Tuesday, September 27, 2016

7 "Facts" About YA Novels that are as Accurate as Ron Weasley's Divination Predictions

YA novels get a bad rap. There are certain people who will raise an eyebrow and tilt their chin up like they've just gotten a big whiff of garbage that's been stewing under the August sun when you mention that you like to read young adult novels. Most of these people are adults who are sadly misinformed about the nature of YA, but there are some teens who will avoid it at all costs and only dive into dusty classics* in an attempt to appear more sophisticated.

This is really unfortunate. There might be some hesitant YA readers who blow off the entire genre simply because they read yet another article or blog post talking about how YA is XYZ (x, y, and z all being negative descriptors). And 99% of the time, those wild claims about the young adult genre are just blatantly untrue. Remember Ron Weasley's divination predictions? The ones he plucked out of thin air and tried to pass off as true proclamations? Yeah, that's about as accurate as these "facts" I've heard about YA.

*I don't have anything against classics. Classics are wonderful. But if you only read classics, you run the risk of speaking like Elizabeth Bennet in everyday conversation, and some people might not take that so well. Or should I say, "Certain persons may not be so kind as to accept that sort of evolved speech when speaking to your peers in the modern day."


1. YA novels aren't well written.


YA novels are written in a different style than most adult books, but that doesn't make them poorly written. Are some of them bad? Absolutely. But are all adult books well written? Not by a long shot. I think most of us can agree that while James Patterson sure can tell a good story, he isn't the best writer in the world.

Some of the most beautiful books I've ever read have been YA novels. Let me share a few quotes from those books to further prove my point:

"Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them. I’m beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves." - Cress by Marissa Meyer

"I know a thousand different smiles, each with its own nuanced shade of meaning, but I don't know how to reach the few feet away to touch this person next to me. I don't know how to talk to him. Not when it's real." - These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

"'Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,' I say. 'Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.' Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things." - I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

"Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something." - Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

"Someone once wrote that a novel should deliver a series of small astonishments. I get the same thing spending an hour with you." - We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Shall I go on?

2. YA novels are just about the romance.

First of all, so what if they were? If you like romance, you know where to go. If you don't like romance, avoid them without trashing them. Everyone deserves to like what they like without shame.

Second of all, I beg to differ. Lots of YA novels may be romances or have romantic subplots, but that's not all they are. For example, I can't remember there being a lick of romance in Asylum by Madeleine Roux, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, or Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.

There are lots of options within the YA genre: science-fiction, fantasy, horror, dystopian, mystery, thriller, contemporary, gothic, coming-of-age, magical-realism, paranormal, steampunk, and romance. Etc. 

3. YA novels are for lazy readers.

I'm sorry, what? Please explain to me how this is true. Because they're simple? Some are and some aren't. There are still aspects of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare that continue to boggle my mind. Her world building was so complex, I sometimes had to reread certain sections

Maybe it's because they're quick to get through? Again, this isn't always true. Let's take a look at the 800+ page novel that is Winter by Marissa Meyer.

And even if a "lazy reader" did pick up a YA novel, isn't that fantastic? Isn't reading something better than nothing?

4. YA novels aren't really books.


Do YA novels have pages? Are there words on those pages? Are they glued together in a way that you can turn said pages? Do they have covers and spines? Are you able to read them? Are they available at bookstores and libraries? Oh, so they do check all those boxes. Okay then.

5. YA novels are predictable.

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm. Allow me to name a few YA novels containing plot twists that almost made me gasp aloud: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, and Allegiant by Veronica Roth. Just to name a few.

Again, some YA novels are predictable, but it's not fair to say all of them are!

6. YA novels don't deal with real world problems.


I'd like to start by saying that just because a problem portrayed in a YA novel doesn't specifically relate to you, it doesn't mean that it won't relate to other readers. Everyone has different issues they have to work out through their teenage years. This might vary based on your family dynamics, culture, demographic, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, age, school, or any other number of things. One of the wonderful parts about books is that there's always something for everyone!

So YA novels absolutely deal with real world problems. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green deals with love, disease, and mortality. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli handles identity, social dynamics at school, and anonymity on the internet. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins tackles corrupt governments, family, manipulation, war, privacy, PTSD, reality TV, freedom of speech, and rebellion.

And maybe a certain issue doesn't seem like a big deal or even "real" to you, but it could be very real for others.

7. YA novels are just for kids.

When a comment like this is clearly meant to be mocking or demeaning, I find this extremely offensive to children and teenagers. We're not "less than" adults, nor are adults "less than" teens. No matter our age, we're equals as human beings, and we all have positive attributes to bring to the table.

Adults have wisdom that teens and kids can't even begin to fathom, because we haven't had those adult experiences yet. We're still learning, and adults can help us along the way.

That being said, teenagers often have revolutionary ideas that older generations don't always take the time to acknowledge as being valid. Just because something is new or presented by a younger person doesn't mean that it's bad.

Children are creative, innocent, and open-minded. They haven't be exposed to all the prejudice and hate that there is in the world. We could all learn something about kindness from four-year-olds.

So when YA novels are portrayed as being "just for kids," it's rude and untrue. YA introduces tough topics in accessible ways and provides unique entertainment that can be just as enjoyable to adults as it is to teens.

***

Bottom line, nobody should have to defend YA novels in the first place, because you don't see anybody doing that with adult novels. Feeling guilty for loving something is a terrible thing. Just remember for every person who looks down their nose at YA, there are dozens of bloggers who are raving about it from the rooftops.

As always, I want to hear what you think! Do you agree with the points I made? Disagree? Leave a comment! :)

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Sense-ational Blog Tag


I'm sorry, I had to make that pun.

I was tagged by Engie at "Musings From Neville's Navel" for the Five Senses Tag. For each sense, I write down five things I love (five things I love to see, hear smell, etc.).

Here we go:


Sight

1. The color yellow
2. Falling snow/the untouched blanket of snow in a yard that makes you want to run through it and leave footprints
3. Fall leaves
4. Adorable animals
5. A full, colorful bookshelf


Smell

1. Campfire/smoke
2. Baking cookies
3. My Sherlock candle
4. The pages of books (especially old, mass market paperback ones)
5. Coffee

Now I'm hungry . . .
Taste

1. Sushi
2. Peanut butter cups
3. S'mores
4. Anything with cheese
5. Portuguese shrimp turnovers


Sound

1. Theme songs from my favorite TV shows
2. A group of violins all playing different parts of the same song so it harmonizes and just sounds all around amazing
3. Laughter
4. Frantic typing because someone's just been hit with inspiration
5. Thunderstorms


Touch 

1. My dog's fur after she's just had a bath
2. Fuzzy socks
3. Someone when you're hugging them
4. Flour
5. Stuffed animals

Tag, you're it! Do the tag in the comments or steal it for your own blog. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Super-Secret-Special-Summer Project

I launched something today that I've been planning for months now, and I'm so excited about it.

You and me both.
Click here to find out all about it!

Was all of this a little mysterious? Good, it was supposed to be. What do you think about my super-secret-special-summer project? Leave a comment! :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Beautiful People Linkup--September

It's time for one of my favorite posts again! That's right, Beautiful People! It was created by Cait at "Paper Fury" and Sky at "Further Up and Further In" for the purpose of writers getting to know their characters better through a series of questions each month.


For September, I'll be answering the questions for the three protagonists of my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel, The Family Business. The three characters are Angelica (the oldest sibling), Theodore (the middle child, who goes by Teddy), and Sloane Cooper (the youngest). The Cooper kids are part of an extended family who run an interesting business. Assassins for hire.

Here we go!


1. How did you come up with this character?

When I was planning my next NaNo novel, I knew I wanted it to have two things: family dynamics (specifically with siblings) and food. The food part was easy, but creating an entire extended family took a little more time and effort. I started with my main three siblings and made sure that each of them had unique, compelling personalities.


Angelica
Teddy
Sloane

2. Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?

None of them have ever been truly starving, though money does get a little tight at times. Usually they all eat together for dinner (yep, all fourteen of them), which is a big meal of something simple and filling. Very much meat and potatoes.

3. Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?

Angelica is an excellent, new, full-time assassin, if she does say so herself. She's stealthy, quick, and neat, the perfect combination.

Teddy is an artist. He can sketch or paint beautiful, creative portraits of people with ease. However, his family doesn't approve of such things. Art distracts him from the assassin business too much, which he has no intention of going into.

Sloane is the best orchestrator of Graveyards & Ghouls, which is a roleplaying game she's been obsessed with ever since she was old enough to understand words. There's hope for her yet in her family's eyes, but she's disinterested in the business, as well. She's not against it like Teddy is, but she can't seem to muster up the motivation to train to be part of it.

4. List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.

For Angelica: Her siblings' irresponsibility, people who don't take her seriously, losing something of hers.

For Teddy: His family's cavalier attitude towards life and what it means to take someone else's, constant noise, art being dismissed.

For Sloane: Broken promises, being ignored, not being able to get a pet dragon.

5. What is their favourite type of weather? Least favourite?

Angelica likes overcast weather because the darkness helps to conceal her. Springtime is best, because the weather is cool enough to make her assassin gear bearable to wear and there aren't any leaves on the ground or snow to worry about making loud crunching noises.

Teddy has always been a fan of fall, when the weather is mild and the colors are bursting. It makes for great inspiration.

Sloane loves winter. Everybody is cooped up inside anyways, so no one can get mad at her for not getting out enough.

6. What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality?

Angelica would pride herself on being Gryffindor for her bravery and daring, but she's actually a Slytherin. She's more ambitious than most in her family, and the cunning it takes to be an assassin can't be ignored.

Teddy is a Hufflepuff, through and through. Patient, loyal, and dedicated to his principles, he really couldn't be in any other house.

Sloane is a Ravenclaw. She may not be as motivated in certain areas as her family is, but she's unbelievably smart and witty. When there's a problem, she's the first to offer a logical solution.

7. Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?


Angelica is all about the future, all about the next step, the next job. She barely takes a second to breathe and allow herself a victory before moving on.

Teddy also worries about the future, but in different ways. He doesn't like the direction things are going with his cousins and siblings. Having so many people in his own family obsessed with such a gruesome career scares him.

Sloane's young, only thirteen, so all of her present problems seem gigantic, even when they're really not that big of a deal.

8. What is their favourite thing to drink?

Wine for Angelica. It makes her feel more grownup.

Tea for Teddy. It calms him.

Whatever's closest for Sloane. She's not picky and it's the quickest.

9. What is their favourite color? Least favourite?

Bright, bold red for Angelica. When she deals with so much of her life in blacks and grays, it's a nice change.


Teddy likes blue, because it's calming and peaceful. Blue skies are his favorite.

Greens and purples are Sloane's favorite. Something about the colors are a little offbeat, like she is, and fun.

10. What is a book that changed their life?

Angelica doesn't have time to read with her job, but on those rare occasions when she does pick up a book, it's something related to assassin training.


Teddy reads journals and essays by other pacifists urging rulers to end unnecessary wars and trying to persuade assassins to go into different careers that give more to the community.

Sloane has a worn copy of The Encyclopedia of Dragons tucked beneath her bed that she reads almost nightly. It has beautiful illustrations, detailed instructions on how to care for a dragon, safety tips, descriptions of the dragons, etc. She's always wanted a pet dragon, but her mother forbade it as having one is dangerous, and Angelica is extremely allergic.

What sorts of things would you like to see more of in books? What are your favorite stories with sibling dynamics? And if you get the chance, go link up with Cait and Sky for Beautiful People!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!


I (ever so politely) stole the Coffee Book Tag from Lara over at "Another Teen Reader." If you haven't yet read her blog, do so now. It's fantastic.

And now, as I sip my own coffee, let's get on with the tag.


Black: Name a series that's tough to get into but has hardcore fans.



Two come to mind right away: A Song of Ice and Fire and The Mortal Instruments. Just look at how big and intimidating those books are! And there's so many of them! Not to mention the first book of each can be preeeetty slow with all that set up. But man, there are diehard fans. And some slightly defensive fans for TMI. Well, I say slightly . . . You so much as mention not having a 5-star opinion of one of the books and prepare for the possibility of being cornered by a very angry Shadowhunter. I feel like each day that passes where the next Game of Thrones book hasn't come out yet results in rising anger for fans of the series. I'm surprised no one's trying to break down his door to pull a Misery.

Peppermint mocha: Name a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year.



Definitely Shiver. You feel cold when you're reading it, and everything about it just screams winter. I mean, look at that cover!

Hot chocolate: What is your favourite children's book?




I won't say Harry Potter, because everyone knows that already. Books that especially stand out from my childhood are the Magic Treehouse series and the Thoroughbred series. I could read a book from each series in one night, and sometimes I'd devour four before bed. Each series easily has 70+ books, and I know I read tons of each before I outgrew them. It got to the point with Thoroughbred that I'd already read every copy the library had, so I started buying the next books online and donating them.

Double shot of espresso: Name a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.


Non. Stop. Action. So much time travel and mystery and aoisdjglkjd I can't rave about this book enough. I'm pretty sure I've bought copies for at least two of my friends' birthdays.

Starbucks: Name a book you see everywhere.


I'm pretty sure I'm a horrible bookworm for even admitting to not having read this book yet. Every book blogger I know has either read it or heard of it. Why haven't I picked it up? I DON'T KNOW. I need to, that much I know.

That hipster coffee shop: Give a book by an indie author a shoutout.

Eep. I'm not sure I even know of any indie authors . . .

Oops! I accidentally got decaf: Name a book you were expecting more from.


I was super excited for this book because, hello, it's Supernatural. But it was basically really bad fan-fiction that couldn't even get the facts about how Sam and Dean looked right. #Disappointed

The perfect blend: Name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet but ultimately satisfying.


Let's talk about If I Stay here for a second and ALL THE FEELS it gave me. I would be laughing one second and crying the next, but I loved every minute of it, even when I closed the book as a blubbering mess. The movie was fantastic, too.


Tag, you're it! Comment a few responses or steal this tag for your own blog. How do you like your coffee? (I like creamer in mine, preferably a flavored kind.) If you don't like coffee, what's your hot drink of choice? Tea? Hot chocolate? Cider? (Because cider should only ever be hot. Otherwise it's just apple juice.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Chat About Blogging, Books, and Controversial Topics with Lara Liz

You might have seen the interview the amazing Lara Liz did with me on her blog, "Another Teen Reader" about my novel 'Til the Last Star Dies. To return the favor, Lara's hopping over onto my blog today to talk about blogging, books, and controversial topics.

Lara Liz is a teen reader and blogger from "Another Teen Reader." She writes with an addictive voice, sense of humor, and wit that keeps you clicking on yet another suggested bookish post or review. During the past couple of years, Lara has been a wonderful friend to me and a fantastic addition to the blogging community. Go check out her blog immediately. You won’t regret it.

On with the interview!

1. How did you first get into blogging?

Well this is an interesting one actually because it kind of involves you. It was the Easter holidays from school, so I sat at home trying to avoid doing this essay I've been set to doing over the week, and I'm on Go Teen Writers, which is one of my favorite blogs. They had this list of blogs you could read, and your blog was one of the ones on there, so I clicked on it and had a look. I realized that you were kind of my age, a bit older, and I remembered people saying that when authors do end up getting published, having an online following is really important. So I kind of thought, why don't I start one? Because, you know, I needed to avoid the essay, and if I said to my mum, "I started a blog," I assumed that that would be a good excuse. So that's basically how I started blogging.

2. What’s your favorite part about blogging?

Hmm, tricky. I think the community, probably. I mean, everything about blogging is great, but, the people you get to meet--you get friends from Australia and America. America isn't exotic to you, but it is to me! It's just incredible. People you never meet end up being so nice to you--it's kind of amazing. People are so supportive and I think that's one of the things I really love about it.

3.    What’s the hardest part?

There are lots of hard things about blogging. It takes a lot of commitment. One of my favorite things to say is anyone can start a blog. You don't have to be committed, I mean--when I started blogging, I think I blogged about once a month. I just did it when I had time for fun, but then slowly I decided I wanted to meet more people, and that means getting more followers, and that means being more committed with it. I think it does take up a lot of time, and while you can manage that, you do have to take advantage of the time you have. Especially if you go to school, or you're homeschooling, or whatever, if you have other work to do--it's really tricky, so you have to make sure you plan ahead. I'm up for a good planning ahead in general.


4. What advice do you have for newbie bloggers who are nervous to get started?

Well the first thing is that you don't need to be nervous to get started. I mean, I know it might seem at first that you're not doing very well or no one's reading, but--it comes over time. I think you basically just need to start enjoying it for yourself, and then slowly you'll get friends who enjoy doing it with you, and you'll feel that it's a part of you that you can't get back, that you can't give up. Do you know what I mean? I read this statistic online during my early blogging days, I can't remember if it was 90 or 120 days, but there was a statistic that 90% of blogs on the internet are abandoned before they get to 120 days, and I just didn't want to be part of that statistic. I just thought to myself, "I'm going to make it past that 120 days," and I did, and, well, that's what got me started, I think. You just have to keep going at the beginning and it'll get better. You just have to trust that it'll be okay.

5. Have you ever had to deal with internet trolls? If so, how do you handle them?

I was wondering if you were going to ask me this question, actually, because I blog about controversial topics sometimes. I've done blogs on disability, I've done blogs on feminism, I've done blogs on mental health. And especially when I published the one on feminism, I was really worried that I was going to get trolls, and I wrote this massive thing at the end of the post saying, "Please be nice in the comments," and I didn't get any comments, and I was kind of like, "Oh, okay. That's how it works." I think the only "troll" I think I've ever had was on Twitter--they tend to live on Twitter--I wrote a tweet for the #IAmaFeminist hashtag. It said, "#IAmaFeminist, because if I wasn't, I'd be a sexist," because that's what I believe, I believe it's basically a binary thing. And yeah, you don't have to call yourself a feminist, but if you're not sexist, that's what I believe you are, because you believe in equality for all genders. And this guy tweeted me, basically saying, "the word FEMinism is sexist, because it doesn't mention men." Okay. So I look at his account, and it's completely anonymous, it seems to have been made up for the sole purpose of trolling people like me. I really wanted to reply to this guy, because I wanted to say, "I don't think it is sexist," but it's not something you can very easily do in under 140 characters. That was actually why I wrote my blog post, I think it's called, "Why I Call Equality Between Genders Feminism," because I basically wanted to give this guy the link and say, "This is why." So that was my only real trolling incident I've ever handled.


6. What websites or tools have been the biggest help to you with blogging?

There's this really good one actually that not many people have found, it's called "portent.com," and I think they're basically a blog about blogging. I don't really read their blog, I just Googled "content generator." And it comes up with this, and you put in your keywords, like "books" or "authors" and it comes up with hilarious titles. I think my favorite was, "Homer Simpson's Guide to Reading." That's a hilarious title, and it got me thinking. I never actually wrote that post because it turns out I know nothing about the Simpsons, but that's helped me to get the ball rolling, and really it's just a lot of fun.

7. Lots of bloggers are also huge readers (like me). What are the top three books you’ve read in the past year?

Oh, gosh. The first would probably be--I've recently reread Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star. It's about an American girl called Rory who ends up going to London for school. The whole thing is just hilarious, watching her interact with British culture, but it's mostly about a Jack the Ripper spree that goes on. Someone tries to emulate Jack the Ripper, and there are ghosts, and it's generally just a really good book, so that'd be one of them. Erm--you're making me decide, this is hard! I also like Maresi. I read it because everyone was saying it's this amazing feminist read. It's about an island where only females are allowed and it's a sanctuary from the rest of the world. But it was translated from Finnish, so some of the prose is a bit telling rather than showing? Which I only noticed because I spend so much time trying not to tell rather than show as a writer! But that was a really cool book, as well.

8. Is there anything you wish you could see more of in the blogs you read? Whether it be post topics, the style of blogging, or anything else?

Ooh, I was thinking about this the other day. Ely from "Tea and Titles," I got talking to her because she is really into disability blogging, as well. She has Type 1 Diabetes and a limp from a club foot when she was young, and she wrote this post about basically what her disability was. I was thinking that I'd actually love to see more of that in the blogging community. And sure, disability blogs are great, but the people that aren't in the disability community don't always see it, so that's why I like when it crosses over with books--because Ely is a book blogger--and other kinds of blogs because other people get to see it, too.

I think it helps to explain something unfamiliar to people in a familiar format, if that makes sense.

Exactly!

9. Gifs or no gifs?

First of all it is gif [with the hard "g" sound as in "goat"--I'd been saying it the opposite way]--we're not going to have a fight over this. [Laughing.] I love gifs. I think they're amazing, because I struggle a lot with finding copyright images. I know some people don't mind the copyright thing, but I just heard this horror story with someone who had to pay so much money to this photographer, and I just didn't want to get involved, so about three months ago I replaced all of the photos on my blog and it took--considering I had nine months of archives at this point, it took a month to do? It was pretty hard work, but I was really glad I did it. And gifs are great, because they're made from films and TV shows, so they're made for you to share. So no one really seems to mind if you use them, which I think is great.

10. Where does most of your inspiration come from for your blog?

Some of it seems to arrive when I'm on the toilet, which is really weird. But if I'm looking for inspiration, I'll often look at other people's blog posts. That's a big inspiration for me. I'll see someone do something and I'll go, "Ooh, maybe I can twist that, maybe I can change that somehow," and that's usually how I do it. But, if you're going to take an idea and remix an idea from someone else, unless it's wildly different, it's usually a good idea to tweet them first just checking if it's okay. Because plagiarism, you know, isn't great.

11. Do you ever find yourself holding back from posting something because it's controversial?

Sometimes. I get very nervous about posts. The one post I remember getting completely worked up about was a post called, "The One Word I Hate Reading." It was the first post I'd ever written about being disabled, I'd never mentioned that I was disabled before that post. And it's about how much I hate the word "spaz." It's basically about how much it doesn't have to be directed at you, it can be everywhere. It was really personal to me and I hadn't really posted much non-book content on the blog before--I mean, now I do it all the time--but I wasn't sure how people were going to react to it. That was before I had loads of blogging friends, so I shared it on Facebook, and my real life friends were so supportive. I think if you're ever nervous about posting, don't be, because as long as it represents how you feel and your opinion, then you can't go wrong, really.


12. Who are some of your favorite bloggers?

Well, you, first off. I like Cait from "Paper Fury," as well, I think a lot of people love her. [They do.] Ely, who I already mentioned. Julia from "The Tree of Books." You'll probably have seen her in the comments section of my posts. She's on every single post, she's amazing. I also really admire Amber from "The Mile Long Bookshelf." She basically just posts amazing stuff, and it's also really good to hear because she has anxiety, and I don't but I like to understand other people's situations, and she's really open about it, and I really admire that about her and her work.

13. What are some of the lessons you've learned throughout your blogging journey?

First of all, don't expect to be able to comment about a book the day it's supposed to go live. Secondly, if you feel like you need a break, take it. If you feel better posting on your blog and saying, "Hey, I'm just going to take a break for a week so I can rejuvenate," that's fine. But if you'd rather just go off the grid and not say anything, that's fine, too. No one will assume you've died. And number three, just be yourself. Blogging is fun, and it should be, and if it isn't, then you're not going to keep up with it, and that would make us all sad, so make sure you do whatever you can to make it fun.

I actually haven't been blogging for that long--maybe a year, slightly over?--and you've been blogging for like eight years, which is mad. I think a lot of people feel like they won't get there, that it's impossible to be as big or as professional as Cait from "Paper Fury" or you Kate, and I just feel like it is. You just start small, and you build up, and you see where it goes.


Thank you for being here, Lara! If anyone wants to have a chat with Lara, please visit her blog or talk to her on Twitter @otherteenreader.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Book Trailer + Interview

The wonderful Lara Liz over at "Another Teen Reader" interviewed me about writing, blogging, and my YA fantasy romance novel, 'Til the Last Star Dies. Go check it out, and I highly suggest following her blog!

In other 'Til the Last Star Dies news, my book trailer came out last week! You can watch the video below. :)



And don't forget, you have until November 1st to pre-order a copy. You can do so HERE.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Wrap-Up

Books I Read

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

5/5

I wasn't aware that J.K. Rowling hadn't actually written the script until I had the book in my hands, but once I did, I tried to go into the story without high or low expectations. And I still loved it. Obviously it'll be a thousand times better seeing it rather than just reading the script (having so much dialogue and so little description was a weird experience for me at first, but I love dialogue, so I was okay with it), but for a Harry Potter book that wasn't written by J.K. Rowling, it was really, really good. The characters we know and love are all of a sudden grown up, but they didn't feel like totally different people. They'd developed as people in a realistic way, even if it was sometimes frustrating. (My only mild complaint was that Ron didn't get much time in the book at all, and even when he did it was only as comic relief. His one shot at some kind of heroism didn't work out as I thought it might. Merp.) But the world still felt like one I recognized. A lot of people complained that there was no typical plotline of Potter and Co. going through classes at Hogwarts and battling evil in their downtime, but my argument there is that this isn't the same world Harry was in. Voldemort's gone, so that means there will be different complications. And I loved the time travel plots in this, because the Time Turner plot in PoA was one of my favorites.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

4/5

Talk about a chilling tale. This is not the kind of book you want to read unless you're in the right mood for something heavy. It was great to see so many diverse characters given main voices and different sides of the same story. The entire story is told in fifty-four minutes, but they dragged on just like they were supposed to in that ominous way. I will admit that Tyler's character and his motivations mostly confused me because I felt like he contradicted himself in a lot of ways, but everything else seemed very realistic.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

4/5

I FINALLY finished it! It was a little slow to start, but now that the groundwork has been laid and I've gotten to know the characters and politics between the different families, I think it'll go faster now. George R.R. Martin may be gruesome, but man, can he paint a picture. I know I'm not supposed to get attached to anyone, buuuuut . . . it's me we're talking about. I love Arya. And I like Jon and Daenaryoiusoijkfs. (Totally how you spell her name.)

The Fangirl Life: A Guide to All the Feels and Learning How to Deal by Kathleen Smith

4/5

This was a not-so-thinly-disguised way to build up a girl's confidence using fangirl terms and examples from different fandoms. It had a lot of good advice, especially since it was coming from a licensed therapist, and it was fun seeing it in such relatable ways (although it focused a lot on fashion and "hairporn" and that's just not the kind of fangirl I am). Boys could definitely read it, too, and get just as much out of it, but they definitely weren't the intended audience.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

3/5

I picked this up because Felecia Day had written a blurb for the cover, which is 1000% enough of a reason to buy a book on a whim. Fun story with great illustrations, but it was definitely a little preachy. It's all good and fine if you want to get your message in there, but the story and the characters should come first when you write a book. Find a way to artistically weave it in so they don't suffer.

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

2/5

If I had to sum up this book in one word, that word would be "ummm . . ." I honestly have no clue what to make of this. There's definitely some kind of metaphor for everything he wrote, but I'm utterly baffled. The last part was really fun to read, though, because Odo the chimpanzee was adorable.

Movies I Watched

"Jason Bourne"

4/5

Not as good as all of the other movies, but I really enjoyed it. It was still very much classic Jason Bourne. And I liked the side characters they introduced.

"Nerve" 

4/5

I didn't realize this was a book until I was about to watch the movie, but from reviews I've seen for both, it looks like the movie was better anyways! A lot of the characters were really cliché, but the concept was awesome and you're never bored. Ever. It was off the hook.

Quotes I Wrote

Lots of writing for 'Til the Last Star Dies, but I can't quote any of it without giving anything away!

Obsessions I Acquired

"Stranger Things" - Along with everybody else in the world, it seems, my dad and I got into the show and devoured it. It's the perfect amount of humor and creepiness and paranormal fun. I loved the middle school characters especially, along with the grumpy sheriff.

Picture of the Month 


My brother decided to try putting his glasses on Scout.
I got to go shopping for fun stuff in preparation for my two college classes this year (General Psychology and English Comp 101).
This is what happens when you get a bunch of kids from writer's camp together for a sleepover. Dork music videos and 2 a.m. viewings of "Sherlock" with enough candy to put all of Australia in a sugar coma.
My mom and I went to New York to see "Les Miserablés" and catch a Ham4Ham show. One of the last performances for each thing, apparently! Here's me with the Schuyler Sisters.
We managed to push ourselves to the front of the crowd for Ham4Ham. Well, the front of the crowd of people who didn't enter the lottery.
There's the Richard Rodgers!!
And the Imperial Theatre.
Inside the theatre.
How was your August?

Friday, August 26, 2016

8 Books to Read If You Like "Gilmore Girls"

It's been a long time since I did a post like this one, but the "Gilmore Girls" revival is simultaneously hurdling toward us (how is it almost September already???) and taking forever to get here (but OMG it could not get here any slower).


I thought this would be the perfect time to go through every book shelved on my Goodreads account. And there were lots.

I did a post last year like this, except it was books to read if you like "Doctor Who." A lot of us book nerds love Netflix almost as much as we love libraries. Reading is awesome. TV shows are awesome. There are so many ways to figure out which book to read next if you like a certain one. You can talk to your book blogger friends, consult Goodreads, find other books that author has written, etc. And Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and every streaming site out there is just all too willing to recommend other shows to you until you're drowning in the amount of episodes you have yet to watch. And obviously you're going to watch twelve today, because the dishes can wait. But resources to figure out which book to read if you like a certain TV show? Not many.


Let's fix that.

The cool thing is this works both ways. If you like "Gilmore Girls," now you have a whole bunch of new books to read that are similar to it to pass the time until November. If you don't watch "Gilmore Girls," but like the books listed, now you have a new show to watch!

Oh, Sam--I mean Dean. You have much to learn.
 

1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell



(I use any excuse I can get to mention this book.) But in all seriousness, this book's simplicity matches that of "Gilmore Girls." And the dialogue! Rainbow Rowell is a master at dialogue. Her level of wit and the naturalness of her characters when they're speaking are what I hope to achieve in my own writing. And for those of you who watch "Gilmore Girls," you know that feeling you get when you hear the theme song or see the DVDs? That's how you feel after reading Eleanor & Park; all fuzzy and warm, and you immediately want to read it again.

2. Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest by Jennifer Crusie (and also many authors)


Maybe I should've started with this one, since it's the most obvious. An entire book of essays dedicated to studying the show, the characters, and everything in between? Yes, please. Some of the essays are fantastic, others are a little more bleh, but you're sure to find something in there that you enjoy. That's the beauty of anthologies.


3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee



Besides the fact that this is most definitely a book that's been on Rory's gargantuan reading list at some point in her life (and was probably a reread), there are other factors that make this the perfect read for a "Gilmore Girls" fan. Like the snark, the small town with lots of different characters to add flavor to the story, and the family dynamics. Some of my favorite scenes with Scout involve her interacting with extended family members.


4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell




BECAUSE RAINBOW ROWELL.

Okay, but in all seriousness, I could see her writing authentic "Gilmore Girls" fan-fiction, because so many aspects of the show are in her books. This one especially, seeing as it's an introverted writer finding her way around college life. Rory Gilmore, anybody?

5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott



More family dynamics! A female driven story! Daughters who love their mothers! Something that's cool about this book is that there are four girls who are all very different, so women aren't portrayed all in the same way. "Gilmore Girls" does that, too. Sookie is very different from Lorelai who is different from Lane who is different from Rory who is different from Emily who is different from Miss Patty. I could go on.

6. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum


Oh, the wit. The banter and bubbling romance between Jessie and her anonymous correspondent is reminiscent of Rory and any one of her love interests. From the cover to the plenty of white space within the pages of the book due to the frequent exchange of e-mails that happens in the story, it's sparse in the best way possible, and I think "Gilmore Girls" is like that, too. Plus, this book is addictive. I read it while I was sick with the flu, and when I wasn't napping, I was devouring this. Much like anyone would binge-watch "Gilmore Girls."

Basically the whole book.

7. The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill


More introverted writer girls! And a shy one, to boot. Simple story, very character driven, just like "Gilmore Girls." For people who like Fangirl, too, you'll like this one. And vice versa.

8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett



This is another fantastic female-driven story in a town where everyone seems to be connected in one way or another. It's hysterical and sometimes sad or frustrating. And the food! Can Minny just come over sometime and cook for me? Please?

Because one can never have too many pie gifs when it comes to this book.


Are you as freakishly excited for the "Gilmore Girls" revival as I am? What books remind you of the show? Leave a comment!