Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banned Books Week: Spot The Pattern

It's banned book week this week, and here at I Am Writer Hear Me Roar, we are going to play a game called "spot the pattern". I'm sure you have played a version of this in your grade school math classes. You know, you're given the numbers 2 4 6 8 and you have to figure out the pattern (it goes up by multiples of [so a friend pointed this out to me: the numbers actually don't go up by mutliples of two... I just said the wrong word, but you probably got what I meant... and believe me, I actually can do math! I got like, a 90 in math last year!] two! What!?).

Except instead of numbers, we'll use books (because numbers scare us writerly people, right?)

Book #1: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Source
Harper Lee grew up in a society where black men were thought of as predators; where the only men in the jury were white men so black men had no chance of being acquitted; where things happened like nine teenage boys being accused of rape.

To Kill A Mockingbird is about a mishievous tomboy Scout and her adventures until her and her friends watch a black men getting tried in a court case after being accused, wrongly, of raping a white woman.

To Kill A Mockingbird brings to light the very large issue of racism against black people that was present in the 1930s (both the time Harper Lee grew up in and the time the book is set in) and the 1960s (the time when the book was published).

To Kill A Mockingbird has been banned or challenged at various schools for using swear words, racial slurs, and for general racism. (Just an interesting sidenote, though: it's been said that To Kill A Mockingbird is the one book other than the Bible that has changed people the most... hm....)

Book #2: Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Source
Huck Finn was first published in England in 1884, then in the U.S. in 1885. The book itself takes place sometime between 1835 and 1845. The book follows Huck as he goes on a journey with a black slave Jim, and realizes that Jim is a genuinely nice guy and not like society makes out black people to be.

Twain uses this book to criticize and challenge the racist American society of the time and the perception of black people, specifically the view that black people weren't human and didn't have feelings.

Source
Huck Finn has also been challenged and banned, for word choice (swears and racial slurs) and the line "he not only itched but scratched." It is
one of the most challenged/banned books of all time.

Book #3: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was 16, inspired and irked by the gang rivalry at her own school. The book itself follows two groups who are separated by their social status in high school. It was published in 1967.

The Outsiders has been banned/challenged for gang violence, drug and alcohol abuse, slang language, and family dysfunction.

Book #4: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Source
Our society today is obsessed with entertainment and reality TV. There are also wars, all over the world, all the time. The Hunger Games is about a dystopian society where a reality show-like event is held each year, where children enter an arena and kill each other while the rest of the world watches on live TV for their own entertainment.

When talking about where the idea came from for The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins says "one night, I was lying in bed, and I was channel surfing between reality TV programs and actual war coverage. On one channel, there's a group of young people competing for I don't even know; and on the next, there's a group of young people fighting in an actual war. I was really tired, and the lines between these stories started to blur in a very unsettling way."

The Hunger Games has been challenged/banned, mostly for violence.

Do you see the pattern?

I hope you do. If you don't, I want you to take a second look at all those books - all those books that deal with and bring to light issues of their day, critiquing everything that is wrong with that -our- society. I do not understand why people are banning these books when they have such, such important things to say.

I understand that some books aren't for everyone, I really do. But the thing that bugs me is that these people who are challenging these books, they are challenging them for little things. They are not looking at the big picture, of what the message of these books is, of what they are supposed to mean! These book-challengers are missing the big picture, are missing the fact that these books take all that crazy stuff from reality.

So. What do you think? Should books be banned? Do you agree with me - are these book-banners missing the big picture? Can you think of any other banned books that might deal with society's issues? (Oh, I already thought of another one... The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie...) What are your thoughts on banned books?

SOURCES (brace yourself):
(all other sources are linked to in the text/caption)

To Kill A Mockingbird:

Huck Finn:
http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1842832_1842838_1844945,00.html  (ok so this article says that there's a movie version of Huck Finn where the black slave is played by an actor who is not black to avoid controversy...!?!?!?)

The Outsiders:

The Hunger Games:






http://swardkehoe.blogspot.com/2011/09/banned-books-week-has-begun.html (what an intelligent reader has to say about The Hunger Games)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Learning Mostly That I Suck At Writing Titles


Hi! Sorry I haven't been posting as often... but that's what happens when school starts. Anyway, this a post I wrote at the end of August just as I was finishing rewriting a draft of my WIP  (and obviously never got around to posting). Just thought I'd share what I learned. Also, at the end there's a story my brother wrote. Just sayin', if this post bores you, skip to that. ;)
  • It is amazing the mistakes your brain can just skip right over. For example, "Gwen sat on her hose". (Yes, brain, the characters in my WIP frequently ride hoses.)

  • Less is more. "made it rock" can just be "rocked".  Unfortunately, I like words. I often use too many. :)

  • I have used the sentence "She didn't say anything" way too often. It is very obvious she doesn't say anything when she, you know, doesn't say anything.

  • I use way too many adjectives. I have to have at least 1700 of them before each noun. (At least that's what it seems like).

  • Sometimes sentences just need to switch places in order to make sense.

  • I have a habit of using the EXACT SAME WORD a million times. I'm sure that's how many times I used the word "sliced" in my WIP. (My characters do a lot of cooking while they are riding their hoses.)

  • Don't mix up "dinghy" and "dingy". Dinghy = little boat. Dingy = dirty.

  • And, last but not least, never ask my brother for advice. Evidence:
    • Me: Is it "Tamlin had ran" or "Tamlin had run"?
    • Bro: Tamlin was running?
    • Me: No, that won't work because the story itself is already in past tense.
    • Bro: So it's like... double past tense? "Tamlin was ran"?
    • Me: ....
Now, as promised, a story my brother wrote... see, I frequently have my brother come across as a complete idiot on my blog when he actually isn't. He's really smart, just doesn't think sometimes when he talks. ANYWAY, here's a story he wrote when we went to the lake on the September long weekend...

ELI WE DON'T WANT YOUR FEET. They are too annoying, they are too purple, they are not wearing shoes, they have no name, they cannot fly, they cannot speak, they cannot kick a giant in the ear, they cannot hear, they cannot smell, feel or taste, all they do is help you walk, ELI WE DON'T WANT YOUR FEET. (by RZS/Gracie's brother).

Cute, isn't it? Can't you imagine that being an awesome kids book?

Anyway.

What have you learned lately... about editing, or writing, or life in general, or really anything?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Don't Pay Any Attention To The Writer Behind The Curtain!

For awhile now, I've sent stories over e-mail to a bunch of my family and friends. I split them up into segments and have each segment end with a cliff-hanger, basically so I can inflict humane torture on my readers. (OK, maybe not.) Actually, I posted about this here and you can read that post to learn more.

It's kind of a weird thing to do, I guess, because a lot of writers are really protective of their work. But it helps me. I have a story that's being sent out right now, and I've sent out two segments already. My dad read the first segment, and he commented that he thinks of the writing and story a lot differently when he knows I wrote it, when he knows there's someone behind the writing.

That made me think of when I first started following blogs and author's websites, and how it changed how I think of books. I found tons of new books to read based off of recommendations and the fact that I loved the way a certain author blogged, or something like that. I've read a couple of books now by people whose blogs I follow. And... well...

It's weird!! "Knowing" the person behind the writing, knowing how they blog and a bit of their personality (their online personality, anyway) makes me think differently about the writing and the book. If I like the author's blog, I'm eager to like the book and slow to dislike it. I notice more things in the book that seem like the author took from their own personality.

I also have a lot more appreciation for the book, and it's creation. It's not just a story I can be swallowed up by and enjoy. It's something that someone else put hours, and hours, and hours of work into to create, edit, have critiqued, query, market, and much, much more than even that.

How have different factors influenced your perception of books?

---

Oh, by the way... thank you guys for the comments on my last post, the interview with Lali! She's sweet, isn't she? :) I also hope you didn't suffer too much from my infomercial-post. I promise I won't do THAT again. Haha. ;) You guys are awesome! Keep it up!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Interview with Cool Person Lali!

Today I am interviewing Lali, who was the second place winner of the draw I did awhile ago for my explore-a-teen's-brain contest thing. One of the second place prizes was either an interview or a guest post to be posted here on the blog, but I am excited to interview Lali anyway!

Lali is from Spain and she and I share lots of similarities (one of them being, of course, reading). She also likes to go to museums, hang out with her friends, and paint pictures. She also said that she bakes cakes and muffins like me, and suggests this website for some good recipes!

Lali also wanted me to encourage you to check out Steph Bowe's book, Girl Saves Boy as well as her blog, which you can find here. (I also love Steph Bowe's blog, though I have yet to read her book).
Now, on to the interview!

How old are you?

I'm 16 years old.

What are your favourite kinds of books to read?

I love all kinds of books, however now I'm very interested in philosophical books, like The Elegance of the Hedgehog and Sophie's World, I used to read novels about fantasy like Memorias de Idhun and one of my favourites books is Marina (carlos ruiz zafon the writer) and The Thirteenth Tale.

What makes you a hate a book? (bad writing, bad plot, annoying characters...?)

I'm very exigent with the books, however is just what you said that makes me hate a book.

Do you read any books that have originally been published in the U.S. or Canada?

Unfortunately in my country there aren't books or novels in English, if I read a book in English is because I borrow it from the library or cause my aunt buys it on Amazon, you know? I usually read tales and blogs in english, however I prefer books in Spanish if the writer is Spanish or in English just to improve my second language.

What is your favourite thing about living in Spain?

Well I think that the best thing of living in Spain is the temperature, always is sunny even in winter! However is cold too. The food, there are much kinds of menus and the fruit is very cheap. Other thing is that the party are so  popular, if you compare it to other countries. Other thing is that there are a lot of museums and old and pretty churches, it's an old country (it's in Europe hahaha) Finally I don't wanna to be vain, but I think that the people in Spain is nicer than in England for example, maybe it's because of the weather or something, but the most of the people is always happy.

What is your favourite place?

My favourite place is Madrid, My friend and I like the parks, for example The Retiro. And others parks of my village, we like the cinema, the pool, the shopping mall... many believe me!

What is one unique tradition your family has?

I don't know if it's unique, but my mother use to pray when we go on car.

Do you write? If so, what?

I used to write poetry, I won a local contest, and some tales but now I don't write anything except silly things for my friends, you know?

How did you get into painting? Have you ever illustrated anything?

And finally I paint since I was a child, I love painting since ever, but I've never illustrated anything, I would love to. If you write a book I can ilustrate it, ok¿? hahaha.

And I would like to share with you Lali's beautiful painting:


Isn't that amazing?? :) I hope you enjoyed the interview! And thank you so much, Lali!

Oh! And I've reached 50 followers. :O Thanks so much you guys!! :) You're awesome.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

POPULAR SUFFIX ON SALE NOW! "ISH", ONLY $19.99!

Have you ever felt incredibly STUPID and AWKWARD for declaring something with utmost certainty, only to find out later you're totally, completely WRONG? And then you never want to feel so idiotic again?

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Whenever you're unsure about something and you don't want to use those awful way-too-many-letter words like "kind of" *shudder* "sort of" *horrified scream* "possibly" or even the dreaded "I don't know" (No! Don't say it!) then ISH is right there to replace them! It's only THREE letters long and you just stick it right onto the end of anything you want! How much easier does it get?? Just look:

"It's supposed to be cold...ish tomorrow" or "I have 1700...ish aliens under my bed". ARE YOU AMAZED YET?

If not, there's more! ISH's usefulness just never ends! Do you find yourself querying agents about your manuscripts? Well, ISH is a perfect addition to that little bugger! Take a look:

"My book is 200,000ish words" or "I promise it's best-sellerish material". Wow! Do you see what ISH did there? No longer will agents be let down or annoyed when they don't recieve a 200,000-word or best-seller MS that they were promised! Now they know exactly what to expect, thanks to the EASY addition of the BEST three-letter suffix out there!

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ISH is on sale NOW for a steal of $19.99! But for this EXCLUSIVE ON-BLOG OFFER, you'll get ISH, PLUS a general query letter with ISH already added in! Agents will love you! All that only for the exclusive offer of $23.53!

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You can also order ISH online at www.ishsuffix.com! Currently on sale for $17.63!* Order now, while supplies last!!

*online items only on sale in Manitoba, Canada. Because I know you don't know where that is.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In Which A Blog Award Makes A Debut

I am awful at sending on blog awards... I said that I got the Liebster award on... um, August 9th. And now I'm going to finally post about it (yeah, and I started this post a few weeks ago and I put it off until... NOW). Oh, dear... except I HAVE AN AWESOME SOMETHING. Yes, stay tuned. My drawing is involved.

So I received the Liebster ("friend" in German, apparently) award from a whopping three other bloggers.

Jenny who said I was "spunky,  funny, and a teenager.  I love that there are so many young writers out there!" (First time being called spunky, yay! :D), Brittany who said that my blog posts are "sometimes funny and sometimes thoughtful", and Lizzy (co-blogger of Twin Moment who said "I don't know much about Gracie, but I know two things for certain: One, she writes. Two, she's awesome. Gracie is a sincerely creative writer, reader, and glue-gun wielder who just happens to blog. There's a great personality behind the writing, which makes it totally enjoyable to read. Trust me when I say it's worth your time!"

No, I did not share all those quotes because they make me feel warm and fuzzy and special (pffftttt *ahem*) but because it is obvious from the awesome things they say about people that THEY ARE AWESOME. There ya go. ;)

And now I will proceed to BREAK THE RULES because I am a rebel like that. (Ha!) The Liebster blog has five rules (uhh which I forget) and I'm breaking them because....

INTRODUCING....

THIS:

I have made my own blog award (in case you missed that from the "blog award" and the "made by gracie"). It is a lion because I am keeping with the lion theme of my blog. :) Also, because it is my award, I am going to make up the rules. So, rules:

1. When you receive the award, post the picture! (Hey, I spent a whole fifteen minutes on that Paint drawing. And it's pretty good, considering I did it on Paint, and only using my laptop touchpad. Well, except for the fact that the roaring lion actually just looks sleepy...)
2. Pass on the award. I don't care how many people, as long as you do it. :)
3. In case you haven't figured it out, if you receive the Roaring Lion Blog Award it means that you are awesome.

So the very privileged first-ever-people-to-receive-my-award are:

1. Twin Moment, a blog by two teens (Lizzy and Constance) who are cool.  Their blog layout is awesome, they like classical music, and they're really sweet. :)

2. Jenny, who I only recently started following but I love her writing style and the content in her posts. I'm looking forward to reading more. :)

3. Brittany of Hills and Corkscrews. Her posts are always thought-provoking and bring up good discussion. I like how she presents opinions and then encourages others to share theirs!

OK, then. I think that will be all for now. Go and pass it on!

Oh, wow. I just realized I gave an award to the three people who gave me an award. Honestly, I did NOT do that on purpose! I really do like these people and their blogs, and believe me it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact they gave me an award.

(Also, my brother said that I should stop doing "boring" posts -as the question series I did didn't interest him- and I have a few things planned okay, not planned but... I have ideas in my head... to come in the next week-or-so. Hopefully.)

Have a good week!

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