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?


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, 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...


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