Saturday, December 28, 2013

College Writer Blog Tag

Laura tagged me in this college writer blog tag, so here it is. (Although in Canada, college is where you go for vocational training and university is the same as what Americans would call college. Anyway)

Also I'm kind of the same as Laura, most of the group of high school/teenage bloggers I used to follow kind of disappeared. So if you're a college-age blogger I'd love to follow you! Leave a link or tweet me @asherlockwrites. :)

Now I have to answer some questions!

What year are you?

First year! I graduated two years ago, but I took a year off last year to work at an international school in the Philippines.

What's your major(s)/minor(s)?

Um, nothing, yet... will let you know later.

What types of writing do you do?

Tweets. Blog posts. Haha just kidding I do more than that... although I haven't really been writing at all since this summer, really. I'm really bad at making writing a priority when I have lots of other things, like school, on my plate. When I'm not stuck in a rut, though, I like writing anything that I have ideas for. I have a harder time writing contemp, though, and while I love pure YA romance I cannot write it without it coming across really cheesy.

What are your plans after college, both career-wise and writing-wise?

Who knows? My vision of the future is very short sighted at the moment. I basically want to be doing everything. Travelling the world, saving it, what have you. I'd love to be working at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights though. For writing... hopefully by then I'll have had the courage to go back and fix up my book and actually have something decent.

What is one thing you've learned about writing while in college?

Well so far I've had one semester, so not much. Hopefully I will learn from my mistake of not writing at all this entire semester though. Any tips for me??

Well my answers are definitely very different from Laura's but that's one thing about college-age bloggers is people are at very different places in life! I think it's pretty cool.

Are you a college writer blog? Answer the questions!




Monday, December 2, 2013

Lord of the Rings: Opinions Then and Now

A few months ago, my brother and I started watching the Lord of the Rings. I'd watched it once before when I was fourteen. I was doing a kids club in a small town during the summer, and for a couple of nights at our host's house we watched it. When I watched it then, I thought it was all right. It was a very epic story but very straightforward, journeying from Point A to Point B, which in my opinion was kind of boring.

This time, it took my brother and me a while to finish all three movies since we would watch half of each one every few weeks.

By the time we were done, I was in LOVE. They are AWESOME. I was choked up by the end of the third movie, and when everyone is in the square of the city at the end and the hobbits go to bow to Aragorn and he says, "My friends, you bow to no one", well, that was the best part of the whole series.



I'd expressed my previous feelings towards LOTR to my dad and he commented that that was interesting, but why the difference? Why do I like these movies so much now, when I didn't before?

Who knows? Maybe it's because I've read a lot more and come to a greater appreciation of character and story development. Maybe it's because of the too much time I spend on the internet reading people's crazily in-depth analyses of various movies, TV shows and books that they love. Maybe it's because last time my expectations were high, and this time they were low.

I don't have an answer. I just think it's interesting how tastes change over time, from a variety of factors, even mixed factors. Every experience in our lives influences other aspects or our lives, or the way that we consume art. I just find the whole concept fascinating.

So I ask you, is there any sort of media or art that you used to hate but now love? Why do you think your feelings have changed?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Why Do We Even Like Book to Movie Adaptations?

To get to school, I have to take an hour bus ride each way. I get motion sick, so I can't read on the bus, so I spend my time listening to a podcast called Literary Disco. It's a podcast with three friends talking about books, and sometimes pop culture stuff, and sometimes other stuff that has absolutely no relevance whatsoever but is still funny and entertaining.

Anyway, on one of their podcasts I was listening to a few days ago, they were talking about the excitement around books being adapted into movies. Rider, one of the members of the podcast, was asking why people are so excited to have something that can only exist in their head translate onto the screen. Shouldn't movies and books be kept entirely separate? Is it because we feel pleasure in judging the accuracy of it? Do people want to be pretend filmmakers, and that's why after watching movie adaptations they say "Oh yeah, they got it right"?

They only spent about five minutes on it on the podcast, but it got me thinking. I mean, I was just as excited as everyone else for the Catching Fire movie. But it's an entirely different experience watching an adaptation than just a normal movie. With a normal movie, you just enjoy the story and where it takes you, without knowing what happens. Part of the enjoyment of a regular movie is the plot and the discovery of plot points. In Catching Fire, for example, I knew everything that was going to happen and was even waiting for those events. Okay, up next is the poisonous fog. Then the monkeys. Oh, yeah, there they are! I definitely think part of the reason that I loved Catching Fire so much was because of it's accuracy in regards to the book.


So I think that judging an adaptation on its accuracy is part of why we love adaptations, but only a small part. The ultimate dream for fiction readers is that their fictions would become reality. Yes, what happens in a book happens in someone's head, but I think when a book is turned into a movie it becomes that much closer to being real. There are now real people, real voices, and real-looking events to associate with the fictional events of the book. I think those visual images are a big part of what readers are so excited about in regards to movie adaptations.

That's just my own personal hypothesis as to why there is always so much excitement around book to movie adaptations. What do you think is the reason for the excitement? Do you think book to movie adaptations should exist? Why? Why are they so important to the book community? Would it be better if we all just left books alone? And what did you think of Catching Fire? Or if you haven't seen it, how excited are you to see it?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Recommendation: The First Third By Will Kostakis

One of my favourite things is finding amazing books that aren't hugely popular, books that maybe not everyone everywhere has heard about (read: The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc).

Well, I discovered one of those books the other day, and I would love to share my love of it with you.

Backstory...

As you probably well know by now, Melina Marchetta is my favourite author. I especially love her books Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca and The Piper's Son (also the Lumatere Chronicles. So yes, all her books except Looking for Alibrandi). All of her books have very strong family and friendship elements to them, which is basically my favourite elements of any books ever.

Well, a few weeks ago Melina Marchetta had an interview with this young author Will Kostakis on her blog, and she talked about this book and the family and friendship elements of it. I thought, huh. I'd probably like that book.

YES. YES I DID.

In fact, I might even have loved it.


That book is The First Third by Will Kostakis. It follows a 17-year-old Greek boy Billy while he struggles with his "yiayia" being in the hospital and essentially dying. His yiayia even gives him a bucket list to complete, which has ridiculous things on it like find his mom a husband, bring his older brother back home, and fix his little brother, who seems to not want to have anything to do with anyone but yiayia for some reason.

There are so many things I love about this book. I loved how the focus was on the family and the relationships within it. I loved how developed each character was, and how there was too many layers to count in each one.

For example, Billy's best friend Sticks at first just seems like one of those typical crazy quirky John Green-esque sidekicks, but he actually has issues of own. It adds a lot to the dimensions of his character, and also to the dimensions of the relationship between Sticks and Billy.

So, family dynamic, friendship dynamic, characters, A+.

I also just really love Will Kostakis's writing. He's definitely skilled with words and getting across elements of the story very effectively. He uses Facebook statuses in really interesting ways for plot and character development. Sometimes it's kind of hilarious.

And the last scene is perfect. But you'll have to read it to enjoy the wonderfulness of that part of the book.

I would recommend this book if you love family or friendship stories, or if you like anything by Melina Marchetta, Jonathan Friesen, or John Green.

It's only $6.99 on Amazon, and you can also visit Will Kostakis's website at www.willkostakis.com if you want to find other places to buy it. Also, I highly encourage you to read this interview that Hypable did with Will Kostakis, because the thing he said about the book are awesome.

Have a good week!



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween is For Book Jack-o-Lanterns!!

Two years ago, I made a Hunger Games themed jack-o-lantern, and it turned out cool.
 
(Last year, I was in the Philippines, and they don't do Halloween. Also, pumpkins in constant 30 degree weather? Gross).
 
This year, I carved a pumpkin based on The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It's a beautiful book, with a really cool cover. (Actually there are multiple cool covers).
 
 
 
 
 
 
I carved the circus, and just like The Hunger Games there is a symbolism behind the circus being lit from behind my flame (I will not tell you why, you must read the book to find that out!)
 
I really enjoyed The Night Circus. The way it's written it doesn't get super in to the characters' heads so I found it hard to get into at first. However, once I got into it the distance from the characters created an awesome effect. It's a book about a magical circus, what more could you want? Actually it's interesting because it is a lot more than that. Erin Morgenstern has created this entire world and culture around this circus. Anyway, I definitely encourage you to check it out if you haven't.
 
And my mom made a jack-o-lantern based on Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, which is a silly picture book series by Mo Willems that I (and many others) love:

 
 
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's Up Wednesday (On the Wrong Day... Again)

I thought I'd take some time today to do a What's Up Wednesday post.... on Tuesday. (I know, I already did that once). But I like the format of the What's Up Wednesday posts, so yeah, I take it and use and twist it for my needs! And my needs at this point are updating you on things like...

What I'm reading

The Lord of the Rings! I tried reading the epic trilogy way back in middle school, but I couldn't get through the Two Towers. Just recently over the course of a few weeks my brother and I finished watching all of the LOTR movies, after my brother had read the book this summer. He had some interesting thoughts after the last one that were based on the books, so I asked him if he would recommend them and he said yes. This is probably one of the only times he's recommended me a book, so that's what I'm doing. So far I'm enjoying it, even if some parts seem unnecessary to me (like all the stuff with the weird Tom Bombadil cult at the beginning?)

What I'm writing

Heheh. Nothing... right now. I kind of want to pick up an old draft I wrote last year in November and rework it. I like the concept, which is about two lonely kids, one who is so lonely that she lives inside an imaginary world in her head.

What else I'm up to

Other than school and work, I've been slowly compiling a mental list in my head for November goals. I'm not doing NaNo because, to be quite honest, it terrifies me. (One of the years I will conquer my fear, I promise). But this video inspired me to get back on top of goal-making, which is one of my favourite activities.

So far, I'm thinking:
  • Blog every day in November
  • Stop wasting time on Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, etc
  • Eating healthier
  • Revising

Obviously I haven't fleshed them out completely yet, but I'm definitely thinking seriously of trying to blog every day.

What inspires me right now

Literary Disco! It's a really cool and actually quite hilarious podcast that I listen to on the bus ride home some days. It's just three friends, chatting and discussing books. It's so funny sometimes that I have to stifle my laughter on the bus by pretending to cough or yawn or something. But yeah, you can check that out at www.literarydisco.com.

Also on the last episode they recommended this band, Typhoon, and I am really enjoying their music.



Monday, October 21, 2013

Talking About New Adult as a New Adult

First of all, for those who don't know, New Adult is a fairly new genre that is centred around those of college/university age (so I guess 20s?). Basically, it's what you would read after YA. I don't know a lot about it, but I've read quite a few discussions... and quite a lot of discussions about how it's not really a "thing" yet, etc. It's obviously not as widespread or well known as YA at this point, and there are lots of arguments against its necessity (from a few things I've seen anyway).

A few years ago, that is what I thought: New Adult? Irrelevant.

Buut... things change. Like, you get a couple years older and suddenly you aren't in high school anymore and you're almost 20 and life is a lot different than it used to be.

At this point, I have to admit that being a "new" adult is a lot different than being a young adult. You have different things to deal with than a high school student, and you think differently (hopefully more maturely) than a high school student would.



And, where else would I go but back on the topic of diversity in fiction? I mentioned before that I believe that diversity in fiction is about representing EVERYONE's experiences, regardless of how rare their experience is in the context of society.

Well, representing the experience of college/university age people is a part of that in my opinion. Why not represent those people (by this point, my) experience as a new adult? Why not have something they can relate to on a deeper level?

Do you know that feeling when you read something that was written by someone who is from the exact same place you are, and you just feel this warmth and familiarity when they're talking about the same stores and music and weather and places that you know and see everyday?

That's the feeling I want to get when I read a book, and I think it's a feeling that everyone should have the right to experience.

Just some thoughts. What are yours? On the new New Adult genre? On diversity?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Questions I Want to Ask You


Eryn tagged me in a blog award thing, and asked me some questions, which I shall now proceed to answer. Then I will ask some of my own questions, and tag more people! Fun! (Sneaky Eryn, getting me to write blog posts...)
 
1. Are you an early bird, or a night owl? Which would you prefer to be and why?
 
I force myself to be an early bird because I like getting things done early, but at heart I think I'm a night owl.

2. What's your favorite kind of story? Adventure, romance, etc. 
 
When I think of all my favourite books and authors, the one thing that dominates is amazingly well developed characters. I LOOOVE complicated, well written characters. Melina Marchetta is amazing at writing good characters. (You knew I was going to say that, didn't you). I was thinking about my favourite female characters the other day, and they are probably Katniss and Taylor from Jellicoe Road. So, basically, I love stories with really good characters.

 

3. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? (Could be an imaginary place.)
 
CANADA. I love Canada. I don't care if I'm biased, it's the best country ever.

4. What is the first sentence of your current work in progress?

Crappy little handheld camera: check. (*Note: this is the WIP I want to work on, but have not actually gotten past the thought process step of revision yet. Sigh.)

5. What is your ideal writing setting? Like, time of day, location, beverages to sip during.

I find it really easy to write late at night after I've been really inspired by some artistic content which could be anything from a moving movie to a really motivational tumblr post. However, it's really limiting to have specifications for a writing time so I try not to do that. (Obviously this works so well for me as I have written SO MANY WORDS in the past two months. *sarcasm*).

6. If you could stay any age forever, what age would you chose?

Ten. When I turned ten, everyone told me it was the "golden age" and I didn't believe them but it really was. It really was.

7. What are your favorite historical figures?
 
I don't know, but you can bet whoever it is will be Canadian. ;) Maybe Lester B. Pearson? I don't know much about him yet though. Oh, I do think what FDR did for the U.S. was pretty cool.

8. What is the thing you think about most when you are writing a story?

"COME ON, FIVE MORE WORDS. YOU CAN DO IT!" Also, I love writing intense emotional scenes even if I still am not very good at them.
 

9. What is your favorite animated movie?

The Incredibles. When (cynical) adults love it, you know it's good.

10. Coffee or tea?
 
Depends on the circumstances, but I enjoy both. (Is that allowed?)

OK! Now my questions for you.

1. What in your opinion do you think YA (or fiction in general) needs more of?
2. What is something you would absolutely love to see a book about? (Be specific if possible!)
3. How many non-American authors can you name? (List them!)
4. How many non-American YA authors can you name? (List them!)
5. What are books that have made you sob and/or cry out loud?
6. What is your favourite book from childhood?
7. What do you like to do that has absolutely nothing to do with reading, writing, or anything of the like?
8. What does diversity mean to you?
9. How would you describe your style of clothing?
10. What is your goal in life? (It could be at the moment or overall).

I know some of these will produce lengthier answers... but I'm really curious to hear your answers! Also, if I don't tag you, please answer anyway and leave a link in the comments or tweet it at me (@asherlockwrites). I want to hear everyone's answers!!!

And people I'm tagging:
1. @AuthorMadison
2. @yahongc
3. @crazyredpen
4. @laura_the_wise
5. @Matt_Dodwell
6. @EmilyCasselman

Go forth and write! Can't wait to hear your answers. :)

 
(Oh, P.S. the rules of the tag are answer the questions, ask 10 of your own, tag 10 people).

(Actually, these are the rules:

  • Link back to the person who nominated you
  • Answer the 10 questions that are given to you by the nominator
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers
  • Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer
  • Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blogs and notifying them).)
  •  
    (I tagged more than 10 people because I tagged EVERYONE. Hehe.)
     
     

    Monday, September 30, 2013

    Some Poetry For Your Monday

    I don't write a lot of poetry, and most of what I do write is pretty bad. I did write a poem last year when I was in the Philippines that I kind of like. (I mean, it's not perfect). But I like it because when I read it, it brings me right back to sitting over the soccer field at the school, listening to the sounds of the city.

    sounds of manila

    I sit

    The city
    a giant star-pricked quilt
    folds over my knees
    and covers
    the feet of my ears

    I listen to the percussion,

    Barking dogs
    obnoxious horns
    the phlegmy roar of
    motorcycle engines

    Together,
    an indistinct monster of noise

    and above that,
    the tinkle of children laughing
    as they play
    in the streets
    tsinelas slap-slapping on the bottoms
    of calloused brown soles

    and the music:

    operatic women exalting Mary,
    skirt-twirling Spanish celebration
    braided roughly
    into one
     
    My heart does not swell at the sound because
    there are no violins
     
    yet
     
    this is not a symphony
    but the sound
    of people

    ---

    The other poem I like is not very good with language or really anything, but I like it because I figured it out that you read each line down, and then back up again to the top and it actually makes sense. It actually took quite a long time to figure out. (I think it's called a palindrome poem?) To read it, you read each individual line down and then read each individual line back up to the top.

    Letting Go

    Leave
    I want you to never
    come back
    walk out of sight
    don’t
    tear your eyes from sunlit horizons
    while you are trudging onward
    open your eyes to the world
    never
    think of me
    always
    warm your heart
    with the sunlit horizon
    forget everything you once held here
    but don’t
    leave.

    Monday, September 16, 2013

    5 Things I Found Weird Upon Returning to Canada


    A few months ago, I stood on Canadian soil again for the first time in 10 months. Those 10 months I spent in the Philippines, working at international school (if you don’t know that already). It was really good to be home, but it was definitely a switch!
     
    It was a lot less of a culture shock than I expected, but that makes sense since I only spent 10 months of my life so far in the Philippines and 18 years in Canada. Still, there were a few little things that threw me (and still kind of do). I thought I’d share those things with you, and in doing so give you a glimpse into little bits of my life in the Philippines.

     
    Things I thought were weird when I got home:


    1.    Hearing Canadian accents.

    My first entry into Canada was in Vancouver before we were to catch our connecting flight home, and there was a woman volunteer guiding us in the right direction, and the last thing I expected to come out of her mouth was a Canadian accent, but it was there! I mean, it makes no sense that I would think that, because I was in Canada but...

    ...the Philippines is on the other side of the world from North America, so it isn’t a popular tropical vacation destination for North Americans. Why fly for 24 hours when you can get to Cuba in four? Also, Americans are everywhere because there are so many of them, and there are not very many Canadians. Basically, if you see a white person (which is rare enough), they are American unless proven otherwise by their accent or other distinguishing characteristics.

    In short, I was not used to hearing Canadian accents, so it surprised me when I did hear them! (Also, when I see people wearing Canada shirts, I still think in my head excitedly, They’re wearing a Canada shirt!! And then I remember that I’m actually currently IN Canada and it makes sense and I do not need to bond with them in my head over being from the same country and finding each other on the other side of the world).

    I wore my Canada shirt climbing Mt Pinatubo... and met two Canadians as a result! Yay.

    2.    A significant decrease in outdoor activity after 9 PM.

    It was so weird to see stores closed and only a few people milling about on the streets once it got dark. In downtown Manila, there are ALWAYS people around and up and about, and always a lot of people, too. Seriously, you could get caught in the middle of a traffic jam at 4 AM. I guess that’s what happens in a city of around 16 million. It was still weird when I got home that the city actually quieted down and activity actually decreased at night.

    3.    The weather!!!

    This is probably the biggest one. In Manila, the temperature stays the same every day, and all day, only dropping a couple of degrees once the sun goes down. Once I got home, I kept forgetting that the temperature increases significantly throughout the day and decreases significantly into the evening.

    In Manila, I would wake up, decide what to wear by how hot I was feeling at that moment, and be fine (albeit hot but that’s pretty much inevitable) for the rest of the day. Here, I have to think of how it might get warm later and layer and decide whether to suffer being cold or hot and remember to bring a sweater if I’m going to be somewhere after the sun goes down... the weather in the Philippines may be hot and humid, but at least it’s uncomplicated!

    4.    Toilet paper in public washrooms.

    There is no toilet paper in any public washroom in the Philippines, and sometimes even no toilet seat. Back home now, I keep forgetting that, and when I’m on the way to a public washroom I think in the back of my mind, Do I have Kleenex in my purse? And then realize that I don’t need it! There will be toilet paper in the stall! To be honest now that I’ve thought about it (and done it for a year), it’s not really that big of a deal to carry Kleenex in your purse and not have toilet paper in stalls. But it is a very nice luxury for North America to provide, that’s for sure.

    5.    The weight of Canadian coins also threw me for a while, because it’s a lot lighter than the huge Philippine pesos and other coins.

     
    So, these were a few things that threw me upon returning to Canada, but for the most part everything was actually completely normal and familiar – which was probably the weirdest thing of all!

    Have you ever experienced culture shock in your own country?

    Thursday, September 12, 2013

    More About Diversity in Fiction

    First of all you should read this article on YA Interrobang, The Underappreciation of International YA Literature. (Side note: YA Interrobang is shaping up to pretty cool and you should definitely sign up for their mailing list!)

    If you are not American, you probably understand and sympathize with the author of this article as I did, in that popular books or popular YA books originating from your country just don't have the same "universal" spread or popularity that American fiction does.

    There are a lot of you Americans, so it makes sense that there are a lot of YA books. The U.S. also has very large influence over a lot of countries, especially when it comes to media and pop culture. In the case of Canada, American influence affects everything because of the shared border. I have nothing against Americans or American authors, I have lots of favourite books by American authors.

    But isn't it fair to say that I want my experience in my country represented in more than just the odd book? Isn't it fair to ask that I don't have to go looking in every nook and cranny, hoarding Canadian fiction like a crazed collector, just so I can find something I relate to?

    American fiction is great but it isn't representative of my experiences. Canada, despite all its similarities to the U.S., is quite a bit different, and to sum up some of the differences, quite a bit tamer. (Just look at the evidence in Canadian history...)

    I think this issue extends to the issue of diversity in fiction.

    I believe that diversity in fiction means representing not only different races or people with disabilities, but people with completely different experiences in life. Diversity should be representing EVERYTHING, so that EVERYONE has a book they can completely relate to. I can relate to some parts of American fiction, but never entirely because of that cultural and national barrier.

    Everyone's experiences matter, or at least they should, no matter how different or singular they are.

    I know I'm referencing Canada, but I'm sure (and the article linked to above is evidence) that people in other countries, probably every country except the U.S., feel the same way.

    As you can probably tell, I'm not completely sure on all of my thoughts on this. I'd love to hear what you have to say or if you disagree and why and such. I'd love to hear more discussion of diversity in books, it's probably one of my favourite topics because I believe it is extremely important. (tl;dr: Please comment!!)

    What does diversity in fiction mean to you?

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    Road Trip Wednesday: The Queasy Flower Girl

    Today's Road Trip Wednesday prompt, as initiated by YA Highway is:

    Did you ever have a childhood memory that you viewed differently as you got older?

    Yes.

    When I was six, I was a flower girl in my cousin's wedding. The wedding was in Chicago, so my family drove down over a few days, camping along the way.

    It was a big deal, being a part of this wedding, and I'd say one of the biggest moments in my life up to that point. My little cousin was a flower girl with me, and my sister was the ring bearer. My brother and my co-flower girl's brother were also in the wedding party (not sure what they're called though... the boy version of flower girls? Not sure).



    Anyway, my aunt had made these pretty lace dresses for me, my cousin and my sister and we also had fake flower crowns (I'm pretty sure we still have one in our long abandoned dress up box, actually) as well as baskets full of fake flowers that we were supposed to sprinkle on the aisle as we walked down it in preparation for the bride.

    Of course all of this we knew months in advance, and I was terribly excited about everything, from the dress to the flower crown to my shoes to my frilly white socks. (I had a thing about socks when I was younger).

    Finally, the moment came when my cousin and I were supposed to walk down the aisle, throwing our plastic flowers on the white carpet that was rolled out before us.

    And... I threw up.

    Thankfully I hadn't eaten anything that showed up on my white dress, so my aunt quickly wiped away the clear liquid and sent me down the aisle!

    I was mortified and horribly embarrassed at the time, so much so that I pushed the memory down and forgot about it for a while. Now, I think it's funny, and a good picture of what I was like as a six year old. Also it makes for a fun story! :)

    What about you? Any horrible memories you tried to suppress, only to realize later they weren't that bad?

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    What's Up Wednesday

    Kind of belated What's Up Wednesday... oh well. Anyway, here we go!

    What I'm Reading



    I just finished reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. To be honest, not exactly sure where the title comes from, but the book was really good. The setting was made up of jungle and desert, which is quite a bit different than the Europe-in-the-dark-ages setting of most fantasy books. I also loved the main character Elisa. She is such a strong character, but she also was vulnerable at times. She was definitely relatable.

    Now I'm reading an MG that was recommended to me back when I worked in an elementary library, Summer of the Gypsy Moths. I'm only the first chapter, so we'll see how it goes.

    What I'm Writing

    At the moment, nothing. I'm writing critiques for a CP, but that's about it. Every time I think about starting in on figuring out edits for my book, I'm kind of overwhelmed with figuring everything out. Especially the beginning, which I have never liked and still don't. How do I set up the world so it makes sense, but also introduce conflict soon enough so that readers are hooked? It is complicated, I tell you. (Although I'm sure you don't need ME to tell you that).

    What Else I've Been Up To

    I just got a job, so that's cool, but so far I've only had one shift and don't have anymore until next week so my days have been pretty laid back. Um... yesterday my mom, sister and I sat down like we do every week to watch the next episode of The Amazing Race Canada. I have to say I really enjoy The Amazing Race when I do watch it, but especially this time since everyone is Canadian and they're travelling in Canada. :) I love my country.

    What Inspires Me Right Now

    There's this web series called Video Game High School, and it's a really cool web series but besides that they also put a ton of behind the scenes content up on the creators' website, rocketjump.com. A bunch of that content has been the writers talking about, well, writing.

    In this one podcast they did (which you can find here), the writers reflect on writing season 1 of VGHS. Everything that one of the writers says around 33 minutes is really inspiring to me and motivational. They talk a lot about the writing they did for the show, but a lot of the stuff they say applies to writing in general. I don't know, I found it helpful and inspiring. (And if you want to, check out VGHS! It's pretty fun).


    Wednesday, August 7, 2013

    The Librarian

    One of the things I did this past year while working at international school in the Philippines was work in the elementary library. It was one of my favourite places to be, and I had so much fun observing the elementary librarian, Carol, in everything she does.

    I really want to tell you about Carol, because she is utterly amazing.

    
    The elementary library.

    Carol has been at the school for almost 25 years, which is a long time for someone to stay at an international school, where staff and students are constantly coming and going. But she is not only the elementary librarian. She also did one-on-one literacy coaching with nine elementary kids, literacy classes with both first and second grade, helped the teachers with the English curriculum, AND she taught six library classes every week. I was physically in the library more than she was.

    Carol's love for books and kids was infectious. It was so fun to watch her during library classes. At the beginning of class she would spend twenty minutes on a lesson before book checkout time.  The lessons were usually Carol reading a story, or talking about an author, and sometimes the lesson would coincide with some current event.

    
    Hobbit bulletin board that one of the library volunteers made.

    For example, when The Hobbit movie came out in December she took about four weeks in each fifth grade class to talk about The Hobbit book before the movie came out. In the spring, the school put on a production of Beauty & the Beast so she spent a few weeks reading and talking about different book versions of the story. (As a result, about a quarter of the elementary girls dressed up as Belle for our Literacy Day). She also did a unit on The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, both a book and short film by William Joyce (which is a beautiful film, you should check it out if you get the chance).



    But my favourite thing to watch Carol do was recommend books to kids. She is so amazing at pitching books. I don't know how she does it. She knows exactly what to say that will get a specific group of kids to latch on to any book's premise and scramble to me, pleading to put them on the hold list first for that book. Every time Carol pitched a book to the kids, a 5-person long waiting list for that book would spring up. And I'm not exaggerating when I say every time!

    Carol's love of books and the people who read them was really inspiring to me. It was really cool to be able to work with her this year and learn from her, whether it be how she taught the kids or what she taught the kids or just her energetic enthusiasm for books.

    
    Goofing off in fifth grade library class.

    Almost every Monday Carol would ask me "So, what books did you read this weekend?" And after I told her she would list off the three books she read, while simultaneously recommending them to me. If Carol recommended a book to me, I couldn't NOT read it.

    There are a lot of people on this online writing community who are super passionate about books and reading and getting kids to read, but it is an entirely different thing to see that in real life, and it is incredibly awesome.

    Do you know anyone in real life that is super passionate about books? Do you think it's awesome?

    Sunday, August 4, 2013

    Taking the Easy Way Out

    I'm in the midst of having my book critiqued, which is a very fascinating, helpful and difficult process.

    It's fascinating to see your book through someone else's eyes, to get an idea of what they are getting out of it. It's helpful because they are trying to do everything they can so that you can strip your book of all the crap and make it the best it can be (every "negative" comment is just helpful, I must remind myself). And it's difficult because suddenly you realize just how much work you still have to do on your book. Sigh.

    But it's also kind of exciting, thinking about all of these things that I can and will do to make my story soooo much better.

    One thing that I've noticed is how much I will ignore things while writing that I KNOW are problems. For example there's this one scene where my MC breaks into somewhere, and I knew when I wrote it that it was waaay too easy for him to gain access, but I didn't fix it because I was lazy. That wasn't the only time I just wrote something because it was easier.

    If it's too easy, it could be better, I've learned.

    I actually came to this conclusion while reading Catching Fire. I always wondered why Suzanne Collins came up with multiple scenarios for The Hunger Games. The way I read it, it didn't seem necessary that she give in-detail descriptions of past Games. The thing is, maybe it wasn't necessary, but it sure made the book better.

    That's the thing about having CPs. They call you out on all the stuff you just ignored because you were lazy. (And a lot more).

    Now, as always happens when you do a haphazard job, I must go back and pick up after my laziness...

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    Why I Critique

    "So, you offered to read someone's 300-page book?" he said skeptically.

    My dad said this after I put out a call for critique partners in my last post. And yes, dad, I DID offer to read and comment on someone's 100,000 word book. I know you think it's crazy, but I have reasons, you know, and they might not make sense to you but they do to me.

    So, why do writers go searching for CPs (critique partners) anyways?

    Well, here are the reasons I do it...

    1. I get a "free" critique of my own work. I mean, it's not completely free, since I have to critique their work too which takes effort and time, but I can afford to spend effort and time a lot more than I can afford to spend money.

    2. A critique of my own work is ESSENTIAL. I am aware of problems to fix after I finish each draft, but the more times I read over my drafts the harder it is to look at it as a fresh pair of eyes (in fact, it borders on impossible). Fresh pairs of eyes are SO helpful. I've spent years on my book, so it's really hard to separate myself enough to see problems. It's so helpful to have someone completely new come in and take a look and point out things I just couldn't notice as I'm not a first-time reader.

    3. By becoming CPs with someone, I am switching MSs with another writer, which is incredibly valuable. I do send drafts sometimes to readers that aren't writers, and while they do give good feedback (and quite a lot of encouragement), writers undeniably have more knowledge of what works and what doesn't in a story. As a writer, you're always analyzing books and thinking of what you like or don't like and incorporating those things into your own writing. Not everyone does that.

    4. When I critique others' work, I learn so much about what works and what doesn't and just stories in general. You can analyze and break down a published book, but there's no denying that published books always come across as much more polished and complete than other writers' drafts (probably because they are). It's a lot easier to spot what doesn't work with a still in-progress work.

    5. I can work on my writing skills. One of the hardest things I've found about critiquing is seeing that there's something wrong, and wanting to point out the problem, but not knowing quite how to put it into words. Or at least, a comment or statement that actually makes sense and will be helpful. You would think that putting things into words wouldn't be that hard for a writer, but it is! (At least for me). It definitely stretches my writing ability!

    6. Also, I like helping people. :)

    So, dear father, and anyone else who doubts my sanity in taking on other people's works in progress to critique, THAT is why I do it.

     
    OK, so now that I've said how much I like critiquing... I guess I'll do a giveaway, which I haven't done in awhile. Two people who comment on this post will get a free first chapter critique from me. Just let me know in your comment if you want a critique, and leave your email address or some way of contacting you. :)

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    Changing Tastes & Critique Partners

    Since I finished my third draft, I decided that I should really get... meet... whatever... some more critique partners. Unfortunately I just missed the Teens Can Write, Too! blog critique matching up at the beginning of June, because that would've been awesome! I like the idea of critique partners close to my age (even though I am more quickly than I'd like to admit leaving teenagerdom...) 

    Anyway, if you're looking for someone to critique your manuscript or anything I'd be happy to be your CP. (or even if you're not!). As a teenager and avid reader of YA, I think I could be useful. (Especially if you write YA. But I looove MG too, and I just worked in an elementary library for a year and with tons of MG-obsessed kids!) :) 

    My desk at the library I worked at.
    .
    Another thing I wanted to talk about is how my tastes have changed. I started this blog three years ago, which is crazy. I feel like I've changed a lot and my blogging tastes have changed a lot (I am definitely not proud of everything I've posted). I haven't come as far as some people do in three years, as far as followers and such, but I have come a long way as far as writing and reading blogs.

    I haven't really managed my subscriptions at all for three years, but now more than ever I notice I'm only reading a couple of posts when I used to devour everything like crazy. Laura's talked about this before, how you read the posts you need to read. (She is so cool, go follow her!) I've also noticed what posts and blogs I'm attracted to. I'm less attracted to the huge group blogs or really popular blogs by aspiring authors. I like the smaller blogs, and my favourite posts are just the ones that ramble on about life and what's new with their writing. I used to skip those kinds of posts. But now those are my favourite. Laura, Raven, and Rachel  all write blogs that I really like right now. Oh, and I also still read almost every WORD for Teens post.

    So anyway, if you have any suggestions for critique partners or smaller, more personal-style blogs, let me know! (Or even just blogs you really really like).


    Thursday, June 20, 2013

    What's Up WORLD

    I have been absent from the blog since... well, it's been a few months (oops). But a lot has happened since April so I thought I would update you. Actually I just saw a few "What's Up Wednesday" posts so I thought I'd do it in that sort of style, although it isn't Wednesday anymore.

    WHAT'S UP WITH MY LIFE

    100 Islands, Philippines. Yup, I went there. And...got sunburnt.

    I'm home! If you didn't know, I spent this past year in the Philippines, doing a lot of cool stuff. But mostly doing stuff like working at an international school in the elementary library and being the main playground supervisor which means sweating BUCKETS everyday because the temperature rarely goes below 30 degrees Celsius. (Seriously, the one week of the year when it gets down to 26 C people start wearing toques!!) If you're interested I could talk a bit more about my experience there, but for now I'll stick with reading and writing unless you really really want to know. :) So, yeah I'm back in Canada and gearing up for starting university in the fall!

    WHAT I'M READING



    I just finished FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta and WHYYY did I not read it earlier?? I actually tried to read it a while ago because I absolutely ADORE Melina Marchetta, but I didn't feel like reading fantasy. Finally I sat down and buckled up to read it and I'm soo glad I did because Melina Marchetta did NOT disappoint. FINNIKIN is fantasy, but it has so much truth and beautiful story in it and AWESOME characters, which is my favourite thing about MM and the main reason I love her work. Give me a good character and I'm in love. PLEASE go read it because I want everyone to know how awesome Melina Marchetta is!!

    WHAT I'M WRITING

    Since I didn't have school work to worry about this year (a very weird thing for me...), I spent quite a bit of my free time writing. So only a couple of days ago I managed to finish my third draft of a book I've been working on for quite a while! Actually, pretty much exactly a year ago I said briefly that I'd finished my second draft. So... it takes me a year to write a draft. But anyway, I'm super pleased with this draft and I feel like I'm more on the right track now than I was with my disgusting first draft and messy second draft. I've now sent it out to a few readers but actually if you're interested I'm on the lookout for more critique partners. :) Here's a terrible one-sentence synopsis... 17-year-old Percy Collins used to be invisible, part of the world of invisible people called Unseens, until he was injected with the legendary antidote to invisibility and for the first time in history, it worked on him, thus making him a very valuable person in the Unseen world. (Trouble ensues). Yeah, I've got to work on that. But anyway, if  you want to read it email me at kazuntai101[at]gmail[dot]com. You can also contact me through twitter, @AlyssaSherlock!

    MY GOALS

    I feel slightly lost now that I've finished my draft, because my goal for so long has been to finish it! I think I'll take a break from any writing projects for a while, and then maybe try to work on writing a good summary. Which is kind of daunting, to say the least, but also necessary because right now when people ask me what my book is about I say "uh... people... who are... invisible..." (And I'm only trying to annoy them a little bit).

    WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

    Melina Marchetta! Reading Finnikin of the Rock inspired me to work on my book and finish it. It reminded me a lot of my book, just because my favourite part of the book I wrote is the relationships and the growth of my characters throughout. :)

    I am also looking for some new music to listen to, so if you have any suggestions please let me know! I'm also wondering what your favourite YouTube artists/musicians are (because then I can just listen to all their songs on YouTube... haha).

    Anyway, I've been away for a while. How are you? What are you up to? Have you posted lately on your blog? (I need to catch up on my blog reading...) Let me know!


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