Saturday, August 5, 2017

I Use GIFs to Describe My Writing Process (and to describe a lot of other things)

I'm a month late, but Cait's Beautiful People questions for July looked like so much fun to answer, I knew I had to do them eventually. Plus, gifs were involved, and I can never resist that.

1. How do you decide which project to work on?

Decisions? Yeah, no, not great at that when it comes to writing. If I ever try to make a logical decision, I end up opening fourteen documents, scanning through them to see what I'd written before, spending the next half hour weighing the pros and cons of working on the different projects, and ultimately not working on any of them.

That being said, it's usually best if I have a deadline set for something. The pressure of a piece having to be done by a certain date helps me work faster. And if I'm really excited about something, I'll drop everything else to work on that right away while I still have the inspiration.
2. How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

A long time. A really long time. I'm great at starting things; the first 5,000 words of any novel is the easiest thing I will ever right. But actually finishing something? Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha.

It also depends on whether or not "finishing a project" means finishing the first draft or polishing a draft to perfection. A first draft of a novel for me might take a few months to a year, but edits take forever, mostly because I hate editing with a passion. Almost as much as Lorelai Gilmore hates decaf coffee.
3. Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

I feel like I don't have an exact routine for anything. Whatever works for me in the moment is the best way to go about it, especially since my schedule changes so often, I hardly ever write at the same time each day. But something that does tend to stay the same is my need for the right amount of noise. Sometimes I like total silence, sometimes I want a certain playlist, sometimes I need something more along the lines of ambient noise. Once I have that down, I can get started.
4. What time of day do you write best?

See my answer to the above question. I'm not sure I notice a huge difference when I write, but I do tend to like the way my brain works really late at night and soon after I wake up in the morning. 

5. Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

I'd like to think my dialogue is similar to Rainbow Rowell's, and lately my first person narrative seems to sound like Becky Albertalli's, but I admire the both of them so much, it could just be wish fulfillment.
6. Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I honestly can't remember when or why I started writing. I just really liked it. It was fun and once I found out people did it for a living, I knew that's what I wanted to do. I haven't stopped. Sometimes there are short stretches when I don't feel like writing or everything I write seems like garbage, but it doesn't last long, because if I stop writing for too long, I start to get a little twitchy.

7. What is the hardest thing you've written?

It's funny how in the moment, some things seem so difficult, and then when I try to look back and remember what was the hardest, nothing comes to mind. The middle of any project is when the temptation to give up is the strongest. Endings are also really hard because I want to get it just right, and I never want to say goodbye to my characters. Also, anytime you get nervous about someone reading something you've written, it tends to be some of the best stuff you've written.
    8. Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

    Adult fiction? Mostly cause, duh, I'm not an adult. Maybe memoir stuff, too. I keep a pretty regular journal, but to write good non-fiction pieces, I think it's probably best to get some distance from the memories. Then you can see what still sticks out and focus on that, the most important and memorable bits. And you can connect those memories with your older and wiser interpretation of them.

    9. What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

    I couldn't be happier with how productive I've been in this sense. Not even halfway through the year, I completed all of my writing-related 2017 goals.

    -Finish "Writer's Camp." Check! It's a full-length movie script that will probably just collect figurative dust in my documents, but I'm still happy I wrote it. It was tons of fun and helped me learn a lot about screenwriting

    -Do more screenwriting. Done, and I loved every second of it. I wrote two spec scripts, one for "Castle" and one for "New Girl," as part of an application to a Warner Bros. internship experience. I knew there was like a 1% chance of me actually getting it, especially since it was geared for adults, but I still wanted to try. I did not get in, but writing the scripts was fun.

    -Finish editing Beneath the Moon and Stars. Finally. I started writing this book toward the end of 2013 and I think I've finished up the final touches as of last month or so. Now I just have to find an agent for it.

    -Finish Terrible Things. Finished! It's by far the longest fan-fiction series I've ever written. The story stands on its own enough that I could probably make a few changes so it reads as a normal fiction piece, too.

    -Do the first round of edits for Ms. Holmes. This one was only difficult in the sense that I cringed with every page I turned. Oh how young and deluded I was. It still needs a ton of work to even be legible.

    10. Describe your writing process in 3 words or gifs!

    (You know me. I have no respect for rules when it comes to things such as limiting my gif usage. There will be more than three. A lot more. But they're all in order and make for a pretty entertaining representation of how writing a novel usually goes for me.)



    What authors do you think you're similar to? What's the hardest thing you've ever written? Leave a comment!

    Tuesday, August 1, 2017

    July Wrap-Up

    Books I Read

    Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare


    While it was totally confusing to read, I did love the story and the general cleverness of Shakespeare (there was one line in particular that used some metahumor, but I'm struggling to find it now). Plus, it made for great discussion at the St. John's Summer Academy, which I attended last week. The whole plot reminded me of one of those sitcom episodes where everyone makes different assumptions about what's going on and ends up coming to a head a few minutes before the end when they realize they were all totally wrong.

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


    I got bogged down by the writing style, and these sorts of romantic plotlines with endless discussions about marriage and status and dowries isn't my favorite, but I did enjoy the characters. Elizabeth was pretty ahead of her time and her parents were hysterical. I still have a hard time believing how quickly all of the characters fell in love, but hey, it's not like I don't ship them.

    Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur


    This was beautiful! I'd heard nothing but good things about it and was looking for some good poetry to read, so I picked it up at the bookstore on a whim and read it in one sitting. It's very simplistic and raw, which is my favorite, and the bare bones illustrations added to that. Some of it could be a little repetitive, but as a whole, I loved it.

    Movies I Watched

    "Crazy, Stupid, Love"


    Super fun movie with a great cast! I loved the plot twist at the end. So clever.

    "Despicable Me 3"


    Not as good as the others, a little more cheesy, but still fun. Mostly I was disappointed with the lack of Agnes. She still had a fair amount of screen time, but not nearly enough for my taste.

    "About a Boy"


    I'm pretty much guaranteed to love anything British, and this was no exception. I wasn't a huge fan at first, it's a little depressing and I didn't like the main character, but that quickly changes and I was hooked by the end. Hugh Grant is great.

    "Pride and Prejudice"


    I liked this better than the book, and I rarely say that about any story. Keira Knightley made a great Elizabeth, and it was easier to keep track of who was who and what marriages were happening and who exactly owned what estate, etc. I also loved how likeable the movie made Bingley. It really brought his character to live in an Eddie Redmayne-ish sort of way.

    Quotes I Wrote

        "Fools," he spat. "Thinking you can rob the Signus Velper, even if I am at the bottom of the sea. You should've learned from the others. No one robs Signus Velper and survives to tell the tale."
        "You should really stop referring to yourself in the third person," Finch said, though he tripped over his words in his anxiety. "As a poet myself, I know a thing or two about language, and it doesn't make you seem intimidating, it just makes you look--"
        "Shut it," Velper snapped.
        "Y-yes, sir."
    -Captain Zahira and Her Wayward Crew

    Obsessions I Acquired

    "Orphan Black" - I'm actually watching another episode as I write this. I don't know how I didn't start before now! After the endless advertisements during "Doctor Who" and "Broadchurch," I finally gave in and tried it out. Tatiana Maslany is so freaking good at what she does, I often forget it's her playing every one of these clone characters. They're all so distinct. I'm totally hooked.

    These videos - My friends and I got up to entirely too much fun at our most recent writer's camp. We made three videos: One that turned Norman Bates into a meme, one that's actually a nice slideshow set to music (the campers had an impromptu gathering outside the cafeteria to sing "Little Talks"), and one recording the lip sync to "Gaston" a bunch of us put on for the talent show (I was nominated to be Gaston because I was the tallest and had been in "Beauty and the Beast"). That  lip sync actually ended up winning the "Miscellaneous" category!

    At the St. John's Summer Academy, my RA was part of the theatre club and ran a bunch of theatre workshops throughout the week. We had so much fun, she worked with a couple classmates and me to put on the sleepwalking scene from "Macbeth" with a bunch of really cool choreography. There were three of us who played Lady Macbeth, and two other classmates who jumped in last minute to play the doctor and the gentlewoman. The video is dark, but you can still see the choreography pretty well. I'm the one on the very right in the red dress.


    Picture of the Month 

    Scout always has a seat at the table.

    I took my brother to see "Despicable Me 3" at his request, since my movie theater job gets us both in free.

    Here are some collages from my last writer's camp!
    Also from writer's camp: My roommate and I recreated a bunch of "Sherlock" photos.

    This one's my favorite.

    Pictures from the St. John's Summer Academy! One of my highlights from the week was the swing dance party we'd prepared for by taking lessons from the RAs who taught swing dancing to us.

    How was your July?

    Monday, July 10, 2017

    Encyclopedia of Me - T

    1. Tennant, David

    He wasn't my first Doctor, but he's my favorite. To me, he's a classic. He's got that perfect blend of pure curiosity, empathy, eccentric tendencies, humor, passion, pain, rage, and a love of adventure.  I love that he's a total goofball one second and can make me cry the next. A lot of Whovians see the TARDIS as a beacon of hope, but that feeling is multiplied when it's the tenth Doctor inside.

    2. Toni

    If you're confused as to why Dianna Agron is on the collage for the letter "T," let me clear that up. One of the characters in the "Supernatural" roleplay I'm in is named Toni, and Dianna Agron is her face claim. But the real Toni (the girl who plays her) is one of my best friends. Half the time I'm giggling into my phone, it's because she sent a hysterical text. She's got a great sense of sarcastic humor but also gives great advice and jumps right into action when one of her friends needs to be cheered up. She's a great friend to have.

    3. These Broken Stars & Throne of Glass

    I love both of these books for different reasons (although something they have in common is that they have freaking awesome covers omg).

    These Broken Stars is a light sci-fi survival story that revolves around two characters who despise each other. They get into petty arguments and bicker all the way across a deserted planet. So, of course, they're totally ship-able (it's a word 'cause I just made it up. If Shakespeare can do it, so can I).

    Throne of Glass is a more complicated plot with a lot more action, but also has great characters. It's very plot twisty and dramatic and rooted in an extremely well-crafted storyworld. It's like Game of Thrones for teens. It's very addictive.

    4. Terrible Things/"Terrible Things"

    A couple years ago, I got a request to write a fan-fiction based on the Mayday Parade song "Terrible Things." Some of my favorite fan-fiction challenges have to do with tying a song into a story, and I had so much fun with this one. It ended up being a fan-fic series, also called Terrible Things, that's now over 20,000 words long, but I love it. I got to do a lot of character development with the reader and Dean and I made a few fans cry, so that's always a plus. #FandomLife

    5. 'Til the Last Star Dies

    One of my favorite writing projects was 'Til the Last Star Dies, which is a YA paranormal romance that involves witches and demons and magic and curses and an impending apocalypse. Here's the short pitch for it:

    An immortal firstborn witch, Lila, falls for a mortal witch hunter, Melody.  What starts as complicated ends up labyrinthine when the demon Angelique sets her eyes on Lila as the newest addition to her army. And Melody is the perfect bargaining chip.

    And the book trailer, which took me hours to make, but was totally worth it.

    6. "This Is Us"

    This is one of my new favorite shows. Every episode has some sort of plot twist, and since it's told in a non-linear fashion, it makes for all kinds of interesting character developments. Sometimes you see a character in the present day and have no idea how they could possibly end up the way they did, and then you get a flashback to their childhood that explains it. It's super cool. And I love all the characters. I highly recommend it.

    7. Tea

    My go-to drink for when I'm settling in with a good book, a good TV show, or a good writing session. So pretty much any time of day, I could go for a cup of tea.

    8. Time travel

    One of my FAVORITE plot devices. It's in "Doctor Who," "Supernatural," "Timeless," "Back to the Future," Harry Potter, and countless other stories. It's especially fun to watch how each story takes it in a different direction in order to deal with all of the contradictions that come with time travel. Will meeting your past or future self affect your timeline? How much will history be changed if you mess with one tiny thing a hundred years ago? It hurts your brain, but in a good way.

    9. Taylor Swift

    She was my favorite musical artist for several years, and I still love tons of her music. Her later work is especially impressive (like "Safe and Sound," "Wildest Dreams," "You Are In Love," and "Begin Again," to give some examples), but the amount of success she had at a young age was really inspiring to me as a young artist. Every one of her albums is better than the last. I can't wait to see what she does next.

    10. "Talking In Your Sleep" by The Civil Wars, "There She Goes" by Sixpence None the Richer, "Toxic" by Melanie Martinez

    These are all very alternative songs that I recommend checking out (you can click on the hyperlinks of each song title to listen to them on YouTube). "Talking In Your Sleep" was the theme song for one of the parts of a fan-fiction series I was addicted to. "There She goes" is on the playlist for one of my ships in the "Supernatural" roleplay. I heard "Toxic" when my family first watched "The Voice" and totally fell in love with Melanie Martinez's voice.

    Edit: It was brought to my attention after this post was published that I somehow forgot to add TJ to my list! Color me Ashamed™, as he really should've been the most obvious addition. We've only been friends for a little over a year, but it feels like longer. It's been so much fun to geek out over musical theatre, books (I've basically shoved dozens of various YA books into his hands so he'd read them, and he's incredibly patient while I do this), superheroes, and more. He's invited me to two of his school dances, which has been great, because we can both be wallflowers and dorks together with the band kids instead of trying to look "cool" in the middle of the dance floor (trust me, we're having way more fun than anybody there). And I probably would've for real passed out before my theatre audition if he hadn't been both pumping me up and calming me down. All in all, one of my newest and best friends (even when he's talking about how great "The Emoji Movie" is going to be--are you happy, TJ? I mentioned "The Emoji Movie" on my blog and it wasn't over my dead body). Since I can't edit the collage above, here's a nice big picture of us that's one of my favorites.

    TJ's right in the middle next to me. This was a great candid shot from my mom.

    What would you list for the letter "T?" Leave a comment!

    Friday, July 7, 2017

    I'm Niiiiiiine!

    Or my blog is, anyway. Every year, I struggle for new and interesting ways to celebrate, because even though this is my blog, I'd get bored talking about myself for too long. This year, I had no problem coming up with an idea. Even though it's a little over a week after the fact, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone celebrated its 20th anniversary, and since I was away at the time, I never got to add my two cents to that milestone. How better to celebrate my blog birthday than with Harry Potter's birthday?

    20 of My Favorite Moments from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

    1. "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

    Reading this line is like coming home after years of being away. It's so simple, and not even the greatest first sentence in the world, but it's familiar and welcoming and warm.

    2. Dudley falling into the glass case at the zoo.

    I've never read about a brattier kid than Dudley, and it was fun to see him get a little taste of his own medicine for a minute.

    3. Uncle Vernon's descent into madness as he attempts to keep Harry from getting his Hogwarts letter.

    Boarding up the mail slot, fleeing the house, and going across a stormy sea to a little shack, all to avoid getting letters? You won't find many people that determined to avoid anything, and it's the perfect way to show how utterly obsessed that family is with keeping up appearances.

    4. Harry meeting Hagrid for the first time.

    Hagrid's a giant teddy bear, and the first encounter Harry has with him is both strange and sweet. He gives him a birthday cake, insults the Dursleys, talks about wizards and Hogwarts and his parents, and gives Dudley a pig's tail with his magical umbrella. It doesn't get much better than that.

    5. The Diagon Alley chapter.

    Harry's wonderment at everything Diagon Alley, and the rest of the wizarding world, has to offer mirrors the reader's awe when they first read about it. It's pretty spectacular.

    6. Meeting the Weasleys at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

    This sums it up.

    7. Harry buying a whole Halloween's worth of candy on the Hogwarts Express and sharing it with Ron.

    The beginning to their friendship is just so pure and precious. Ron tells Harry stuff about the wizarding world, like chocolate frog cards and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and the two of them trade stories about the more unfortunate parts of their childhoods. A perfect bonding moment.

    8. The sorting ceremony.

    What other school has an extraordinarily old hat sing a self-composed song to welcome students into the new school year before screaming what house they're going to be in for the rest of their education??? It's so quirky and cool.

    9. Hagrid inviting Harry for tea.

    Hagrid is the best.

    10. Harry breaking rules during his first flying lesson to get back Neville's Remembrall and ending up joining the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

    Because McGonagall is freaking awesome and secretly super competitive when it comes to the Gryffindor team winning the Quidditch cup. I love her.

    11. Harry and Ron sneaking out to duel Malfoy.

    These two, dear lord, were so young and innocent. How were they expecting to win a duel with like a week of school under their belts? But their midnight escapade provided lots of entertainment: poor Neville forgetting the password again, Filch and his unhealthy obsession with catching students out of bed, Peeves doing his thing, coming face-to-face with Fluffy for the first time, and let's not forget Hermione's classic "We could all have been killed--or worse, expelled."

    12. The epic fight against the troll in the bathroom.

    I couldn't believe it when Harry just straight up launched himself at the troll and clung to his neck. And then Ron ended up taking the thing out with Wingardium Leviosa after taking Hermione's lecturing to heart. But the best part was the beginning of the trio's friendship, like it says at the end of the chapter: "But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."

    13. The first Quidditch match.

    I've never enjoyed sports more. Lee Jordan's commentary was more than amusing, too. Also, Hermione setting fire to Snape's robes!

    14. Harry getting the invisibility cloak and discovering the Mirror of Erised and Dumbledore talking about wanting socks for Christmas.

    The feeeeeeelllllllllsssssssss.

    15. Neville finally standing up to Draco.

    "I'm worth twelve of you, Malfoy." HECK YEAH, NEVILLE, YOU TELL HIM.

     16. Norbert.

    Hagrid being all motherly to his little baby dragon. "Bless him, look, he knows his mummy!" Plus Hermione actually agreed to breaking school rules to go help Harry get rid of Norbert so Hagrid wouldn't get in trouble, which is an "aww" moment if I ever saw one.

    17. "Mars is bright tonight."

    The centaurs cracked me up the first time I read the chapter where they go in the Forbidden Forest for detention. They'd drive me so crazy if I actually had to deal with them, but watching Hagrid get progressively more annoyed by them is great.

    18. Every challenge the trio had to conquer under the trapdoor.

    Like the Devil's Snare when Ron shouts, "HAVE YOU GONE MAD? ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"and Hermione remembers that she can use magic and doesn't in fact need wood to light a fire. Or Ron getting a chance to shine on the chessboard. Or Harry utilizing his seeker skills to catch the winged key. Or Hermione using her "books and cleverness" to beat Snape's potion riddle.

    19. Harry facing off against Quirrell and Voldemort.

    That whole scene was epic. All the tension and creepiness and then Harry just clawing at Quirrell's face because Quirrell couldn't touch him without burning himself. What a climactic moment!

    20. Dumbledore dishing out extra points.

    But especially him giving Neville the final ten points that wins Gryffindor the house cup. "There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom." What a confidence boost that must've been to a kid like Neville who didn't think he had enough bravery to belong in Gryffindor. And it's the perfect celebration to have at the end of the book.

    What are your favorite Sorcerer's Stone moments? Leave a comment!