Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sweeping Dust Bunnies

Hey! So if you're new here/passing through/visiting or whatever, then GO HERE instead. Because this post is going to be all news/updates and stuff. I hate doing whole seperate posts for this stuff because it's kind of boring, but I also don't like messing up my pointed posts with updates!!

SO I'll make it quick and painless:

-Teen Writers Summer Blogfest starts TOMORROW (which also happens to be Canada Day, aka my country's birthday).
-I have a surprise which will be a first for this blog. ;) Come check out the surprise on July 4.
-July 15 as probably everyone knows, is the release date of the VERY LAST Harry Potter movie. So to celebrate (/say goodbye??) I want to put together a blog post collage of stories of Harry Potter experiences. So if you have a great story (or you just want to share your story) about your experiences with Harry Potter (whether it be movies or books), then please e-mail me at kazuntai101[at]gmail[dot]com
HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Three Types of Night Readers

If you read before you go to sleep, then you *might* find yourself in one of these categories:

*ahem* We interrupt our regular programming to bring you two unexpected things that just happened.

One: my dad just asked "Is that where you live if you're a hermit, a hermitage?" Ahem. I do not think he is correct, but you may back him up with websites or encyclopedias if you'd like (or prove him wrong).

Two: I just found a text document on my desktop that seemed to be an e-mail about the federal government of Nigeria... but actually now that I look at again I think it's one of those spam things that tries to get you to give money (although why it is copied into a text document on my desktop I have no idea).

*ahem* We now return to our regular programming.

THREE TYPES OF NIGHT READERS (aka people who read before they go to sleep)

1. The Practical One
This would be me, most of the time. I take a book into bed after a long day, stretch out, relax, and get into the story. After my eyelids begin to droop, I glance at the page number, chuck the book I'm reading on the floor and proceed to ponder over the events of the book for another half hour before I go to sleep. (Well, I ponder while my brain takes off on rabbit trails.) Or maybe if it's really good, I'll go to the end of the chapter or more likely, go until I stop at a page where there are no cliff-hangers.

2. The All-Night Reader

This is when the release date comes of a book you have been waiting for FOREVER, and you go out the day of the release and buy the book and you just want to DEVOUR that book. You start reading as you walk away from the cash register at the book store, and don't even stop when you get home. You don't even realize you get into bed because the story is so good and then you're just reading, reading the night away and the book is over. And when you've finished the book, you heave a big sigh as if you've just run a marathon, and you look up. The sun is just coming up, and you suddenly realize you are dead tired. But you've hit The End in the book, so it's okay now if you sleep.

3. The Face Planter


Wow, looking at all these pictures of people sleeping
made me tired... (and this isn't my cat)
You read, and you're really into it and your eyes are drooping but you just can't put the book down, not yet not when all this interesting stuff is happening. Well, apparently all that stuff wasn't so interesting after all, because the next thing you know you're lifting your head off some pages and you've got a book ink tattoo all over your face. Yup, you fell asleep while reading. When you finally lose the world to dreamland, you do a faceplant right into your book. Every night.

So which one are you? Practical? All-nighter? Faceplanter?

(NOTE!!! Hey! Don't forget about the Teen Writers Summer Blogfest that I'm partcipating in with a bunch of other teens, starting THIS FRIDAY which is also Canada Day, just to let you know. So yeah, click the link and go check out all the other teens' blogs!!)


OH and I STILL CAN'T SEE MY FOLLOWERS!! So if you are new here, check out the new here page and comment/e-mail me so I can check out your blog/become friends/whatever!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

(Synonyms for Random Go Here) Post

Last night, instead of doing anything sensible or productive like sleeping, I decided to read through archives of funny blogs like this one and this one. (I came to the conclusion that computers should have the ability to have their screen rotated so I can lie in bed with my head on pillow to read blogs, instead of twisting my neck awkwardly all the time).

I was reading one particularly funny post and I suddenly could not stop laughing out loud. (Usually I do not laugh out loud at things. Instead I’ll just go “Haha that’s funny!” but not actually physically laugh). Anyway, my laughter at 10:30 PM last night caused my sister to wake up and go “TURN THE SCREEN DOWN”, even though the brightness (of the computer screen) was already at its minimum (which I reminded her of, and she promptly fell back asleep.)

Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that all these funny posts made me want to tell a random story, so I decided I’d talk about last year in French class when my French teacher made the class believe that there was a subway system in our school.

It started with a janitor driving by the classroom in a... I don’t know the name of it, but it is a thing that the janitors drive around, and it cleans the floor. Anyway, this thing makes loud rumbling noises when it goes down the hallway, and it also beeps.

One of the more gullible students in my class asked what the sound was, and my French teacher decided she was going to have some fun and told the student that it was the school’s subway.

My French teacher went on to piece the puzzle together, saying that the nametag IDs that all the teachers have to wear on a lanyard around their neck were actually subway passes so the teachers could use the subway, because the subway actually goes to all other schools in the division.

There is also a main staircase in my school that has stairs going down the basement that nobody uses (unless you are going down to store musical props) because there aren’t any classes in the basement, and my French teacher said that those stairs actually lead down to the subway platform.

So I’m just sitting there, laughing along with my French teacher (and some other guy in my class who decided to get in on the joke and backed up everything Madame said) while she tried to trick this one gullible student (and actually ended up tricking more than one).

Then all of a sudden my imagination is, well, imagining this subway that connects all the schools in the division, and I can see teachers using it, and I’m like whoa that’s so cool why didn’t I know about this before that’s so cool!!

Of course, in the back of my head (the part that wasn’t asleep from being in school all day) was going THIS MAKES NO SENSE. For one thing, there is a teacher’s parking lot, and I see all the teacher’s cars there, like, every day when I walk through the parking lot to get into the building. I also knew that the rumbling/beeping was coming from the janitor tractor-mop thing, because I’d seen it before, and I also knew that schools being cheap as they are would never put in money for a subway system.

Also, my city doesn’t even have a subway system, so WHY WOULD MY SCHOOL???

Yeah. We still joke about it. *rumbling of janitor’s tractor-mop* “Oh! There goes the subway!”

In other news, I have received my first blog award from this guy and I am now apparently supposed to dole it out to some other people which I think I will figure out later because I would rather you be dwelling on the ridiculousness of having a subway in a school (and me believing it) than my accomplishments.

Thank you!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dear Notebook,

It's not you. It's me. Actually, never mind, that's not true. It's all you, because you seem to have this thing called a finite number of pages. And, well, I've reached the last page with you, Notebook. I'm sorry, but it looks like it's time to say goodbye.

We've had some good times, Notebook. I've shared many thoughts and stories with you. I want to thank you for tolerating the spontaneous scribbling I do when I suddenly have a burst of inspiration and I know if I don't write it down immediately, I will forget. So thank you, Notebook, for being half of my memory.

Or, really, more like half of my brain. Thoughts, stories, bits and pieces of assignments, all of that finds home somewhere in your pages. I must say, Notebook, you are amazing. To make sense of such mindless mumbo-jumbo... I don't know how you do it.

Your last page, Notebook*
Yet all good things must come to an end, which unfortunately must happen with this relationship. It seems like you've been used for every little thing, but there's only so many random thoughts you can stand, I'm sure. Now that we've reached the last page of our journey together, I hope you will accept my gratitude as well as my goodbye.

I will never forget you, Notebook, but I must move on to bigger and better things, and maybe some notebooks with more blank pages than you.

Also, Notebook, I'm really sorry that your last page isn't inscribed with this beautiful goodbye message, but a page of Dutch Blitz scores (and I didn't even win).

We can still be friends, Notebook, I promise.

Sincerely,
Gracie

**In case you're wondering, whenever I keep score for Dutch Blitz I get everyone to choose a nickname...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Weird in Writers

So today I had this conversation with my brother:

Me: Okay, so I have been stuck on my first draft of my cliff-hanger for forever, and I KNOW that I need a new way to freshen it up, to make the beginning more interesting. Any ideas?

Bro (lying stretched out on the couch playing video games): Uh, I don't know, Tam's king?

Me: [Says all reasons why this is a bad idea. And uncreative. And all that jazz.]

Bro: I dunno... someone dies.

Me: Well... [SUDDENLY a HUGE OCEAN wave of inspiration hits me, and somehow it invovles someone dying. This may have been a coincidence, or it may have been triggered my brother. God only knows.] YES. YES! YES!

[I start jumping up and down and dancing while continuing to shout "Yes!"]

Bro: You're weird.

Me: I. Am a writer.

Bro: I don't think all writers are weird.

Me: Uh... I really think a lot of writers out there would disagree.

Bro: Well, then, bad writers are probably normal.

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS LOGIC.





Saturday, June 18, 2011

Going to the Zoo Builds Character

Guess what III got to do yesterday?? Yes, I got to go the zoo. My best friend and I biked to the park where the zoo is and then walked around for an hour. It was pretty fun seeing all those animals. But one thing I noticed was how much character those animals have...

Hey, you can see my reflection in the glass..
There's some lazy lions lolling on the... shelf thingamajig. Maybe they have a larger version of the character of my cat, Venus:


See, it isn't blogging that's keeping me from writing! ... ahem...
 Yup, that there is one lazy lion. My cat Venus has quite a character. She is in love with first and foremost, my dad (she butts him in the face with her furry little head and then curls up on his chest and walks over his face at night and if he pets her then she starts purring. She even climbed up a stepladder to be with him a few times) and then second, the vacuum. When I was vacuuming the other day, she was rolling around and purring near the suctiony part. She loves it. Oh, she also loves to get wet. She comes running every time my dad gets the contact solution out.

Okay... maybe the lions don't have quite the same character as Venus...



Yeah, that's a peacock up on that shelter thing. Can you say show off? In addition to having that gorgeous shimmery blue neck and a huge fan of patterened feathers attached to their butt, they have to perch on top of things and squawk at us as if we were peasants to their king.

Oh, and to add in some random facts about peacocks because people should be educated about such things: a female peacock is not actually a peacock; she's a peahen and the entire species is called peafowl. And since they supposedly roost in trees, I'm guessing they do fly. So apparently it was mating season when I was at the zoo because those peafowl were squawking all over the place. Listen to some peafowl squawking here. 


Um, I think I'll let you make up some characterization for the flamingo. I just wanted to put a picture in because I think it's funny to stand on one leg to sleep. I advise you try it sometime...hmm.


 That's a monkey, in case you couldn't figure it out. And boy do those guys have lots of character. They like to show off too, in a performance sort of way, swinging back and forth with their long arms at the top of their cage with their cute little baby clinging to their fuzzy chest. It was also interesting seeing the little baby monkeys get trampled many times by the older monkeys... It's like my dad with my two years younger brother: "Well, you need to toughen up anyway. Wimp." *punches my brother in the gut*

If you ever have posture problems, find a bald eagle. They have it down: shoulders back, head straight, feet shoulder width apart...


I think these little guys were the best characters of all. Everywhere we walked in the zoo we saw another prairie dog, chirping and speeding away or somersaulting over one of their buddies. They grew on me, so much so that I think they could feel that I liked them, so consequently thought only one thing: Food??


Those are my shoes... yeah, they got pretty close. Don't worry,
they didn't eat us (like my friend thought might happen).
Unfortunately, I had no food so instead they scampered back into their holes and proceeded to chirp-scream at us until we left.

So this post was not so I could show you pictures of my trip to the zoo, o' course (ahem... well) but because I wanted to tell you that if you ever have problems building a character, you should go to the zoo to find some ideas there.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Teen Writers Summer Blogfest

Okay I am going to QUICKLY tell you a bunch of things before I zoom off to my youth group to sleep overnight with those peoples at my church (it's a lot funner than you think).

1. I am going to participate in the Teen Writers Summer Blogfest where a bunch of teens are going to write some posts and stuff from July 1- 9. I am very excited about this! Also, if you are a teen, go to the link and definitely consider signing up!!!!

2. I went to the zoo today, and I took a bunch of pictures of the animals!! And I am going to post about them later, probably tomorrow or Sunday.

3. I am very frustrated but blogger is not letting me see my followers anywhere... so if you're new here/a new follower, comment or e-mail me (kazuntai101[at]gmail[dot]com) so I can get to know you or check out your blog!!!

THANKS A TON PEOPLE!!!

<3Gracie<3

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Puzzling Over "Show Don't Tell"

So one of those often-heard writerly concepts, or sayings, or whatever you'd like to the call them, is "Show, Don't Tell". Something I, and probably everyone who has ever looked up writing advice, has seen a million one hundred and one times.

So I find it kind of amazing/terrifying when I read books actual published books that are pretty much all telling. (Although I guess there is a point to that; maybe some people need books that are all telling.)

Anyways, I was thinking the other day about puzzles.


This does relate to show-don't-tell, I promise. Just be patient.

Well, I was also thinking about this book I was reading called Scrawl by Mark Shulman (which is an excellent book, by the way). If you need an example of Show Don't Tell, this guy has got it down.

One example of Show Don't Tell that I found in Scrawl had to do with the main character's last name. I noticed that the author never wrote "My name is Tod Munn". Or: "In case you were wondering, Munn is my last name". He didn't do that because it wasn't necessary for him to do that. I, the reader, could figure out that Munn was Tod's last name all on my own.

This is because instead of telling me Munn was Tod's last name, Mark Shulman showed people saying Tod's last name, showed people using it in the context of a last name. And after awhile, it all comes together...

...like pieces in a puzzle. Once you've got a few pieces in place, you can see (either that or guess) the big picture. The point of Show Don't Tell is to realize that your readers are smart enough to do those kinds of puzzles.

It's important to have those puzzles in your writing, because puzzles are more interesting and fun and challenging. If you had in-detail, step-by-step, spell-it-out directions for a puzzle, it would take the purpose right out of making a puzzle.

Now, I am going to show you goodbye:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When Ears Read: The Audiobook Experience

So I'm one of those people that can't read, write, look down, play iPod games, do anything that's not looking out the window, in a moving vehicle. At least, without getting nauseous. So when I went with my choir for a tour down to Minneapolis (if you experienced any random acts of singing two weekends ago, that was me with my choir) I thought that a couple of audiobooks would be perfect for the drive down.

I have actually never listened to audiobooks before, except for childrens books on cassettes that my sister and I borrowed from the library when we were younger. It's a lot different than reading a book. These are some things I noticed:

1. I can read in a moving vehicle (in this case, a Beaver Bus) without getting sick!


My cat, Venus, waiting to be read to.
 2. It felt like I was seven again and my Dad was reading aloud to me and my siblings. (The audiobook I was listening to was also Chronicles of Narnia, which is what my Dad read aloud to us almost every night when we were younger.)

The ape and the donkey from
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
3. I like when the narrator does different voices for each character. And the characters in The Last Battle and The Silver Chair have really funny voices.

4. It is extremely relaxing to just listen to someone talk. (It is also easier to fall asleep... especially on a trip where you are singing and doing stuff all the time on top of getting little sleep).

5. (This is a question more than something I discovered about audiobooks). Does listening to audibooks count as reading a book?


Monday, June 6, 2011

Books and Their People

So I've already read a couple of posts about this article, which basically says that YA is too dark or as the subtitle to the article says: "Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?" And then it goes on to say all that is wrong with the YA of today, giving examples of all the terrible dark books there are. (I don't understand where the author did their research... it is really easy to find book review websites and get some really good books about hope and other NOT dark stuff).

I'm not going to comment on the article itself, but it reminded me of an earlier issue that has been brought up time and time again that I've been wanting to touch on. People read books, or YA, and they judge them and go "this isn't suitable for children" or "there's death in this" or something, anything, condemning books and saying that they're WRONG. That people should not be writing like this, that books should not be like that.

Um, since when can books be right or wrong? Books are not math questions. They're a reflection of life that's maybe a little distorted, but since when is the answer to life definable?

Although in another sense, I think that books can either work for someone or not work for someone. This is why I don't understand a lot of reviews, because the reviewer is commenting on things in the book that maybe they like but that someone else probably won't.

People are different from each other. Since people are different, they have their own unique taste in books and need different kinds of books to read than other people. (So you can't really say if you like a book or not until you've read it.)

For example, I find Sarah Dessen books extremely "fluffy" and I've tried and failed more than once to slog through the obviousness of what's going to happen. Yet there are hundreds of people out there who love Sarah Dessen books, probably partly because of the fluff and predictability of them.

Some people think books are good. Some people think the same books are horrible. This isn't because the words magically change as each person reads it, but because the actual person reading the book changes.
Each person has unique qualities and past experiences that they bring to their reading experiences, shaping what they like and don't like.

And sometimes one person's needs differ from time to time. I'll read four sort-of romance books and then get so sick of them and then read some science-fiction thing because I need something different. Or I feel like reading something easy and not-so-real, or I'll feel like reading something really hardcore and deep. It just depends on the kind book I need at that moment.

So (back to the article), some people need those dark kinds of books, and other people need happy books. People have reading needs, and you CANNOT throw out some general statement about reading needs that aren't your own. Because they're not yours.

And, on another note, you can find happy books! Even in the most dreadful books I've read, there are little bits of hope somewhere. It's awful to stereotype anything, people, books or otherwise like that.

So I really hope I made some sense...

Anyway to check out some other thoughts on the article (although mine wasn't really thoughts on the article... the article was just a way to tangent onto another thought), visit Veronica Roth and Taryn Albright, and read the awesome thought shared over at Paper Hangover.

What do  you think?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

On Reading A Book With No Baggage

Guess what? Today you get to do an activity!! Yay!! So, what I want you to do is either get up and walk around or just look at the stuff around you. As your eyes wander over the many items that surround your computer or desk or whatever, try to leave all your judgments and past experiences behind. Try to not think of anything but that object that you are looking at.

It's kind of hard, isn't it, to not bring our past experiences and judgments and thoughts to the experiences of our present. Our brain is always churning out thoughts and judgments and reminders and it attaches meaning to objects based on different things that we've experienced in our lives.

So I was thinking about this the other day in relation to reading a book. When I read a book, I bring all my past experiences and judgments of previous books and stories I have read and wrote to the forefront when I am reading a book, and that then affects my experience of that book.

Maybe because I've read way too many cheesy romance novels, I just can't get into this romance novel even though it's not too cheesy. Or something along those lines.

But then I thought: what if we DIDN'T lug along those thoughts from our past to the experiences of our present? What if we could just enjoy the book we are reading AS IS, without comparing or contrasting or measuring up or any of that stuff?

Would we be able to enjoy the book more, see things that we'd never be able to see otherwise? Or are those judgments based on our past just part of how we read?

Hmm...


Bring the suitcase? Or trash it?


Friday, June 3, 2011

Without A Life, There'd Be Nothing to Write

Have you ever heard the saying "you've got to live it to write it"? Yeah, well, it's true. Think for a second. If you did nothing but write... WHAT WOULD YOU WRITE ABOUT?

When I try to answer that question, I sputter for a bit and go... well... I could... um... write about... writing... um... YEAH FINE I wouldn't be able to write, okay!

Sometimes we forget amid all those rules and advice about plot character backstory hooks queries genres focus write every day read review don't listen to reviews betas alphas omegas beginning middle end climax denouement words paragraphs sentences punctuation dystopian ya contemporary middle grade childrens fantasy historical metaphors similies agents publishers submissions rejections (oh no rejections) plotting pantsing structure cliffhangers blurbs promotion publicity blogs cliches bad books good books criticism BOOKS writing more writing writer's block writers critique partners conferences pitches social networking twitterfacebookbloggertumblr research outlining more reading revising rewriting editing deadlines alivelines contests submission guidelines synopsis chapters formatting voice stories ideas inspiration write what you know write what you don't know all those stupid writing cliches audiobooks ereaders hardcover softcover self-worth never give up authors publishers ARCs book trailer movie deals for books and (*your brain continues to crank out writing-related words here*)

We forget LIFE. That to do all that stuff up there, we've got to live and see stuff and be adventurers. The other day I read a post by Beth Revis about advice for teenagers, and the advice I loved the most was when she said if you ever have a choice between an adventure and writing, go on the adventure. :)

Yeah so I was thinking about all this when I went for a bike ride with my mom the other day and we passed two guys who looked similar but didn't look like brothers that both had red beards and I wondered if I could fit them in a story because they seemed interesting.

That is all!

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