Monday, November 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo 09: Tools for Success

50,000 words in 30 days? Sounds hard right, but it's entirely possible, with the right story, a few good characters, some determination, and a few other things. NaNoWriMo is coming to a close for this year and I've just polled a few of the participants and winners about what they felt helped them the most to get the words out, keep the story going, concentrate, and keep at it all month long. Here's what we, the writers, have to say.

  • A Good Story - Don't go in unprepared. Sure, I winged half my novel and had no idea where it was going to end, but I did have a clear beginning and a general idea of what was going to happen. Some people outline their entire novel ahead of time and hey, if that works for you, go for it. That does not work for everyone, and even if it does, you may not stick to it. You don't need it all figured out, you just have to love it.

  • A Support System - NaNo is not for the weak, don't face it alone! It helps a lot if you have other people participating at the same time as you. I think that is a huge part of what got me to the finish line this year, was knowing that my friends were writing away and I would be letting them down. Knowing that they were all cheering me on. Other writers help, but so does a simple support system of friends and family. Be prepared for a lot of people thinking you are crazy, I know my family did/does, but they still asked me every now and again things were going. My mom even asked me about my word count in an attempt to get me working when I was sick as a dog on day 29.

  • A Sounding Board - In addition to support, find a friend, a fellow writer/nanoer perhaps, that you can bounce ideas off of. I know I would not have been able to work through a few rough patches in my novel (or start actually, starting was hard) without the help of Mike, Jesse, & Jordyn. Sometimes your friends have good suggestions, or maybe you just need to talk things out to see what needs to be done.

  • Snacks - You need sustenance, don't starve yourself just to finish your novel on time. Plus, I think the simple action of eating something stimulates your brain. A lot of writers turn to candy for this, for me it's tortilla chips. Or maybe gum is more your style, keeping with your diet too (you dedicated person, you).

  • Drinks - This is just as important as snacks, if not more. Don't let dehydration get you down! Also, most drinks--for writers anyway--involve caffeine. Caffeine is the writer's best friend. It keeps you going, it energizes you (albeit temporarily), and it keeps you up. Or if you are a morning person, it wakes you up. It has been said (I forget which author, forgive me) that writers are simply machines for turning coffee into novels. I don't drink coffee, so I think it's that we process caffeine and output word counts. Also, hot chocolate, iced tea, Gatorade, Diet Coke, and Coca-Cola are all very good alternatives to coffee that writers swear by.

  • Cough Medicine & Vitamin C - This is just me, I think, but if you are caught sick in the middle of NaNo (or at the very end like I was), trust me, these will be your best friends. Take them (within reason, I am not promoting drug abuse here) to get you through it. Your body will thank you for it.

  • Sleep - You will want to stay up really late on some nights, but if you are falling asleep at the keyboard, those lost hours sleeping will be worth it. When you are tired your brain doesn't function at its best and your novel will suck. You will write things that upon rereading in December will make you question your sanity. You will stop sentences in the middle. You will have random letters from when you literally fell asleep on your keyboard. Sleep is good, try it some time.

  • Set a time for writing - This doesn't work for everyone, sometimes you just have to write when the moment is right, but with NaNo, you don't always have time for that. Figure out when you write best, whether in the morning, just after lunch, or in the wee hours of the morning when the only other people awake are night guards and those poor souls who work the 24 hour drive thru at McDonald's*

  • Free Time - Essentially, going along with the previous point, write when you can. If you can fit a few words in on your lunch break, do it. Every word counts. Ray Freisen & I both write really well when traveling, in cars and on planes. Do not do this if you are the driver, of course, but other than that, take advantage of that time, make it worth your while.

  • No Distractions, No Internet - This is the hardest one for most writers, cutting out the distractions. The wonderful E. Lockhart turned me on to a program called MacFreedom which is cruel, but effective. Basically you turn it on & it locks your internet so that you can't access it until the time is up. You can press all the buttons you can find and scream as much as you want, but it will not let you online. And once you get over how crazymaking that is, it helps. I have also locked myself in Starbucks without internet and managed to knock out 3,000+ words in a single sitting**. But some people honestly cannot do this. I am usually one of those people, I have to admit, but they also need a certain degree of strength. So you can only write in short bursts & need to check your twitter every half hour, okay, but don't check it every half minute.

  • Music - Another tip that works for some, but not others. Sometimes it just depends on the day. I swear by Explosions in the Sky and whenever I am listening to them, I write really great stuff. Other days I need total silence and have been known to threaten people in order to get it. If it works, do it.

  • Insanity - It's something all writers throughout history have had: just a little bit of insanity. This is doubly important for NaNo, I believe, because you have to be just a little crazy to want to take on this project

  • All of that said, there are no clear "do's" and "don'ts" of writing, there is just you and your novel. You know what works for you, so do it. Do whatever it takes.

    Congrats to all of those who finished this year! We did it!

    *For the record, I appreciate you serving me ice cream, even at 3 AM.
    ** It helps that Starbucks is magic. They'd have to be, or why would so many writers go there?

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Girls and Breaking Out of the Boxes

    I don't normally post anything personal here, but I don't think this is just me and I feel like I should address it somewhere. Here seemed as good a place as any.

    My friend Jordyn, of Ten Cent Notes did a piece awhile back that was printed in Red: Teenage Girls in America Write on What Fires Up Their Lives Today and was afterwards interviewed by Bitch Magazine, which you can read here. I have yet to read Jordyn's piece (no worries, I soon will), but the interview struck a chord with me.
    This part especially:
    On the biggest misconceptions about teenage girls in America: The idea of "pretty or smart." Many girls are both, but everyone gets lumped into one category or the other in spite of it, and sometimes that holds girls back. A lot of times it's hard to step out of the box others put you in, even if you want to, and I think it's especially difficult for girls, because the lines are firmly drawn.

    I spoke briefly with Jordyn after she posted that, telling her how I liked that bit and we had this little interchange over twitter:
    Jordyn: I've had guys tell me that I "look smart". I kind of figured that was code for "boring". lol
    Me: I've gotten both, but never at the same time. I'm either smart & boring/nothing special, or I'm pretty with nothing to offer. And I really hate that. I want someone to think I'm pretty (even when I don't) and to tell me I'm special (even when I'm not).

    And, honestly guys? I don't think that's too far off from what most girls want. This is also something that I believe most girls have dealt with in life, too, and not just in high school. From the time we are young we, as girls and boys, are taught a duality for how women are to be perceived. It's something women have fought against for a long time, but has become so engrained in our lifestyles and in the media that it's hard to break free from it. There are the pretty girls, and there are the smart girls. But do we ever look at a pretty girl, say, the homecoming queen, and think "wow she's so intelligent"? Or look at a really smart girl, the bookworm in your calculus class with the glasses, and talk about how gorgeous she is? I don't see a lot of that happening around here, to be honest.

    As I mentioned in the quote above, I've been perceived as both pretty and smart, but never can I think of an instance where it has happened at the same time. I have had guys come up to me and hit on me without ever having spoken to me, because they think I'm pretty (and for the record, I hate that). I'm more than my looks, and I want people to see that. Or sometimes I write something really great, or give a good speech, and someone tells me how smart I am. Like Jordyn, I feel that the word "smart" can sometimes mean "boring." Smart girls aren't exactly known for having fun or being fun, and in the media especially, they are rarely portrayed as pretty.

    So we get put into boxes, like Jordyn says, and we feel like we're stuck there. Sometimes, we are--but that's only because the girl accepts her fate to remain there. A "smart" girl gives up on her looks, why should she bother if no one is going to notice? A "pretty" girl gives up on her studies. Why does it matter when everyone tells her she can get by without them? It's a cycle spurred on by those very same girls who are trapped within it.

    I'm not saying we can start a revolution here, because that can't happen overnight. What we can do though, is start with one girl. Maybe it's a guy telling the bookworm she's pretty, maybe it's telling the model that something she said had depth and meaning. There are girls like that out there, most girls are not one or the other, despite which box she's been thrown into. All a girl wants is to be accepted for all that she is, not for one quality or the other, and we should be able to see that in them. Not only that, but we should tell them, because sometimes they've been in one box too long to see that they can break free. The pretty girls don't always think they are pretty, and the smart girls don't always feel so smart. Sometimes, all a person needs is someone else to remind them of how great they are. That's not such a hard thing to do. It's a start, anyway.

    Thoughts on the subject? Experience with it? Share them in the comments please!

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    NaNoWriMo 09: Zenith, Favourite Lines Chapters 10-19

    Chapter 10
    He didn’t fit people into social classes or jobs, but rather roles. Acting roles, and even though he couldn’t figure out the genre of the film yet, he knew that Risty was born to be a leading lady. She was never going to play a supporting role, to anyone.

    Chapter 11
    "...He was a bit off his nut, that one, but that’s why we loved him I suppose. He was a lot of fun at parties, if nothing else.” Gramps laughed to himself, remembering family and times long since past.

    Chapter 12
    "There would be special effects explosions of extreme proportions and bright flashes of colour in intense paka-paka sequences.

    Chapter 13
    Risty was not at all like them, she was strange and mysterious and very serious, but she had managed to open his eyes at the same time so that he was finally able to see what had been in front of him all along.

    Chapter 14
    Risty Alexander thinks about the bigger picture and conspiracy theories and does not have time to think about the little things, or the little aspiring directors, in life.

    Chapter 15
    “No one has a perfect life, Rob. No one has a perfect family. No one is exactly as they seem.”

    Chapter 16
    "It wasn’t just my shoes that were specially designed for the job, I was.”

    Chapter 17
    “I was a coward once, Rob,” Risty said, her eyes locking with his, softer for a second. “Just once, but that’s all it took.”

    Chapter 18
    This would not have happened, this moment here in the barn, but neither would the hundred others in the last week, the ones he wanted to remember.

    Chapter 19
    Whatever it was, it was to blame for hundreds of deaths, and he didn’t want to add his own to the list. He was a director, not a stunt man.

    Chapter 20
    “But that’s why we’re going to get through this, so that we can still be around for a very long time and you’ll eventually learn to trust me. I can wait.”

    NaNoWriMo 09: Zenith, Favourite Lines Chapters 1-9

    I've been posting my favourite/oddest sentences on my tumblr & I thought since I never update here, I'd share them all with you folks as well.

    Chapter 1
    “So, Rob Mason, what do you know about hobo-eating alligators?”

    Chapter 2
    She didn’t understand potatoes the way they did.
    ((I spend an awful lot of time talking about that silly potato))

    Chapter 3
    That one message, twelve lines long, had broken the strong old man.

    Chapter 4
    Everything was traded for safety. It was the one thing they had in abundance these days, if nothing else.

    Chapter 5
    “The price of convenience,” she said scornfully. “Everything is so convenient and so fast, and we lose sight of what’s really important anymore..."

    Chapter 6
    “Ah yes, those ever important minutes we’re saving with everything these days,” she commented. “Pretty soon we’ll have one thousand four hundred and forty of them, all to ourselves, to do whatever we wish.”

    Chapter 7
    “Do you remember that day?” Risty asked suddenly. She sat down in the clovers and continued staring up at the clouds.
    “Which day?”
    She turned her head quickly and looked him dead in the eye. “The day the sky fell.”

    Chapter 8
    Sometimes sharing a loss made it easier to lose, even if you had just met the person you’d be sharing with. They both needed something, and maybe the other one could help with it.

    Chapter 9
    It had a thermometer, barometer, seismometer, and every other kind of -ometer a man could have need for, and a screen to monitor them all from.

    NaNoWriMo 09: Do you do research?

    And if you do, what sorts of things do you research? Do you only look up the really big things, or the small things too?

    I seem to research only really odd things.

    My list so far consists of (but is not limited to): potatoes, the great Irish potato famine, the Great Chicago Fire, maglev trains, the history of flight, airplanes, train bombings across the world (especially those in London, New York, & Moscow), clouds, crop circles, & urban legends.

    I'm pretty sure my novel is the first thing to combine all of those together.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Reading Meme

    You ever realize most of my entries start with "I'm not dead" or "Sorry I haven't been around"? Yeah...if you miss me, check out my twitter, my tumblr, & my livejournal. There's also the 5NerdsomeWriters, where I post on Tuesday. Actually, all the blogs I would normally put up here, tend to go there, which is why you're not seeing them very often. So if you're used to my regular chatter about books, publishing trends, & mass communication, you might want to check that out. Be sure to read the other girls' posts as well, because they're amazing.

    Anyway, here's a book reader meme I snagged from Jordyn of Ten Cent Notes.

    Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
    Chances are, I am always snacking, especially while reading. The better the book, the less I snack because I start to forget about food, haha.

    Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of
    writing in books horrify you?
    I would never ever ever write in a book! I might put in sticky notes if it were for a class, but generally if I feel like making notes, I open up a file on my computer to keep track. This is usually how I start my reviews.

    How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?
    Generally bookmarks. And by bookmarks I mean anything I can find that is flat. Sometimes I will not use anything and just trust myself to be able to find the right page, but sometimes that can be tricky.

    Laying the book flat open?
    Absolutely not! It ruins the covers & spines of the books, and I can't stand that.

    Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
    Fiction, but every now & again I'll read some nonfic if it's good & looks interesting. Or is on a subject I really enjoy.

    Hard copy or audiobooks?
    Hard copy. I don't really like audiobooks all that much. They're convenient for someone like me who rarely has a minute to breathe, but at the same time, the voice, tone, & style of the reader on the tape has too great of an influence on the person listening. I think people should be able to make those distinctions for themselves.

    Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
    I can put it down whenever, and generally have to. My life doesn't always accommodate me enough time to finish chapters.

    If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
    Generally I just keep on reading & can infer from the context what it is supposed to me, and I'll maybe look it up later. If I'm near my computer, I might look it up right then.

    What are you currently reading?
    The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

    What is the last book you bought?
    I just had a birthday last month & got a few gift cards, which I used to buy an array of books. I purchased 2 EL Koningsburg books, City of Ember, The Book Thief, Memoirs of a Teenaged Amnesiac, & I think one other but I can't remember.

    Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
    I can and do read more than one at a time.

    Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
    Any time, anywhere. Though I seem to most read when I am waiting in lines or in cars.

    Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
    It depends on the book. Some series should have been stand alones, some stand alone books I wish were series.

    Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
    I am constantly recommending The Great Gatsby, Looking for Alaska, anything by Maureen Johnson, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, & The Higher Power of Lucky

    Sunday, August 02, 2009

    Liar in the Publishing Industry

    For my 5NerdsomeWriters post for video week, I decided to talk about Justine Larbalestier's new book Liar, and the recent controversy surrounding its cover. Enjoy.

    Sunday, June 28, 2009

    5 YA Crushes

    I have more than 5, but that is not how the meme works. Jordyn over at Ten Cent Notes posted a list of the 5 guys in YA that she does and does not like the most and challenged the rest of us to do the same, so here are mine. If I wanted to make this really, really easy I could just pick one guy from every Maureen Johnson book & be done with it (and still have books left over) but I won't do that.

    Just to name a few...
    1. Spencer from Suite Scarlett
    He. Is. AMAZING. He is sweet, smart, funny, and he can do a prat fall. And ride a unicycle! This is the boy for me. I was in love from his very first line, I swear.

    2. Remus Lupin from the Harry Potter series
    He's old, yeah, but whatevs, I don't care, I love this dude. Really smart, totally caring, and solves all your problems with chocolate.

    3. Tom from Magic or Madnes
    He's just fantastic. And he can sew. Although I have to admit, I fangirl him less & less as the series goes on. Probably because I don't like who he ends up with. (I like HER, I just don't like him with her)

    4. Gavin from Shrinking Violet
    I've always had a thing for guitarists, you know.

    5. Hunter from So Yesterday
    So he can be a bit of a wimp, but I'm willing to help him become braver. Still, he's smart as heck and nerdy, but also sweet. Good guy.

    Guys I find very over-rated.
    1. Edward Cullen. He's a creep, a stalker, & a pedophile. And a tonne of other things like those.
    2. Harry Potter. I cannot stand him towards the end of the series. Honestly, where's the appeal?
    3. Sirius Black. Even more-so than Harry. So many people are in love with him and I just don't get it! (double for Snape)
    4. Victor from Runaways (totally counts). He is a robot, okay, got it...what else ya got?
    5. Speaking of Marvel characters, why Wolverine?!! I never understood this. EVAH.

    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Review: Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph

    Shrinking Violet is the debut novel by Danielle Joseph and it is definitely a strong start to what looks to be a promising career as a YA novelist! The story is about a young girl named Tere who has a problem: she is painfully shy. Still, all she wants is to become a radio DJ. It's a bit hard to talk to hundreds when she can barely talk to anyone outside of her best friend and Gavin--the cute boy in her English class--but when an opportunity to work at her stepfather's radio station presents itself, she doesn't hesitate to take it. Tere spends her next few weeks interning on a somewhat sleezy DJ, Derek's show until one of the other DJs drops out of his slot. Tere steps in to help one of the producers do the show and soon enough she's part of the show! But Tere's dream isn't all it could be. Her radio persona, Sweet T, becomes quite popular and Derek takes the liberty to offer her up in a contest. Whomever writes the best love song to Sweet T gets to take her to her senior prom. Only Tere doesn't want to go, she doesn't want to reveal herself, she doesn't want to go with a stranger. Truthfully she wants to go with someone else. So does she get out of it, or does she find her voice? You'll have to read to find out.

    I really love this book, and I gratefully thank Danielle Joseph for sending me a copy (I won it off her blog). Tere is such a sweet, genuine character. She feels real to me, and that's the strongest part of this book. Gavin also feels real and I wish I had known a boy like him in high school. I admit that the ending was a little bit predictable, but I'm generally good at guessing these things, and I loved it anyway. In fact, I was hoping the whole time for it. There was a point where I got worried that it wouldn't happen even! Music plays a big part in this book and I'm left wishing that it came with a soundtrack. I especially want to hear the entry about Sweet T's favorite foods, that part made me laugh in the book. I also want to hear the band Shrinking Violet. In this book Tere became a good friend to me and it was nice watching her mature and change and truly "find her voice." The story is part finding yourself, part going after your dreams, and part adorable love story.

    I highly recommend this book (twice far), especially to anyone who loves YA and those cute Shojo-like books. It's a fabulous book that is wonderfully written with amazing, realistic characters that is sure to cheer you up and leaving you with a happy feeling and a need for more! Hopefully we'll see more from Danielle Joseph in the very near future.

    4 Ways to Win a Copy of Scarlett Fever!

    I care about you, readers, which is why I will never fail to tell you about a way to win something awesome. Today's awesome object is a copy of Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johson! Here's a few ways to win, and all you have to do is comment on these pages!

    Frenetic Reader
    Carrie's YA Bookshelf
    Tower of Books

    Go go go! I wish you all the best of luck! :)

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    Link: Contest: 20 Boy Summer Goody Bag!

    Are you excited for 20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler? No? You should be! Go read the excerpt on Sarah's website. Okay, are you excited now? Good. Now let's add to that excitement with a little contest, hosted by the Beautiful Creatures Book Club. Enter the contest by leaving a comment on their blog, and earn extra entry points through a variety of ways. Contest prizes include an ARC of 20 Boy Summer, a lovely seaglass bracelet, a notebook, a California postcard, a beach bag, and blue frosting flavored lip gloss. I think, honestly, the lip gloss is my favorite part. Go read the excerpt if you want to know why.
    Anyway, contest is this way. GOOD LUCK!

    In related news, I bought 20 Boy Summer at Barnes & Noble today! It hit the shelves early (original pub date 1 June) in some stores, so maybe it's out by you too! I'm glad I found it before the long weekend, because I'll be at my aunt's house and on a few long car trips, so this is great! I'm also 1/3rd of the way done with Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph which I will finish tonight or tomorrow, so that's also awesome. I love books, especially debs from such nice authors!

    You can follow both Sarah & Danielle on twitter! @sarahockler and @DanielleJoseph1

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    Money Issues in YA vs Adult Books

    I generally reserve this blog for reviews, links, and other "formal" bookish stuff. In my mind there are "blogs" and then there's stuff to put up on my LiveJournal. I'm going to try to redefine my idea of "blog" this summer and work more personal thoughts into this, instead of only reviews. Whenever I want to say something about a book or literature, I will say it. I'll still leave out spoilers, of course.

    Generally, I believe that children's literature (including Young Adult) holds more positive qualities than adult literature does, but this isn't the case in all areas. The biggest thing for me, lately, is that in regards to money, adult books seem more realistic. There's a simple reason for this: adults worry about money more. Because they spend their lives working for that money, and they have to pay the bills for water, heat, electricity, medical, insurance, etc etc etc. Then they have to buy groceries and toilet paper and rubber bands. Whatever. The point is, adults are constantly aware of how much money is going in, and how much money is going out. This is reflected in book catered to the adult audience. We see many issues of money in this genre: characters needing to pay rent, or trying to get a raise, worrying about how they'll pay their medical bills whenever something goes wrong.

    In children's books, you don't see this. First off, because children don't pay their own expenses, they rely on their parents. This doesn't mean that children don't worry about money. When do we get to read the stories about the child who hides in the bathroom for the first ten minutes of lunch period so they can be at the end of the food line so that no one is around to hear them when they tell the lunch lady they get a free lunch? The story of the kid who has to buy all their clothes at the second-hand store and purchase all their shoes a size or two larger because they can't afford new things all the time? The kid who doesn't go to birthday parties just so they don't have to show up without a gift because the family couldn't afford one?
    We don't read these stories very often. I think the main reason of this is that children who are reading the books don't want to read about those problems all the time--especially if they're living them. They might just want to escape the problem, put themselves in place of the main character, and live like royalty for a few hours. That's totally understandable.

    With YA however, I see it a little differently. Young adults are no longer children, but not yet adults. They're somewhere in the middle, age-wise, and in this issue as well. Or, at least, in my opinion, they should be. That doesn't mean that they are. This is the age, especially in the later teens, that one gets their first job and starts to pay some things on their own. Sure, these things may just be movie tickets or new cds (assuming they even buy hard copies anymore), but it's their own money, and they need to keep track of it. Even still, you don't see this as much as you would expect. Yes, in John Green's Looking For Alaska this issue is tackled through The Colonel, who is always having Pudge pay for his cigarettes because he can't afford them. We go to his trailer even. But the thing is, the Colonel, much as I love him, is not the main character here. He's not the narrator either. It's all Pudge, and Pudge has the money to pay for cigarettes for both of them, to pay for McDonald's, and his family can easily afford the private school. Generally, the main characters have money. This may also go back to how poverty-stricken children want to escape their money issues through literature, but it may just be a way to make things easier on the author. Things are so much easier to get going if the character can afford them.

    Still, there are books that address these issues, I'm not saying there aren't. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson is a great example. The family is having financial troubles and are barely keeping their head above water at the point where the story begins. The hotel is beginning to fall into disrepair and we see the ways this impacts the family members. It's great, and more than that, it's believable. It's something that some of us can relate to. So why aren't there more books out there like this one? Why do our main characters always have to be upper middle class with spare cash and cars (even if they're not new)? Will books featuring a few money issues (even small ones) become more popular in our current economic situation, or will we see rise to more books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where the poor boy finds the golden ticket--a way to rise above the current situation? I'd love to hear your thoughts on anything mentioned. Leave them in the comments.

    Sunday, May 17, 2009

    Interview: Hilary!

    And the children's book week interviews continue! Sorry I haven't posted every day, exams were rough and so was school. Why is there so much stuff going on at the end of the year, by the way? That's crazy! Why can't they give us some things like like, early March when we are dying of cabin fever?

    Today's interview is with my fellow Nerdwriter, Hilary! She blogs on Fridays for the 5NerdsomeWriters, so check her out!

    Jez: First off, what is your favorite book in either children's lit or young adult literature? Why?
    Hilary: Hmmm.."Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson. It was so intresting I couldn't put it down,

    Jez: Is this the same book you loved as a child, or has that changed over the years?
    Hilary: Oh, it's changed over the years. I used to hate reading as a kid.

    Jez: Is there any book that stands out that really impacted you, either positively or negatively? Any books that you associate with a specific time in your life?
    Hilary: Again, "Speak" because it is one of two books that made me like reading again. This being my freshman year of high school and all.

    Jez: What was your favorite book that you had to read in school?
    Hilary: "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson. It was really "for" school, but my freshman english teacher assigned us to read it. It's now one of my favorite books.

    Jez: What do you love most about children's literature? Do you think this gives it an advantage over adult literature?
    Hilary: I love how classy and predictable it is for the most part. It has advantages because it deals with a certain group of people, those beginning to read by his or herself with different ranges, without being explicit.

    Jez: What is the most important lesson you have learned from a book?
    Hilary: Oh god, I never remember. I'm terrible like that.

    Jez: Who is your favorite character, or which one do you identify with the most?
    Hilary: Margo Roth Spigelman from John Green's "Paper Towns." I love her character. She's just really fun and interesting to read, and mysterious. Even if we're nothing really alike in real life.

    I'm starting to get the feeling that I am a lesser person for not having read Speak. I'm sure Hilary will now try to force me to. :)

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Another Chance to Win!

    Didn't win Danielle Joseph's Shrinking Violet (btw, I did!) or the copy of How to Buy a Love of Reading that Jordyn was giving away? Fear not, there's another chance for you to win something! Jordyn, of Ten Cent Notes is holding another contest! This time it's for Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix, which has a fabulous looking cover. Pon is another debut novelist, so let's show her our support, okay? Plus, free stuff, what's not to love?

    Check out the contest here.

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Interview: Christina

    For Children's Book Week I am interviewing basically anyone who wants to be interviewed about their favorite children's/YA books and about the genres themselves. Today we start with one of my best friends, Christina, who asked me to let her do this. So, here we go, my first reader interview!

    Jez: First off, what is your favorite book in either children's lit or young adult literature? Why?
    Chris: Stargirl. Has wonderful, colorful characters. ♥ Great story. I also really like A Great and Terrible Beauty.

    Jez: Is this the same book you loved as a child, or has that changed over the years?
    Chris: Not the same books I loved as a child--my books changed with interest. From silly ones: I SPY, ghost stories to Nancy Drew, Stable Club, Babysitters Club...I've always gravitated towards books with great female leads, though. I always loved the Bernstein Bears though (♥ ).

    Jez: Is there any book that stands out that really impacted you, either positively or negatively? Any books that you associate with a specific time in your life?
    Chris: There was this riddle book I read in the first grade called "Who am I?" I was obsessed with solving the riddle, and read it a bunch of times in the library. That was when I didn't like reading that much at all. I think that's why I got really into Nancy Drew books, because they were great mysteries. I got totally engrossed, and wanted to be just like Nancy--smart and stylish (check!). I think she was a good role model for babyChris. I remember I really liked those historical diary books. I own 4 or 5 and have read a lot of them.

    Jez: What was your favorite book that you had to read in school?
    Chris: I can't remember any YA books I had to read in school, except for The Diary of Ann Frank and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I don't think I liked reading those very much. Read them in...3rd or 4th grade for Excel.
    Jez: I'm going to assume that Excel was like super honors, because those are tough books to read as a 3rd grader. I think this is sort of like the Giver in that you can technically "read" it as a young child, but you don't understand the full magnitude (Ann Frank-Holocaust; Giver-Communism) until you are much older.

    Jez: What do you love most about children's literature? Do you think this gives it an advantage over adult literature?
    Chris: Children's literature is incredibly creative--you don't get as much in adult literature. It relies heavily on the child's imagination and really good books set off some spark--the want to write, draw, play, act, do scientific experiments, solve mysteries, or even make awesome flying crafts out of paper and balloons (thank you, BB). Adult literature is way too serious for its subjects--children's literature can be as goofy as green apes (grapes) and still be effective in conveying a message. Kid's books seem more fun to write, too. P:

    Jez: What is the most important lesson you have learned from a book?
    Chris: Generation Dead taught me that not all books about zombies are worth reading. Harry Potter told me that magic is everywhere, just hiding from us Muggles. Stargirl said that being myself is the most fun. Flipped reminded me that young love is foolish and funny in its own naive way. A Great and Terrible Beauty showed me that you can create your own paradise as long as you have friends, magic, and the courage to take responsibility for it.
    Jez: We've argued zombies before, and you know I don't like zombie books, so we'll skip past that and move on.

    Jez: Who is your favorite character, or which one do you identify with the most?
    Chris: My favorite character is Stargirl. The most amusing person, I think we would get along swimmingly and be the best of friends. :D
    Jez: The potential best friend character seems to be the reason why we pick some of our favorite characters. I mean, I'd give anything to be best friends with Mandie, Claudia, Lincoln, or Ms Frizzle. Of course, I'd like to be most of them also, which is another reason we go towards certain characters.

    A big, extra-sized thank you to Christina for forcing me being the first reader interview here at TypesetWorld! You're the best, darling!

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Children's Book Week, May 11-17 2009

    Today marks the first day of Children's Book Week 2009 and I'm pretty excited for it this year. I have a few things planned and will try my best to post every day this week (exam week actually gives you time, go figure).

    To kick things off, what are some of your favorite children's books, and why do you love them? You need not rate them if that's too hard, all you need to do is name a few off the top of your head.

    Growing up I remember loving quite a few books, but some stood out more than others. First, there was the Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard. My grandmother gave me Mandie and the Jumping Juniper (book 17) for Christmas one year and gave a different Mandie book to each of the girls from my generation. I read through mine and loved it, then I read through my sister's (which I loved more to be honest). Eventually I read through all 40 books, plus the special, the Young Mandie series, and now New Horizons. It actually kind of breaks my heart that I will never know what happens to my favorite young detective (and which guy she ultimately ends up with) because the wonderful author, Ms Leppard passed away last year. I really wish I could have met her and thanked her for how much this series has done for me and all the hard times it got me through. I owe her so much.

    Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll was another book that I read and reread constantly. The copy I owned had once belonged to my great (or possibly great-great) grandmother. It was leather bound and small enough to fit in my pocket, and believe me, I carried it every where. I remember one Spring I kept it in my coat pocket and any time I was in a car or a line, I would pull it out and read from wherever I had left off previously. I still own the copy, though I must admit that it is torn and ragged and the front cover fell off. I no longer read that one, but keep it safe, and own a brand-new hardcover version that comes with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I credit this book with first getting me to enjoy reading, and also to enjoy fantasy.

    Holes by Louis Sachar holds a very special place in my heart as well. I'm feeling a little old now because I remember reading this book many times when I was younger, and just October I met Louis Sachar on the 10th Anniversary of his publication of Holes. I first saw it at a book fair and I'm not sure whether I chose it or my mother chose it for me, but somehow I ended up with my own copy. And we read it in school. My best memory, however, is after my mother read it, she decided to read it to the rest of the family. We would sit down together for dinner at that time (something we haven't done in ages now, I admit) and every night she would read us the next chapter of the book. Afterwards, we would discuss it, and sometimes convince her to read a second chapter. It really brought my family together, even for a short time. The Anniversary Tour was great because I was able to go with my mother and my brother (who, coincidentally was reading it in school at that time), so it was something we could share again, 10 years later, though there were only 3 of us instead of 7. Mr. Sachar is a wonderful man, as well. On that night we were also introduced to Small Steps which I had always known about, but had never known was related to Holes--this book is equally brilliant, though completely other.

    It's no secret that these days I'm completely in love with Susan Patron's The Higher Power of Lucky, and more recently, its sequel, Lucky Breaks. The messages of these books are so strong and the books are wonderfully and uniquely written as well. Patron's characters stand out among some of my favorite, especially the knot-tying Lincoln. You can read reviews I've written about her books here on my blog (Lucky Breaks was my last post). Ms Patron is a lovely person too, and recently friended me on facebook, which was quite a treat for me.

    So, what are some of your favorites? Which ones should I be reading (and reviewing)?

    For more information on Children's Book Week, please visit the official webpage. Be sure to check there for events in your area as well!

    Tuesday, May 05, 2009

    Review: Lucky Breaks by Susan Patron

    I am currently writing an essay on this book, but I thought a regular review would be necessary for the time being. The first part is actually part of my essay, honestly. The rest of it is the pared down, spoiler-free version. Enjoy!

    Lucky Breaks by Susan Patron (Sequel to The Higher Power of Lucky)

    All our favorite characters from The Higher Power of Lucky are back, and a little bit older. For Lucky, these past few months have all been leading up to one big thing: her 11th birthday, and 11 is a very big deal. Sometimes though, growing up isn't so easy. Up until now, even through loosing her mother and gaining a guardian, Lucky has had one constant in her life: Lincoln. At eleven-and-a-half Lincoln has gained some popularity in the knot-tying community (of which he is the youngest official member) and has been talking with the best knot tier in the world, Mr. Budworth, who has offered to let Lincoln stay with them for the summer--maybe even the full year. Loosing Lincoln would be to loose a part of herself, so Lucky doesn't take too well to this. Just the next day though, a group of geologists arrive at Brigitte's new open-air café, one of them bringing along his niece, Paloma, a girl the same age as Lucky. Could this be an opportunity for a new best friend--a best girl friend--that Lucky has been wanting? What will this mean for her and Lincoln? And what happens when a simple treasure hunt in the desert goes wrong?

    Hands down, the absolute best part of this book for me was the characters. They were so realistic that I feel like I know them. (And yes, I will admit that I could easily fall for an older version of Lincoln) Lucky was especially well-done and her character showed a lot of depth, and more importantly, was perfect for the age she was supposed to be. Sometimes when authors make their main characters children they make them too young or too old, because it's been so long since they were that age themselves that it's hard to remember. And it's very easy to make your character older to make it easier for them to understand things, as well. I admit that at times I felt Lincoln came off as too old to be only eleven (and a half), but at the same time, I do think there are some young boys out there who are like that. On the other hand, Lucky was undoubtedly eleven. Her "meanness gland" that would crop up at certain times, her need to impress and be close to Paloma, her questioning whether or not she or her friends are good enough, and the fact that she lets her emotions get the best of her prove this fact to me. Paloma was another great character and at first I wanted to not like her, but I think this is impossible. She's so sweet and kind-hearted--and smart too--and makes a great addition to the cast. One thing I didn't like, however, was how Miles was suddenly portrayed as a genius. There is nothing in the previous book that would lead us to think this, and very little in the second as well (aside from his reading of Brain Surgery for Beginners), so to this reader, it just seemed tossed in as an after-thought.

    The plot flowed very nicely in this book and had many different strands that all tied together nicely at the end. The book opens with Miles retelling a story that Short Sammy told him about a beautiful woman in the mining days of Hard Pan that died tragically while two men fought over her, and how half of her brooch fell down the well. Lucky wants to look for the brooch, but Lincoln discourages her. This seems to be the end of it for awhile, lost in the background while Paloma takes center stage, but the story comes back later on and is a huge part of this book. The same goes for Lincoln's ever-constant net and Short Sammy's mysterious box. These are frequently mentioned, but not explained until the end of the book when Lucky is given the answers. I particularly liked Short Sammy's small side story because it worked into the first book so well.

    I love Patron's style in this series and how it reflects Lucky's personality and interests. The way she ties together science and childhood imagination is wonderful and entertaining. I enjoyed seeing Lucky's list of the similarities between herself and Charles Darwin because it brought back her interest in him, and also reminded me of the list she made at the beginning of Higher Power about how to be a good mother.

    Overall, I loved this book and couldn't put it down. It is a great read for middle graders, many of whom are struggling with the same problems that Lucky does--or even perhaps the same problem as Lincoln does. Additionally, it is fun and entertaining, with many parts that will make you laugh out loud. The ending, in particular, is quite heart-warming as well. I highly recommend this book (and its predecessor) to anyone ages 8-80. Rack up another win for Ms Patron!

    On a side note, Matt Phelan's art is spectacular and gorgeous. This is one of my favorite pieces of cover art overall; beautiful.

    Link: Contest: Free Copy of Shrinking Violet!

    I read about Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph on the Simon & Schuester website a little while ago & I liked the premise! I've been waiting for this one to come out, and now Danielle is offering a free copy on her website! All you have to do is link to the contest. Go check it out!

    About the Book (official): High school senior Teresa Adams is so painfully shy that she dreads speaking to anyone in the hallways or getting called on in class. But in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks out -- doing mock broadcasts for Miami's hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up at The SLAM, Tere surprises herself by blossoming behind the mike into confident, sexy Sweet T -- and to everyone's shock, she's a hit! Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ's awesome taste in music. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest -- and a prom date with Sweet T is the grand prize -- Sweet T's dream could turn into Tere's worst nightmare...

    Monday, May 04, 2009

    Why You Shouldn't Trust Amazon Reviews (Or Lucky Breaks Pt 1)

    Today I have been working on a very in-depth review (or essay?) on Susan Patron's Lucky Breaks which I finished reading last week. While I was taking a break from writing, I decided to see what other reviewers had to say about the book and google brought me to the amazon reviews page. Now, I don't usually read amazon reviews, but I decided to check these out. I remember now why I don't read these: they're not accurate and can't always be trusted.

    With reviews, you have to remember that generally they are one's own opinion and are therefore subject to the reviewer's tastes. So you can read a whole load of bad reviews for a book, and then read the book for yourself and end up loving it. The opposite is true also. So, when reading reviews, always take them with a grain of salt.

    Now, in my opinion, a good reviewer doesn't just give their opinion, they give a synopsis of the book--without spoiling anyone--and also comment on a few things other than their likes or dislikes. They should mention the flow, the character designs & changes, the style, syntax, strength and continuity of the plot, etc. And you generally can't get that from a review on amazon.

    Another thing I ran into was that these reviewers don't always have their facts straight. In a review of Lucky Breaks someone described Brigitte as both Lucky's stepmom and her mother, of which she is neither. She is Lucky's guardian; a woman from France who was once (but is no longer) married to Lucky's father before he married (and left) Lucky's mother. It's all right there in the beginning of The Higher Power of Lucky if you bother to read it. It is also mentioned a few times in Lucky Breaks. I say this only because it is vital to understanding Lucky and Brigitte and their relationship together.

    The same reviewer seems to think that Lucky Breaks was only about a quickly formed friendship between Lucky and Paloma and Lucky getting in a spot of trouble (which they spoil, but I will not). Also, that Higher Power of Lucky was simply Lucky trying to figure out what a Higher Power was after overhearing it in a 12 Steps meeting. Yes, these things happen, but they are not what the book is all about. The first book was about survival, trust, and family (even if they aren't blood relations). The second book is about the bonds of friendship, self-confidence, and growing up, with some more about trust and family as well. If you think Lucky Breaks was simply about Lucky and Paloma's "treasure hunt" I seriously question your ability to read a book and fully understand it, as well as question you in your review.

    Generally, I don't think there are enough good book reviewers out there, at least not in the places people are looking. Let's face it, people do read amazon reviews as a way of choosing whether or not the book is worth the money. I think it's really unfortunate that the reviews they are reading are of such low quality and are seriously selling the book short. The worse the review, the less likely someone is to give the book a chance, and then a good number of amazing literature gets lost in the shuffle.

    Technology & its Influence on Publishing

    [Originally posted 21 April 09 on the 5NerdsomeWriters collaborative blog.]

    Last week I finished reading The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot and I loved it. I loved the main character for her gumption (though she could be irrational at times), her best friend for her fiery spirit, and John for being an all around great guy, even if he lied from the very beginning. I liked watching the story unfold and seeing how a web of lies can ruin things for a character. Most of all, I liked seeing how they entire book was presented through a series of emails. And I do mean the entire book. Not one bit of dialogue or pretty prose outside of those emails interchanged. It meant that we might not get all the details we wanted in a certain situation, but we got to read a book in a new way, something fresh and modern. I'm not saying I want all books to be written in this format--in fact, far from, because I would really hate that--but it was neat to see it here.

    As some of you know (because I brag on Twitter...sorry) I'm a beta reader for Jordyn Turney's novel-in-progress Love or Something Like It (LOLSI for short, we realize that is not the correct acronym). Her novel is presented in a very similar way, but I think for a better reason. LOLSI uses not only email, but IM, Facebook, & Twitter as well. Why? Because the main characters are teens and this is how they communicate with each other. These two aren't exactly the first of their kind to come about, there have been others (like Lauren Myracle's TTYL which I want to read soon). Like I mentioned with LOLSI, the format really has to fit the book for it to work, but at the same time, I'm predicting an increase in sales in these kinds of books because they are the social norm for teens and even juvenile readers these days--that's how they understand messages, so why not publish their books in that format? But y'know, if you're writing about 18th century England? I don't think IM is the correct format for your book, just saying.

    It just goes to show how technology has a huge effect on the publishing industry and books. Before the printing press the majority of people were illiterate because why should they learn to read when there were no books available? Also, you couldn't be sure of the exact meaning of a text because new copies were made (and often translated) by monks who would change the wording or the meaning to reflect their personal and religious beliefs. Beowulf is a perfect example of that. Even after the printing press, not many knew how to read, it wasn't until the Turks invaded that books and technology returned to the western world (they called them the dark ages for a reason, it was like we went back 1000 years in time, lost a lot of tech & literature). And now books are in decline again, taking a back seat to anything electronic (though ebooks have yet to pass hard copies, thankfully), and someday, who knows? Maybe we won't have books anymore, at least, not in the format we know them as. At the same time, it is equally possible that books will outlast modern technology, seeing how long they've lasted already. Only time will tell.

    [On a side note, my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel had some parts that were presented in facebook messages or IM because that's what the characters used. I doubt this book will ever make it to publication though because I doubt I'll ever want to finish it. 2/3rds through the month I started to hate it, soo...yeah. Not gonna happen.]

    Okay, that got a little long, but I'm serious when I say it could have been much longer if I talked about all the technological advances (even just the big ones) and historical events that affected publishing and literacy throughout history. I know a lot...on the bright side I'll pass my theatre history test this unit!

    My Depressing Taste in Reading

    I think I mentioned this before, but I am really bad about blogging on more than one site at a time. This one has been the one that has (unfortunately) been neglected. And most of the things I've been posting belong here more than anywhere else, so I'll be adding them all here in the next few days.

    My top 3 favorite books (one for each level of reading):
    Adult: The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
    YA: Looking for Alaska by John Green
    Children: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
    (spoilers for Alaska & Gatsby will follow)

    + Gatsby: Main character dies
    + Alaska: A main character dies
    + Lucky: How to get on after a loved one dies

    In one chapter of my book CT, Ciera requests Erin to bring her a few books. They include: The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, Charlotte's Web by EB White, & Feed by MT Anderson. (short list, she may request more, idk) Why? Because she wants to read books that deal with death, because she herself has to deal with it.

    Let's look at my own writings, shall we?
    CT: About death & how we deal with loved ones dying
    The Conqueror: a civil war/power struggle; Many loved ones died in "The Overthrow"; death & how to move on afterwards (Basically it's the story of the people caught in the crossfire)
    You Always Knew*: Just go read this one, okay? It's short (and leave comments here if you have any, that journal is no longer used)
    The Elementist: Not a major theme or anything, but Tara has to deal with her mom remarrying a few years after her dad's death. (Note: This is the comedy of the group; totally satirical & funny, not depressing)

    And then we have Marhsall Manor where OMG NO ONE DIES. But it's still about a kind of loss, but regaining it. Basically that old theme of Love Always Wins in the End. It's HAPPY.

    *My only published piece. In a high school literary magazine. Made it past query & full request, but was ultimately turned down for a proper publication.

    So, we can all agree now that I am completely morbid and move on. That is all. :)

    Oh! And if you could recommend any books like those listed above, that would be great.

    Sunday, May 03, 2009

    Link: Contest: How to Win a Love of Reading

    Over on Ten Cent Notes the ever-fabulous Jordyn is giving away a free copy of How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment. Extra entries for every link you post to the contest, which is what I'm doing. Even so, you should check out her other blog posts too, she's great!

    Go here to enter!

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Another Book Meme!

    I was tagged via twitter by the awesome Sarah Maclean (check out her new book, The Season!), so here goes!

    1. What author do you own the most books by?
    Lois Gladys Leppard. I'm on a quest to someday own the entire Mandie series! (All 41 of them)

    2. What book do you own the most copies of?
    Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

    3. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
    ...Lincoln Clinton Carter Kennedy? ^^; In my personal fandom he's an aloof, sweet-hearted 18/19 year old. It's a fanfic thing. But you see why this was a secret, right?
    Also: Calvin O'Keefe, Jonathan Guyer, Jamie Madrox, and so many many more, but those aren't secrets ;D

    4. What book have you read more than any other?
    Hm...Through the Looking Glass or Looking for Alaska by John Green. The adult book I've read the most is The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald.

    5. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
    Most likely one of the Mandie books; or Holes by Louis Sachar, which came out about that time.

    6. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
    If I don't like a book, I don't finish. Although I was pretty upset with the NOT ending of Superior Saturday by Garth Nix

    7. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
    I'm still pretty in love with Looking for re-reads count?

    8. If you could tell everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
    The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. Powerful stuff, man.

    9. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
    I'm with Sarah, Ulysses is definitely up there for me. But I think overall Crime and Punishment by Fyodr Dostoyvsky (whose name changes spelling all the time)

    10. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
    I think my last answer would give you a hint, but if not: French. I like Camus, hate Dostoyvsky.

    11. Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?
    ...that's hard. Uh...uh...Chaucer. I love Shakespeare, I really do, but all his plays are kind of the same? Plus, Paul Bettany never played Shakespeare.

    12. Austen or Eliot?
    Austen, no contest.

    13. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
    (Sarah, DON'T. They're awful) I've never read a lot of the High School English classics. They were always required for the other classes, but not mine. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, & One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

    14. What is your favorite novel?
    Like I was explaining last night, I don't have one favorite, I have three: one for each reading level I read/study.
    Adult - The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
    YA - Looking for Alaska by John Green
    Children's - The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron.
    (notice a theme there? Yeah, so did I. I have depressing taste in books, I own novel has kind of the same theme too)

    15. Plays?
    Love 'em. My favorite is The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare

    16. Poem?
    Eh, it really depends. I can love them, hate them, or not care. I really like Emily Dickenson & Not Waving but Drowning by Stevie Smith.

    17. Essay?
    Not so much, but I guess if it had a really fantastic topic then I might.

    18. Non Fiction
    It really depends on the topic, but overall I'm not much for nonfic.

    19. Graphic Novel?
    YES. I work in a comic book store, okay?

    20. Science Fiction?
    Love 'em!

    22. Fantasy?
    Oh absolutely!

    23. Who is your favorite writer?
    Maureen Johnson. I know, I know, it goes with nothing else I mentioned in this post and all her books are happy & funny & not morbid. I don't know, I just like her style.

    24. What are you reading right now?
    Some birds outside & my dog snoring. It's very quiet here.

    25. Favorite Genre:
    YA - Realistic fiction. Go figure.

    I tag YOU.

    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    BEDA09: Day 7: You Will Never Find the Perfect Swimsuit

    Yay! I made it a whole week so far!

    Just get that through your head right now. Unless of course you are a mannequin, in which case I'm a little afraid and will avoid you. No offense to you personally, I just have a fear of mannequins. Anyway...moving on.

    Now, this may be different for guys because I don't have any experience in buying men's swim trunks, but this is true for women. Swimsuits are not made for you. They are made to make you feel like a lesser version of yourself. They do this through size discrimination. And really, it doesn't matter what size you are, the swimsuit business discriminates against you.

    If you are really tiny: All the suits are too big for you. Sorry.
    If you are small: You cannot have those cute skirt bottoms. This is what I spent a long time looking for today. I'm a size 4 and I have big thighs and I think the skirt bottoms look better than the others. What are those called anyway, the ones that look like panties? I don't know. But they don't make skirt or short bottoms for anyone under size 10, which is very unfair.
    If you are a medium size: There is nothing in your size either, sorry. This is a scheme to convince you that you are too big, which you are not.
    If you are a bigger size: There are no cute suits. This is also a scheme to convince you that you are too big to wear a suit, which you are not.

    The media & the swimsuit industries are out to ruin your self-esteem. They want to make shopping for a swimsuit as painful as possible so that you will go home & starve yourself. Or take some sort of diet pills. They want you to become horribly anorexic, which by the way, is not sexy.


    Monday, April 06, 2009

    BEDA09: Day 6: Meeting Guys & Girls at the Gym & Why This is a Bad Idea

    Okay, so today I finally had the time and the determination to take that little card over to Cardinal Fitness to get my free day's worth of a workout. I have had this card for a few weeks now, ever since my co-worker Susan gave it to me. First off, this was not an insult or a hint to loose a few pounds. I work at Jenny Craig and Susan had just worked out a little deal with the guy at Cardinal so that they would each refer clients to the other and he gave her a whole stack of day passes. She offered one to me and I took it.

    Fast forward to today when I finally go. I show up, walk straight to the front desk and say to the three people standing there "I need some information on joining up, please." I said please because I am generally a polite person. The guy looks at me, slides a little clipboard over and has me write down some information (they will likely use this info to bother me by phone tomorrow, or by mail next week). One of the girls wanders off, and the other one turns to the guy and says "I got this one." He looks at her and says "Nah, it's cool," then turns to me and offers to show me around. I get a short tour of this place, and it's pretty small, honestly.

    Now, I need to mention something here. This trainer is cute, he is very cute. Not my type really, but cute. He had nice hair and about a billion freckles. He smiled a lot. So I think I only heard about 80% of what he said (which honestly is only slightly less than usual...ADD child here) because I was trying to figure out not how to get his number (I'm happy with my current situation, thanks), but why fitness trainers are all so good looking. Yes, they are healthy and healthy is attractive, but come on, you get a lot of your looks from genes. So is there a gene that makes you want to work in a health club? Are you somehow drawn to gyms because your great-great-aunt on your mother's side was once a world class gymnasts' trainer? I have no idea. I didn't have time to figure this out or ask him questions about his lineage (which would be weird, but not completely out of character for me), because he immediately started trying to sell me the program. By the way, the deal changed and I could no longer join for $10; I'm not happy about that. We'll get back to that point though in a minute.

    I whip out my pretty little card and say "Actually, I want to use this today." Freckle Boy looked disheartened (I wonder if they work on commission) but he took my card and my ID (I'm not sure why) and tells me to have fun. I ask him where the ladies locker room is because he didn't say or because I was too distracting wondering about his great-great aunt on his mother's side. Who I suspect was secretly Irish, but moved to Russia because that's where the gymnasts were at the time. This is beside the point though.

    A few minutes later I'm on that treadmill and I'm wondering a few things. The thought that kept coming up though was why do people always want to meet someone at the gym? This is a horrible place to find a potential date people!! Yes, your date will be healthy and maybe muscular and/or athletic. Or they could be like you and just pretending to get a proper workout while on the prowl for a date. Plus, now think long & hard about this one: do you really want to meet someone while you're all sweaty & gross? More importantly, do you want to meet someone while THEY are all sweaty & gross? I don't know about you, but I don't. Plus, if you get the date and they turn out to be a horrible person that you never want to see again, how do you face them at the gym next time?

    From what I observed today with my free day pass is that no one really wants to meet someone at the gym. Okay, that's not true. Everyone wants to meet someone somewhere and the gym is not off-limits. There were people checking each other out, but in the end, the gym is not an ideal place to meet someone. Most people just plugged in their headphones and walked on the treadmill or sat on a bike. Headphones are the perfect thing to send the "I-Don't-Want-To-Talk-To-Anyone-Now" vibe. It works about 93% of the time, try it. Some girls were texting on their phones (I'm not being sexist, I'm just reporting what I saw), which gives off the I'd-Rather-Talk-To-Someone-Else vibe, which may be even more effective at getting people to leave you alone. It's easier to listen to music though if you're running. Most women did not wear a lot of makeup, because they were working out. They're going to get all nasty anyway, why go through the hassle of getting pretty first? It's a waste of time and effort. No one dresses up to look nice when they go to the gym--it's simply impractical.

    So, tell me, why do people always think that when they join a gym they'll meet someone fabulous and amazing to sweep them off their feet (or someone you can sweep off their feet)? There are thousands of places better to meet someone! Unless, of course, cute, freckle-faced trainers who were somewhere along the line secretly Irish, then by all means, join the gym and if I decide that it's not worth going to my first choice gym and go to Cardinal, then we can work out together. I'll even talk to Freckle Boy for you & be your wing-girl. It's something I'm good at. But if that's not what you want, ignore the stories and look for someone where you are comfortable.

    If you like books and want to meet a cute, Nerdfighting girl who likes books also, try Barnes & Noble. If you are caffeine-addicted and want to meet a nice guy who doesn't make fun of you for drinking four cups an hour, try Starbucks. There's always the internet, but be careful there. And if you're in Chicagoland and need a wing-girl who writes really long blogs like this one, call me.

    Sunday, April 05, 2009

    BEDA Day 5: How My Day Went From Bad to Spectacular!

    If you follow me on LiveJournal or Twitter (heck, I even ranted about this on my Triad of Dysfunction video), you'll know that today was supposed to be my day off of work. You'll also know that it wasn't, because I had to cover for one of the other girls. On top of this, it was possibly the worst day I've worked in a long time. However, I try my best not to dwell on the bad things in life and right now I'm doing pretty good. Earlier I was doing spectacular ;D

    So, here is a list of things that can turn my day around:
    + Pizza. There is a great little pizza place near where I work that serves slices of pizza that are honestly bigger than my head and about an inch thick without having too much cheese. I'm lactose intolerant, but this was fine and the taste would have been worth the stomach ache anyway.

    + Good Movies with Good Music.
    When I got home I had only planned on watching a few minutes of TV while I finished my lunch, and to my surprise, Spectacular! was on! This is one of my favorite movies with some of my favorite songs, so I was really happy. I don't know what it is about this movie, but I just can't be in a bad mood while watching it! Sadly, it was the end of the movie.
    However...after a bit of searching, I was able to find the full movie online! This was doubly awesome because awhile back I had send the soundtrack to my friend (and fellow Nerdwriter) Hilary Apollo and got her hooked on the music. And now I was able to get her to watch the movie too! There were four of us Nerdwriters on at the same time, so we were all talking on MSN and for most of that time Hilary & I were watching Spectacular! and talking about it. It was so much fun!

    Now I'm just finishing up watching Hairspray which is another great movie with great music! I've been dancing along. I really love Amanda Bynes in this movie, she's so darn cute and spunky!

    My mother called me from the grocery store earlier and asked me what I wanted for dinner. I told her that I was fine with Kraft mac & cheese, but I wanted the shape kind because they taste better. I didn't tell her this, but she picked me out the Spider-Man kind, so that was pretty cool. My mother knows me so well, hehe. :)

    So, in conclusions, things to make a bad day better:
    + Good Food
    + Good Friends
    + Good Films

    Saturday, April 04, 2009

    On Communication & Things Jez Doesn't Want to Blog About

    I didn't know what to blog about so I asked Jen on Skype and my sister in the kitchen. I have gotten many BAD suggestions. So here is a list of things I do not want to blog about. That's my blog for tonight I guess.

    + Alligators
    + Crocodiles
    + Grapes
    + Apple Juice
    + Toast
    + Local politics

    In other news, I love modern communication technology. This is what I will truly blog about tonight, because it's something that's been great for me today. I am part of the 5 Nerdsome Writers and today has just been a great day for communicating with them through many different outlets! There is the SAFT which is a facebook thread, LiveJournal, Dailybooth, Twitter, email, MSN Messenger, and then today we added to that list text messaging directly (well, everyone except Jenny who is in England). Later on Toni got me to finally download Skype, which I had never used before. So we did a skype call and that was pretty fun. Just now I was talking to my friend Jen in a video chat via Skype and that was cool too! I think it's amazing that in this day & age we have so many different ways to contact one another and stay in touch! I just read the Marvel Presents: Pride & Prejudice comic book last night and in that age people communicated only through letters or messengers. It could take weeks to get a message to someone! These days you can just send one message to Twitter and instantly all your friends know that you broke your arm, or discovered the Holy Grail, or had Cocoa Puffs for breakfast. You need never feel alone again! Not when you can so easily contact someone else! It is a wonderful time we live in, to be sure.

    Friday, April 03, 2009

    BEDA Day 3: Why I Believe Seventeen is Great

    Have you ever looked at the magazines at the grocery checkout? Yes, of course you have, because there are only two things to look at while you're in that line: magazines and candy (I'm sure you look at both). And what is the one thing all those magazines have in common? Sex. Not even just sex appeal either, though there is plenty of that to be found*. All of these magazines boast that they have the best sex secrets for you! Seventeen Magazine is no exception. Except for one thing: these "secrets" are appropriate for their audience: girls 14-19. When you flip open the magazine, find the correct page, & get to reading, you'll see that all of the secrets are actually tied to young girls talking to their mothers about sex. What kind of magazine is this?! A great one, in my opinion. It doesn't say that no one should be having sex in their teens, but it does say that talking to your mother first will help, even make your sex life better! Because you will have safer sex, be more prepared, know what to expect, and feel less guilt. Your mother may also help you know when you are truly ready, and not just having sex because of pressure from boyfriends or friends or even society.

    So Seventeen Magazine? Is on a list of approved reading for Jez's younger sisters. Well...the teenaged ones anyway.

    *Refer to my post yesterday to read my hygienist talking about sex appeal in ads.

    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    Copyediting & Why You Need Us

    I don't know if I ever announced it on this blog or not, but while I'm waiting to get my Big Break in writing, I fully intend to be a copyeditor. Why? Because the world needs copyeditors and no one else seems to want the job. Everyone else relies entirely on spellcheck to find their mistakes and they don't even want to get into grammar or anything remotely technical about style. And then there's little ole me who picks up a copy of her school's newspaper so that she can make marks all over it correcting grammar and spelling. Yeah...I actually do that. One day if I ever want to write for them again, I will present the editor with my pile of edited papers and tell him that he really needs me. I'm fairly certain that he will be inclined to agree.

    Today while at the dentist getting my teeth cleaned my hygienist was talking to me about copyediting. (I love my hygienist by the way, she always remembers things about me, like my English major & that I am very allergic to mint) She was saying that if she ever decided to give up dental work, that she would get her degree in English and probably do the same as I am. There is a poster in that room that is very poorly worded and it bothers her very much. She made a great comment about it: "They spent so much time trying to find the perfect blonde model that they didn't even bother to read what they had printed on there." I think that's true of most things in society right now. These people who are in charge of these sorts of things just think to themselves "Well, it looks good," and that's it. They worry more about the appearance of being correct rather than actually being correct. Why? Because people tend to glance at things and never give anything a proper look. And even if you're not reading every word, you need copyeditors. You need us so that your message gets across, so that there are no mix-ups, and so that your product does not end up on the front page of Fail Blog.

    And you need us to do all the grammatical things that you don't want to. This goes double for authors.

    Wednesday, April 01, 2009

    BEDA, Sick, & Script Frenzy's BEDA. Which is Blog Every Day April. And I'm just barely getting this in on time. I actually did vlog earlier today and I'm working on getting that up right now. I look totally miserable in it though because I'm sick and I've had a really sucky week that will not end. If it wasn't already a day late, I would just re-shoot tomorrow.
    Anyway, I already blog every day over on my LiveJournal so for this challenge I thought I would see how many days I can blog other places. This includes here, 5NerdsomeWriters, and maybe Maureen Johnson's ning, because that's where this all started. Well, technically it all started on Twitter, but it's centered on the MJ Ning.

    It's also Script Frenzy, which I did not know about until about fifteen minutes ago. My friend Casye just begged me to join it with her, so I'm going to try. You write a script that is 100 pages long in 30 days. This is not as intense as NaNoWriMo thankfully, so I'm going to give it a shot. I make no promises though. I'll update you guys about that.

    If you want a real blog, go read my post from yesterday on 5NerdsomeWriters about children's literature and why I think it's better than adult lit.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    Inkheart vs Stravaganza & A Wrinkle In Time

    Okay, those of you who follow me here know that I also have a blog on which I post my favorite quotes: Typeset Quotes. When I was on there today I clicked the Madeleine L'Engle tag and it took me to all of the posts on wordpress with that tag (which is odd & I don't like this feature) but it lead me to this post (which contains big spoilers for A Wrinkle in Time). In the post the author compares A Wrinkle in Time with Cornelia Funke's Inkheart. I brought this up with my friend Casye and I think that blog would have been better if they had continued with the Inkheart line of thought, because it was interesting. So I have a few points to add to what they said.

    I will do my best to exclude spoilers, but I promise nothing for the little stuff. Big spoilers will not appear here, ever.

    A Wrinkle in Time: main character is Meg
    Inkheart: main character is Meggie

    Well...yes, that's true, but I don't think that really says much about the book.

    A Wrinkle in Time: father is mysteriously missing
    Inkheart: mother is mysteriously missing

    Okay, a good point, and a driving point in each book. This is actually a very common theme in books, to not have one parent there. It's definitely prevalent in Disney movies and I really do not understand that. The fact that one of the parents is gone is a good emotional topic with the main character. Do they feel resentment? Do they feel pain or sadness? Are they indifferent? Something like this can be taken in a lot of different ways.
    Now, when we bring in the "mysteriously missing" part, we open a whole new world of questions. Where have they gone? When did they go? How did they get there? Was it against their will? Will the child find out? Does someone else know and keep this secret from the child? Will the child go to find them? Will they ever find them? These kinds of questions are the things readers wonder, and that's exactly what the author wants. These are the kinds of questions, when approached in a good way, make a great book. I think this worked out well for both of the examples listed.

    A Wrinkle in Time: a stranger shows up on a stormy night (Mrs. Whatsit)
    Inkheart: a stranger shows up on a stormy night (Dustfinger)

    Okay, now this is the point that I really wanted to discuss. It is a very good correlation between the two books, but I think it can be taken a step farther. They are strangers that show up on a stormy night, yes, but they are also strangers who become integral to the plot and very important to the main character. Meggie would never have known about her father's gift in Inkheart if it were not for Dustfinger, nor would Meggie & Mo know about the kind of trouble they were in. If Dustfinger hadn't shown up at that time, who knows what would have happened. We may have never met Elinor! That would have been a travesty! And without Dustfinger the story would have ended at book 1 (and we wouldn't have been able to see Paul Bettany shirtless in the movie ;D )
    In A Wrinkle in Time, nothing would have happened without the appearance of Mrs. Whatsit on that stormy night. We would not have known that Meg's father was still alive, that there was such a thing as a tesseract, anything about The Black Thing, never have met Mrs. Who & Mrs. Which, never gone to Uriel or anything else. We would have spent the next 100 pages sitting in the Murry's kitchen talking about how bed sheets have gone missing in the town. I don't think I am even exaggerating here. This is proof that a good character, or a good entrance, can be the deciding factor in the success of a book.
    [On a side note, these are also my two favorite characters in their respective books.]
    Now, when I was trying to think of other things to say between these books, all I could think of was how similar Inkheart was to the Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman. I've been thinking this a lot lately as I've just begun reading City of Secrets the fourth and newest book in the series. Let's take a look, shall we?

    Inkheart: Main character can be transported in & out of book worlds
    Stravaganza: City of Masks: Main character is transported between worlds with the use of a book
    This is very imporant in both books, in fact, the entire plot of each book rests on this point. Inkheart would be nothing without the ability to bookjump (I'll borrow the phrase from Fforde's Thursday Next series). I mean, really, do you want to read about a book doctor? Let's spend whole chapters on how he chooses which endpapers to use. NOT. And City of Masks would have been extremely depressing if all it we read about was how Lucian was slowly dying of cancer. No, it's so much better if he gets transported to Talia where he is healthy and awesome and gets to have adventures. As readers, don't we all wish books would open themselves up to us in new ways and let us simply fall in? They already take us on adventures, but we only get to live these vicariously, wouldn't it be so much better if we experienced these for ourselves? I thought so, that's why these books are such a hit.

    I need to cut this short because it's 23:49 and I have an anthropology exam at 900 which I know nothing for. But let me just add this one last thing:
    Inkheart: Meggie has an aunt Elinor who is obsessed with books
    Stravaganza: City of Secrets: Matt has an aunt Eva who is obsessed with books

    I will try to expand on this tomorrow if I can.

    To all you readers out there, I do highly recommend Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Stravaganza: City of Maks by Mary Hoffman, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, and also Thursday Next: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.

    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    The Triad of Dysfunction (My YouTube Collab Channel)

    This year I will be doing a video correspondence channel with my two best friends who are away at school. You can all watch us here on YouTube, or just go to YouTube & search "triad of dysfunction"
    You can also watch me on my regular channel, here.

    So far we only have up our project introduction and my personal introduction, but I will be bothering the other girls to get up videos soon.

    If you do watch, leave a comment! I love opening my email and seeing all the notifications for new comments. It brightens up my day.

    Okay, that's all I wanted to say, I should make this more blog-y?

    Well, today I pulled out my old laptop and started typing up everything on this laptop from one of my books. See, my old laptop only has a floppy drive (it's that old, I had a PC in between), so it's really hard to get information off of there. I could save it to floppy, transfer it to the PC, and then get it on my macbook via the network, but the PC is acting up and refuses to cooperate with much of anything today. And I really needed those old chapters. So I did it all manually and it's a pain, but I think I prefer it. This way I get to read through all of the older chapters and refresh my memory or find things to bring up again later. It's great for me! That, and I get to laugh at all my old jokes. :D

    If anyone cares to read it, I wrote a ridiculous children's story here that is not meant to be a serious story, but as a joke for my friend Jenny. If I ever want to though, I'm convinced I could easily rework it into a real story.


    Related Posts with Thumbnails