting switched over today, except the flashbacks, because those would obviously be weird and confusing if they weren't in the past. I'm finally glad I haven't written much because then it would have been absolutely horrible to change all those verbs.

Hopefully this also means that I can go back into my stream-of-consciousness thing that I used when I first went over to first person. I was using present tense for that part (the original first chapter) but then somehow I managed to switch over to past without realizing how awkward that was. So I should be able to flesh out the intro this weekend and then set some more plot down. As of right now, I have no idea how this thing is going to end.

The Official More Blessed Word Count? 4,200 words, with more coming after I actually do my homework.

Because I forgot to say something yesterday (and I just like pictures).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Magic and Dor

I've finished 3 books in the past 24 hours: Mockingjay (by Suzanne Collins) yesterday evening, The Folk Keeper (by Franny Billingsley) at three in the morning, and Magic Under Glass (by Jaclyn Dolamore) earlier today.

While I liked all of them, and all the books I've read recently, I realized that some books have much more of a draw for me. The biggest thing they have in common (besides being mostly YA) is that there is a pervasive sense of magic or mysticism or otherworldliness. That's what I want most from reading - being transported to another time, world, reality.

When that spirit is missing, it's just not quite the same. I still like contemporary, historical or mystery books that don't have a magical feel, but there's not the same emotional pull. That's what I'd like to be able to write someday.

We did an activity in my Cultural Diversity class the other day where we had to pick a different culture or ethnicity to be a part of. Anyone need a guess as to what I picked?
Is that not the most beautiful sight in the world?

Unfortunately, we also had to talk about why we wanted to be a part of that culture instead of our own. At first I just thought, I want to because Russia is awesome! But I figured that wouldn't be the most intellectual answer.

Then it hit me - dor. The word is Romanian but it perfectly expresses what draws me to all of Eastern Europe, the longing, melancholy love of country and people. Their struggles. The mysticism. That seems kind of like a stereotype, or like I'm idealizing the Russia of the past, but I really admire that spirit. It makes more sense if you read this lovely book: Train to Trieste by Domnica Radulescu.

The last question asked how I would be different if I were Russian. I said I would actually be patriotic.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Hate Distractions

I started thinking about something today (it's a shocker, I know, especially considering how vacant my brain is at the moment). Distractions. Specifically distractions from writing, which are really hurting my word count right now. While I've got 3,900 pretty solid words, I haven't been able to regain the focus I had once I started my first person, stream of consciousness thing.

But I digress. (What a fun thing to say, if only people actually talked like that.) Thanks to a rare moment of clarity, and an anonymous distractor, I bring you... Two Types of Major Distractions When Writing.

Type One: I sit in the lobby, trying to put words on paper.
So I realize it's not this guy's fault his voice is naturally so loud, but could you please do everyone the favor and take your phone call outside? Other people talking always distracts me, whether I'm reading a book or doing homework or writing (or at least trying to).

Side note: this is also why I have such a hard time falling asleep during movies. While this is usually not preferred, it still would be nice to have the knack when stuck in front of boring/awful/stupid movies or in IT'S 3 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING WHY ARE WE STILL AWAKE situations. Too many voices distracting from sleep.

Type Two: Working working working, writing writing writing.
I acknowledge that this is my own fault. I also accept that I will continue to distract myself. Other things can be way more exciting than writing. This blog post, for example. By the time DISTRACTING ME AND EVERYONE ELSE FROM HOMEWORK guy had left, I was too focused on this musing to go back to the boring stuff.

In summary: Blog distracts from TV which distracts from dishes which distract from book writing which distracts from homework. It's a vicious cycle. Well, not the way I wrote it. But eventually you get all the way around and around and around...

So there you have it. Two ways I got distracted today. You might think that I would give you a nice little post, say tomorrow or the next day, about how to rid your life from distractions. But you would be incorrect. I have too many distractions this week (especially lesson planning and test taking) to get something that useful done.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The People to Remember

Wow. 10 years. Because I don't want to start bawling all over the place, let me just say this.

It's surreal that ten years ago I sat in my 5th grade art class when our teacher told us about the attacks. Even more so that the kids who are 5th graders now were babies. They can't remember a life without 9/11. As for me - I can still remember that day at school being confused and afraid, barely able to comprehend how such bad things could happen. I know I will never forget that feeling.

But it seems like some people have. What is important today is not the fancy speeches, beautiful memorials, picture montages or TV specials. It's definitely not about revenge or hatred or even fear.

It's about the people we lost and the people they left behind. They are the ones who have suffered the most. On this sad anniversary, we need to take our grief and turn it into uniting in celebration of our lives and our many blessings.

Because what else do we have to cling to but each other?

***This song came up on my iTunes right after posting. So perfect. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Book-Reading Neurosis

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth (or just oodles of frustration), I have finally moved the list of books I've read so far this year to a new page! This way, I can update it more easily and you don't have to look at it if you don't want to. A win for everyone :)

And now on to the irregularly scheduled post. (Does that make any sense? Scheduled, as in I've had it tumbling around in my brain for a while, irregularly in that I keep meaning to post more often and never do.)

I have a predicament. I have a very interesting looking book, Belle Ruin by Martha Grimes, checked out from the library. I was about to start reading it the other day when I read the book jacket and, to my horror, discovered it was a sequel. My reaction went something like: NOOOOOOO I CAN'T READ SEQUELS BEFORE READING THE FIRST BOOKS!!!

My mother, among many other people, thinks I am quite crazy (for this opinion, of course).

Apparently, it didn't bother me in elementary school - I skipped over The Fellowship of the Rings when I was reading Tolkien and still haven't gotten it read. For some books, like the Nancy Drew series or Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain vampire books, reading in order doesn't matter although I certainly try to. But for most things, there are spoilers in later books, or character development that you miss, or some other VERY GOOD REASON to wait to read a sequel.

Especially when the two preceding books are available at the library. Hooray!

Monday, September 5, 2011

An Overabundance of Also

My brain is about to conk out on me (also, I'm really surprised that the Firefox dictionary recognizes the word 'conk') so this won't be very long.

I had a very productive Friday and today, writing and planning wise. I am up to 2709 words (not my goal, but still awesome considering I didn't touch a computer for the 48 hours that are Saturday and Sunday). Also, I now have a very pretty ancestry tree for the MC. Also, a year-by-year calendar of events. Also, names!

My shapeshifting MC is Delanna, called Delaney by her friends (mostly imaginary) and her mother is Magdalena, Magda for short. I've also been using my list of random names that happened to fit my broad theme. Delaney has a father, grandparents, and a whole cast of new friends with very suspicious motives. I have a better sense of the plot and roles of all these characters and I think this is going to turn out halfway decent :)

I think I had thought of some other vaguely interesting thing to talk about, but as I mentioned before, brain = not quite functioning. I hope it wasn't too witty or exciting. I would hate to be disappointing.

Also, Google looks awesome today. You have twenty minutes to see what I'm talking about.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Revitalizing an Old Idea

I've gotten 450 more words written in the past few days and I finally have plans for a lot more. The writing/imagining block I was dealing with has been shattered by two revelations that are breathing life into an idea I first came up with...hmm, I guess earlier this year.

Revelation One: I need to be writing this story in first person. I haven't thought of this or most of my other ideas with a first person perspective. One or two things, yes, but those were pretty bad ideas. For this one, at least so far, it's working. There's kind of a stream of consciousness thing going on and it's flowing smoothly right now.

Revelation Two: I need to throw in third person scenes from the past to complement my first person narrative. This way, I can use my original starting point, a third person account of MC's registration and also throw in a bunch of other info without having to have long, long, long conversations about the past all the time. I'm thinking this will explain other characters' motivations since non-omniscient MC will be telling most of the story.

I'm hoping, especially with this long weekend, that I'll get up to (oh, let's aim high) 3000 words. It shouldn't be that hard, since I already have the stream of consciousness going and a few ideas for my flashback chapters too. Cross your fingers!

Official More Blessed Word Count: 704 and counting