Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Is This Real Fantasy?

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” --Madeline L'Engle

Among the many side effects of NaNoWriMo is a distinct lack of free time to be used for writing a blog post for the TCWT blog chain. This is why I currently sit in my third-period AP Human Geography class on Wednesday morning, writing this post on a piece of loose leaf paper. So, with my pen at the ready, here I go.

YA literature (or Young Adult Literature) is a topic that is highly relevant to me. When your'e fifteen years old, you read YA and write YA. But that's the thing. My stories fall in the YA genre, according to some people, simply because they are aimed at teenagers. As a teen myself, though, I don't think of these books as "YA". To me, they are still fantasy and realistic fiction and the ever-dreaded nonfiction.

My NaNo novel this year is called The Time-Weaver. NaNoWriMo asked me to define the genre of my book, and I was left for the third year in a row to decide between "Fantasy" and "Young Adult". While I finally chose Fantasy, I was left a little miffed. Young Adult literature, like Children's or Adults', deserves its own set of genres. 'Young Adult' should be a descriptive phrase used to distinguish its subjects from books aimed at other ages, not to create a genre of its own. I find it rather insulting hear it called a genre, as if YA fantasy is somehow not "real" fantasy, or as though all the books aimed at adolescents are the same. That's saying that Harry Potter and The Fault in Our Stars belong in the same genre. In other words: utterly preposterous.

Let's put it this way: When I say "doctor", the first image most people see is (or at some point was) likely a man. This stereotype isn't true for me; my mom is a doctor. Does being a woman make her a worse doctor, or any less qualified? Of course not! The idea of YA lit being its own genre is, simply put, a prejudice. It is a prejudice against the idea that novels written for teens can be thought-provoking, or complicated, or more than, as we call them in my house, 'fluff'. John Green's books definitely aren't fluff, that's for sure!

Now, I agree that YA lit should be shelved separate from Adult books and Children's books, but YA lit varies as greatly as Adult literature and should be treated the same.

And now, if you'll excuse my past self, I must get back to my NaNo notebook.

Sorry for the short post. I know it's far below my usual standards, but I'll be back to normal next month. Oh NaNo, the things you make me post on my blog! :)


Blog Chain:

November 5th – – Musings From Neville’s Navel
November 6th – – This Page Intentionally Left Blank
November 7th – – It’s All In My Head
November 8th – – Miriam Joy Writes
November 9th –  – The Loony Teen Writer
November 10th – – Ink Spilled = Pages Filled
November 11th – – Inside the Junk Door
November 12th – – A Mirror Made of Words
November 13th – – Life.
November 14th – – Reality Is Imaginary
November 15th – – Books Are Better Than Diamonds
November 16th – – The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
November 17th – – Kirsten Writes!
November 18th – – Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Warming up for November

Sorry for the three-month hiatus! I've been insanely busy with starting High School, dance, and theater rehearsals. Enough of that.

While checking twitter this morning, I saw that TCWT had retweeted Lily Jenness' tweet about her blog post  for yesterday (Click here to read her post!) I remembered signing up, but I didn't know what day I was. By chance, I happened to check on my assigned day!

Luckily, I have a two-hour break between dance and theater when I can type this up. But enough of the back story.

NaNoWriMo will be an adventure for me this year. I have participated and won the last two years, but I have an added complication this year: the show I'm in goes up on November 2nd, and we have eight shows between then and the 10th. I'll pretty much be writing very little for the first third of the month. I told my mom I might consider starting on the 15th and going until December 15th, or going for only 30,00 words instead, but I know myself, and I know that I will be kicking myself for a long time if I don't go for the full 50,000. I haven't decided for sure yet, so don't hold me to that, but I'm pretty certain.

My story this year will be--you guessed it--another fantasy. It's still very much in the planning stages, but it will be called The Time-Weaver's Apprentice. It centers around the idea that there is a factory where people's lives are created. Each person has a piece of yarn--the color of your strand reflects your personality. The strands are woven together; some strands weave closely together (like friends or family) and sometimes they suddenly veer away from each other (when there is a falling-out.) When your strand ends, you die. The "time-weaver", who is in charge of all this mess, is roughly 2,000 years old. (I'm toying with the idea of having her be Jesus' cousin or something.) She's really crabby and not very nice--sitting at a massive loom for two thousand years will do that to you. Over time, as the population has grown, she's had to hire more and more additional workers, whenever the current population is too much for the current staff to handle. Now, though, the Time-Weaver is getting too old to manage things, and she's looking for an apprentice to train to be the next Time-Weaver for the next 2,000 years.

The main character is a 14-year-old (?) girl named Helen. (I'm still looking for a last name.) She somehow meets the Time-Weaver and learns about her. Meanwhile, Helen's best friend dies. (I'm not sure if it will be suicide or a car accident.) Helen becomes obsessed with the idea of fixing the tapestry and getting her friend back.

(I'm running out of time, so I'll just write a sample opening paragraph or two.)


Helen is a practical name. There is nothing extravagant about it. Even the best crooner in the world could not make it sound melodic. It is plain, like the girl it indicates. It has next to no nicknames. It is short, perfect for yelling up the stairs when she is in trouble.

Unfortunately, this is the name to which I belong. I wish it was a frivolous tagline, something that rolled off your tongue instead of choking in the back of your throat.

That will be all for today! Thanks for reading! As always, I would love any comments/critiques.

The theme for this month’s blog chain is…“What are you writing for NaNoWriMo? Briefly explain how this book idea come about. Then write a mock first page for the novel.”Participants:Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day:
October 5th –  – Lily’s Notes in the MarginsOctober 6th – – Reality Is ImaginaryOctober 7th – – One Life StoryOctober 8th – – Of a Writerly SortOctober 9th – – The Leaning Tower of PlotOctober 10th – – This Page Intentionally Left BlankOctober 11th – – What Updates?October 12th – – Miriam Joy WritesOctober 13th – – Between the LinesOctober 14th – – Inside the Junk DoorOctober 15th – – Musings From Neville’s NavelOctober 16th – – Kirsten Writes!October 17th – – A Mirror Made of WordsOctober 18th – – The Teenage WriterOctober 19th – – Platonic PencilOctober 20th – – Mark O’Brien WritesOctober 21st – – It’s All In My HeadOctober 22nd – – The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
October 23rd – – Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Writer's World

On Friday night, my friends and I were watching “Life as we Know It”. We were trying to figure out which one of us would be the girl who dies, and which one would be the best friend who inherits the child. “The stork of death will bring you your baby”, commented my friend Maria, who also happens to be a teen writer. My friends all laughed, but I turned and said, “The stork of death. That would make an interesting story idea.” 

The stork of death, who has taken up residence inside my crazy mind sometime in the last 48 hours, is just one example of how writing has changed my perspective on life.

I’m not sure if this is true for most writers or just me, but writing has helped me improve my interpretation of individuals. Out of a single conversation with someone, I can usually get a pretty accurate observation of who they are. There’s a trick to reading people. I can usually tell if they’re being a genuine person, or if there’s something more to them, a different side that they don’t let people see. It’s fascinating how much more you can learn about people who you’ve known your entire life if you just pay attention to the little subtleties that clue you in to their world.  

I’m pretty sure that working on character building has improved this the most. The idea that each person you talk to--your brother, your best friend, that boy who always chews his gum too loud in math class, the girl who always watches your dance practice for fifteen minutes on Mondays, all of them--are just as complex, complete characters as you are. When you drive to church on Sundays, every single person you pass on the highway is going somewhere, is coming from somewhere, has a family, a job, a life story as long and detailed as your own. It makes your mind spin if you think about it too long. 

Before I wrap up this post, I’d also like to mention that I think in descriptions. I LOVE descriptions. My friends are about ready to start calling me “hyperbole girl.” (See what I did there?) But truly, I always come up with stray similes and metaphors at random times. Most of them are bland, but occasionally I’ll come across a really good one. For example, yesterday I got a pedicure with my mom. When I looked down at my pale blue toes decked with little white flowers, all I could think of were daisy-chain crowns. From floral wreaths to the stork of death, my world is definitely a little bizarre, but it’s a writer’s world and I love it. 

If you want to follow the blog chain (even though I’m almost at the end,) here’s a list of where to go for each day’s post:

July 7––Miriam Joy Writes

July 8––Musings From Neville’s Navel
July 9––This Page Intentionally Left Blank
July 10––Blog of a (Maybe) Teen Author
July 11––Scribbling Beyond the Margins
July 12––Lily’s Notes In The Margins
July 13––Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish
July 14––The Zebra Clan
July 15––Reality Is Imaginary
July 16––A Myriad of Colors
July 17––An MK’s Meandering Mind
July 18––The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
July 19––All I Need Is A Keyboard
July 20– Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)
I hope everyone is having a great summer! I'm off to eat some lunch--I wouldn't let myself take a break from my blog post.
As always, I would really, really appreciate it if you would take the time to help me improve as a writer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First Impressions in a Literary Sense

Whenever I hear the phrase, "Don't judge a book by its cover", the first thing I hear is a song from Thomas the Tank Engine that I last heard when I was probably about six. If that phrase turns up in a TV show about trains intended for preschoolers, it's probably worth listening to, right?

However, I disagree. Covers and titles of books are pretty much the first impression a book makes on its reader. Think about it this way: When a girl goes to a job interview, she doesn't show up in sweats with her hair unbrushed and smelling like she hasn't taken a shower in three days. She makes herself look nice, wears clean clothes, and makes sure to present herself in a way that is sure to impress the interviewer. In the end, is whether or not she gets the job based on which sweater she wore? No, mostly. Whether or not she gets the job is based on her qualifications, personality, and experience. Her first impression, however, can make or break it the moment she steps in the room. 

I see book covers and titles as job interviews for books. If a boy walks into a book store, he will likely first pick up a book that has an interesting cover or a catchy title. He'll probably read the back or the inside cover or even the first few pages to see if it is something he would like to read. If it's not, he'll put it back on the shelf. But if a book is sitting just one shelf away with a dismal cover and a lame title that might actually become his new favorite, it never gets a chance. Like the girl who came in dressed as a slob, the book's first impression is too unappealing to the boy to get a chance for a second. 

And then there's the difficulty of finding what cover styles and titles make certain groups of people interested. For me, I'm often automatically drawn to something that is weird and unique. Covers of a style that I've never seen before quickly jump into my hands.
Some examples of my favorite book covers:

Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles (Incidentally, one of my favorite books as well.)

The Beekeepers's Apprentice by Laurie R. King

As far as titles go, I prefer short titles that you won't forget. That way, I can remember BOTH the title and the author's name when I recommend it to a friend.
Some examples of titles that I like AND authors that I can remember (and their covers, just for kicks.):
The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma (Highly recommended!)

Zazoo by Richard Mosher

(Also: All of the books I've shared as examples are some of my favorites that I would definitely recommend.)

People are told not to judge others by first impressions, but they definitely make a pretty big impact. The same is definitely true for books. I'm not going to advise you to fight against this inevitable aspect of marketing, because it is just that--an aspect of marketing that is unavoidable. Publishers know that people will only buy their book if it has an interesting cover and/or title. The problem is just in the execution.


First of all, my sincerest apologies for not getting this up until today. I was out of town all last week and didn't remember about my Monday deadline until I was going to bed on Sunday night. I was then gone until late on Monday, and when I tried to get on the computer, my mom shooed me off to bed. I'm not trying to excuse my lateness, merely explaining it. 

Secondly, please comment on this if you are so willing. I try to do the same for you, and it really helps me improve my writing and blog. 


Monday, June 18, 2012


First of all, I'm so sorry about this!

I don't have a blog post ready yet. I was out of town all last week. I'll be gone during the day today, but I'll get one up this evening--so if I'm not on time for you, please look back later this evening or tomorrow!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why do you Write?

I'm pretty novice when it comes to the art of writing a blog post for others to read. My thoughts rarely string together to form coherent sentences that are pleasing to the figurative ear, and I struggle to stay on one topic for more than a few awkward phrases. My posts are overstuffed with metaphors, painstakingly waver between colloquial and formal writing, and are about as interesting as... well... something that really isn't interesting. Frankly, most of my attempts at the next great masterpiece of the English language generally result in such a mash-up. Why, then, do I continue? Why do I pound relentlessly at the black keys on my keyboard?

That, my friends, is a very good question.

The answer, however, has to come in a rather roundabout way.

On September 6th, 2011, my first day of 8th grade, I began keeping a daily journal. Every night, before I go to sleep, I write. I lean up against my Dumbledore's Army poster on the wall and brace my feet against the opposite site of my bed, resting the fourth small red book on top of my knees. On Sunday, I reached the 250th entry. I plan to continue until I reach at least entry #366, which should occur on September 5, 2012, if my math is correct. 

Once an entry is written, it just gets buried under more pages screaming with my thoughts. Once a journal is filled up, these pages get pressed together, the elastic band slips around them, and I re-cap the pen for one final time. Then, I climb down from my five-foot-tall loft bed, cross the room, and place the little book next to the others on my bookshelf, ready to start another one the following day.

Why do I bother with this?

When I write, I write for myself. Journaling every night, no matter how frustrating it can be when I have to stay up until 2 in the morning to finish homework, is a way of me channeling my thoughts. I used to always be kept awake at night by the thoughts chasing each other around in my head. Now that I think about it, the last time that really happened was several months ago, and even that was a rare instance. 

Almost every form of writing helps me reach myself, if that makes any sense. Sometimes I as a person make more sense if I'm an outsider, looking in--an outsider who knows everything about me, that is. Even writing that doesn't involve me directly--say, one of my two NaNoWriMo novels--helps me in this way. I often identify accidental traits in my characters that come from me. Often, these traits are flaws or things that maybe aren't so good. By writing their stories, I discover how Cori or Iris solve their problems, and, through that, I discover how I can be a more pleasant person for my friends to be around. 

One of the things that most outsiders don't understand about writing is that it is about milestones. I keep track of my journal entries to have some sort of reward for my endless determination. NaNoWriMo sets the winning word goal at 50,000 to give us something to strive for, because motivation is based on having an attainable goal. 

Of course, many writers' sense of "attainable" is more than slightly distorted, but that's what makes us such a determined bunch. When we have goals that seem easy, such as finishing a math assignment, we tend to forget that we actually have to work to get those done, and procrastinate more than any other group of people I know. 

So, why do I write? I write to teach myself that I CAN do it. I write to get in touch with what is important to me. I write to make myself a better person. I write for me.


And so ends my first blog post for the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain.

Please tell me what you think! I know this blog as a whole is really empty right now, but it won't stay that way for long, I promise. :)


Saturday, May 12, 2012

New Beginnings

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about beginnings and endings, and for good reason, too. In a matter of 20-something days, I will be completing my time in Middle School. Next fall, I'll start High School, delving into a world yet unknown to me. I'll be starting driver's ed, beginning a new year of dance, and turning over a new page in my life. I recently went through and got rid of all my old blog posts, hoping to turn this into something that resembles a more composed, thoughtful collection of writing than my daily journal. There have also been a lot of changes in my personal life, too. I've found new friends and have drifted away from older friends, even outright fighting with people I've been really close to forever, which is always stressful, no matter who you are or how long you've been living life. 

Some people compare life to a book. I find fault with this analogy--our life is more like a river. There is no definite chapter. Things happen all the time around us that we can't understand, we can't control, we can't tell are happening when they did until long after. Most things aren't as simple as black print standing soldier-like on white paper, just waiting in rows to be pursued. The chapters of our lives aren't definite. Sure, I'll be leaving one place and starting at a new one, my daily schedule (which has remained the same for the majority of the last three years) will be completely rewritten, but that doesn't mean I'm starting over. I still have my friends, my passions, and my talents. It's like taking a  piece of candy and rewrapping it in a new skin. It's labeled differently, but it's still the same person. The chapter isn't ending, merely transitioning. And most importantly, you can't flip to the back and find out how it ends until you've lived the whole story through.

These beginnings and endings are normal, typical, expected. They will hopefully not be very difficult for me beyond the usual stress that comes with any transition. It just got me thinking about how you can't control time, just make the most of it. Sometimes, things hurt in life, but you just have to roll with the punches and remember that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. You have to leap at the opportunities that arise, because good things in life won't be handed to you on a silver platter. And remember: whenever one door closes, two more open.